• Member Since 31st May, 2014
  • offline last seen Last Sunday

SpartanD014


Aspiring writer and huge sci-fi fan. Also Luna is best pony.

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Before every great journey, there are the trailblazers and adventurers who open the doors to the future. Every significant expedition is built upon the achievements of those who came before, those who worked and sacrificed to make the future possible. For the ponies of Equestria, the forerunners of the future are the crew of the ESA Harmony, a ship lead by Princess Twilight Sparkle and built with one purpose: exploration. The crew have their orders: arrive at a nearby exoplanet, engage in scientific and research operations, then return home with the results. And with those results, more missions will be built, and the future of Equestria will be defined.

But even in our greatest moments, there are those who long for yesterday, and will do everything in their power to prevent change. The crew of the Harmony are not immune to the agents of regression, and when a saboteur strikes in deep space, the crew finds that their mission has changed. Instead of finding the future of ponykind, they find themselves fighting for their survival aboard a crippled vessel. With tensions rising and the mission effectively scrubbed, Twilight Sparkle embarks upon a new mission: identify the saboteur, and return the crew to Equestria, alive and well.

Chapters (13)
Comments ( 29 )

This seems like quite a good story so far! The effort is grandly given, and well-done. I would like to see more of it. #WHAT IS THIS? WHAT IS THIS? WHAT IS MY LIIIIIFFFEEEE?!
Keep going! :pinkiehappy:

I had the feeling Vibrant Flame was a red herring for the identity of the assassin, but Cobalt was unexpected. I love good sci-fi. It's so rare in MLP. Looking forward to this with baited breath.

So... Twilight herself is the target, and not the Harmony mission? Very intriguing, really curious about the why and why such a way to do it...

7665810

Yeah this makes little sense. Why pick a time when the assassin has to pass vetting and is impossible to get reinforcements. If bombs exist then why not infiltrate her guard instead at the castle and trap her bed or something? Space just complicates things for them.

Hm, I rather like what I see so far - there are all sort of interesting things you can do with a "stranded in space" setup, and I am eagerly looking towards here you intend to take the story. And we already have the first curveball with the reveal that Twilight herself is, evidently, the target - which was very much unexpected, as I Imagined (as was the intent, no doubt) the target to be the ship/mission itself.

Though this does open up potential inconsistencies - we know Twilight is a very late addition to the crew and from the sounds of it she has had zero involvement with the Harmony project over the years, it has all been a Luna show. Yet we know it took two years to infiltrate Cobalt into the program - meaning the whole operation was planned years before Twilight even entered the picture, so the timeline doesn't add up.

Or were these terrorists originally planning to go for the ship, but now are simply taking a shot at, and focusing on, Twilight as the more high-profile target, now that she proverbially dropped in their laps?

Which ... coupled with Ace evidently being ex Black Ops, makes me think - the way Celestia randomly shoehorned Twilight into this mission didn't really make a whole lot of sense (with the stated reasons, Luna should have been the one to go, given her extensive involvement with the program and, inversely, Twilight's zero contact with it) - I was originally going to chalk it up as awkward writing, but perhaps that's actually intentional. Maybe Celestia/Luna sniffed out the saboteur's plans somehow and want to try and take the chance to nab the planted (traditionalist?) agent, essentially making Harmony a bait.

Would explain the ex black ops captain ... though it does essentially mean they are using Twilight as an unwitting bait-enhancer (though again - why not Luna herself, unless these traditionalists wouldn't touch one of the 'older' princesses, thus aborting the whole operation and causing them to go to ground before they can be caught in the act). If that is the case, I seriously hope both the sisters get at least a black eye or two before this is over, courtesy of Twilight and her family.

Anyways, we shall see - I'm eager to find out what the future holds.

On another note, I must note that, even though it presented some interesting ideas, the first chapter was somewhat awkward all around - a lot of minor things, perhaps nothing too major, but things that could use some spit and polish all the same. I'll ignore the awkwardness of how Twilight ended up on this mission, as that may still be a deliberate ploy by Celestia/Luna, but still ...

First was Twilight's "busy princess with no holidays" introduction - this one was awkward straight from the bat, because that doesn't line up with what we see in the show (the opposite, if anything). She also doesn't need to cross the room for an alarm clock, because of telekinesis :P

Then we have the timeline, which I am still unsure about - how long into the future does this take, exactly? The story doesn't make that very clear - on one hand, technology seems to have advanced considerably (proper interstellar flight is a big whoop!). On the other hand, all of Twilight's friends (aka mane 6) are still around, and don't seem to be much older from what little could be concluded from their brief interactions. So ... how many years post-show does this take place at?

Then there was last third (or thereabouts) of the first chapter, which I felt could have easily been trimmed down significantly - you spent a very long time going through "preflight checks" which essentially consists of talking heads radioing back and forth generic pre-flight mumbo jumbos and affirmatives and all greens, which is honestly unnecessary and not at all exciting to read - the urge to skim was great at those parts.

Other than that ... so far so good, looking towards more.

7667034

Thanks for the feedback!

A lot of what you brought up will be addressed in later chapters, but you're on the right track with targets changing over time (from just Harmony, to both Twilight and Harmony.) I don't want to give away too much - spoilers and all - but most of their motivation boils down to this being a very flashy show of capability. It's certainly not the easiest way to deal with Twilight, but it would be the most surprising, given how far away they are from Equus.

As for the technology, that comes down to the Alternate Universe tag. I'm writing it with the idea that it takes place in the very near future of the show, but the technology of the pony society is, in general, more advanced.

Thanks again for all the feedback! It really is helpful, and I'll keep it in mind for the future!

7667197

Hm, personally I would actually rank it as the opposite of a flashy show of ability - completely out of sight, completely unverifiable (even if the ship goes missing, a bunch of crazies showing up to claim they did it isn't necessarily credible - much like terrorist organizations tend to claim responsibility for many an incident to simply look important, many of which they had nothing to do with) and requiring an extensive government setup for them to take advantage of.

Though I was prepared to say (and praise them for it :rainbowlaugh:) it would actually make them look smart - because that might actually be the easiest way to deal with Twilight. A direct attack or assassination attempt is a rather iffy proposition against an individual with a positive track record against world-ending threats. Thinking you could do better actually would be folly - especially on home turf where failure could very well mean a captured agent, or other trail to backtrack - and the resources of an entire country to do so.

By comparison, going after her while she is on a spaceship is the smart (but not flashy) move, and relatively simple at that - you simply have to take out the ship, without actually engaging Twilight directly or even indirectly, if you play your cards right. Given her track record, I'd certainly rate that as the more simple and smarter approach than trying to go for her directly while back on the planet :moustache:

Man, Cobalt must be fucked in the head. He just failed at killing everyone on the ship, including his marefriend, yet he goes and reassures her everything is fine. That only really leaves two possibilites: he doesn't care about her, and was only pretending to in order to get another advantage; or he does care about her, and tried to kill her anyways. I wonder which one is worse for Star; they are both pretty scummy. But I guess being 'pretty scummy' is kind of a requirement for dedicating years of your life to pretending to be an engineer so you can sabotage one of the greatest achievements your species has ever produced.

Cobalt is a sneaky bastard. I kinda hope he starts getting under suspicion for his current actions. Unfortunately, considering that suspicious would be really unfair towards someone trying to patch things up.

As for the ground situation, I wonder what his organization is planning? They seem to only care about delaying the rescue mission, but what better way to delay it than to explode it? The Princesses better really be on their toes, if they don't want yet another disaster.

Nothing would stop him from seeing this mission through…

Jésus Christ Cobalt. What kind of motivation would it take to even consider doing these things, let alone actually carrying them out.

Also, Cobalt's behaviour is highly reminiscent of the behaviour of a good traitor in Spacestation 13. I suppose there are only so many ways to sabotage a space ship.

Before I read it, what is the Dark tag for ?

7727917 Some elements of the story (plotting murder, general psychopathy, etc.) could be considered dark. There's nothing like excessive gore or just violence for shock value, if that's your concern.

My hatred for Cobalt is ever-growing. At this point, I'm not sure if any punishment will satisfy me. He needs to get his just reward.

A part of me hopes his lie about Bolt telling him to work near his little hide-hole will get found out. Unlike the previous attacks this one was spur of the moment and more likely to have errors. They can track locations since the news Twi would be heading out and see who dissappears. But since Bolt is dead can anyone say she didn't give the order? Twilight maybe since she was with her. Go get him BookPrincess!

I don't get it. If he has such control over the ship how has it not been destroyed yet. Similarly, Ace has at least 2 ponies he knows can't be the saboteur, maybe 3 depending on how well he knows the XO. On top of that I'm pretty sure the chief engineer could have destroyed the ship if she'd wanted, so surely she was probably clear as well. That's enough ponies to simply pair everyone up and just play things safe, isn't it?

Will Cobalt eventually have a twinge of conscience, preventing him from completing what he started, and killing the maker he loves? Tune in next week to find out!

Though. I bet probably not, at least not until he's caught. Then he might decide to rat out the rest of his organization. Or maybe this is all one big red herring, and he refuses to give up on his beliefs. In that case, good on him, for being a murdering psychopath. I hope he'll be happy.

What kind of terrible tactician is Ace? They knew exactly where the saboteur would show up, and it was somewhere most of the crew wouldn't go, too. They literally could have just left someone in there to wait for the saboteur to show up. Instead they showed members of the crew that they had discovered the laptop and thus compromised the room. That was an easy solution they completely threw away.

Cobalt's trickery with the drives was believable, though I find it less so that none of the others even know what swapping drives looks like.

I've been trying to comment on every chapter as they get released, but I missed the last one. I don't want to miss two in a row, but I don't really have much to add.

paves the way for the next chapter, which is quite an exciting one.

I don't really like the sound of that. But how is Cobalt going to sabotage the rescue ship? Was it pre-sabotaged? Did they manage to sneak equipment on it for Cobalt to finish the job? Or is the action unrelated to Cobalt's doing, or something else?

the future of Equestria is depending on us.”

What exactly do they think they are protecting Equestria from? It must have them pretty scared to consider killing innocent ponies for, let alone a princess. Are they just extreme luddites, did they stumble upon some crackpot conspiracy theory, or is it an actual legitimate threat. Probably not the latter, but it's fun speculating.

Can something go wrong to the saboteurs and right to the crew??? Please! :twilightoops:

The infiltrator had been in contact with the ground forces repeatedly; the virus could have been uploaded that way instead. Or been included with his laptop. It makes no sense they'd send it now or require some "device" to upload it.

They're spaceship crew hunting a saboteur, and they complain about being locked in a room for a day? What a bunch of babies; real astronauts probably put up with worse regularly. Frankly, the entire cast all seem incompetent and not very bright.

Hmm, I must admit this story hasn't quite clicked for me, and I have been struggling to understand why - by all accounts it's something that I should like and feel excited about, and it's full of elements that should make for a very exciting read, full of tension and suspense. But somehow it has left me feeling ... hmm, increasingly apathetic and almost, dare I say it, bored - and I couldn't understand why that was the case, because by all accounts it shouldn't be. So I sat down some more and pondered, re-read a chapter or two and I believe I have finally figured out why it doesn't get my blood a-boil.

Overall - I have to say there is almost a complete lack of tension in the story. It took me a bit to realize this, because by all accounts a survival story in space about trying to stop a saboteur before he destroys them all should be full of it - but the presentation has slowly but surely sucked all the tension and suspense out of the story.

And by presentation I mean the way the characters are portrayed - the "good guys" are varying degrees of naive, dumb and embarrassingly incompetent. Looking back on it, I don't believe they have done a single thing I could call genuinely smart or expedient enough to stop and catch the saboteur. At this point I almost wish it turned out Ace was working for the saboteurs all along, otherwise he's pretty much a joke of a blacks ops leader - and no one else is any better.

Meanwhile, Cobalt and the mysterious group behind him feel ridiculously hypercompetent and hypercapable, always being a dozen steps ahead of everyone else and always having other avenues of attack open or able to be opened. They are just this shy of being omnipresent and seem to know everything and things simply fall in line in their favor.

It has never felt like Cobalt was in actual danger of being found out - and the 'good guys' have never been smart enough to warrant the concern that they might do anything worthwhile on their end. Instead of a tense game of a cat and mouse, it's a game of a smart mouse and a bunch of dim-witted lemmings.

And that's a serious problem as far as creating tension and excitement goes; such an unbalanced portrayal of both sides leads to pretty much apathy. Take, for example, this chapter where Luna learns the saboteurs name. You'd think that was a tense moment where Cobalt's mission could come apart at the seams if she got this information to Harmony.

But it wasn't - in my mind, the possibility that she could actually succeed never even entered the equation. It wasn't a tense moment that would bring me to think "Oh man, this is getting close!" - instead my gut reaction was "Gee, I wonder how they are going to fail this time". That's what expectations had lead me to expect, and lo and behold - that's exactly what happens, Luna fails to get the message through and the subconscious impression that the good guys are absolute quacks who will never get anything right and that the organization can thwart anything and everything they do has been reinforced only further.

There is no tension - because Cobalt not being in danger of being caught and the good guys failing to succeed are ingrained, foregone conclusions at this point. Which is why the story feels like it lacks tension and a sense of emergency - you always know what to expect, direction wise - the good guys are dumb and fail, the villains are competent and keep trudging on.

The other issue is, I believe, the mystery surrounding the organization behind Cobalt and what their beef is with Equestria's government. I think you have played your cards too close to the chest here - we still know absolutely nothing about them or their goals or what they are angry about, and it's kind hard to get invested in that. They are a nameless, faceless background fixture of the story at this point - a stage prompt, part of the scenery.

I don't know whether I should root for Cobalt to succeed, I don't know if I should despise them, I don't know how legitimate their grievances are ... 70 thousand words, and they area complete blank. And it's hard to get invested in the plots and schemes of a an empty, faceless, nameless organization that I don't know the first thing about. It's like getting angry about a thunderstorm - sure, it's there in the background and ruining someone's day, but it's not something you can feel invested in. In result, I don't really feel anything about their mission - just apathy and accept them as a background fixture of the scenery.

Combine this lack of dramatic tension and the imbalanced portrayal of the two side's competency, and this lack of information concerning the evil organization in general (too little information isn't always conductive towards a mystery - the correct answer is to provide just enough to keep the readers strung along and interested in finding out more, not leave them hanging in a blank room) ... and well, I can't find it in me to feel invested into anyone's plight here. I am not sure I even care anymore why the organization does what it does - it's a bit too late to become interested in that, I think.

The one question I actually look towards being answered is whether Twilight will punch Luna/Celestia in the face when she learns this thing has been a set-up all along. That's the one thing I still feel invested emotionally enough to care about - the betrayal of Twilight by the two older princesses and whether they will get to answer for that to her (not about whatever it is they did that has the organization riled up - have no reason to care about that, which is all sorts of wrong probably, but this is where we are).

So ... yeah. I'm sorry to say this hasn't been all that engaging for me, but at least I finally figured out why. Guess all that's left is to wait and see how it ends, but I am not sure how invested in the outcome I actually feel :/

7879766

Thanks for the detailed post! I really appreciate the feedback, and will take it with me as I finish this story and move on to others. Looking back, I think you really hit the nail on the head with many of your points, especially regarding the hypercompetence of the antagonists, and keeping certain motivations secret until the end. I think, in the future, I need to do some more detailed planning and outlining to make sure this isn't the case. Now that I know what to look out for, hopefully I can pull it off.

The story only has a couple more chapters, though I will try looking into rearranging some parts of the ending to, hopefully, address some of your points. Thank you again for the detailed feedback! It is very helpful, and I will keep it all in mind.

7724003 Cobalt's a fanatic. Same as Daesh, Dylan Roof, Kamikaze pilots and suicide bombers. Can't reason with people that committed, just try to prevent them from getting resources that carry out attacks or crush em if they can get resources

I really want to like this story but I just can't. Skydrake really pointed out the most of the aggravating things about this story. (Along with a lot of other people complaining people about the unintelligent "good guys".) The concept was great, but I wouldn't say that it was done amazingly well. I can only hope this story gets some of its parts rewritten. Though, I have a hunch that it won't be the case. (I would be more than happy to like and reread it though if it happened.) Good luck on your next stories! I don't think you will need it though if you intend to fix these mistakes in the future.

Kinda disagree with Twilight? Yeah, I understand her on personal level but... Sometimes rulers forced to make rather... unethical choices for the sake of their country. And sometime they lead to death of innocent people. But in general “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”.

So by the end of it all... the heroes never actually succeed at any attempt to stop the saboteur, he just fails the final assassination attempt and even then only because someone else intervenes as he's about to kill Twilight.

Good story do you plan to continue maybe with contact with humans. Maybe the star trek or star wars universes?

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