• Member Since 18th Dec, 2014
  • offline last seen Yesterday

EbonQuill


A luminist in the employ of Her Royal Highness Princess Celestia.


T
Source

A jaded detective investigating a bizarre multiple foalnapping uncovers a dangerous fugitive. To bring the culprit down and rescue the foals, she'll have to brave the dizzying heights of the magitech corporations, race the dawn, and stop the rebirth of a fallen dynasty.

Is there any kindness remaining in this brave, new Equestria?
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Winner of the Twilight Sparkle award for Everfree Northwest's Scribblefest 2017.
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Editing and Pre-Reader Credits
Novel Idea, who is the reason I'm here.
Beltorn, who knows what he did.
Little Tinker, who brings unique perspective
Furled Scroll, who has my eternal thanks
The Bearsong Pack, for their patience and understanding
---
Cover art by Droakir
Find him here!

Chapters (4)
Comments ( 26 )

...I seriously can't believe someone who can write this is bothering editing my stories.

This is scary good. It's practically intimidating! Ebon whips up a fantastic world in just a few thousand words that makes you simply beg for the next story. I do love me some hard-boiled detectives. Plus I may have a thing for a combination of advanced technology and magic. So yeah, this fits the bill in spades.

Hell, I finally got around watching Blade Runner because of this story. And for the record?

I liked this story better.

8032912
Thanks, boss! One does what one can!

... I'm confused a bit. I have hints and suggestions of what happened.

Celestia/Sun returning and all that, a gestalt entity of sorts about to be born and cut short, but I'm still confused.

What happened to Celestia/Luna of their world? Is the world so bad that the powers that be would fear a new Celestia arising?

8033183
It's not customary to have a memorial for somepony who's not passed. Celestia, at a minimum, is no longer present.

And, if Bon Chance's thoughts towards friendship are any indication, it's been a long time since that was a driving force in the day to day life of the average Equestrian citizen.

Hrmm...hrmm...well, the writing itself is certainly great. But the plot, well...like Obsidian alluded to, it's not quite enough as it is now. And not in the 'I'm greatly looking forward to the next story' sense, I'm afraid. I will admit that I'm biased against this sort of setting to begin with (it's too dark and gritty and other things far from the source material that I enjoy so much), but even accounting for that it feels like there's this big chunk missing that's keeping me from appreciating it.

Specifically, without knowing the reason why Celestia and Luna are apparently gone (and how/why Twilight Sparkle of all ponies allowed that to pass without trying to take up their mantles), it's hard for me to actually care about Celestia's rebirth via fancy magic bio-robot thing. There just isn't any, I don't know, emotional significance behind it or something. It's just...something that's trying to happen that we're told shouldn't happen, without explaining why.

I don't want to be discouraging or anything, the first two chapters (and most of the third, I think) were great, but as it is now I just don't think it works that well as its own story. It's just not complete. :unsuresweetie:

8033256
Fair. The word count on the contest submission was a little tight, it's something that I could certainly expand on, if I rework this later.

Thanks for giving it a chance!

8033261 Ah, I wasn't aware that you were working within a specific word count (I don't really pay attention to, or have any interest in, contests). That explains that, then. It's definitely something worth expanding on at a later date.

The opening of this story definitely hooked me, as I like some cyberpunk ponies in my life. It became a bit too specifically Bladerunner though, especially with the empathy test, and could've been better (to me) as original cyberpunk. It fell apart a bit for me at the end though. The "ascension" thing comes on too soon, with not enough explanation. We needed some foreshadowing about Celestia and/or the sun being missing beforehand, and some hints as to why amalgamating dozens of ponies constitutes a new sun princess. Without those explanations, the climax becomes just another action scene, since we don't really understand the stakes.

That said, this was very well written throughout, with the jargon, descriptions, and grittiness really doing a great job to capture the cyberpunk noir feeling. The pacing was also great, until the problems I mentioned above in the last chapter. I suspect the word limit for the contest may be responsible for those problems, but making the story fit is always half the challenge in such contests.

I loved this but the end left me wanting more... but that's the same for most stories.
Keep up the amazing work. I hope to see this continue or something similar to this sooner or latter.

8032912
[...this fits the bill in spades]
[...in spades]
[...spades]
Hmm... that would make a great name for a detective...

8035225
A noir detective whose special talent is in reading fine details, detecting fakes, that whole business. We'll call her Sham Spades.

... Yis.

8035225 I was wondering how long it would take for someone to call me on that. :scootangel:

When I tell people that Blade Runner is my favorite Harrison Ford movie, they often look at me aghast, or else confused. "What about Star Wars?" the laypersons often inquire. "Not Indiana Jones?" accuse my fellow archaeology and history students. By far the most common response, though, is to admit or indicate through nonverbal cues that they've never heard of it. And that's the one I hate most of all. Because Blade Runner is so, so good. The idea that a sequel is now in the works? Titillating. And now, this story, which executes swiftly and methodically the best lead-in for a nonexistent Blade Canter/Gallop/Horse Pun that ever could've been conceived. I love you for writing it, and hate you for not writing more. I appreciate and enjoy your antidystopian future, one where happiness and technology somehow manage to go hoof in hoof, as it were. And I wait, with bated breath, for the barest hint of sequel, prequel, or any other -quel you might ever think to conjure.

11/10 gg wp o7
"too much water" -IGN :trollestia:

8048200
Thank you so much for your interest, and your kind words! Blade Runner and its question of what does it mean to be human is one of the most powerful works of fiction I've ever had the pleasure to enjoy. I'm glad you liked my little homage. However, in porting it over to MLP, the question was raised, "What does it mean to be pony?"

I appreciate and enjoy your antidystopian future, one where happiness and technology somehow manage to go hoof in hoof, as it were.

If you look at Bon Chance's thoughts about friendship, and the state of some of the victims, this is a world that is simultaneously a far cry from both Blade Runner's dystopia, and the Equestria we know and love.

No fear, though. Twilight has plans.

Bon Chance was so much fun to write, that she's got me working on something for the future. Stay tuned!

Full review here, but in brief: very satisfying, in a way that a lot of ponyfied Sci-Fi is not. The light-touch world-building is fine, as are the occasional jokes. I'm only vaguely familiar with Blade Runner, so the point another commenter made about this being too close to that doesn't apply for me. Faved.

8057132
Thanks for your kind words! Glad you liked it!

I wonder, do equoids dream of technomantic sheep? :trixieshiftright:

You took my favorite movie of all time and built a very coherent pony scenario out of it. Best of all, you masterfully translated the both the gritty feel and the protagonist's internal struggle for identity, which is the bloody, bruised and beating heart of the movie!

Well done! :twilightsmile:

8112642
Thanks! I hope to return to this world soon!

I thoroughly enjoyed this! I do feel a nagging wish to know why Celestia coming back is a bad thing. Solely because the new Celestia would be a spiro? For other reasons?

A lot of stories err on the side of too much information, I feel this one may err just a bit on "too little" but I disagree with the other comment, that we need to know the full story of why Luna and Celestia aren't around. I'm not sure that's fully relevant. Just a bit more of a clue about why a returned Celestia is bad (and perhaps a touch about how it's possible, and common or thought about enough for that to be right where Spiro and Twilight jump once they have the situation figured out) might not go amiss, is all.

Still adding it to basically all my bookshelves, though!

8152360
Well, how about this? It's not Twilight urging Rose’s destruction, it's Skysign. Does this help?

8234943
Thank you so much!

Okay, this is going to be a bit disjointed and bullet pointy as really don't want to take the time to craft a big, coherent, thought out analysis/review right now given I just found out I'm working tomorrow on what should be a day off, and I'm pretty much working from the notes I made on my Kindle while reading at work. So going to be mostly what I thought of things as they happen. And then some other train of consciousness ramblings as I deal with that.

Why I chosen my profession

I found a typo! But also, this story hooked me from the very start, and is really really well done noir. It helps things out to move fast and deliver a lot of exposition and detail easily. "I am a huge proponent of 'show don't tell' but there are times it can be less applicable, one of the big ones being Noir stories, as narration and telling is a core aspect. But even so.. while I do love how on the whole it just lets things be fond out on their own and isn't overly info dumpy about stuff, treating this like a real world... it goes to far and often fails to provide enough context to get what is going on and why.

"Glitterpony" I didn't get till the end of the first chapter this was a Blade Runner story, so I did instantly get what that meant after realizing this, the issue is, a lot of stuff, due to the lack of details and given context in a lot of this, I think I only understood because of knowing about Blade Runner and what was going on there and here, not able to glean some rather major meaning from the story without that prior knowledge. Also really wanna know how that name came about.

cross races, sectors, corporations, and economic lines.

I love this line, because it says so much, for one that addition of 'corporations' into it, something that could be so major, that it matters for foals. That they are SO huge a deal that which one your family is tied with is treated in the same manner as race of economic scale. It shows what a HUGE deal they are (more on that later). BUT at the same time, the fact ALL of that, foals across so much, so random, just from all different corporations and economic sectors are all in the same nursery, it ALSO shows that.. this is still Equestria because all those type, across so much are all together, treated the same, just a good little way to set up both.

Bureau of Arcane Sciences

Not the MAS? :derpytongue2: Nice one though.

So I will be honest, from the moment it said the Spiro's were made from cloned Changlings, I was sure the big thing going on that needed to be stopped would be the revival/return of Chryssi.

Also like how it quickly set up the fact there is only one Princess, simply through using the singular form, and no other details. Does raise the question of what happened to the other four of them though and given the edning.. really needed to be addressed, but so far doing AMAZING at setting up the info needed well.

F&F Industries

:facehoof: Because of course they exist. Do like how you can trace back most of the corps to where they came from through the name.

The whole 'We call them friendship problems" very nice, and a great way to explain how to tell Spiros from normal ponies. And the bit about the empathy, and just overall rather love how the story treats them, it doesn't come off as quite as harsh and brutal as in Blade Runner, but not quite the way Equestria as we know it would. Still being seen as things, but how much of that is just because of how slow they are to learn? Given the talk of the bar fight, it seems that they were given some free will and allowed to do their own thing.. it simply became to dangerous because of their 'survive at all costs' programming and lack of social skills and understanding to know about limits. It's not an outright 'they are not pony' and more.. a softer type of discrimination, one more about how they act then how they are made. Though do question how they can't tell them apart just through scans of exams given they have bodies laced with cybernetics and special cutie marks. Having that test as a fail safe is good but, doesn't seem to carry the same weight as in Blade Runner here. But nice to see them addressing the CM issue, could be a major thing that could have been explored, or can be explored in the next fic you do/rewrite. What it means for the Spiros, given that they, unlikely ponies, really are MADE with their mark dictating who they are, not their mark being something representing who they want to be.

"Sixteen Season" Are we talking, 16 seasonal cycles aka years, or going Redwall with it and only 4 years?

Love that Twilight keeps Starlight's descendants as her personal protege type deals, nice touch.

Though on her replacing Twilight and the way it's worded... so.. is Twilight still a Princess? Still ruling? And also the head of this company? Is it JUST talking about Glimmer replacing her as head of that and not ruler of Equestria? IS the company the new official ruler? In charge and running things with no actual government beyond it? It brings up a lot of questions about how things are structured that while not VITAL to know, really really should have been given some we have a better idea about what this is and how things are going/have changed.

On that, another thing about a GREAT blending of Blade Runner and MLP you do, this idea, this corporate dystopia that Blade Runner has, where corporations rule. Yeah my first thought was, if that is the case..... wow that's bad.. and feeling it didn't quite fit. HOWEVER thinking about I realized, that is just a knee jerk 'It's bad because it's bad" caused by all the media, culture, and years of every single portrayal of this ever, being bad and evil in some way. it's the same response that makes so many fics and bronies and etc... instantly have to try and show Equestria not needing Celestia as ruler, trying to play her up a s tyrant, trying to say ponies need democracy, just knee jerk 'monarchy is bad' that.. is again just in this case centuries of American anti-monarchism at play. Not seeing.. this WORKS that Celestia.. is the best kind of ruler and.. same deal here, the structure is the same, but that way it works... Twilight created this system, and we see she is still mostly the same Twilight. So... yeah there is nothing that says this will be a dystopia just because of the corporation thing, not with Twilight there being the one leading things. It's just an amazing way these thing fuse together that.. is a point you don't have to elaborate on, it comes through instantly when you rethink about it. This is the story being subtle and not giving out details in a GOOD way.

On Glimmer being upset her 'filly fatale' thing failed..... that came off way to fast to really make sense. it was two lines and then it failed? Just.. that felt out of nowhere.

Liked the bit about the Yakyani thing, and the phoenix bit. The whole thing with the phoenix. It is a GREAT tie in to the book, the whole, animals are all but extinct, and the titular 'electric sheep' idea from it with the false bird. But also keeping it MLP, it is NOT that bad, there ARE some endangered species, but clearly not all, and no having to raise and case for pets to keep them alive since, illegal to own. So it at once touches on, uses ideas from the source, while making them unique in ti's own way and playing into the MLP setting. THIS is the stuff i fucking LOVE about this story and why it is SO DAMN GOOD!

The whole, Twi's mane turning into stars etc... sign of her having Luna's power? Or just her own power growing?

I do love how it's still Twilight, you can tell ti's her, the same core, but far older, more mature, experienced, just with the weight of ages on her and making her different.. but still her. her "We don't have tome for you to cower in awe" thing being a great point of that. But just Twi through this whole scene is PHENOMENALLY well done.

Okay, then we get to where things start to slide into "Wait what, slow down" and 'this doesn't make a lot of sense' territory. The bit about Glimmer being in on everything, about her meaning to try and guide him but only then some how tricking him to meet the Princess after the foals.. but it was foals from the start so... yeah lost on what this means. Feels more lie, trying to imply things for the sake of the genre, but ones that don't work in this context.

Then you have that off planet colonies are ruled by nobles it seems, this is odd.. and the fact he 'disenfranchised' many of them had rioting in the streets... this feels not-Equestria but again, a place more details would be good, like why The Princess allows it. HOWEVER I also noted, she wasn't, at least, not ignoring it, but getting more info, that Damask was likely sent in as a spy, to gather info, monitor it, and use the new link system to transmit all that right back to Twilight undetected. Though question about Damask, the idea is she borrows the memories of anypony in her web, becomes them.. how can that communicate if it leave the other pony catatonic? Can they see and know everything she does? And Damask wakes up the 'victim' to talk, her can the nets be tuned to allow talking? It.. the idea makes sense but lot of questions in how it works. Also, thought for sure this meant Chyssi, as it's kind of putting them closer back to being Changelings.

The bit about him seeing her not seeing this as meant for war or operations like this as 'naive' and his bit about "Freindship is'nt about seeing the worst in ponies.' I LOVE IT, because it shows, this IS Twilight and this IS still Equestria.

I know you said his line about 'the state of friendship these days' means things are crap.. I do not see it, at all,. This is still Equestria and you've done a great job building a world that is believably still Equestria, but also clearly Blade Runner's as well. There is idealism, friendship, hope, love, all that makes Equestria great. I took his line as not, showing the state of the world, but just, part of the genre defined role of hard boiled, bitter, cynical detective. Him being a Knight in Sour Armor type, whose job means he spends all his time dealing with the WORST aspects of things, seeing the worst that happens over and over.. and so have a rather biased view, will see things as not as good as they are, be cynical, bitter etc... only to learn.. no the world isn't that bad and he's just focusing on the bad, not seeing all the good. And, as 'what?' as the ending was, he did seem to end on an idealistic note.

Love the lighting rod thing. It is another case of being so perfectly pony, and fitting with Blade Runner. Not just sticking in guns because guns, but looking at it logically. Uni's can use spells for that, and the replacing guns with a magic device like that is AMAZING, even more with him having to note this one ha had it's safaris overridden, meaning they usual have safeties, have limiters, will be unable to be used or abused easily, that the ponies feel the need to build those limiters into place in things like this, and that it's being so specific about them... it's AMAZING!

The whole 'gravid' bit and his "SHE"S COMING BACK!" this is where everything loses me. How did he figure this out? I see not any logic to it, it's just, he knows it now without anything really leading to it, it comes out of nowhere. And that line seems put in just to tie into the idea of the title, not really fitting the story, feels very awkward.

Even the logistics and blocking I can't follow in this chapter... he is in an elevator... but seeing her flying up the spire? and, then on the spire.. but through a hole.. but in the elevator and.. yeah really lost on how things are structured here beyond what is going on.

But then the bit.. well you seem to have gitten pretty much unviersal feedback as being the stories main issue. All of the 'what the hell?" in the ending, how is she able to become Celestia, why is that bad, you said it's Glimmer being freaked out, why, if it's not a bad thing why isn't Twilight overriding her? how did he know to do that with the net, where did that come from? The whole bit there felt anticlimactic, why is there no sun? Why did he say 'Dawn is coming" is Dawn is no longer a thing, before he knew what was going on? Why is there o Sun? How does that work? How, why? What about the foals? They know about the sun, but, there hasn't been a sun in how long?

The whole thing just... I have no idea how to follow it and so have no emotional investment because.. I have no idea what is going on and all faculties are going to trying to figure it out, not to caring about this... doubly so given I see not one reason why we should not be cheering and rooting for Celestia 2.0 to happen.

So yeah, this was a simply AMAZINGLY well done setting and just, the story built up so well and just ALL OF MY LOVE TO YOUR WRITING... until the last chapter then it just... it just... all of my 'what just happened'? This story.. it NEEDS to be enlarged, it needs to be bigger, it is to grand to amazing to awesome to not be fleshed out and to show us all that it's teased and hinted, to explain what is going on. IT is just, so close to amazing near perfection, but the rushed ending that tosses so much at us that is not set up or explained..... well been over this.

Still I freaking LOVED IT! for the most part and damn did you do a just brilliant job of meshing these two worlds so well. Kudos, and just.. again... great work.

Chapter 4:

She'd ditched the black jumpsuit she'd worn back at Celestia Memorial, revealing an enameled coat of a very pale fuchsia.

CelestAI!
Which...actually would not make sense to someone who hadn't read any Optimalverse... Damn.

This new god of ponykind sounds pretty badass.

As I shot past her, a horn began to press through her brow.

Oh shit, she's like, actually ascending. Damn.
Also just occurred to me, mostly since I had already know this fro reading the bit of the doc, but "coming back"? From the end of chapter 3? Celestia is dead? or Gone?

“ST Executive, this is Chance. What if we reversed the flow?”

~Bounce the Graviton Particle beam off the main deflector dish~

“H’y! Y’r hr’nss!” I shouted through gritted teeth.

I see what you mean about understanding her through the lightning rod. It took me a second, but I got there. Which is probably about what you want.

I jammed my lightning rod into the last node, fusing it. Lightning danced inside her muzzle. She smoked.

Damn. Cold. Appropriate, tho. A god was about to be born, under incredibly unclear and uncontrolled circumstances, and probably at the cost of many ponies' lives. Putting it down was the right call.

“Get out of here.” A voice said, sounding weary and defeated. Stunned, I realized it was my own. “Squirt, help her. You two need to hurry.”

I felt their gaze on me.

I continued, “Go! I won't hurt her. But somepony will if they catch her. Now go!”

Mmmmkay? Not sure about the motivations at this very moment, but we'll see by the end.

But maybe Rose was different. Maybe she could manage to make it through to her expiry date.

For somepony like her to make it all the way, maybe that was a kind of freedom. One that would last forever.

Okay, so, she stopped Rose from ascending, at least for the moment, but allowed her to escape because she... thought she would bring hope? Wait, she said watched her first sunrise. As in there were no sunrises before now? Does that mean that Rose got close enough to divinity that she has control over the sun? Or she had control for a moment and now there is perpetual sunrise? I have so many questions.

It was a fun ride. I liked Chance. The setting and mood felt right for the story you were telling, and the whole world sounds fascinating to hear snipets about. I liked trying to figure out what a "spiro" was before it was actually described. I enjoy jargon in fantasy worlds, and a magitek fantasy world is the best place to find it. And I do so love any character trying to become a god. Tho this one isn't doing it out of some deep-seated desire for power and disregard for other ponies' lives.

Well, maybe the second one, but it was obvious she was trying to help. One out of two ain't bad. :pinkiecrazy:

I wanted to like this a lot more than I did :applecry: I just felt too lost, especially once I hit the last chapter. For such a short story, so many things weren't explained...I just don't understand the ending at all. At. All. And I hate that. I'd love more of this, if I could figure out exactly what's going on. There's just not enough explained for me to make any sense of things. :raritydespair:

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