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Dave Bryant


Please consider buying me a Ko-fi • I have a vocabulary and I’m not afraid to use it.

Sequels1

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Source

This story is a sequel to Amphorae


Rose Brass, retired army captain, has found a second career as a youth social worker. She has a tough attitude, experience, and a security clearance. Naturally she’s the perfect expert for Sunset Shimmer to consult after Wallflower Blush fails to show up for graduation.

  • A Twin Canterlots story—third of the Brass Ring series.
  • Warning tag refers to an attempt and the aftermath.
  • Written at the behest of, and in collaboration with, Scampy; thanks also to I-A-M for additional assistance.
  • Begins immediately after graduation from Canterlot High School and ends with the start of Virga (latter half of season seven).
  • Hit “Popular Stories” and non-M feature box within an hour of publication and the all-ratings feature box 2 August 2020! Huzzah!
Chapters (17)
Comments ( 112 )

Two of my favorite authors, working together?

And it isn't even my birthday!

It's really happening!!

Enjoying this so far, can't wait to read more.

Enjoying this so far and looking forward to seeing what happens

She blinked and decided Pinkie Pie had played the “read my mind” game a few too many times, then shook her head again.

Psychic contamination is always a concern for empaths. Just not the biggest concern at the moment.

Oh, this is rough. Just in terms of subject matter, mind you, not prose quality. That's as fantastic as usual. Looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.

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This made me laugh out loud with delight. :rainbowlaugh:

It's a sad sight to see, but unfortunately one that's all too familiar. When you've reached the bottom it's almost impossible to really help someone who needs it. Wallflower has probably given up entirely, judging by her living situation, lack of hygiene, and complete disregard for the future (though if I had to guess, she does have one permanent option on her mind). People like Sunset, people that are incredibly caring and persistent almost to a fault, are really the only ones that can break through the almost insulting wall that depression can put up for you. Even then, those wanting to help can get worn down over time and it can be a struggle to see who really wins out in the end. Outside of fiction the minimal front of not even being initially receptive can, and often does, make sure that you'll end up having no one that cares about you at all and can leave you in an isolated pit of misery until you make one of the two ultimate decisions.

It's a good sign Wallflower was able to open up so easily at least, but I suppose time will tell if Sunset and Rose can truly help her or not if she has something darker on her mind.

Holy crap. I had my own ideas about Wallflower's family and living situation, but this...yikes.

Your writing never ceases to impress, gosh. The way some of this stuff is worded is absolutely incredible.

Ooo yes, I like this very much! Looking forward to seeing more!

Oh, Wallflower...

Seems like Rose came into her life just in the nick of time. We'll see how this goes from here. And how Sunset reacts to her possible part in driving Wallflower to this point. And the parents... Yeah, that'll be complicated at best.

That moment at the end is the perfect mix of heartwarming and heartbreaking. Terrific writing as always!

Sunset being a fan of Sailor Moon...I can kinda see it. Though given the odd pony resembles Usagi and her fellow Guardians, well, it does make one wonder.

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And ten trivia points to you!

Yeah, the magical girl comparison was inevitable as soon as Wallflower got a good look at Usagi and friends. Wonderful to see Sunset's efforts to help as best she can. I won't say it's exactly what Wallflower needs right now, but it's the best Sunset can offer. Now to see what tomorrow brings...

AAAA the moment at the end hits hard, man, omg.
I really like your writing, it's immersive, the pacing is great, and so is the balance between showing and telling.

I would say Sailor Moon but I see someone has already beaten me to it. To the victor goes the spoils.
Regardless this has been interesting so far. I wonder what's going to happen next.

This whole chapter is filled to the brim with unspoken tension. The description of the door to Wally's room is especially harrowing--there's no more doubt that her life was in very real danger. She had no other way out than to use the stone. Imagining her cowering behind the locked door, whimpering and clutching the stone as the pounding gets louder and louder, only to finally use it right as her father kicks the door in... Such a heartbreaking scene is only implied, and it still hits super hard.

It's interesting to look at Rose's demeanor early on in this chapter vs right at the end. Bit by bit, her professionalism cracks, and she's only barely able to hold herself together in the end. Remorseless child abusers are enough to make anyone angry, but especially so for someone who's dedicated her life to helping vulnerable kids in need.

As always, excellent writing all the way through! \o/

Rose suddenly realized she should have sat Sunset down beforehand and squeezed the young telepath dry of impressions about how that worked.

And possibly Sunset's friends as well. They had firsthand experience with the phenomenon. Sunset just got years of her life erased; nothing left to have holes.

Scampy has the right of it with the description of the door to Wallflower's room. "Harrowing" is the best way to describe it. Excellent work in rebuilding the scene through describing the lasting evidence.

It was not proper to be wishing Wallflower had used a shotgun instead of the Memory Stone.

Proper? No. Justifiable? Eminently.

The question, of course, is "what now?" For everyone involved. I suppose we'll find out soon enough, at least for Wallflower.

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Good point about talking to the other Rainbooms. I’m debating whether to make a minor revision or leave it as is. Buttonholing Sunset would make sense, since she already is deeply involved in the case. On the other hand, Rose or her superiors could argue that dragging in the other Rainbooms might be beyond scope. I’ll have to discuss it with Scampy, I think.

You know what really Grinds my Gears?
I also didn't want to show up for my graduation but my idiot dad dragged me out of my room wearing that fucking..... well let's just call it a uniform for now. And when teachers drove by I was super mean to them. I told my family to get bitched and after that my life just went downhill. But only because I'm making it and I won't stop until I hit rock bottom.

I don't know if I can adequately express how much I like Rose Brass as a character. Her quiet, collected, and methodical attitude towards everything is coloured with just enough personality to be able to feel her. The flavour of her character is a subtle one, there's nothing overblown or campy or cheesy about her, she's just very real. This chapter is probably my favorite thus far.

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When I created Rose, I realized her physical appearance might raise certain expectations in readers—appealing to those looking for “edgelord” material, clichéd or off-putting to those who would see her as a stereotype of the wounded veteran. I deliberately designed her personality to be a counterweight or contrast to her looks, partly to address those expectations and partly because that was who the character had to be in order to work in the role she plays. It pleases me immensely she has generated such positive sentiment in so many readers.

This chapter is an excellent example of its own title: progression. For anyone wondering how to do a time skip without disrupting the flow of a story, this is it. We clearly see Wallflower's demeanor progress throughout the chapter, so that by the end, her radically different outlook doesn't really feel out of place. Were you to read her first paragraph in this chapter vs her last, you'd almost think it was a different person speaking entirely--but the transition over just a few thousand words is so seamless and clean that you'd never stop to question it.

Care, attention, food, water, Sun-light...

Wallflower has the same needs as any plant. And her personal Sun makes sure she gets them until she's rooted enough that she can stick it out on her own... hopefully. Still, definitely ending this chapter on a positive note.

And there it is... again. This is somehow even more unsettling than the climax of Amphorae, and this is just the end of Act I. Good lord you know how to misdirect while still laying down foreshadowing hints, too. Looking back at the last chapter, Wally's actions and words take on a whole new meaning as we can see her piecing this decision together. Even the opening of this chapter with its slice-of-life setting brings this false sense of normalcy.

But I guess that's how these things work in real life too. One split second action and there's no going back. Everything changes forever.

Oh, I could've done without this cliffhanger...

I was wondering if Sunset unwittingly removed a suicide barrier in the last chapter but dismissed it because taking it down was way too easy if that was the case and the staff would have put it back up the second they checked on Wallflower later in the day.

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She did not, because no such barrier existed. You’re conflating two very different sorts of institutions. The whole point of a halfway house is that it lacks the tight restrictions and constraints of an inpatient clinic. Scampy and I took a great deal of care to set up the situation in just this way and to provide context for it. Review Rose’s statements toward the end of “Interview” for a better understanding of the less than ideal circumstances under which she was forced to place Wallflower.

This is rather like being required to explain a joke, and destroying much of its impact as a result.

Oh. Well. And this is just Act 1. I'm... honestly stunned. Not sure where it will go from here. I suppose we'll see.

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Scampy and I have the whole arc planned, at least in broad strokes. Let’s put it this way: aside from an epilog set afterward, this story ends the day Sunset jumps through the portal at the start of Virga.

One of the most emotionally intense stretches of text I've encountered in a long time. Still, I suppose we have proof that the head trauma didn't do anything to Wallflower's memory.

As for Sunset, the good news is that all that helpless anger finally has a target. The bad news is that that target is herself. The next bit of time is going to be quite rough for her. And that's saying nothing of the potential difficulties of Wallflower's recovery...

The underfoot zones are real, but it’s more common for friends and family to be ushered out during a code or resuscitation. Less liability that way. Sadly.

And we military medics do have ways of moving patients that civilians would never dare move. Doesn’t make it any less terrifying, though.

Begins immediately after graduation from Canterlot High School and ends with the start of Virga.

You think you could link to that story?

Very good chapter. I absolutely loved how you executed the find-and-associate manner of Sunset's powers. That's a really creative way of interpreting it that I am entirely here. On a following note to that, the thing Sunset says to Wallflower, and her not even remembering saying it, is definitely on point. Bullies rarely ever recall the stuff they do to their victims because to them it's almost nothing, it's just another day or moment.

I do slightly question calling that the center of the pearl, though, given her home life? Or maybe I'm misinterpreting something. Either way I loved this chapter. Thanks for writing it.

10422692
While Wallflower's home life was doubtlessly the most exacerbating factor, it was Sunset's taunt that put the idea of 'disappearing' in her head to begin with. She'd never even considered it before then.

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Ah, got it, okay.

10422692

I absolutely loved how you executed the find-and-associate manner of Sunset's powers.

Thankee! The central element to my imagining of it is the metaphor of the microfiche reader and the way it presents a similar fast-forward mélange of fleeting impressions.

10422692
I replaced “heart” with “seed” in the hopes that makes the intent clearer.

I have so much sympathy for all involved... because I've had to be the rock like Sunset, to want to give into despair like Wallflower, want to know why and who someone really is like Holly, and that anger and frustration as Rose...

What a sad mess... salvageable, but... this is not going to be easy.

I mean, it had to be dangerous, like somebody leaving a loaded gun or a bottle of booze just . . . just lying around!

Worse, it came with instructions. Clover really did learn some terrible lessons from Star Swirl.

And yeah, Holly's in a uniquely terrible situation, and Rose isn't much better off. This will be rough for everyone involved.

Tough to write and tough to read. But perhaps the worst is over?

...okay, I'm being overly optimistic.

Ho damn, what a ride...

Surely the girl hooked up to all those wires and hoses deserved more of their attention and sympathy than Sunset did after everything she’d said and done.

Twilight (the human one) 11h ago
Your matryr complex is hitting you hard, Sunset. Beating yourself up won't speed up Wallflower's recovery.

(No? Well, I can dream.)

But yeah, this chapter hit hard. We'll see how thing proceed from here.

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Yeah, Sunset isn’t thinking entirely straight right now. She’s stressed almost to the limit, as is Rose. But it’s hard to escape feelings of guilt, even if one doesn’t suffer from significant anxiety or depression, especially when it’s arguable one does bear some responsibility for a bad situation.

Have I mentioned recently how much I appreciate your indefatigable commenting?

This chapter is just brutal. Each time Sunset gets her hopes up, every time she fosters that fragile optimism, Wallflower shuts her down. It's frustrating and upsetting and scary, honestly. The tug of war between Wally's apathy and Sunset's determination is lining up to be a core conflict going forward.

That realization at the end is harsh, too. After everything beating Sunset's hopes into the ground over and over, to get hit with that final punch in the gut is just... damn.

This...is painful and compelling all at once.

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This is a good comment. It means I am achieving our aim with the story!

“I can’t stand seeing you just—just shut down like this.”
“Then you shoulda let me die.”

That's the ultimate shut-down. Not that it would help to say that to Wallflower right now. Or pretty much ever.

Devastating chapter. It honestly took me a few times to get through it because of the intensity of the shame and anxiety. Great work. I need to go call my parents.

10561416
It is a very difficult story to write, and well outside what I normally work with. Establishing and maintaining this degree of intensity is frankly draining, which is part of why chapters are appearing more and more slowly. Aside from work being fairly busy, the other part of it is, I have run out of paved road laid out during the initial story conference with Scampy and now am bumping over a dirt trail. I have only the most general idea what’s going to happen—Scampy is directing the course of the story, informed by overall guidance to fit in with the rest of Twin Canterlots, and I write the actual prose to cover all the story beats.

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