• Member Since 8th Oct, 2016
  • offline last seen 9 hours ago

Dave Bryant

Ko-fi • I have a vocabulary and I’m not afraid to use it. • World-building is my passion.



This story is a sequel to Lectern’s New and Used Books: Summer Break

Rose Brass, former army captain, has found a second career as a youth social worker. She gets the hard cases, in both senses of the word. She has a tough attitude, experience, and a security clearance. Naturally she’s the perfect choice to deal with three broken teenage girls who used to be powerful magical creatures from another dimension.

  • Warning tag refers to a single unsuccessful attempt described in general terms. (There are many people like Rose, Logos, and Harmonia—in the United States and across the world—who make it their life’s work to help those in need. If you need a lifeline, please talk to them!)
  • This story stands on its own and does not require reading any other works.
  • Begins about eight months after Through the Mirror and two months after Rainbow Rocks; edited to account for the events of “Shadow Play”.
  • Reviewed 16 July 2017 by Singularity Dream.
Chapters (10)
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Comments ( 94 )

I'm guessing that the runaway is sunset?

Oh... Now this is very, very interesting and a totally different way of addressing this loose plot end. I'm really looking forward to seeing where this story goes! (+Watchlist)

I'm wondering how long Rose will be willing to deal with the Dazzlings' peevish bitterness and entitlement issues before she gives them a verbal slap-down.

I’m a fan of stories that hew closely to the way things really work, such as one finds in Tom Clancy’s early novels, so I wanted to explore a reasonably realistic extrapolation of how a modern industrialized society, with all its social infrastructure, would handle the situation.

This looks interesting. I like Rose; she seems like someone who the Dazzlings could connect with. I'll be watching this.

I’m fond of both Cook and Rose. Normally I have a terrible time coming up with characters, but both of them pretty much sprang, like Athena from the forehead of Zeus, fully formed and ready to go.

It looks to me that the fight has been pretty much kicked out of the Dazzlings, at least for now. I suspect that, after they've had a few weeks of warmth, clean clothes, proper nutrition and hygiene, they may start to act up again, only because defiance, theft and opposition is the only way they have had to survive for a long time.

Between being utterly defeated and effectively destroyed at the Battle of the Bands and some time on the street, unable to rely on the magic that previously had gotten them what they needed if not what they wanted, I’m figuring the sirens pretty much are on the ropes emotionally. What happens after they’ve had some time to recover is another matter, yes, though part of the reason they’re being placed in foster care is to shore them up psychologically as well as physically, to prevent or mitigate exactly the responses you mention. They can be pretty ornery, though, and they are teenagers, so we’ll see. . . .

Amphorae (or amphoræ) is the plural form of amphora; I’ve linked to relevant Wikipedia articles. An amphora is a ceramic shipping container widely used by many ancient cultures from the Neolithic until at least the early medieval period. They’re best known for their use in classical Greece and the Roman Republic and Empire. Often it was cheaper simply to break up an amphora and discard it rather than re-use it—hence the metaphor equating the sirens to broken and discarded amphoræ, as shown in the story artwork.

I can't help but wonder just what sort of a place Everton County is where it has so many high-security clearance people in the social services sector. Did there used to be a SMILE base there or something?

FWIW, I think that Logos and Harmonia are going to have several challenges on their hands. Adagio and Aria are very competitive and will always be overtly or covertly fighting for the 'top dog' spot. Adagio is very, very manipulative (almost to the point of having a behavioural disorder) whilst Aria is hyper-antisocial and will likely act out self-destructively in an attempt to prove that 'no-one tells me what to do'. Sonata, on the other hand, is very timid and submissive (unsurprising given her sisters' strong personalities and her possible educational disorder). It will be important that she is encouraged to have her own mind and way occasionally and not always defer to her older sisters.

FWIW, I got the impression that Starswirl was engaging in a very, very dangerous double-bluff, luring the Sirens into a sense of superiority and invulnerability by pretending to play the game by their rules. That way, when he pulled the magical vacuum-cleaner routine, they were completely caught unprepared.

As for Celestia? Well, she knows a lot but she doesn't know everything. Starswirl was a friend and a mentor to her too so I can see her looking at him through rose-tinted spectacles and not being willing to admit to herself too many of his more glaring faults. Additionally, I get the impression that Celestia prefers to let her students learn for themselves. She'll provide information that she thinks is required but she has a very real habit of not revealing or understating some things that she believes her student can profitably discover themselves and be better off for it.

I slipped in a reference to relocating, and placed Logos and Harmonia in a domicile normally used as a safe house, because they weren’t living in the area before. Rose tracked them down so she could ask them if they’d be willing to move, at least for a year or two, and help her with the case.

Rose’s reaction to Twilight’s description is a twice-filtered affair. How fair or accurate either or both may be is debateable. To be honest, I rather agree with Rose, but she isn’t always the most charitable soul.

“Let me make sure I’m understanding you correctly. Rather than play to his own strengths as a mighty wizard, this . . . Starswirl . . . instead played to the sirens’ strengths by trying to beat them at their own game?”

The Sirens were visitors that didn't cause any problems. He knew what they were trying to do, but other citizens didn't know it. At first he tried to beat them peacefuly in the contest. But when it failed he used drastic methods to protect other ponies. I don't se any problem in the way he acted. Until they started to be dangerous he tried to solve it peacefuly.

Rose’s reaction to Twilight’s description is a twice-filtered affair. How fair or accurate either or both may be is debateable. To be honest, I rather agree with Rose, but she isn’t always the most charitable soul.

Well now, this looks quite interesting, especially since I have something similar planned for the sirens. Definitely lookng forward to seeing where you go with this. It may help provde inspiration.

Likewise, and I hope to glean inspiration as well, considering I’m far less conversant with social work and social workers than I am with topics I’ve tackled previously.

Given Twilight's meticulousness, I'd expect her to write a clean copy for the actual letter. I suppose time constraints might be a concern, but I can't help but suspect you're raiding her wastebasket. :raritywink:

I claim literary license. :twilightblush: Maybe Spike sealed up the wrong version in the envelope. . . .

FWIW, it's not given that Starswirl had access to the Mirror of Worlds at the time he banished the Sirens. It might have been a completely different portal. Also, there is no particular reason why any two Einstein-Rosen bridges should always link to the same co-ordinates at either side. Given that, in terms of general relativity, time is a destination coordinate as much as any location in space, the Sirens may have been sent forwards in time as well as being displaced across universes without violating any laws of physics.

In summary: The Mirror has synchronised and fixed entry and exit points (a tribute to Starswirl's genius) but the original portal just dumped the Sirens at a random location in space-time in the destination universe.

Possible, but I’m proceeding on Occam’s Razor, based on what information is available and the likeliest paths to be taken by the scriptwriters and the executives they probably deal with. I consider the comics a secondary source, but I do find it telling the FIENDship Is Magic issue about the sirens definitely shows Starswirl using the mirror.

Maybe it's about state of mind of transported beings and magic. When sirens were pushed into the portal they were surprised and probably reflexively activated their magic defenses to maximum. And we are talking about three uncooperating magical beings that were thrown into the portal against their will at the same time. Because of that, the conection between those two world was distorted and it it took thousand years to stabilize and open portal on the other side. Luckyly the sirens weren't destroyed or damaged by this long upload.

Question is if they are small enough in their true form to fit through the mirror. In the film it looked like portal in the air.

Possible, but I’m proceeding on Occam’s Razor, that the simplest explanation is most probably the correct one, based on what information is available and the likeliest paths to be taken by the scriptwriters and the executives they probably deal with. I consider the comics a secondary source, but I do find it telling the FIENDship Is Magic issue about the sirens definitely shows Starswirl using the mirror; besides, the sirens would have to be huge not to fit through the mirror. What’s shown in the featurette more resembles fanciful storybook illustrations, possibly by an artist who wasn’t an eyewitness, creating art long after it happened.

Then by using Occam’s Razor we should remove time travel and we get one thousand years old sirens.

I disagree; to my mind the simplest and likeliest proposition is to take the description “ordinary teenage girls” at face value. Anything else would impute a depth and complexity to the writing I find unlikely for a light featurette produced by a toy company and aimed at ordinary teenage girls. In any case, that is the assumption on which I am proceeding, and I am convinced it is correct.



This is a good comment.

I concur with the thoughts brought up by this good comment.

For several reasons, I don’t want to turn this into a novel. My aim is to hit some of the pivotal moments in the early stages rather than cover the whole slog in detail. That leaves plenty of room for additional stories fitting in between or afterward. I don’t know that I’ll write many or even any of them, but I am open to the idea of others doing so.

Something tells me you're either knowledgeable or fluent in Greek.

Alas, no. I do, however, have a deep love of history (especially military history) and of words (especially English words and their etymologies), with a willingness to “do my homework” whenever necessary to make sure I get everything right as much as possible. The translation widget accessible through MacOS’s Dashboard helps too.

Aria does seem to have only a few emotional settings. Rage, scorn, apathy, sadistic contentment... I've seen the sirens compared to cats, and it's not all that inaccurate to do so.

But yeah, keeping an eye on the Rainbooms would be advisable. Let's just hope no one else gets hit by a car any time soon.

None of the sirens are presented as, or indeed seem to be, very deep personalities. That said, they certainly aren’t without potential, if only they were willing to explore it. Pointing them in the right direction will take serious shake-ups like this one; Aria’s had hers, and the next two chapters will continue in that vein. There’ll be no further automotive misadventures . . . but there are other hazards in life.
By now Mister Cookie Pusher is keeping an eye on the Rainbooms—you might have noticed Princess Twi’s verbal slip a couple of chapters back—but the restricted list isn’t about them per se. It’s about the people the sirens should be kept away from or shouldn’t be allowed to contact. Rose failed to disseminate the full list to all the special agents assigned to the watch-post houses in the neighborhood, for which she catches flak in this chapter. She’s willing to swallow that because she knows she’s the one who dropped the ball.

Yeah, 'think ahead' isn't something that Aria does; she'd be shocked and in denial if someone told her how alike that made her to Rainbow Dash.

As for the rest...? I'm getting a strange feeling here. It's almost as if, without their magic, the Sirens' personalities and behaviour is increasingly mapping to their human disguises. Their hormones and metabolism is forcing them to be human teenage girls, even though they have centuries' worth of memories, including being aliens in a whole different universe. However, now they are teenagers and there is no power to protect them from behaving like teenagers.

The first time one of them catches the eye of a boy and are flattered by the approach, I think that it will be an immense shock to them how they can't remember how to do the sense of superiority and disdain that they once had.

As described elsewhere—in comments, in journal postings, in the narrative itself—I’m convinced the sirens are indeed the teenage girls Princess Twi describes them as. Anything else would impute a depth and complexity to the writing I find unlikely for a light featurette produced by a toy company and aimed at, well, teenage girls. There’s no “mapping” going on at all; the sirens are in fact teenagers, experiencing exactly the crises teens go through, in addition to their own unique difficulties.

I doubt they lost their magic. That's not how elements work. They didn't destroy magic of Luna or Discord and Discord was much more dangerous than sirens. It destroyed only those gems, but the magic they were born with is still there inside their bodies. It's part of every cell. We know about only one being capable to steal magic. Tirek. But when the magic was freed it returned to their owners. Magic can't be destroyed.

You’re making an awful lot of assumptions, few if any supported by evidence. Moreover, you seem to be going out of your way to disagree with anything and everything. At this point I’ve got to wonder why you are here at all, if you find the story so off-putting. I’d prefer it if you went your way or at least stopped the gratuitous and constant argumentative behavior.

That is why, in care homes for disturbed youngsters (one of which I work for as an administrator), it is standard procedure that the case files are never left unattended in unlocked cabinets. Even if the service user doesn't find something disturbing about their own case, they're sure to find something out about their house-mates about which they'll never be able to resist the temptation to tease them or use as blackmail.

The Sirens have just been told that everypony and everything they've ever known has been dust for a thousand years. That is enough to trigger trauma in anyone but, when it's three people who have kept themselves mentally and emotionally functional with the promise to themselves that, one day, they'll go home, being told that home doesn't exist anymore can and will be catastrophic to their stability.

I figured something like that had to be the case, but I had to find some plausible way around it. One of the reasons I kept the narrative focus on Sonata, rather than following Adagio, was to leave leeway in the latter’s methodology. Maybe she picked the lock. Maybe Logos forgot to lock the cabinet before leaving for the trip. Maybe I can plead dramatic license. . . .

Well, the truth was going to get out one way or another. Still, these definitely weren't the numbers anyone wanted the sirens to confront today. The healing process can begin now, but goodness knows there are several others already ongoing. At least they have this much-needed support structure.

Adagio’s crisis is next; to a significant extent both the previous ones will play into it, and it will be far more severe as a result—enough so to be a wake-up call for everyone involved. Afterward, though, all three of them will have turned the corner and will be ready to find a new direction.
It is at that point I plan to end the story, though not their journey, which really will be just beginning. I doubt I’ll write anything more on the sirens, whether interstitial stories during the same period or sequels taking place afterward, but I certainly am open to the idea of others doing so.

Poor Dagi...:fluttercry:

I'm wondering exactly what Adagio says when she finally recovers consciousness. Her reaction to still being alive will probably determine a lot about what form of treatment that she needs.

:twilightblush: My goal was to express the proper emotional intensity without going over the top—or at least no more so than one might expect of an angsty teen.

That’s a good question—and for that very reason the next (and last) chapter skips past that. I didn’t want to get into that kind of specifics.


I actually expect Aria and Sonata would have more of an impact on her recovering than the therapy will. It would be a combined effort, of course, but their bond is what triggered her guilt and it could prove to be her anchor in recovery.

I’m sure both will be indispensible, and I imagine there will be individual and joint sessions. But simply reinforcing in all their minds how important each of them is to the others will go a long way!

I doubt I’ll continue beyond Amphorae, but I encourage other interested parties to do so.


I'm looking forward to the rest of this and if anyone carries it forward after you finish I'll be glad to look in as well.

The world they came to was turning out to be far more complicated and dangerous than they could have imagined.

They lived in ocean. I bet that was far more dangerous.

"You are not alone" can be one of the most comforting sentences in the English language. Sometimes all it takes to begin healing is to know that others have felt what you're feeling and lived to tell about it. Goodness knows this won't be easy, but it seems like the sirens are ready to try.

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