• Member Since 26th Jun, 2018
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Lets Do This

We're going to build an exact copy of Ponyville... right over there! We've got less than a minute!



This story is a sequel to Saving Sunset Shimmer

Faced with Nightmare Moon's approaching return, Twilight, Tempest, and their classmates need help from an expert on the subject... a pony named Moondancer. There's just one problem: it's the last thing Moondancer wants to talk about...

For more of this AU, see: Trixie Luna Moon

And also check out the series, beginning with Not Exactly Friends.

Chapters (5)
Comments ( 93 )

One of these days you WILL have to stop beating around the bush with this. Just all the waiting is what killed the series for me as it is.

Oh and the Trixie bit I honestly don't see why it has to be a thing. Except for drama and a need to make somehow important at all.

Well, I have to admit, you did a great job thinking of a way to work Moondancer officially into this. I especially liked Moondancer's inner reflections concerning Twilight and her group [mostly Twilight herself though] and can sympathize to SOME extent with her feeling like she can't measure up. Kudos to Lemon, Twinkle and Minuette for at least trying to reassure Moondancer though.

Anyway, really good job on the exchanges, characterizations and future chapter set-up in all the right places.

And I'm on to the next chapter.

Really good bits and pieces of backstory for Moondancer. I especially liked the nods to the Pears (i.e. AJ's family from her mother's side) and can sympathize with Moondancer for getting picked on over a Cutie Mark SHE doesn't understand (kind of a dramatic inversion of the Cutie Mark Crusaders in the sense of her Cutie Mark coming in TOO SOON).

And, yeah, again, the exchanges, characterizations and future chapter set-ups are all well done in all the right places.

And, again, on to the next chapter.

LOVED the chat with Celestia and her Guard Captain (at this time). Plus, the assigning of duties to Twilight and her team make pretty good sense under the circumstances. I LOVED Tempest's points about more practical armor and how Sunset got Twilight on the path to getting Moondancer more officially into this and THEN helped Moondancer by figuring out a good chunk of the reason she is so heavily into the books.

All in all, the exchanges, characterizations and future chapter set-up are, again, beautifully done.

On to the next chapter.

So, Moondancer is the sixth member. Great job with her in this chapter. It is clear she wants to be Twilight’s friend.

So, Double Diamond, Sugar Belle and Party Favor became Nightmare Moon cultists and kidnapped Moondancer, huh? Have to admit that DID catch me by surprise. But I DID love the teamwork that went into the rescue (particularly Tempest in disguise using "dramatics lessons" she picked up from Trixie). And, somehow, it doesn't surprise me that Twilight was nice enough to let the kidnapping slide and even alibi the kidnappers under a promise it would never happen again. And, yeah, considering at least THREE in that group are powerful enough to levitate an Ursa Minor and a multi-ton water tower single-hoofedly, I don't think them moving a trunk full of books would be much of a problem.

At any rate, the exchanges, characterizations, action and epilogue set-up are all splendidly done in all the right places and I will definitely be looking forward to the finale.

REALLY good job on the exchange between Trixie and Luna/Nightmare Moon. Yeah, they BOTH actually make some good points and I DID enjoy Luna's more compassionate side coming out, however briefly, to reassure Trixie. And, yeah, I continue to hope Trixie will make the realization that it would be in LUNA's (and, by extension, Nightmare Moon's) best interest to patch things up with Celestia, allowing her to honor her deal WITHOUT betraying her friends.

Anyway, the cliffhanger/future story set-up IS quite well done.

She writes to Nightmare Moon, Sunset thought, as a way of coping. Because she feels she can't make friends. And making friends matters to her. Not like Twilight, who's perfectly happy just reading for reading's sake. For Moondancer, having friends means everything. Studying is just a way of shutting out the pain, the loneliness...

"I am so sorry, Moondancer," Sunset said. "I get it now. Don't ask me how, I just do! I get how much Nightmare Moon means to you.

When and how did Sunset figure all this out? She got punched in the face not Vulcan mind melded.

Man, those kids were brats. I am just glad Moondancer found acceptance with others eventually.

Actually, what put Sunset on the floor was Moondancer's memories, as described in the second chapter. I originally considered putting that chapter at that point, as Sunset's "empathy flashback", but the current structure works better, since it gives you a sense of where Moondancer is coming from when Twilight and the others go looking for her.

Ooh, new story in the Not Exactly Friends series.

Grubber, standing off to the side, peered up at Tempest.

"Me too, boss?"

Tempest eyed him narrowly. "You hug me," she muttered, "you'll regret it..."

Give it time Tempest.

Thanks much, CK -- as always, I really appreciate the in-depth feedback. It helps!
It's also great to hear that the little details I worked in, like the Pear family, and what became of Starlight's fellow villagers when she didn't form her own cult, were a plus. Some of those are spur of the moment, some are planned, but either way, glad you liked it!

Methinks thou art misunderstanding... The implication is that she got mentally overloaded by touching Moondancer, somehow, not clocked in the face...

Man, even when Starlight isn’t a cutie mark hating, equality obsessed, communist cultist leader, the ponies from her village still somehow end up joining a cult. Are they cursed or something?

...Nightmare Moon is not the kind of pony you want to form a cult around... Luna, however, is worthy of such worship! Though she may or may not enjoy it, seeing as her sister is often depicted as being uncomfortable with worship... That may even be canon?

And there's the end of it... I shall enjoy the next part, when it comes out, although the wait leading up to it... Is a necessary evil. Don't want to end up like Pokémon SwSh, gutting the next entry in the series just to get it out quick.

So with Twilight’s group now officially having six members, I guess it won’t be much longer until they need to take on Nightmare Moon. How will everyone react when they learn Trixie’s secret?

It just seemed appropriate to acknowledge that nothing is ever truly lost, including those who feel directionless and in need of a purpose and a leader of some sort. If not Starlight, they'd eventually have found somepony else...

Guy, if you don't like it, then why are you still reading it at all?

So Nightmare Moon's got Trixie and Moondancer...what.
How's this going to play into Luna's return?

"Ol' Twilight nearly took the roof off the exam hall hatching a dragon's egg!

I thought she did - or, rather, he did, since it was Spike's size-increased head that destroyed the roof.
Wasn't that how Celestia knew something was wrong? A giant baby dragon's head poking out of her school's roof?

The first part of this chapter is absolutely sweet.

I have been wondering whether Starlight still checks up on Sunburst every now and then offscreen. Last thing we need is him switching places with her as cult leader. Her getting enrolled is pretty much a chance to stay in touch with him.

Oh, with the phrasing and situation it reads like she got smacked right in the face. It's also incredibly contrived how suddenly Sunset just knows everything for no reason at all which a chapter, flashback, vision, anything would help with as long as there's a reason or implied reason. Not just that she needs to know for the story to continue.

EDIT: Or bringing this up before would've been nice.

Sunset shrugged. Now was as good a time as any to bring it up. "When I crossed over through the mirror, I picked up this weird empathy talent. I touch someone, and bam, I see things about them: memories, feelings, sometimes stuff they're not even aware of themselves!"

Once again, you totally nail the characterizations. You seemed nervous about writing Moondancer's entry to the group in previous installments, but it's really easy to see how this Moondancer could have ended up as Canon Moondancer if not for the divergent track Tempest ending up at CSGU spurred into motion. I also can't help but wonder if you didn't take some of the advice I gave previously in your decision to split this entry into smaller vignette chapter segments while still achieving the longer story length needed to get all of the details in. Either way, it worked, and you were able to maintain the pacing of each segment as its own self-contained yet still connected narrative.

We also get to see more of the excellent characterization you've already done for the existing cast, and Celestia's own assessment of them, and they sparked me to reconsider some of my own headcanons for the Ponies in question.

  • Tempest remains unchanged for the most part, but her character got a bit more fleshed out, and she got an opportunity to flex her intimidation skills a bit, which was cool.
  • Starlight got placed firmly into the role of rear-echelon support. The power behind the throne so to speak. Before I'd always through of her as a good front-tier administrator, considering she managed to keep "Her" Town going despite the issues it no doubt would have faced without anyone allowed any specialty skills, and later taking over the School of Friendship, but you've gotten me to consider that she may be better in the role of a sort of, power behind the throne, so to say. Yes, she's highly competent as an administrator, but she'd probably be even Better as an advisor, working alongside the team-lead, but following the tangential and alternative tracks while looking at the problems they face from different angles.
  • Trixie also got to show a bit more of her fangs, though you've also introduced a bit more doubt into her character to go along with the reassurance to her position within Twilight's group of friends. It will be interesting to see how her character develops. It's clear she is being influenced by Luna/Nightmare Moon, but it might also be interesting to see if that influence can go both ways, and as others have suggested, ultimately how she interprets how she will be able to "Best" serve her mentor and Princess. I think Luna actually gave her a key to that conundrum here, by saying that she is dominant during the day while the Nightmare sleeps, and it was obvious from her earlier introduction that Trixie much prefers Luna to her Nightmare alter-ego, and if the day never comes, will the Nightmare ever sleep again? Questions for another time.
  • Sunset was also interesting, taking a secondary role to Twilight. Some of that in the beginning might be that she's still somewhat hung up on her earlier failures, but I think she managed to get her hooves under her a bit more thanks to being able to help Moondancer, and coming to the realization that while it's good that she can lead others, she's much better at letting others take the lead while taking up the role of motivating them to break past the barriers they sometimes don't even realized they've placed in front of themselves.

The only sticking point, and this is a minor one, was the beginning of the second chapter. It took me about half of the first segment to realize that it was a flashback, but after that it had a strange (but good) quality to it where it almost seemed as though we were reading through Moondancer looking back through her own memories in time with the end of the first chapter, barring of course the first one where she would have been too young to remember. Putting it at the beginning of the story, it would have probably run into similar issues to Sunset -- Part I, but I'm not really sure what a good way to go about making the transition to flashback more explicit without beating the readers over the head with it would look like.

hmm, so I'm getting the vibes that Twi is still magic, Tempest is loyalty, Sunset is honesty (and still retains some of her empathy powers), Trixie has got to be Laughter, so that leaves Starlight and Moondancer as a tossup between kindness and generosity.

Ah, but as Celestia said this is an entirely new generation, and evolving into an entirely new power. Just as Sorcery became Magic, Bravery became Loyalty, Hope became Laughter, Beauty became Generosity, Healing became Kindness, and Strength became Honesty, so too might Magic, Laughter, Generosity, Honesty, Loyalty and Kindness turn out to be something entirely new and different.

I'm thinking possibly something along the lines of Science (Twilight), Wonder (Trixie), Inspiration (Starlight), Confidence (Moondancer), Honor (Tempest), and Empathy (Sunset).

Of course, this is just me Mass Wild A:yay: guessing. I could be (and probably am) entirely wrong.

I can see how the text as written could be misread that way, so I've tweaked the last line before the scene break to make it clear it's flashback, not roundhouse.

I do reference Sunset's "empathy flashback" ability in both Sunset -- Part II and Saving Sunset Shimmer. It's part of her canon character, much like Twilight's bookishness. But fair enough, if you were starting with this episode (and/or haven't seen the EQG movies) that might not have been a given.

"Maybe..." the leader said hesitantly, "you could give us some pointers?"

You're letting a bucking filly boss you around? A filly YOU foalnapped?
For crying out loud...you guys suck. You guys suck almost as much as the ponies who foalnapped Celestia by accident.

Thanks much for the detailed feedback! Yes, this was a bit of a challenge, creating an essentially semi-OC backstory for Moondancer that still fits with her canon role as "the forgotten bookish friend". My assumption is that, in the canon universe, Moondancer's "talent" (her in-depth knowledge of Nightmare Moon) simply never had a chance to shine following Luna's return, which is part of what turns her into such a bitter recluse. In this universe, in keeping with the pattern from other episodes, she avoids that fate, and winds up Twilight's friend early on.

I also wanted to show how each of Twilight's new friends are pulling her in different directions: Tempest and Trixie are both encouraging her to stay sheltered and safe, though for different reasons. Starlight is on the fence, wanting to help but not feeling it's her place to say anything, so it's up to Sunset to haul Twilight out of the box and help her reconnect with her friends.

Thanks much for your thoughts on the characters. I've been writing them in a way that "fits" this universe, though I occasionally worry that they're not quite in keeping with their canon show versions -- though some of that could be because this is more of a "serious" tale, whereas canon episodes with, for example, Starlight and Trixie, tend to be played for laughs and so work on different aspects of the characters' personalities. It's reassuring to hear that I'm doing a good job with them, particularly the members of the group who don't happen to be the focus in each "episode", so to speak.

Regarding the second chapter, the "once upon a time..." lead-in was intended as a metaphorical hint that this was a backstory chapter. As noted in another comment, I considered making this an actual Sunset flashback, but instead decided to put it first in the story, to make Moondancer's character and motivations clear in the chapters that follow. I also considered making it a standalone "origin" story on its own, but decided I didn't want to leave a character on a sad, cliff-hanger ending this time round, so I rolled it into this story as a flashback/backstory chapter.

Again, thanks for reading, and for your in-depth comments. It's feedback like this that helps keep this series going!

Well, he didn't take the whole roof off, merely part of it. Hence, "nearly took the roof off", as simply "took the roof off" would imply that the whole roof came detached, which it did not, most of the roof actually stayed in place whilst a relatively small area of it was smashed open. Not sure whether that's a sign of excellent or horrible craftsmanship...

There's probably a building code for such things: "withstand a magnitude 6 earthquake, a scale 4 hurricane, force 3 tornado, and in addition provide sufficient headroom for one (1) magically summoned adult dragon..."

Hold on a second!

The Nightmare cult had a leader, didn’t it? Where’d she get to?


"Misdirection, my humble assistant!" Trixie intoned proudly. "Keep the audience distracted, keep them looking the wrong way, so they never see what you're really up to." She grinned happily. "And timing, too... that's so important!"

"I had friends... well, followers! Ponies who listened to me, believed in me, did what I told them. To them, I was Great and Powerful! Well, sort of. And you made me give all that up. After I worked so hard for it!"


If I understand this last chapter correctly, Trixie was the cult leader.


Regarding the second chapter, the "once upon a time..." lead-in was intended as a metaphorical hint that this was a backstory chapter.

I get that, and that's one of the elements that clicked in my brain letting me know it was a flashback a couple paragraphs down. I don't know. Maybe I was just tired when I was reading this last night. :derpytongue2:

Aww, that’s sweet. Sunset, you done good.

I believe the term you’re looking for is “trans-dimensional irony”. Or something like that. FanOfMostEverything could probably tell you more.

I’m very conflicted as to how I should feel about the whole “duplicitous Trixie” angle, but I think that speaks to your skill in writing her. In any case, I will definitely be looking forward to the next installment.

"Conservation of destiny" maybe? In other words, everyone gets the banana peel they deserve...

Thanks, Eroraf86! Repeat customers are the sincerest form of flattery!

A trick?! You tricked me?!

Why, I oughta....

Yeah, I don't remember if I did and I don't like EQG so not there either.

Just burned through this whole series. It was wonderfully wholeseome!

Cool! Thanks much for the read, and glad you liked it!

So Twilight and.her friends have not actually made new magic, instead they have found another way to use the same magic as the elements... So Who figures out that the machine's reverse function of splitting magic can split Nightmare from Luna during the inevitable confrontation? Or we going with using the machine to restore the elements for use?

Wanderer D

All caught up, well done!

I'm leaning toward kindness for Sunset. Trixie as laughter makes the most sense right now, but I'm thinking there's a nonzero chance she's actually honesty--she has a certain something to come clean about, and admitting it will cost her a lot, but doing so would show a great deal of integrity. She also has Applejack's core of practicality, for what it's worth.

She's probably laughter, though. But I do think Sunset is kindness.

Brilliant stuff, as always. I’m always conflicted with AU’s that prevent the original Mane 6 from becoming friends, but this one’s been holding my interest for a while now.

Just... oof. Can’t wait to see how the Summer Sun Celebration goes this time around.

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