• Member Since 15th Sep, 2011
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Bookish Delight


~ai no senshi~


E

Twilight Sparkle may have shown Starlight Glimmer the error of her ways, but Starlight is still new to the concept of true friendship. Fortunately, Twilight has true friends in high places.

However, when Fluttershy and Starlight start talking about old times, the two find unexpected solidarity in shared heartache.

Preread by Mooncalf.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 34 )

Alright, was wondering when there was gonna be another installment in this series. You did a fine job! :yay:

Majin Syeekoh
Story Approver

You’re like mixing psuedo-shipping and feels and it’s all messing with my head.:raritycry:

I enjoyed this, though, yeah.

These just keep getting deeper.

She saw a cute white rabbit, walked over, and held out her hoof to pet it. The bunny fixed her with a cold stare for her efforts.

Angel seemed quite taken with Starlight when they met on the show.

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These all take place (and, technically, were conceived) before Season 6.

We'll just say she kept at it and reached him. Villain bondage bonding

Huzzah! A well written fic with some character development and character analysis for both yellow pony and lilac[?] pony! A thumbs up and follow from me! :pinkiecrazy:

This was so deep. I loved it!

Amazing stuff. This one was always going to be special given the history between these two, but you really knocked this one out of the park. Thank you for it.

Wow just wow i love how you did fluttershy another great story

First rate. Seems Starlight has a lot more work to do: for emotional wholeness, you really need to love yourself a little.

Starlight looked at the mass of animals running and chattering amongst themselves. "Honestly, looking at your collective here? Really just reminds me of..." She stopped short.

In the SWSV, Fluttershy's half-Changeling, and her animals are her substitute Hive / source of Love. So she's naturally sympathetic to eusociality. Even in vanilla canon, I'm sure you noticed that Fluttershy was the one most sympathetic to Starlight Glimmer's egalitarian dream.

But not the fear that enforced it. And especially not the idea of giving up her individuality.

See Post-Traumatic on that.

Great story thanks for continuing these stories I can't wait for next one

This was good. Really good.

Poor Glim Glam...also...low key flirting with Fluttershy... I see you!

Good thing the votes are fixed now.

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Yeah, that was interesting. All's well that ends well, though!

What writers in the comics and show seem to forget is that friendship NEEDS common ground, as much as we celebrate differences, the truth is, is that we NEED common ground in order to communicate. For example, Octavia and Vinyl may LOOK different as night and day at first glance... but they're both music lovers, both original composers, they're both invited to Canterlot to perform repeatedly yet live in Ponyville, and Slice of Life showed them COMBINING their styles into a single whole, rather than two different songs overlapping, etc. Without common ground, we couldn't relate to each other, and being able to relate to each other is NEEDED for friendship.

I've often imagined Starlight having trust issues with Fluttershy. If Fluttershy fooled her so completely, and was willing to betray Starlight for her friends once, what was to keep her from ever doing that again?

we need more stories like this!

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SWSV? You've got me kinda curious, what is that exactly?

Giant list of compliments, constructive criticisms, etc. incoming!

"Just between you and me? None of my other pony friends have ever taken so much interest in my day-to-day doings with my animal friends as you did today."

Is this true? So far as I remember they didn't, but I never saw every episode. Good observation if it's true, though... I mean, everyone helps Rarity make her dresses if she needs help, or helps Applejack buck apples when she needs help. Does Flutters ever need help? "Dragonshy" wasn't exactly day-to-day.

"Well, forcibly taking our cutie marks and throwing us into a conditioning room—to say nothing of having a conditioning room in the first place that you'd clearly used on your citizens—was naturally where my friends and I drew the line," Fluttershy said.

Unless you're a reclusive bookworm mage sent on a mission from Celestia herself, of course.'

The conditioning room you threw me and my friends in was the closest thing to a school that I saw.

Fluttershy almost NEVER gets that long-winded without taking a breath, or starting a new sentence. Commas and periods should be your little woodland critters scampering through the forests of Fluttershy's sentences.

Even Maud does long-drawn out sentences more than Fluttershy... when she speaks more than one or two words that is. Which is why it's so funny; there's no middle ground with the earth pony.

With Fluttershy, though, it was distracting and took me out of the moment.

But Fluttershy's character and personality was spot-on except for that, so this minor nitpick can be forgiven.

Heck, cutie marks were how this had all started!

Brilliant observation I hadn't even considered. After Starlight lost her friend to a cutie mark, she would have had to get her own eventually. Ouch. Like getting a hot iron seared onto your flank.

Pegasi are strong, and speak out when they see something wrong. Pegasi fly everywhere. Pegasi command the room. Command attention."

Really good point. The only two pegasi we see who don't have personalities like that are Fluttershy and Derpy. Scootaloo maybe.

Granted, it simply rose to the level of anypony else's normal speaking voice, but Starlight was good at understanding context.

AWESOME, but subtle, potshot at every stupid reader who screams "OOC!" whenever somepony in a fan ficiton dares to have an actual feeling.

Starlight's heart twisted as she remembered the lonely nights looking at her own cutie mark in the mirror... while making sure nopony else in her town could. Wishing she could lock hers away with the others and still be able to lead.

Honestly, the whole "hypocrite Starlight" thing is like saying, "Why do the cops get to speed down the road, but if I do it then I get pulled over?"

My wings aren't me. I use them when I want to. I like them.

Says the pegasus who is a worse, less frequent flyer than even a unicorn like Starlight. Though to be fair, we really should see her on her wings more in the actual show. We get it. She's not a great flyer. She should still just, you know, hover more. Like RD but less often, and less high up in the air.

Because I finally knew: whatever problems I had with what ponies thought of 'cute and quiet' Fluttershy, none of them laid with me. But your town taught me that. You taught me that.

This is the explanation sentence... the reason why Starlight inadvertently taught Fluttershy something. It should be the most powerful part of your story save for the end... but the delivery of this line should be changed. I'd like to think I'm pretty good at logic and following premises to their conclusions. Still, I had to re-read this, and the preceding paragraphs, a couple times to realize what Starlight's town had actually taught Fluttershy.

Here's how I'd write that sentence.
"Your town showed me how great it is to be unique. I saw your alternative and hated it. I liked myself more than I would've liked being blindly accepted."

Notice how I break it up with periods because it's Fluttershy and not Pinkie Pie we're portraying here.

Starlight didn't bother wiping her eyes this time. It would have been futile anyway. Her words came out in weak breaths.

"I can't remember the last time I did."

POWERFUL ending.

Okay so here is everything that I like. Great worldbuilding for a 4,000 word story on the nature of pegasi and how they view Fluttershy. And how she feels excluded and talked about behind her back, like she's a waste of a set of wings. I think that's probably realistic given that she's the only pegasus who does earth pony tasks like care for wildlife.

That being said, read my blog. Friendship is about the deliberate exchange of value for value. Or at the very least, maybe the subconscious level... but not outright contradicting the value-giver's stated morality system at the time. You have Starlight teaching Fluttershy something about herself... but that wasn't the Starlight we see today who taught her that. That was Our Town Starlight, who was evil. The value that her town showed to Fluttershy, was made entirely outside of Our Town Starlight's knowledge. Indeed, if Our Town Starlight had known at the time that Fluttershy had drawn that conclusion about herself from the town, that it had made her love of herself stronger, it would've upset Our Town Starlight immensely.. since that was the opposite of her desired effect. You can't base a friendship on an accidental lesson by a pony who eventually changed so much that she became nearly unrecognizable as a person. You have to find new value there in present-Starlight to maintain and build a friendship.

That being said, I still think you should've included Fluttershy's tale within your story because it was SO. BUCKING. POWERFUL. It showed the metaphysical impotence of evil quite starkly. Evil can never triumph over good for long, unless good men do nothing. That is because evil is incapable of creating anything on its own, it can only loot or steal from what others have used their good traits to build. Starlight could only steal cutie marks. She could only refurbish some old, abandoned ghost town instead of build her own buildings. But then she changed.

Again, that was my problem. Our Town Starlight and present Starlight were not the same person. She is a changed Mare. So I think that present-day Starlight must have some value, something of her own that she currently has, to trade with Fluttershy. She does... kinda. She displays interest in Fluttershy's profession. That by itself can be a value... people sometimes need to know that they're not the only ones in the world who like something (like tending small critters).

In exchange, though, Fluttershy herself gave Starlight the quite profound value of demonstrating the impotence of evil directly to Starlight who needed to hear it. She needed to hear how truly powerless she really was to change someone special and unique like Fluttershy, in fact made her change for the better. Even the Nazis gave us scientific advancements that we still use today to save lives, albeit obtained in evil experiments on Jews. Every time a Jewish life is saved in an operation made possible only by Nazi science, I'm sure that a neo-Nazi clenches his teeth in anger. When you really understand how powerless evil truly is, you understand that evil is nothing to be worried about in the long run. Evil becomes almost like a joke, like Dr. Doofenschmerz from Phineas and Ferb.

So here is the, additional, value that present-day Starlight could change. She is a natural malcontent and speaks out against injustice that she perceives... both as a villain and a good pony. Perhaps we could mention, earlier in the story, that Glimmer overhears one of the pegasi say something negative about Fluttershy, and since she knows Fluttershy she confronts him about it since Fluttershy herself would never do so. Maybe Glimmer mentions something about how all three pony races are equal in soul, but different in skill. That you need that diversity to make a society work.

Maybe Glimmer even coins that as a catchphrase (like one of her many catchphrases and slogans we hear in the brainwashing booth) and she teaches it to Fluttershy. Now all Fluttershy has to do is repeat the simple, but profound statement "I'm equal in soul, different in skill" to pegasi who question whether she is a "waste of a pair of wings." So the whole earlier part of your story could've been expanded to include the better part of a day. Then when they get home, Starlight could ask Fluttershy exactly how long this has gone on for. THEN you include the rest of your story... basically as you have it now already.

Basically what I'm saying is... have me pre-read your next three stories so I can apply my in-depth nitpicks to it before you publish it. :pinkiecrazy:

That being said, even with all the improvements I suggested, I still really like your story. If you changed everything I mentioned, then it would be EXACTLY my philosophical conception of the idea of friendship... a contemporaneous exchange of value for value.

That's why friendship is magic. Two emotionally hurt ponies (or people) can go into a room together, talk things out, and both end up stronger. Like two drunks holding each other up... Except with the mind, that sort of thing works. Unlike the body, the mind is far more elastic and near-unlimited in its conception.

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SWSV = Shadow Wars Story Verse. My overarching story arc is about our Universe being endangered by the Night Shadows, evil creatures from a dying Universe who want to conquer and plunder our own, starting with the Pony Earth. Inspired by Alex Warlorn's PonyPOV series in some key aspects.

That's a lot of resentment for her supposed friends.

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Your use of the "exchange of value" concept is flawed. The concept itself is fine, when used correctly, you're simply misusing it on several levels.

First and foremost: Starlight Glimmer is Starlight Glimmer. As much as people like to use concepts like "born again" and "the old me is dead" it doesn't actually work that way. Everything about "New Glim" is not a new person, it is the same pony trying to learn some things she didn't understand before. Learning new things and building new experiences and making decisions based on that gain of knowledge doesn't make you a different person. Her identity is pretty irrelevant to the concepts you're pushing.

As for the exchange of value itself:

That being said, read my blog. Friendship is about the deliberate exchange of value for value. Or at the very least, maybe the subconscious level... but not outright contradicting the value-giver's stated morality system at the time.

In this you contradict yourself. It isn't deliberate if it is subconscious, it can indeed be subconscious. And there is no expiration date on the value or anything of that sort. You're attempting to make it more complicated than it really is.

Fluttershy can gain value from any source, regardless of intent of that source. It is her value assessment that is relevant. Had Fluttershy expressed or explained the value she gained from Starlight back then, you would be correct that Starlight's intent and value system would not have made this exchange a friendly one. But Fluttershy did not attempt to make friends with Starlight back then. So, moot point.

Fluttershy is making friends with Starlight today. Starlight's intent is still irrelevant. Her value system of today is relevant. Because she finds the value Fluttershy gained to be agreeable, it is a friendly revelation. She may still regret the intent she had back then, and further dislike her old value system, but the fact that she did something she now considers good, in spite of her intent and old value system, there is friendly feelings and bonding with Fluttershy. They are friends now, this event when seen through her current value system is a positive one.

What Starlight has done, her past, hasn't gone away. Finding value in that past instead of abandoning it and forgetting it is healthy. Especially in the form we see in this story: where she doesn't need to go back to how she was to produce this value. It's simply something one of her friends gained due to her, for being her. The value Starlight gains from this exchange in the present is more comfort with letting go of at least a small piece of guilt attached to her past misdeeds, and a little clearer conscious going forward and seeking a happy and healthy life alongside her friend.

So there was a mutually beneficial exchange of value. It dealt with events of the past, but the real value was not exchanged in the past, it was exchanged in the now by way of conversation.

Nice work! I really loved this story a lot.

Three, as they say, makes a pattern.  And as the third entry in the “Starbrightening” saga, “Community” demonstrates some fascinating details about the series as a whole.  For one thing, despite having at its core one main character (in contrast with its cousin, Ye Olde P3, which was about all the potential pairings of the Mane Six and thus did not necessarily share the same main characters from one story to the next), they have done a remarkable job keeping themselves from being repetitive; in structure, in theme, in dynamic.  That feat becomes doubly impressive when one recognizes that one of the key pillars of the whole series is, in fact, a recurring theme, about not only the way others view Starlight, but how she views herself, especially in relation to her checkered past, and how the two perspectives of each entry work together to try and help her figure out the way forward.  But I think the most significant takeaway “Community” establishes in terms of the “Starbrightening” saga’s ultimate shape is that it is bold as hell in just the best way possible.

Admittedly, this is also probably the “Starbrightening” story with which I have the most overall problems thus far.  For one thing, there are some very distracting instances of repeated word choice that don’t add up to a consistent or deliberate pattern as far as I can see; Fluttershy uses the line, “I was able to sound so sincere when I said I wanted to join your town because I had lots to draw from," nearly verbatim twice, for example, with no indication that it’s a deliberate call-back.  For another, this story really pushes the envelope on one of your favorite tropes, the emotional outburst overriding the speaker’s original intent, causing them to slip out of control of themselves and thus leading to a personal revelation.  Now, mind you, given the deeply profound nature of the conversations here, those outbursts do make sense, and you do a good job of building up to and transitioning into them…but we also get a lot of them this time, from both characters, and it starts to lose its impact a little more each time.

But if I have the most complaints about “Community”, I’m also very tempted to say the things that are good about it are also the very best the “Starbrightening” saga has yet offered.

At this point, it almost goes without saying that you nail the voices of both characters, and create a unique, compelling dynamic for them to share that also effortlessly allows the story to present and explore its broader themes.  That’s not just the calling card of the “Starbrightening” series thus far, it’s basically your signature style for Pony ‘fic period, and thank goodness for that.  But even so, I appreciate the ways in which the basic set-up keeps itself distinct from either of its predecessors, because while they involved a member of the Mane Six helping Starlight to learn something about herself, here Fluttershy and Starlight are on somewhat more equal footing.  Which is to say, this isn’t just a case of Fluttershy teaching Starlight, but rather she and Starlight teaching each other.  And you do a great job of hinting at that early on, too; compared to her relative inexperience and lack of knowledge in regards to applebucking or fashion, Starlight is able to grasp the core tenets of animal care fairly easily and naturally, showing right out the gate that the out-of-her-depth element which set up the core premise of each of the prior stories is not going to be present here.  It also provides a brilliant point of transition for Fluttershy to breach the topic of her previous leadership over Our Town, but we’ll get to that in a bit.  For now, suffice it to say that establishing fact sets the story’s mood perfectly, in addition to being rather pleasant in its own right (as ever your attention to detail is a delight; the aside about Angel especially tickled my fancy).  And while I know you’ve mentioned before you have “Fluttershy apathy”, as I have also said before, you’d never guess it from reading your take on her here*; the way she consistently seeks to build Starlight up (even as Starlight keeps trying to downplay the significance of her own achievements), the subtlety of her acknowledgement that the life she leads is very particular and thus not one many ponies really share in or understand (even among her closest friends, itself a carefully-placed aside that lands perfectly**), and most of all her willingness to open herself up for the sake of helping Starlight to understand her own feelings.  It’s that last piece I find especially compelling, not only for how it gets to the heart of the story but because it speaks profoundly of Fluttershy’s character that this is her solution of choice.  It is, after all, an attempt to reveal common ground between them, but one which requires a tremendous amount of personal courage to be open and honest about one’s own feelings of frustration and anger and disappointment.  That mixture of courage and understanding and empathy is the core of Fluttershy’s entire character, and you not only bake it right into the premise of the story, you make it clear and compelling each and every step of the way, too.

Especially because all those steps lead us to one of the most multi-faceted webs of emotion you’ve ever laid out.  There are a lot of layers here, some with beautifully broad implications for the larger pony world (“some ponies really like what a pegasus is supposed to be” carries a lot of weight to it), others far more intimately tied into our characters’ inner lives (Fluttershy mockingly repeating back all the little things she’s overheard ponies say about her is just a great overall moment).  But they are all tied together into a coherent whole which, like “True Beauty”, seeks to explore what Starlight’s actions in Our Town really meant, both to her and in broader terms of how we live a moral life at all.  As always, you find a perfect point of connection from within the show itself (Fluttershy’s apparent choice to join up with Starlight way back in “The Cutie Map”, which was already one of my favorite elements of that episode for how intrinsically fascinating it was) to expand upon the connection between these two characters, and I especially appreciate the cleverness of that expansion this time around; Fluttershy’s metaphor comparing wings to Cutie Marks isn’t only interesting to chew over in its own right, it also does a lot to flesh out Starlight’s own motivation by delving into what it was Starlight was really trying to achieve in her mission, and why she wanted to in the first place.  It plays entirely fair with the information we already have from the show itself, but by focusing in on those emotions, those feelings of defiance and frustration (the implication that Starlight was driven as much by a desire to prove “them” wrong as anything else struck me as a fascinating new layer to her history), it also heightens our understanding of, and ability to relate to, them.  And again, because these two face each other as equals, as peers in a way distinct from Starlight’s relationship with any of her other friends***, they are both able to share these feelings openly, as raw and real as the day they were first experienced.

But the real crux of the matter is where all of those emotions and insights take us: “Thank you so much, for being who you were then... and who you are now."  “True Beauty” laid the groundwork a little bit, asking as it does for us to take a different view of the traits of Starlight’s that led her to make the mistakes she did with Our Town, but this takes that one step further, by pointing out how, not only has changed, but she created a situation that, whatever else may have been true about it, allowed Fluttershy to realize who she really was and how she really felt.  Which in and of itself offers a fascinating insight, about how who we are is not the same thing as what other people see or want, but it’s also part of a broader moral statement the story chooses to stake out here, about the nature of forgiveness and redemption.  It isn’t a clear-cut, set-in-stone kind of stance, either; the ambiguous ending, with Starlight acknowledging how long it’s been since she’s been able to look inside of herself and be happy with what she sees, makes sure there’s a level of uncertainty to all of it that keeps things from feeling too black-and-white, as fits the bold nature of the statement being made.  At its core, though, that statement is about how we learn from mistakes, and thus those who make those mistakes do not always need to carry the blame for them the rest of our lives, because sometimes there can be Right even amidst Wrong.  As is all too appropriate for a story about the Element of Kindness****, then, it is a story whose moral center boldly stands its ground next to the need for Mercy, even in the face of some truly dire circumstances.  It does not ask us to forgive and forget in quite such simple terms, but it does ask us to try and look at the fullest picture we can before we cast our judgments too firmly.  Which can be a difficult idea to wrap one’s head around, even as a reader of this story; I think there’s a level at which it felt really and personally challenging to me specifically, even.  But for that very reason, it not only grabs your attention, it demands your respect, and that strikes me as exactly the kind of courage I love most in my fiction, fan or otherwise.

I have this personally-enforced policy of never favoriting the works of any artist/author I follow too frequently, because to my mind it creates the risk of feeling insincere, that the favorite is owed less to the actual value of the work and more with my familiarity with/fondness for the author/artist.  But at the same time, I can’t not favorite a story that I find to be…well, a favorite, and thus far all three “Starbrightening”s have done just that.  “Community” specifically is maybe the starkest, boldest statement of what really drives the heart of the whole series, an impassioned, sincere story that really does leave an impression and gets you thinking.  Truly exceptional all around.



*but then, that’s another signature of yours, isn’t it?  ALL characters receive equal and excellent care under your watch, regardless of your personal feelings on them; if you choose to write them, you always choose to do right by them.
** especially because it isn’t so much resentful as much as it is an acknowledgement; not necessarily a happy one, but also not an angry one.
*** except maybe Trixie, but I suspect we’ll get our chance to learn more about that in these stories soon enough, even as I realize the timeline of the “Starbrightening” series technically rules that out.  As a great man once said: “Life, uh, finds a way.”
**** incidentally I sort of loved Fluttershy’s aside about how most stories about the Mane Six’s exploits likely come with a fair degree of exaggeration

"There goes Fluttershy. She has zero-point-two percent wing power. What's she worth to you? A copy of the latest Daring Do book, maybe? No problem,'" she said, her voice deflating and shuddering. "' Let's trade. "

whoa,the last part really sent shivers down my spine

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Yeah, for real. I was about to quote the same passage and comment on that.

Okay, as a longstanding subscriber to the Empire of Bookish, I am going to TLDR everyone else that follows this post (and some before it):

Bucking awesome (and I personally found nothing to fault). Gimme moar. I want me some Rainbow Dash or Twilight next!

Since there's going to be an eighth season, we can always dream that Starlight is going to have her own pet. I mean, look how long it took Rainbow Dash to find hers!

I really like this. Fluttershy's backstory and her interaction with Starlight and the message is clear. "Be glad of who you are as a person":heart:

Also, I'm looking forward to the sequel involving Starlight and Rainbow Dash as well as Pinkie Pie

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