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[GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Icy Shake on Sat Dec 28, 2013 11:44 am

Train Dodger wrote:
Some Feedback on Various Chapters (Spoilers):

Chapter 36 - How did Scotch Tape know Precious's name? Why is the griffon's name spelled Vermillion with two Ls once and Vermilion the rest of the time? Also, come to think of it, both Kkat and Somber generally use the spelling "griffin", and there are a couple instances in 57 where "griffon" is used instead.

Scotch met her offscreen in chapter thirty one.
Spoiler:

Scotch had gotten over her shock at the tank and was now telling Rampage about an odd filly she’d met in the firehouse who had saved her from Steel Rain’s Rangers.

Also, in the first of the two instances of "griffon" in fifty seven (We’re not catcrows like Griffons.), "griffins" shouldn't be capitalized.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by SilentCarto on Sat Dec 28, 2013 11:49 am

Last wrote:@OAC I'm not upset or heated or anything like that. I'm just confused.
I love it when someone's post matches their avatar.  Lyra 
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by O. Hinds on Sat Dec 28, 2013 5:14 pm

Train Dodger wrote:Chapter 36 - How did Scotch Tape know Precious's name? Why is the griffon's name spelled Vermillion with two Ls once and Vermilion the rest of the time? Also, come to think of it, both Kkat and Somber generally use the spelling "griffin", and there are a couple instances in 57 where "griffon" is used instead.
The Vermillion and griffon things are typos and have now been corrected. Thank you for spotting them.

Icy Shake wrote:Also, in the first of the two instances of "griffon" in fifty seven (We’re not catcrows like Griffons.), "griffins" shouldn't be capitalized.
Aye, I saw that when I went to correct the vowel.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Vergil on Sat Dec 28, 2013 6:41 pm

Ch. 39: "I was the one with the cybernetic legs and ntot getting the life sucked out of me and... oh... look at that little bar with a flashing E beside it."
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by O. Hinds on Sat Dec 28, 2013 6:54 pm

Vergil wrote:Ch. 39: "I was the one with the cybernetic legs and ntot getting the life sucked out of me and... oh... look at that little bar with a flashing E beside it."
Ah, thank you.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Vergil on Sat Dec 28, 2013 8:57 pm

Ch. 40: "Damnit Glory, there must me something I can do!"
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by O. Hinds on Sun Dec 29, 2013 12:47 am

Vergil wrote:Ch. 40: "Damnit Glory, there must me something I can do!"
Ah, thank you.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Icy Shake on Sun Dec 29, 2013 4:08 am

Read chapter thirty six today. I think it's a good example of one that hit all the bases well: character, action, plot and world-building, humor, emotion.
That said, it was in certain aspects frustrating, but probably intentionally so, and partly as a result of that and partly due to the repeated and varied emotional peaks—some deaths, some reconciliations, some revelations—it's kind of draining.

Chapter Thirty Six Running Thoughts:
The eight metal rails stretched as far ahead and behind us as we could see.  Clearly, somepony had gone to great lengths to clear these tracks.

No, I'll probably never dissociate trains from MLP, and PH in particular.


“Whine whine whine,” I said with a roll of my eyes.  “A few days in Tenpony and you all go soft.”

Not to say self-awareness is really one of Blackjack's qualities, but she was the first one to whine about where they were teleported. In literally the first words of the chapter other than the opening quotation.


“Hey, Scotch.  Are you pondering what I’m pondering?”
Scotch blinked at the hoofcar and then at the scrubland around us.  “I think so, P-21, but where are we going to find a dozen rockets out here?”

Not the most seamlessly integrated reference, but it went by quickly, and apart from "pondering" for "thinking," was appropriate in context.


“Well, I suppose it’s an improvement, but now you’re going to get all worn out working those levers.”  P-21 turned to look at me, and then a small smile grew on his face.  “What?”  Glory glanced at me apologetically.  Rampage grinned, and even Scotch was smirking.  “Why are you looking at me like that?” I asked as I took a step back.  “What?!”

I don't know why, but this really got me smiling. I guess in part it's a sort of payback for the crap Blackjack puts them through, but entirely justified as the most efficient way of getting them from A to B.


I noticed she had a huge scar across her belly.  Landmine?  My own stomach muscles twitched in sympathy.

That was something else I missed first time around, I think. That poor woman.


“You want caps and I want answers.  You’d prefer alternative methods?” I asked, getting a few looks from my friends.  Was I really threatening this scrawny yellow mare?  Even I wasn’t sure.  For some reason, I felt my annoyance growing faster than usual.

With this being the first time she's really out doing the Wasteland thing again (and not drunk off her ass), it looks like another manifestation of her cybernetics-induced personality changes, notably showing up differently than her observation she doesn't feel like a pony anymore. Big thing, of course, is the connection to Deus.


The tankers?  Dunno and don’t wanna know.  Got a whole nother load waitin’ fer us after this one

Okay, flux, for the new-god plan he had going. She's right not to want to know.


“What happened here?  Where is everypony?  Where’s Dusty Trails?” I yelled into his face, beating him with my hooves.

And again, despite how Blackjack cooled down with Goliath's mother. It's starting to look like the more restrained, benefit of the doubt–giving Blackjack developing as her sickness grew worse really may be starting to be covered up.


“Enervation?”  She nodded.  Suddenly, my friends were looking at each other.  They all seemed tired and drawn all of a sudden.  “It wasn’t like this before,” I said softly, looking at P-21 and Glory for confirmation.
“But… aren’t you feeling it?” P-21 asked me in concern.
That surprised me.  No, actually.  I didn’t feel the lethargy or pain or anything.

Kind of a double-whammy here: we have both the new Enervation from the scene of a slaughter and the fact that Blackjack is now immune or highly resistant to it. Granted, for a while it seems like it might be due to her cyberization, and I thought that was it for a long time, but in retrospect, I should have discounted that from the beginning considering it seemed like the professor wasn't immune—but then, her problems in the tunnel may have been with all the other deadliness down there, not the Enervation.

“No.  I guess the cybernetics are resistant or something.”  I frowned; that didn’t seem right...

Wow. It does not feel good to be slower on the uptake than Blackjack.


Psychoshy’s voice broke in.  “Sanguine… You can’t be serious.  Stockyard was fucked up enough!”

Psychoshy doesn't seem like a natural choice for "good cop," even for Hoofington.


I found myself trotting faster, my augmented eyes picking out the gray rails of the tunnels and avoiding pitfalls as I looked for mines, tripwires, or other traps.  The air felt wrong.  It felt wet.
. . .
I sped up, trotting past the little security station halfway in.  Now I was tripping every now and then as I raced forward.
. . .
There was a horrible moment of silence, then the grinding of machinery and the terrified sniffling and sobbing of ponies.
. . .
And then the screams began… just like Gorgon had screamed.  The gnashing metal noise became muted.  Pulpy.  I didn’t think, I simply ran.  I ran as if I could somehow magically sprint back in time.  I raced faster and faster, propelled by the screams of those ponies that I was already too late to save.
And then, suddenly, I was in the round cavern, the ledge ending abruptly behind me as I tried to stop.  Momentum carried me onwards.

I like what was done here, both for the use of the sound in the recordings and for the escalating urgency of Blackjack's actions, and the attendant lack of caution and troubles in moving how she wants to.

. . . I screamed into the thick soup and tasted blood.

Along with the earlier part, it's not exactly scenery porn, I think, but something similar. Description, maybe?


“Nothing good ever comes from you going alone, Blackjack,” P-21 said with a small smile.

Which is why we're going to keep doing it.


“I... I wish I could.  After everything… everything I’ve been though… I still can’t grant you that…”
“T’aint yer fault yer a decent mare,” she replied.  Then she looked at P-21 calmly, and he didn’t hesitate.
“Med-X?” P-21 asked softly as he opened his saddlebag.  “Five doses?”

Given his addiction, this really means a lot more to me this time around. And if I recall correctly, it's very soon that he's out and jonesing hard, so this may have been almost the last of his stash. [No, given that they went to Flank immediately after, I'm guessing he got to restock.]


“It… it was a good mine… Blackjack.  I did right… didn’t I?” she begged as foam gathered at the corner of her lip.  “Celestia’ll… be proud… won’t she…?”

Very sad send-off, but I think it was "it was a good mine" that really sold it.

“T’wernt nothing…”  She smiled slackly, pulled her battered hat off, and set it atop P-21’s head.  “Fer tha… chems… best ta… settle… debts…”

Though this, too. And now I'll have to keep track of that hat . . .


“This wasn’t your fault.  None of this.  You didn’t know this was going to happen.”  He stared down at me.  “And if you start with that ‘I’m scum’ or ‘I fucked up’ or anything, I will beat it out of you!”
[Exactly that happens]
We just stared into each others’ eyes, angry tears dancing in his.  “I won’t let you hate yourself for this.”  Damnit...

First of all, having her friends call her out on the whining and self-recrimination and self-pity was and is a useful tool, allowing Blackjack to maintain that characterization but blunting the effect of its repetition on the reader, making it feel like less of an attempt by the author for us to pity her.
Now, maybe it wasn't meant this way, but it seems to me like "star[ing] into each other's eyes" is adding a little more fuel to the flame regarding the longstanding question of how P-21 loves her. Also, man there's a ton of domestic violence in this story.


“You ever think you should find out what a button does before you push it?”

I know it's a rhetorical question, but no. I doubt it.


Each one gave me an invigorating rush, which in turn gave me inspiration for new and interesting ways to handle the job before me.  Should I push it slowly and deliberately?  Mash it with enthusiasm?  A rear hoof jump push?  It wasn’t everyday a girl got to push a button rigged to a bunch of explosives.

Oddly, I don't have mood whiplash from the gore-fest to the tearful goodbye and seething anger to this. That aside, stuff like this really helps to round out characters, and in this story, this kind of mood helps to keep everything seeming too bleak or dead (or perhaps worse, serious, in the all serious, all the time sense, which may work in some places but not often in My Little Pony); it's nice to see characters finding those little bits of joy in life.

“You sure are one twigged mare,” the Dealer murmured.  I glanced over my shoulder at him.  “You have a friend die in your hooves, and now you’re giddy with glee at pushing a button while soaked in the blood of murdered ponies.”

Why does it keep happening that immediately after I think something, a character in the story says the same thing?


Queen of spades; Princess Luna, smiling up at me.

I wonder if it was standard for the Queen of Spades to be Luna, at least after her return, or possibly even Nightmare Moon prior to it. Granted, when Blackjack got her cutie mark, there probably wasn't anything connected to Luna, the Maiden of Stars, or the stars more generally, involved.


Glory hopped out and immediately cracked open a bottle of filtered water with her teeth and hooves and held it to my mouth.  I slugged it down as Scotch released me from the harness.

I was thinking for a moment that, since she's dehydrated, she'd probably just throw it up if she slugged it down, but with her new stomach, it probably is fine. Let's hear it for cyber parts compensating for a low Survival skill!


I had a distinct worry that this was what ‘everything’ did to a mare.

Quite likely. Also, remember that time when Blackjack basically emptied a medicine cabinet down her gullet? I bet this is what it looked like, but possibly more so since she'd have started out more . . . violently capable, I guess?


“Blackjack…”  She looked evasive for a moment.  “About Deus…”
“It’s old news, Caprice.  He’s dead.  Usury is scraping up brahmin turds.  There’s nothing else to say,” I said with a smile.
She opened her mouth, then closed it again.  Her eyes slid away.  “Yeah… sure… sorry…”

Wow . . . that would have been nice information for Blackjack to have, if she was going to say what I think she was.


“And you nearly speared Triage through the throat after she saved you at the Collegiate,” P-21 added.

That was with a spoon! And I think her magic was burned out at the time, in addition to her limbs being jelly! Just how angry can you really get about that!?


I smashed my hooves into her face.  “Shut up!”  And suddenly, I couldn’t stop.

Aaaannnd now's when it really hits her. That the rape isn't just something she lived through, but something that still affects her.
Scene's nicely done. Very impassioned. Glad it was Rampage.


“You have a nasty tendency to repress stuff.  So do I.  So does P-21.  But you need to know those landmines are there now, because otherwise somepony is going to come along and step on them, and it’s going to be ugly.”

Rampage really is an oddly good therapist, even when she's not the doctor. She has a great sense of timing and, at least for the few people she cares about, really cares enough to hurt them in just the way they need to be to have a shot of learning something or getting better.


But for the overabundance, the ponies just sat in circles around their fires, humming one... continuous... tone...
A tone I’d heard before...

This sets a lot of atmosphere, in a really short section.


Then I heard the faintest voice.  A tiny chime, quiet and pure, filling my ears.

I wonder who that is. I figure it isn't the figurines, since they would probably have more than just one tone, and be in harmony.


She wears a black device on her right hoof.

Where did Auger get this? She wears it on her left hoof. Maybe Cognitum got it wrong?


“Well… too bad I don’t have a wood chipper.  But...”  She grinned ear to ear.  “Make a wish.”
“Rampage!” I shouted, stopping her from tearing the yellow pony in two.

WHY? This is the perfect time to tear someone in two! Also, the "Make a wish" line is brilliant.


She finally went limp, sobbing as she hid her face in her hooves.  “I know… but he’s all I have.  Nopony else is going to save him.  So I have to,” she sobbed brokenly as she lay there in the mud.  I stared down, and P-21 emerged from the rain to sit beside me.

I kind of feel for Psychoshy here, but I really don't want to. Man, I have to outsource this:
Caoihme wrote:Well, no shit. There's not a lot of real people who are 100% evil. In even the trashiest films, sometimes even the biggest horrible evildoer has a love interest who obviously sees something positive in them.
(The entire post I took that from is brilliant, by the way.)
But just because that's true, and applies here, and I appreciate it in the story on a larger level, doesn't mean I have to like it right now. But then, that's the point, isn't it, and it's exactly what Blackjack's feeling, too.

But I never imagined having a pony beg for the life of such a creature.

Goddamn it, do I need a fucking tinfoil hat to keep this from happening?


Rampage blinked in surprise.  “Seriously?  You’re not riding his jerky stick?”  The yellow pegasus went bright red, looking away.  “Oh… so you want to…”

Since we're not related it'll be okay . . .


I love that there's a real, well thought-out plan to deal with Sanguine in Chapel. Of course, the rules require that it all goes to shit—or, at least, doesn't end in a nice, tidy win.


Then there was a resounding clang, and fragments of wet, rusty metal flew past me as a dark hulk landed atop the sniper.  It rocked twice, and I gaped at the rusty keel.  Lacunae landed neatly atop the hulk and thought simply, “I found a boat.”

Huh. I thought that only happened to Blackjack. Or maybe it's that only she (and I guess Boo) survives it.


One of the griffins leapt out the window of the house of Rampage.

That's a nice bit of word play.


“Fuck this!” she screamed as she dove, scooped the unconscious Fury in her hooves… claws?... and started climbing, flying north as fast as her scorched wings could carry her.

Well, I'd probably go for "paws" over "claws," but you know what? Brass is awful enough I could see her working the claws in there even for someone on her side.


Glory flushed, not entirely convinced that that was a good thing.

Wow, it seems like her reaction to almost everything in this chapter has involved flushing.


[Sanguine monologuing]
“So you found out where EC-1101 got stuck and found a painkiller-addicted Deus to send after it,” I said as I carefully shed the weapons and tossed them back out behind me.  “I lost the guns, now heal her.”
“In just a second,” he replied as he kept the gun pressed to Sonata’s head.  “EC-1101 was all I needed.  Simple, really. [and he goes on]

Just how often does it happen that a villain is point-blank asked to stop with the monologuing, and then blithely tells his interlocutor to can it and continues to ramble on?


“I have been forced to cartoonish levels of monsterdom simply to get what I need!”

Well, that's some self-awareness right there. Self-serving as all get-out, but still.


“Don’t give him shit,” Charity countered, struggling weakly.  “He doesn’t deserve it.”
“Shut up, Charity,” I said, my eyes darting from him to her and back again.  I stared at her and heard Citrine’s voice: ‘How many have died for this?’

I swear, I hate it every time she does this. It's perfectly in line with her no executions way, which likewise reflects a strong preference for people right in front of her over the more nebulous multitudes her decisions could affect, but feels different because she's not enabling bad ponies to have the chance to be better, but to do exactly what she's trying to keep them from doing.


Heal her?  Why would I do that?” he said as he tucked the Delta into his bag.  “Better get her to your alicorn friend quickly and not waste time with me.”

Who could have seen this coming! Also, this makes it look less like what we had there was a real dilemma, and more like no matter her choice she needed to just hope she can get to Lacunae (and the Goddess gives her healing magic at the time).


“You… you shouldn’t… have given it up.  Bad trade,” Charity muttered weakly in my ear.

Yeah. Pretty much. Maybe, MAYBE you save Charity and MAYBE giving Sanguine EC-1101 doesn't doom the Wasteland, compared to you keep the program and actually have a somewhat comparable chance of keeping the filly alive, considering the state she's in already.


But I think that Celestia and Luna are waiting for you.

Comforting, yes, but at least half wrong. Hopefully only half wrong.


I love that song, though I think that the changes made by Anon3mous made it flow better. Of course, that could just be because I'm more accustomed to it that way.


“I just… I… um… I know you didn’t want to give that thing up.  And… I know… I know if you’d let me die, you probably would have gotten revenge and stuff.”  Charity closed her eyes as she pulled off a bundle the size of a bottle of Sparkle-Cola.  “I found it in the manor and… I just… here.”  And she shoved it into my hooves, then turned and trotted over to where Sonata was being comforted by Allegro, Adagio, and Medley.

She's really not very good at that, is she? But it is certainly nice, and the small gesture feels more appropriate coming from her than a big one.


The cloth fell away, and I looked at the startling figurine: a white unicorn mare with a stunning purple mane and three gems for a cutie mark.  I stared at her in shock and then looked down at the little plaque at the base.
Be Unwavering
I stared at it and sighed softly, closing my eyes and holding it to my chest so that I could feel it better.  “I’m trying, Rarity…  I’m trying…”

Beautiful ending, and perhaps particularly appropriate, considering how much Rarity gave to try to protect and keep her friends together, that Blackjack received her (as a gift, no less) in thanks for just such a sacrifice.
Chapter Thirty Six Overall Thoughts:
Very plot-heavy chapter. One result of this was the intense and affecting atmosphere of the mine, and the beautiful sendoff of Dusty Trails. Then there was the reconciliation with Caprice, which I appreciated greatly. I think that both she and Blackjack have matured a bit since they last parted ways. Then you have the liberation of Chapel, where a detailed and thought-out plan was made, and executed very well, which didn't pan out perfectly but probably about as close to that as could be reasonably hoped, given the number of moving parts. And EC-1101 is lost and Priest is murdered.

We're introduced to the Harbingers, in a scene with atmosphere less visceral but more chilling than in the mine. We don't get too much information, just yet, but can infer that they are connected to the thing in the Core Sanguine goes on about at arduous length. Relatedly, there are a couple of new data points on Enervation, namely that Blackjack is largely or entirely immune to it (Blackjack originally suspecting it's due to the cyberization, but actually having an inkling that that's not right), and that the Enervation is much stronger in the mine and at Flank, the sites of a massacre and a pitched battle, respectively.

And it's now that some real changes are starting to show through with Blackjack. At the start of the chapter—but very noticeably not at the end—she's quick to anger and unforgiving, threatening a ghoul scavenger in order to get information he didn't even have and considering murdering him for no reason whatsoever, and soon after making threats and feeling similarly with Goliath's mother. Likewise, she feels a real impulse to kill Auger, the evangelist of the Harbingers, even though he was no actual threat. I figured this might be part of the cyberization, but I'm not really sure and it seems odd that it all just vanishes, but I guess that could be due to changed circumstances (hostages) later, and the killer impulse just being more naturally there in battle. But that still doesn't explain sparing Psychoshy. What might, though, is a conscious effort to check the impulses, even though that in particular wasn't part of the therapy session with Rampage.

Speaking, of . . . Blackjack's now really feeling the impact of her rape. She's lost control, seen herself as a victim, and seen how it continues to affect her, and Scotch, even after the fact. Most notably, her explosive rage makes her realize that if she's not careful, in a panic or fit of ire she could gravely harm someone she doesn't want to, not least Glory or her other friends. Rampage walks her through this, including reiterating her own history, and Blackjack sees she needs to be careful to control herself. Also, the part where Rampage said she wished she could help Scotch, to talk to her, but couldn't because if Scotch started ty cry, the Angel might appear was a touching moment.

So maybe that played into the decision to spare Psychoshy. In any case, that gave a nice heavy blow of characterization for her, with the revelation of just how much Sanguine means to her as her adoptive father. Also that she isn't sleeping with him, but wants to, and seems to rather regret the fact that he sees her only as "his little filly."

Which brings us to Sanguine himself. Good monologue, and he's a nasty bastard. Capable, too. It frustrates me to no end that she gave him EC-1101 on the basis that he would heal Charity, who was bleeding out—a deal which he immediately walked away from, incidentally and foreseeably—in part because the choice was presented as "give him the program and maybe get it back later to save the girl" versus "keep the program, kill the bad guy, and let her die" when it was really more like "potentially doom the Wasteland for a slightly better chance Charity lives" against "essentially no risk of losing EC-1101 to Sanguine, kill the bastard, and still not have that much worse of a chance of rescuing Charity." But our hero is not a smart pony, and ultimately she made the choice she had to, the only one consistent with who she is. And I'd guess that I'm supposed to feel frustrated at times like this. The odd thing is that this gets to me far more than just letting people go, rather than being the executioner. I guess it's partly due to the stakes.

Anyway, there was a great song for Priest's funeral, and I think that Blackjack got the figurine of Best Pony (Rarity) in about the best possible way: it was freely given to her—something abnormal considering it was from Charity—by the one she was able to save by sticking unwaveringly to her core value of 'Security saves ponies' by making a great personal sacrifice (though, also one that potentially involves sacrificing the lives and freedom of countless people other than herself, so yeah, there's just no overlooking the fact that what she does here indicates that she has the understandable and common feature of vastly overvaluing what's right in front of her in comparison to everything everywhere for the foreseeable future, and I can't help but think that what she did may well reflect selfishness on her part, taking the path which she finds emotionally fulfilling rather than the one that is likely right in the greater sense—and while perhaps there's a point to be made that it's not right to sacrifice one person to protect the lives and freedom of millions, I'm hardly sure that accepting that means it's right to endanger the lives and freedom of the millions to protect one individual) mirroring the probably-misguided sacrifice Rarity made to try to keep her friends together.
Chapter Thirty Six Editing:
roiling clouds over the city somehow looked darker and more...roiling-y

There should be a space after the ellipsis.


Twice as big --no, ten times as big!-- as Big Macintosh!

Symmetrical spacing around the dashes.


Bright yellow eyes looked down at us, and he gave a great snort at the sight of me hooked to the push cart.

It seemed to me that she had been pulling ("hauling", earlier, and it would be hard for Scotch to hit Blackjack's butt if she was pushing). Maybe just "cart"?


“Yes Momma,” he sighed.

Comma after "yes"


“Right… really, which o yer’s in charge?” she said, then looked up at Lacunae.
“T’aint none o yer beeswax, that’s what happened!”

Should there be an apostrope after the "o"?


I guess I’d have to find out what was happening in the hoof the hard way.

"hoof" should be capitalized


Heard there’d be top notch salvage

I think that "top notch" should be hyphenated, or less commonly a single word.


“Then tell me about the attacks,” I said evenly as I backed off enough for him to sit up.
“Just that they started a few days back.

The "just that" seems out of place, since in this case she didn't ask what he knew.


Right after that whole Celestia explosion that killed Security and half the Rangers.

"Celestia" should be italicized.


Slowly, I rose to my hooves, my tightening jaw making Taurus’ rifle cock.

Taurus's


six feet tall in a maroon paint that wasn’t paint.
SECURITY.

Is that something you'd normally do with single-quotes rather than italics?


“Sanguine… You can’t be serious.

Should have second space after ellipsis or not capitalize "you."


I wanted to be sick at this. I wanted to wake

Only one space after the period.


Then he looked over at the...remains.

Should have space after ellipsis.


“Funny. I’m powerfully ticked off at him
I walked back to the hopper. She looked up at me

Only one space after the period.


“This was-

Second hyphen for dash.


Then I reached for the shiny, candy like button-- and P-21 bumped my hoof aside.

Symmetrical spacing about dash.


It wasn’t everyday a girl got to push a button rigged to a bunch of explosives.

Should be "every day," as it is functioning as a modified noun, not an adjective.


The flipping ends didn’t even reach the ground before the bunk house blew as well.

I think "bunkhouse" is one word, based on the dictionaries, but search results show separated is more commonly used. Eh.


“Come on!”  I grunted as I pulled, but the wheels of the hoofcar squealed as they locked up entirely.

I think there should be only one space after the quotation, but it depends on if she grunted "come on!" or if she said that, then grunted more generally as she pulled.


Fortunately, P-21 found an oil can in the back of the bar, and Glory found the innertube and helped Scotch work.

"inner tube"


No no, Glory.   Not Giddy-up

Three spaces after the period, and is there a reason "giddy-up" is capitalized? It wasn't earlier in the line.


I’m coming, Sanguine, and I’m bringing a whole lot of hurt along with me.

Should this be italicized?


Instead, there was a cluster of tents and banners (three black vertical bars on a green field), and a couple dozen ponies standing around watching us head into Flank.

I think "was" should be "were," as it applies to both a cluster and a couple dozen.


The lead was more irritating to the mare it hit, but I didn’t know how to swap out ammo without my horn and I lacked earth pony tenacity and resilience.

I feel like there should be a "than effective" (or some such) somewhere in this sentence, since there's nothing it's being compared to, unless it's the mares' applebucks, which were making quite an impact on Blackjack. Or maybe "was little more than irritating"?


the mares were so jazzed up on Dash that I don’t think they could physically stop moving at this point.

"don't" should be "didn't," "this" should, perhaps, be "that"


me in concern with a shaky smile.   “I’m glad Glory was

Three spaces after the period.


“You got hit pretty hard too.”
“No thanks to you,” snapped an orange unicorn mare as four of her fellows glared at me.

Should that be "thanks to you"? In context, it seems like "no thanks to you" would be an expression of appreciation, not blame.


“Oh shut up, Turkey.

comma after "oh"?


It unlocks every dirty secret weapon of two centuries ago.

"of" to "from"? It just seems a little weird to me.


I’ll give Citrine credit, she kept her eyes locked

Tense seems weird; maybe "I had to give", or "I gave"?


“I mean, did you choke or swallow fast enough-“

Second hyphen for dash.


no matter how I tried to make it sound like it’d been preferable…  the fact was that I’d been hurt.

Should have only one space after the ellipsis.


“Ow…Therapy isn’t supposed to hurt this much.”

Should have at least one space after the ellipsis, two if "therapy" is capitalized.


then every half baked raider in the Wasteland would be right

"half-baked"


Gradually, thankfully, both faded and I pulled my wits together.   I looked at Rampage

Three spaces after the period.


On the other, the box looked unopened, I could eat rocks and rusty old cans...and I was hungry and they were Sugar Apple Bombs.
Well...the hum probably wasn’t contagious through food.

should have space after the ellipsis.


You’re not the only one... “When we have it,

Should have second space after ellipsis.


I shouldered into the harness once more, tore two holes in the cardboard box and slipped my ears through

I think there should be a final serial comma after "box."


There was a flash and crack as her powerhooves discharged and smashed Glory clear off the seat.

"was" to "were"?


I heard ribs snapping like dry branches, but, while Rampage grunted and bent a little, she didn’t go down.

I think that this might read slightly better if either the comma after "but" were removed, or if "Rampage" and "she" were switched.


Nopony could hide from E.F.S. after… Well, okay, they could,

Either another space after ellipsis, or don't capitalize "well"


I looked at the door to the house, waiting…. waiting

Ellipsis should have only three dots.


and fell over on her side as the solution of Med-X and Moon Dust filled her veins.

Is there a reason it's Med-X and Moon Dust now, instead of Fixer and Moon Dust like it was earlier?


And this was going to take awhile...

"a while" as it's a noun, not an adverb here.


Priest, Sonata and a bleeding Charity.

final serial comma needed after "sonata"


You’re a martyr waiting to happen.”  Sanguine said, then looked

Period should be comma, quotation should be followed by only one space.


Slowly, I began to remove the battlesaddle.

"battle saddle"


You’re rambling,”  Vermilion said in contempt

Should have only one space after the quotation.


“Your life isn’t that easy, Blackjack,” the dealer rasped softly as

"Dealer" should be capitalized


before she bled out.” I muttered
“We… we can’t even move him.” she

Period should be comma


and I held him in my embrace.   “Not again…

Three spaces after the period


“I… They said I

Second space after ellipsis or they shouldn't be capitalized


His chest rose… fell…
rose… fell…  …rose…  fell… and then that was it.

should have only one space after second "fell...", and no second ellipsis before the third "rose" and only one space the ellipsis following it.


ways are slow and heavy, Some tracks are dark and deep

"some" shouldn't be capitalized
Other Chapter Editing:
62.I: If it does, all the enervation rings will energize.
"enervation" should be capitalized

If you have one way you want to do "top-notch"/"top notch" and/or "death trap"/"deathtrap" I'll compile the ones to change tomorrow.
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Icy Shake
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by O. Hinds on Sun Dec 29, 2013 5:13 am

Icy Shake wrote:Read chapter thirty six today. I think it's a good example of one that hit all the bases well: character, action, plot and world-building, humor, emotion.
That said, it was in certain aspects frustrating, but probably intentionally so, and partly as a result of that and partly due to the repeated and varied emotional peaks—some deaths, some reconciliations, some revelations—it's kind of draining.

Chapter Thirty Six Running Thoughts:
The eight metal rails stretched as far ahead and behind us as we could see.  Clearly, somepony had gone to great lengths to clear these tracks.

No, I'll probably never dissociate trains from MLP, and PH in particular.


“Whine whine whine,” I said with a roll of my eyes.  “A few days in Tenpony and you all go soft.”

Not to say self-awareness is really one of Blackjack's qualities, but she was the first one to whine about where they were teleported. In literally the first words of the chapter other than the opening quotation.


“Hey, Scotch.  Are you pondering what I’m pondering?”
Scotch blinked at the hoofcar and then at the scrubland around us.  “I think so, P-21, but where are we going to find a dozen rockets out here?”

Not the most seamlessly integrated reference, but it went by quickly, and apart from "pondering" for "thinking," was appropriate in context.


“Well, I suppose it’s an improvement, but now you’re going to get all worn out working those levers.”  P-21 turned to look at me, and then a small smile grew on his face.  “What?”  Glory glanced at me apologetically.  Rampage grinned, and even Scotch was smirking.  “Why are you looking at me like that?” I asked as I took a step back.  “What?!”

I don't know why, but this really got me smiling. I guess in part it's a sort of payback for the crap Blackjack puts them through, but entirely justified as the most efficient way of getting them from A to B.


I noticed she had a huge scar across her belly.  Landmine?  My own stomach muscles twitched in sympathy.

That was something else I missed first time around, I think. That poor woman.


“You want caps and I want answers.  You’d prefer alternative methods?” I asked, getting a few looks from my friends.  Was I really threatening this scrawny yellow mare?  Even I wasn’t sure.  For some reason, I felt my annoyance growing faster than usual.

With this being the first time she's really out doing the Wasteland thing again (and not drunk off her ass), it looks like another manifestation of her cybernetics-induced personality changes, notably showing up differently than her observation she doesn't feel like a pony anymore. Big thing, of course, is the connection to Deus.


The tankers?  Dunno and don’t wanna know.  Got a whole nother load waitin’ fer us after this one

Okay, flux, for the new-god plan he had going. She's right not to want to know.


“What happened here?  Where is everypony?  Where’s Dusty Trails?” I yelled into his face, beating him with my hooves.

And again, despite how Blackjack cooled down with Goliath's mother. It's starting to look like the more restrained, benefit of the doubt–giving Blackjack developing as her sickness grew worse really may be starting to be covered up.


“Enervation?”  She nodded.  Suddenly, my friends were looking at each other.  They all seemed tired and drawn all of a sudden.  “It wasn’t like this before,” I said softly, looking at P-21 and Glory for confirmation.
“But… aren’t you feeling it?” P-21 asked me in concern.
That surprised me.  No, actually.  I didn’t feel the lethargy or pain or anything.

Kind of a double-whammy here: we have both the new Enervation from the scene of a slaughter and the fact that Blackjack is now immune or highly resistant to it. Granted, for a while it seems like it might be due to her cyberization, and I thought that was it for a long time, but in retrospect, I should have discounted that from the beginning considering it seemed like the professor wasn't immune—but then, her problems in the tunnel may have been with all the other deadliness down there, not the Enervation.

“No.  I guess the cybernetics are resistant or something.”  I frowned; that didn’t seem right...

Wow. It does not feel good to be slower on the uptake than Blackjack.


Psychoshy’s voice broke in.  “Sanguine… You can’t be serious.  Stockyard was fucked up enough!”

Psychoshy doesn't seem like a natural choice for "good cop," even for Hoofington.


I found myself trotting faster, my augmented eyes picking out the gray rails of the tunnels and avoiding pitfalls as I looked for mines, tripwires, or other traps.  The air felt wrong.  It felt wet.
. . .
I sped up, trotting past the little security station halfway in.  Now I was tripping every now and then as I raced forward.
. . .
There was a horrible moment of silence, then the grinding of machinery and the terrified sniffling and sobbing of ponies.
. . .
And then the screams began… just like Gorgon had screamed.  The gnashing metal noise became muted.  Pulpy.  I didn’t think, I simply ran.  I ran as if I could somehow magically sprint back in time.  I raced faster and faster, propelled by the screams of those ponies that I was already too late to save.
And then, suddenly, I was in the round cavern, the ledge ending abruptly behind me as I tried to stop.  Momentum carried me onwards.

I like what was done here, both for the use of the sound in the recordings and for the escalating urgency of Blackjack's actions, and the attendant lack of caution and troubles in moving how she wants to.

. . . I screamed into the thick soup and tasted blood.

Along with the earlier part, it's not exactly scenery porn, I think, but something similar. Description, maybe?


“Nothing good ever comes from you going alone, Blackjack,” P-21 said with a small smile.

Which is why we're going to keep doing it.


“I... I wish I could.  After everything… everything I’ve been though… I still can’t grant you that…”
“T’aint yer fault yer a decent mare,” she replied.  Then she looked at P-21 calmly, and he didn’t hesitate.
“Med-X?” P-21 asked softly as he opened his saddlebag.  “Five doses?”

Given his addiction, this really means a lot more to me this time around. And if I recall correctly, it's very soon that he's out and jonesing hard, so this may have been almost the last of his stash. [No, given that they went to Flank immediately after, I'm guessing he got to restock.]


“It… it was a good mine… Blackjack.  I did right… didn’t I?” she begged as foam gathered at the corner of her lip.  “Celestia’ll… be proud… won’t she…?”

Very sad send-off, but I think it was "it was a good mine" that really sold it.

“T’wernt nothing…”  She smiled slackly, pulled her battered hat off, and set it atop P-21’s head.  “Fer tha… chems… best ta… settle… debts…”

Though this, too. And now I'll have to keep track of that hat . . .


“This wasn’t your fault.  None of this.  You didn’t know this was going to happen.”  He stared down at me.  “And if you start with that ‘I’m scum’ or ‘I fucked up’ or anything, I will beat it out of you!”
[Exactly that happens]
We just stared into each others’ eyes, angry tears dancing in his.  “I won’t let you hate yourself for this.”  Damnit...

First of all, having her friends call her out on the whining and self-recrimination and self-pity was and is a useful tool, allowing Blackjack to maintain that characterization but blunting the effect of its repetition on the reader, making it feel like less of an attempt by the author for us to pity her.
Now, maybe it wasn't meant this way, but it seems to me like "star[ing] into each other's eyes" is adding a little more fuel to the flame regarding the longstanding question of how P-21 loves her. Also, man there's a ton of domestic violence in this story.


“You ever think you should find out what a button does before you push it?”

I know it's a rhetorical question, but no. I doubt it.


Each one gave me an invigorating rush, which in turn gave me inspiration for new and interesting ways to handle the job before me.  Should I push it slowly and deliberately?  Mash it with enthusiasm?  A rear hoof jump push?  It wasn’t everyday a girl got to push a button rigged to a bunch of explosives.

Oddly, I don't have mood whiplash from the gore-fest to the tearful goodbye and seething anger to this. That aside, stuff like this really helps to round out characters, and in this story, this kind of mood helps to keep everything seeming too bleak or dead (or perhaps worse, serious, in the all serious, all the time sense, which may work in some places but not often in My Little Pony); it's nice to see characters finding those little bits of joy in life.

“You sure are one twigged mare,” the Dealer murmured.  I glanced over my shoulder at him.  “You have a friend die in your hooves, and now you’re giddy with glee at pushing a button while soaked in the blood of murdered ponies.”

Why does it keep happening that immediately after I think something, a character in the story says the same thing?


Queen of spades; Princess Luna, smiling up at me.

I wonder if it was standard for the Queen of Spades to be Luna, at least after her return, or possibly even Nightmare Moon prior to it. Granted, when Blackjack got her cutie mark, there probably wasn't anything connected to Luna, the Maiden of Stars, or the stars more generally, involved.


Glory hopped out and immediately cracked open a bottle of filtered water with her teeth and hooves and held it to my mouth.  I slugged it down as Scotch released me from the harness.

I was thinking for a moment that, since she's dehydrated, she'd probably just throw it up if she slugged it down, but with her new stomach, it probably is fine. Let's hear it for cyber parts compensating for a low Survival skill!


I had a distinct worry that this was what ‘everything’ did to a mare.

Quite likely. Also, remember that time when Blackjack basically emptied a medicine cabinet down her gullet? I bet this is what it looked like, but possibly more so since she'd have started out more . . . violently capable, I guess?


“Blackjack…”  She looked evasive for a moment.  “About Deus…”
“It’s old news, Caprice.  He’s dead.  Usury is scraping up brahmin turds.  There’s nothing else to say,” I said with a smile.
She opened her mouth, then closed it again.  Her eyes slid away.  “Yeah… sure… sorry…”

Wow . . . that would have been nice information for Blackjack to have, if she was going to say what I think she was.


“And you nearly speared Triage through the throat after she saved you at the Collegiate,” P-21 added.

That was with a spoon! And I think her magic was burned out at the time, in addition to her limbs being jelly! Just how angry can you really get about that!?


I smashed my hooves into her face.  “Shut up!”  And suddenly, I couldn’t stop.

Aaaannnd now's when it really hits her. That the rape isn't just something she lived through, but something that still affects her.
Scene's nicely done. Very impassioned. Glad it was Rampage.


“You have a nasty tendency to repress stuff.  So do I.  So does P-21.  But you need to know those landmines are there now, because otherwise somepony is going to come along and step on them, and it’s going to be ugly.”

Rampage really is an oddly good therapist, even when she's not the doctor. She has a great sense of timing and, at least for the few people she cares about, really cares enough to hurt them in just the way they need to be to have a shot of learning something or getting better.


But for the overabundance, the ponies just sat in circles around their fires, humming one... continuous... tone...
A tone I’d heard before...

This sets a lot of atmosphere, in a really short section.


Then I heard the faintest voice.  A tiny chime, quiet and pure, filling my ears.

I wonder who that is. I figure it isn't the figurines, since they would probably have more than just one tone, and be in harmony.


She wears a black device on her right hoof.

Where did Auger get this? She wears it on her left hoof. Maybe Cognitum got it wrong?


“Well… too bad I don’t have a wood chipper.  But...”  She grinned ear to ear.  “Make a wish.”
“Rampage!” I shouted, stopping her from tearing the yellow pony in two.

WHY? This is the perfect time to tear someone in two! Also, the "Make a wish" line is brilliant.


She finally went limp, sobbing as she hid her face in her hooves.  “I know… but he’s all I have.  Nopony else is going to save him.  So I have to,” she sobbed brokenly as she lay there in the mud.  I stared down, and P-21 emerged from the rain to sit beside me.

I kind of feel for Psychoshy here, but I really don't want to. Man, I have to outsource this:
Caoihme wrote:Well, no shit. There's not a lot of real people who are 100% evil. In even the trashiest films, sometimes even the biggest horrible evildoer has a love interest who obviously sees something positive in them.
(The entire post I took that from is brilliant, by the way.)
But just because that's true, and applies here, and I appreciate it in the story on a larger level, doesn't mean I have to like it right now. But then, that's the point, isn't it, and it's exactly what Blackjack's feeling, too.

But I never imagined having a pony beg for the life of such a creature.

Goddamn it, do I need a fucking tinfoil hat to keep this from happening?


Rampage blinked in surprise.  “Seriously?  You’re not riding his jerky stick?”  The yellow pegasus went bright red, looking away.  “Oh… so you want to…”

Since we're not related it'll be okay . . .


I love that there's a real, well thought-out plan to deal with Sanguine in Chapel. Of course, the rules require that it all goes to shit—or, at least, doesn't end in a nice, tidy win.


Then there was a resounding clang, and fragments of wet, rusty metal flew past me as a dark hulk landed atop the sniper.  It rocked twice, and I gaped at the rusty keel.  Lacunae landed neatly atop the hulk and thought simply, “I found a boat.”

Huh. I thought that only happened to Blackjack. Or maybe it's that only she (and I guess Boo) survives it.


One of the griffins leapt out the window of the house of Rampage.

That's a nice bit of word play.


“Fuck this!” she screamed as she dove, scooped the unconscious Fury in her hooves… claws?... and started climbing, flying north as fast as her scorched wings could carry her.

Well, I'd probably go for "paws" over "claws," but you know what? Brass is awful enough I could see her working the claws in there even for someone on her side.


Glory flushed, not entirely convinced that that was a good thing.

Wow, it seems like her reaction to almost everything in this chapter has involved flushing.


[Sanguine monologuing]
“So you found out where EC-1101 got stuck and found a painkiller-addicted Deus to send after it,” I said as I carefully shed the weapons and tossed them back out behind me.  “I lost the guns, now heal her.”
“In just a second,” he replied as he kept the gun pressed to Sonata’s head.  “EC-1101 was all I needed.  Simple, really. [and he goes on]

Just how often does it happen that a villain is point-blank asked to stop with the monologuing, and then blithely tells his interlocutor to can it and continues to ramble on?


“I have been forced to cartoonish levels of monsterdom simply to get what I need!”

Well, that's some self-awareness right there. Self-serving as all get-out, but still.


“Don’t give him shit,” Charity countered, struggling weakly.  “He doesn’t deserve it.”
“Shut up, Charity,” I said, my eyes darting from him to her and back again.  I stared at her and heard Citrine’s voice: ‘How many have died for this?’

I swear, I hate it every time she does this. It's perfectly in line with her no executions way, which likewise reflects a strong preference for people right in front of her over the more nebulous multitudes her decisions could affect, but feels different because she's not enabling bad ponies to have the chance to be better, but to do exactly what she's trying to keep them from doing.


Heal her?  Why would I do that?” he said as he tucked the Delta into his bag.  “Better get her to your alicorn friend quickly and not waste time with me.”

Who could have seen this coming! Also, this makes it look less like what we had there was a real dilemma, and more like no matter her choice she needed to just hope she can get to Lacunae (and the Goddess gives her healing magic at the time).


“You… you shouldn’t… have given it up.  Bad trade,” Charity muttered weakly in my ear.

Yeah. Pretty much. Maybe, MAYBE you save Charity and MAYBE giving Sanguine EC-1101 doesn't doom the Wasteland, compared to you keep the program and actually have a somewhat comparable chance of keeping the filly alive, considering the state she's in already.


But I think that Celestia and Luna are waiting for you.

Comforting, yes, but at least half wrong. Hopefully only half wrong.


I love that song, though I think that the changes made by Anon3mous made it flow better. Of course, that could just be because I'm more accustomed to it that way.


“I just… I… um… I know you didn’t want to give that thing up.  And… I know… I know if you’d let me die, you probably would have gotten revenge and stuff.”  Charity closed her eyes as she pulled off a bundle the size of a bottle of Sparkle-Cola.  “I found it in the manor and… I just… here.”  And she shoved it into my hooves, then turned and trotted over to where Sonata was being comforted by Allegro, Adagio, and Medley.

She's really not very good at that, is she? But it is certainly nice, and the small gesture feels more appropriate coming from her than a big one.


The cloth fell away, and I looked at the startling figurine: a white unicorn mare with a stunning purple mane and three gems for a cutie mark.  I stared at her in shock and then looked down at the little plaque at the base.
Be Unwavering
I stared at it and sighed softly, closing my eyes and holding it to my chest so that I could feel it better.  “I’m trying, Rarity…  I’m trying…”

Beautiful ending, and perhaps particularly appropriate, considering how much Rarity gave to try to protect and keep her friends together, that Blackjack received her (as a gift, no less) in thanks for just such a sacrifice.
Chapter Thirty Six Overall Thoughts:
Very plot-heavy chapter. One result of this was the intense and affecting atmosphere of the mine, and the beautiful sendoff of Dusty Trails. Then there was the reconciliation with Caprice, which I appreciated greatly. I think that both she and Blackjack have matured a bit since they last parted ways. Then you have the liberation of Chapel, where a detailed and thought-out plan was made, and executed very well, which didn't pan out perfectly but probably about as close to that as could be reasonably hoped, given the number of moving parts. And EC-1101 is lost and Priest is murdered.

We're introduced to the Harbingers, in a scene with atmosphere less visceral but more chilling than in the mine. We don't get too much information, just yet, but can infer that they are connected to the thing in the Core Sanguine goes on about at arduous length. Relatedly, there are a couple of new data points on Enervation, namely that Blackjack is largely or entirely immune to it (Blackjack originally suspecting it's due to the cyberization, but actually having an inkling that that's not right), and that the Enervation is much stronger in the mine and at Flank, the sites of a massacre and a pitched battle, respectively.

And it's now that some real changes are starting to show through with Blackjack. At the start of the chapter—but very noticeably not at the end—she's quick to anger and unforgiving, threatening a ghoul scavenger in order to get information he didn't even have and considering murdering him for no reason whatsoever, and soon after making threats and feeling similarly with Goliath's mother. Likewise, she feels a real impulse to kill Auger, the evangelist of the Harbingers, even though he was no actual threat. I figured this might be part of the cyberization, but I'm not really sure and it seems odd that it all just vanishes, but I guess that could be due to changed circumstances (hostages) later, and the killer impulse just being more naturally there in battle. But that still doesn't explain sparing Psychoshy. What might, though, is a conscious effort to check the impulses, even though that in particular wasn't part of the therapy session with Rampage.

Speaking, of . . . Blackjack's now really feeling the impact of her rape. She's lost control, seen herself as a victim, and seen how it continues to affect her, and Scotch, even after the fact. Most notably, her explosive rage makes her realize that if she's not careful, in a panic or fit of ire she could gravely harm someone she doesn't want to, not least Glory or her other friends. Rampage walks her through this, including reiterating her own history, and Blackjack sees she needs to be careful to control herself. Also, the part where Rampage said she wished she could help Scotch, to talk to her, but couldn't because if Scotch started ty cry, the Angel might appear was a touching moment.

So maybe that played into the decision to spare Psychoshy. In any case, that gave a nice heavy blow of characterization for her, with the revelation of just how much Sanguine means to her as her adoptive father. Also that she isn't sleeping with him, but wants to, and seems to rather regret the fact that he sees her only as "his little filly."

Which brings us to Sanguine himself. Good monologue, and he's a nasty bastard. Capable, too. It frustrates me to no end that she gave him EC-1101 on the basis that he would heal Charity, who was bleeding out—a deal which he immediately walked away from, incidentally and foreseeably—in part because the choice was presented as "give him the program and maybe get it back later to save the girl" versus "keep the program, kill the bad guy, and let her die" when it was really more like "potentially doom the Wasteland for a slightly better chance Charity lives" against "essentially no risk of losing EC-1101 to Sanguine, kill the bastard, and still not have that much worse of a chance of rescuing Charity." But our hero is not a smart pony, and ultimately she made the choice she had to, the only one consistent with who she is. And I'd guess that I'm supposed to feel frustrated at times like this. The odd thing is that this gets to me far more than just letting people go, rather than being the executioner. I guess it's partly due to the stakes.

Anyway, there was a great song for Priest's funeral, and I think that Blackjack got the figurine of Best Pony (Rarity) in about the best possible way: it was freely given to her—something abnormal considering it was from Charity—by the one she was able to save by sticking unwaveringly to her core value of 'Security saves ponies' by making a great personal sacrifice (though, also one that potentially involves sacrificing the lives and freedom of countless people other than herself, so yeah, there's just no overlooking the fact that what she does here indicates that she has the understandable and common feature of vastly overvaluing what's right in front of her in comparison to everything everywhere for the foreseeable future, and I can't help but think that what she did may well reflect selfishness on her part, taking the path which she finds emotionally fulfilling rather than the one that is likely right in the greater sense—and while perhaps there's a point to be made that it's not right to sacrifice one person to protect the lives and freedom of millions, I'm hardly sure that accepting that means it's right to endanger the lives and freedom of the millions to protect one individual) mirroring the probably-misguided sacrifice Rarity made to try to keep her friends together.
Chapter Thirty Six Editing:
roiling clouds over the city somehow looked darker and more...roiling-y

There should be a space after the ellipsis.


Twice as big --no, ten times as big!-- as Big Macintosh!

Symmetrical spacing around the dashes.


Bright yellow eyes looked down at us, and he gave a great snort at the sight of me hooked to the push cart.

It seemed to me that she had been pulling ("hauling", earlier, and it would be hard for Scotch to hit Blackjack's butt if she was pushing). Maybe just "cart"?


“Yes Momma,” he sighed.

Comma after "yes"


“Right… really, which o yer’s in charge?” she said, then looked up at Lacunae.
“T’aint none o yer beeswax, that’s what happened!”

Should there be an apostrope after the "o"?


I guess I’d have to find out what was happening in the hoof the hard way.

"hoof" should be capitalized


Heard there’d be top notch salvage

I think that "top notch" should be hyphenated, or less commonly a single word.


“Then tell me about the attacks,” I said evenly as I backed off enough for him to sit up.
“Just that they started a few days back.

The "just that" seems out of place, since in this case she didn't ask what he knew.


Right after that whole Celestia explosion that killed Security and half the Rangers.

"Celestia" should be italicized.


Slowly, I rose to my hooves, my tightening jaw making Taurus’ rifle cock.

Taurus's


six feet tall in a maroon paint that wasn’t paint.
SECURITY.

Is that something you'd normally do with single-quotes rather than italics?


“Sanguine… You can’t be serious.

Should have second space after ellipsis or not capitalize "you."


I wanted to be sick at this. I wanted to wake

Only one space after the period.


Then he looked over at the...remains.

Should have space after ellipsis.


“Funny. I’m powerfully ticked off at him
I walked back to the hopper. She looked up at me

Only one space after the period.


“This was-

Second hyphen for dash.


Then I reached for the shiny, candy like button-- and P-21 bumped my hoof aside.

Symmetrical spacing about dash.


It wasn’t everyday a girl got to push a button rigged to a bunch of explosives.

Should be "every day," as it is functioning as a modified noun, not an adjective.


The flipping ends didn’t even reach the ground before the bunk house blew as well.

I think "bunkhouse" is one word, based on the dictionaries, but search results show separated is more commonly used. Eh.


“Come on!”  I grunted as I pulled, but the wheels of the hoofcar squealed as they locked up entirely.

I think there should be only one space after the quotation, but it depends on if she grunted "come on!" or if she said that, then grunted more generally as she pulled.


Fortunately, P-21 found an oil can in the back of the bar, and Glory found the innertube and helped Scotch work.

"inner tube"


No no, Glory.   Not Giddy-up

Three spaces after the period, and is there a reason "giddy-up" is capitalized? It wasn't earlier in the line.


I’m coming, Sanguine, and I’m bringing a whole lot of hurt along with me.

Should this be italicized?


Instead, there was a cluster of tents and banners (three black vertical bars on a green field), and a couple dozen ponies standing around watching us head into Flank.

I think "was" should be "were," as it applies to both a cluster and a couple dozen.


The lead was more irritating to the mare it hit, but I didn’t know how to swap out ammo without my horn and I lacked earth pony tenacity and resilience.

I feel like there should be a "than effective" (or some such) somewhere in this sentence, since there's nothing it's being compared to, unless it's the mares' applebucks, which were making quite an impact on Blackjack. Or maybe "was little more than irritating"?


the mares were so jazzed up on Dash that I don’t think they could physically stop moving at this point.

"don't" should be "didn't," "this" should, perhaps, be "that"


me in concern with a shaky smile.   “I’m glad Glory was

Three spaces after the period.


“You got hit pretty hard too.”
“No thanks to you,” snapped an orange unicorn mare as four of her fellows glared at me.

Should that be "thanks to you"? In context, it seems like "no thanks to you" would be an expression of appreciation, not blame.


“Oh shut up, Turkey.

comma after "oh"?


It unlocks every dirty secret weapon of two centuries ago.

"of" to "from"? It just seems a little weird to me.


I’ll give Citrine credit, she kept her eyes locked

Tense seems weird; maybe "I had to give", or "I gave"?


“I mean, did you choke or swallow fast enough-“

Second hyphen for dash.


no matter how I tried to make it sound like it’d been preferable…  the fact was that I’d been hurt.

Should have only one space after the ellipsis.


“Ow…Therapy isn’t supposed to hurt this much.”

Should have at least one space after the ellipsis, two if "therapy" is capitalized.


then every half baked raider in the Wasteland would be right

"half-baked"


Gradually, thankfully, both faded and I pulled my wits together.   I looked at Rampage

Three spaces after the period.


On the other, the box looked unopened, I could eat rocks and rusty old cans...and I was hungry and they were Sugar Apple Bombs.
Well...the hum probably wasn’t contagious through food.

should have space after the ellipsis.


You’re not the only one... “When we have it,

Should have second space after ellipsis.


I shouldered into the harness once more, tore two holes in the cardboard box and slipped my ears through

I think there should be a final serial comma after "box."


There was a flash and crack as her powerhooves discharged and smashed Glory clear off the seat.

"was" to "were"?


I heard ribs snapping like dry branches, but, while Rampage grunted and bent a little, she didn’t go down.

I think that this might read slightly better if either the comma after "but" were removed, or if "Rampage" and "she" were switched.


Nopony could hide from E.F.S. after… Well, okay, they could,

Either another space after ellipsis, or don't capitalize "well"


I looked at the door to the house, waiting…. waiting

Ellipsis should have only three dots.


and fell over on her side as the solution of Med-X and Moon Dust filled her veins.

Is there a reason it's Med-X and Moon Dust now, instead of Fixer and Moon Dust like it was earlier?


And this was going to take awhile...

"a while" as it's a noun, not an adverb here.


Priest, Sonata and a bleeding Charity.

final serial comma needed after "sonata"


You’re a martyr waiting to happen.”  Sanguine said, then looked

Period should be comma, quotation should be followed by only one space.


Slowly, I began to remove the battlesaddle.

"battle saddle"


You’re rambling,”  Vermilion said in contempt

Should have only one space after the quotation.


“Your life isn’t that easy, Blackjack,” the dealer rasped softly as

"Dealer" should be capitalized


before she bled out.” I muttered
“We… we can’t even move him.” she

Period should be comma


and I held him in my embrace.   “Not again…

Three spaces after the period


“I… They said I

Second space after ellipsis or they shouldn't be capitalized


His chest rose… fell…
rose… fell…  …rose…  fell… and then that was it.

should have only one space after second "fell...", and no second ellipsis before the third "rose" and only one space the ellipsis following it.


ways are slow and heavy, Some tracks are dark and deep

"some" shouldn't be capitalized
Other Chapter Editing:
62.I: If it does, all the enervation rings will energize.
"enervation" should be capitalized

If you have one way you want to do "top-notch"/"top notch" and/or "death trap"/"deathtrap" I'll compile the ones to change tomorrow.
Ah, thank you very much as always.

Icy Shake wrote:I think that this might read slightly better if either the comma after "but" were removed, or if "Rampage" and "she" were switched.
Hm… No, I think that it's better as it is. Sorry.

Icy Shake wrote:No, I'll probably never dissociate trains from MLP, and PH in particular.
Whyever might that be? :D

Icy Shake wrote:Where did Auger get this? She wears it on her left hoof. Maybe Cognitum got it wrong?
I expect that that's a typo; it's been fixed.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Somber on Sun Dec 29, 2013 12:57 pm

I have a confession to make... I REALLY hate going back and reading my old work.  At best, it makes me cringe.  And worse, I have the constant urge to tweak and change things.  Especially since a lot of folks say this was where PH starts changing on them.  That little niggling critic pokes me and goes 'That paragraph is wandering all over the fucking place!  Change it!'  and 'Why the hell is BJ saying THAT when she should say this?!  Change it!'

Sight...

I really do value your looking back, Icy.  You bring out excellent points, you're honest about when something isn't working, and you do great error checking.  Thanks.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Shady on Sun Dec 29, 2013 1:35 pm

After viewing yesterdays episode I guess we can conclude that BJ isn't Equestria's biggest alcoholic after all... Rainbow Dash
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Somber on Sun Dec 29, 2013 2:43 pm

No.  We can safely ignore any and all episodes writen by Merriweather Williams.  I do.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Vergil on Sun Dec 29, 2013 3:00 pm

In ch.41 there's an extra quotation mark after, "Why couldn't she just accept I didn't need to sleep?"
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by O. Hinds on Sun Dec 29, 2013 3:12 pm

Vergil wrote:In ch.41 there's an extra quotation mark after, "Why couldn't she just accept I didn't need to sleep?"
Ah, thank you.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Icy Shake on Sun Dec 29, 2013 3:48 pm

Somber wrote:I really do value your looking back, Icy.  You bring out excellent points, you're honest about when something isn't working, and you do great error checking.  Thanks.
I'm happy you feel that way. It's something that I love to do, and it's nice that it can mean something to others as well.

Shady wrote:After viewing yesterdays episode I guess we can conclude that BJ isn't Equestria's biggest alcoholic after all... Rainbow Dash
I never really thought of Blackjack as an alcoholic. She seems more like a binge drinker to me, and that hardly stands out since it's one of many things that she takes to excess.

Somber wrote:No.  We can safely ignore any and all episodes writen by Merriweather Williams.  I do.
Well, I don't feel quite that strongly (though very little has been done to dig out of the vast goodwill hole she dug with "Mysterious Mare-do-Well," "Hearth's Warming Eve" was pretty good, and there was so little that actually happened in the "real world" in that episode that there's almost nothing to ignore), it does seem that most of her episodes, even the better ones, have major holes in the supporting logic (in "Bats!," for instance, just how is the sanctuary supposed to work?).

Also, I don't want to sound too pessimistic or spiteful, but track records have to count for something, so why does the first Rarity episode in over a season have to be by Dave Polsky!?  Yell 
(To keep this last at least a little on-topic, having looked at the writers for basically the first time, I now have a better understanding of just why "Spike at Your Service" ended up like it did; with Polsky on story and Williams on teleplay, given their other episodes, it's about what I'd expect.)
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by SilentCarto on Sun Dec 29, 2013 8:15 pm

O. Hinds wrote:Hm…  No, I think that it's better as it is.  Sorry.
(for reference)
I heard ribs snapping like dry branches, but, while Rampage grunted and bent a little, she didn’t go down.

I think Shake is picking up on a valid complaint, but the simpler fix would be to remove the comma after 'but'.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Icy Shake on Sun Dec 29, 2013 10:20 pm

So, a quick question: when do mares in 99 start their jobs? It seems to be implied at the start of chapter one that it's when they get their cutie marks, but the start of chapter seven has Blackjack's first male-retiring was before then. Was that just a special case, something that you might do before you started your job, or did pre–cutie mark fillies have reduced schedules or something? Or, I guess, a continuity shift.

Also, Hinds, since I forgot to say it earlier, there's no need to apologize for a little difference of opinion.

Anyway, because, like Blackjack, I enjoy a good binge, more PH!

Chapter thirty seven running thoughts:
Sanguine grabbed the bleeding Charity by her mane and leapt out through the hole in the wall.  I looked over at the struggling Glory and shouted over the din, “Lacunae!  Get those off her!”

Okay, so we're starting in a dream, I think.


“Only thing you get… is… mercy!” I shouted as I gave him one final applebuck that sent him flying across the word painted on the bridge.

Wouldn't have expected Blackjack to emulate the Angel, even in a twisted fashion, but I can see how it happens. No, wait, it's Priest, which fits perfectly here.

There was a red glow from the wall, then a blinding flash, and Sanguine was reduced to so much ash and washed into the river.  “And you don’t even deserve that, you undead fuck.”

Of course, in this context, mercy is something which one doesn't deserve; it is the principle that tempers justice.


(Glory) “If I’d jumped when P-21 did… gone left instead of right… I wouldn’t have gotten pinned.  It’s my fault.”
Don’t let her do this.  Don’t let her hurt herself.  Hug her.  Hold her.  Tell her it was your fault.  Try to make her laugh.  Do something other than lie here!  Move your ass and do something.  Anything!  But I couldn’t.

It hurts to see Glory like that, but almost as much there's Blackjack lying there, with the weight of so many failures and the knowledge of what she needs to do, but unable to do it.


Of all the things I’d been through… this was what broke me?  A bed?

Well, there are far worse representations of major depressive disorder, I'm sure.


He left, closing the door behind him.  Maybe he was right.  Maybe without me charging in all the time, they’d be better off.  Zodiac had given her organs to the wrong pony.  My mental paralysis fed my hate and my hate fed my paralysis.  I had to move.  I had to act… but I’d just get them killed.  Hurt.

As much as I've loved this scene, I can't help but feel like "My mental paralysis fed my hate and my hate fed my paralysis" may have been better left implicit. It's been shown very well, and the telling feels a little too on the nose.


But, eventually, all my hating and loathing was boiling down to one simple, fundamental truth:
I had to go pee.

This was already reminding me of Hyberbole and a Half's depression posts, but this put it over the edge (not saying anything was lifted—common experience, common results and all that, and in fact this chapter predates the second post) and I just have to say this: I think they are something that just about anyone would do well to read. The whole blog, really, but them in particular.


I felt such an absolute loathing just then.  Not of myself, oddly enough, but of my cutie mark.  An ace and a queen.  What did that mean?  That I was three cards short of a winning hand?

I figure it's a symptom of the depression, but wow is that myopic; not only is that ignoring the other types of poker (and that's a pretty good hand for Texas Hold'em), but she was playing blackjack when she got it!

I should have a cutie mark of a dead pony… no… a dead filly torn in two.

You know, it really could have been, depending on the specifics of what happened with Hatches.


I imagined [Octavia] practicing just like this; had she loved it?  Hated it?  No… I smiled a little to myself.  She might have hated making music into a career, but she'd never hated the music itself.

Octavia always gets to me. Perhaps more so, now, but even the first time around the idea and memory of Octavia seemed a particularly poignant example of someone who was a relic of a better world even in her own time.


Apparently, giving fillies mildly addictive substances was really effective!

That really turned the mood around nicely.

Two more gems later and she followed me back up into my room.

Nope, that doesn't sound sketchy out of context at all.


Lots of fatties working for the Doc.  Cora always likes killing them.  She’s creepy.”  I’d noticed.

Who is Cora? More to the point, how does Blackjack know who she is? Is she Fury? I figure it's not Brass, since that was her name before being transformed, too.


“Hey… Blackjack?  Do you have any more of those mint candies?  They were really good.”
. . .
I mean, I’d given her drugs to try and win… and sure, it’d worked, but now she was paying the price for luring Precious away from Sanguine.

Whoa! That wasn't spelled out last chapter! I guess Blackjack really is handing out the addictive substances to kids.


“Good.  Then I don’t feel quite so bad for this,” [Glory] said as she looked me in the eyes with a loving smile, pulled back a little, and hit me so hard upside the head that I went flopping clear off the other side of the bed.  “What in Equestria were you thinking?  Giving highly addictive mind-altering chemicals to a filly like that? . . . And I actually sat by and let you!

That felt kind of good. I can see how Blackjack would go right to the chemical solutions—they've tended to work well for her, she never really developed addictions to them, and isn't the best at long-term thinking—but I really think that Glory was the more responsible one here. She's the one with the knowledge of the downsides, and she knew what was happening and let it go on any way. I'm not entirely sure if she sees this herself, but I'd kind of like to think so, and that she's taking out her frustration with herself on Blackjack—not that that's healthy, either, but it seems preferable to displacing the blame.


I mean, I loved plumbing as much as the next mare but… wait… suddenly, that thought led to the question of how Thunderhead handled its sewage.  Now I was shuddering… I’d never look at the rain the same way again.

But wouldn't this be a great place to apply the Stable 99 motto?


Huh?  What’s gross about that?  I always saw mares kissing mares back in the stable.”  She crossed her hooves.  “Now kissin’ stallions… that’s gross.”
“Oh, it isn’t so bad,” P-21 murmured idly.  Then he blinked and looked at Rampage grinning ear to ear at him.  “No… no no…”  She pounced at him kissing wildly, and he barely leapt onto the table and off the other side in time.

Well, P-21's line could be taken a couple of different ways, but there's no denying it's something. Hiding it between a mild joke about kids and cooties and a big one with Rampage was a good touch. Also, it's not often that we see him unguarded, even for a little while. Granted, that may well be in large part because Blackjack is our viewpoint.


“Look!” I smacked the table with my hoof.  “You were working for our enemy, but we took you in.  I even shared some gems with you.  All I’m asking for is enough memories of that place so that Lacunae can teleport us there.  We don’t care about what happened to you two hundred years ago!”

I'm ready for Rampage to step in and knock some sense into this conversation, because this is simply reprehensible. On the other hand, it's good that the vicious turn that started at the beginning of last chapter didn't wither on the vine.


I didn’t want to mess with foals and the like.  I just wanted to win.

“I have been forced to cartoonish levels of monsterdom simply to get what I need!”


It had a far more classical look than the rest of the Hoof, with a central peak that rose far above the treeline.  It had to be three stories at least.

Wow. Either those aren't very tall trees or each floor has damn high ceilings. Or maybe it's just three stories above the treeline?


“Don’t worry.  I’m tough, just like Security!” she said with a grin as she looked down at me,  “Now, let’s get going!” she said brightly.  Great... now I was a role model!

Also, Scotch, you may not have noticed, but Security isn't as tough as she may appear.


‘Hippocratic Research: Bringing new discoveries effectively, efficiently, and ethically to you.’

Well, I can buy the first two, at least.


“Well, if they’re wood, then they burn,” P-21 said.  He pulled out an apple with a red band, tugged out the stem, and tossed it into the trees blocking our path.

Come on, man, you're supposed to be smarter than this. Who chucks an incendiary in the middle of a dense forest which appears to be all dead trees? You're actually lucky you're wrong. Kind of.


One actually appeared to have slices of cake hanging from the ends of the limbs.  From the number of waxy and warped bones lying at the base of the tree, I suspected that the cake was a lie.

Not too bad.


and suddenly Glory screamed.  A gray wooden shoot was growing out of her foreleg!  Scotch wasted no time, jumping off me and racing to where it was sprouting.  She bit down, set her forelegs, and pulled as hard as she could.  There was a horrible wet noise as the bloody seed was ripped out.  As she spat it aside, I watched in sick horror as another waxy tree began to grow before our eyes in the dirt beside us.  P-21 and Scotch also had pieces of apple seed shrapnel that had to be dug out even as they started to sprout.

And we have our first answer to "what new horror will be visited upon them" for the chapter.


We’d encountered other weirdness too, like a tree with drooping branches that cried rainbow gunk.

Nice visual pun.

And a-- was it a pine tree?-- covered in steel pins!

Two in a row!

One tree looked perfectly fine and leafy but made P-21 violently ill when we approached.  Another had watched us with dozens of eyes that looked oddly just like P-21’s... weird.

Nope, don't know what those are.

Glory came across an apple tree, but at her approach the luscious red apples revealed themselves to be red chitinous monsters that scuttled after us, snapping pincers.

Three for five so far.

Then there were some thorny branches that barely scratched Scotch…. but once she started bleeding, she didn’t stop!

And, down to three out of six.


The trees were closing the path behind us with the grinding creaks and groans of tortured wood.  And then the foliage ended abruptly, the transition as sharp as if there was some invisible line.  Spread out before us was a huge lawn of blue-green grass.  It was covered with strange train-like engines and wagons, and heaps of barrels loomed like oozing encrustations, slowly dripping their congealed contents like colorful pus.  Most bizarre of all were the statues.  One showed three foals frolicking, another was a mare looking impressive, rearing with a flag clutched between her forehooves...  There were dozens of them scattered across the strange grass.  A few had tumbled over and others were covered in creeping blue vines, but most of them were just...there.

Best, most unsettling atmosphere of the chapter so far, and that's saying something, considering the forest.


Green beams sliced the vine into quivering lengths as Glory leapt in place behind him, covering him as he hauled Rampage out.  Then I saw it.  It was just a moment when she took her eyes off the vines to look at the pair.  In that moment, the vines struck.  They shot out and coiled around her.  “No!” I screamed as a blue flash engulfed her body.

Ah, one of the defining moments of the second half of the story. And it just comes so fast. Incidentally, does anyone remember if Rainbow!Glory was ever accused of being a Mary Sue, given she was a prodigy with the body of one of Equestria's finest athletes, who was given the latter (also healing her fallen-off wing) without working for it, and felt sorry for herself for her new body?


Glory turned and shouted, “Aw yeah!”

I'd forgotten just how soon the transformation started changing her mind and personality.


What if there’s some kind of mental contamination?  I was slated for a fast track medical career!  Rainbow Dash was an idiot!

Hey! There's a difference between being a former mild anti-intellectual and being an idiot! Just because she had different priorities than you do, doesn't mean you should call her names.


“So… all in all, pretty good day in the Hoof, huh?” the striped filly said with a smirk.

Interestingly enough, given the context of when she said she could tell it was going to be a shitty day (Well, not much point in beating him if you turn into him,” Rampage muttered as she trotted away to her room.  “I better go get into my armor.  I can just tell it’s gonna be another shitty day in Hoofington.”), in a way, it actually was good, since nobody's been acting like a moral monster.


“Stay close.  No E.F.S., but I just know that there’s something nasty in here.”

Ah, I missed that. Earlier Blackjack had listed what they lost when Scotch, Glory, and Lacunae had to leave to get Scotch to the Fluttershy Medical Center: medic (times two, really), teleportation escape plan, magical support, moral support. I forgot that Scotch and Glory were the only ones with E.F.S. at that point.


Internal Memo: 10-16-11: Twilight Sparkle’s visit>  Thankfully, we got warning of the Ministry Mare’s ‘surprise’ inspection.  Now I want all of us on our very tippy toppest best behavior while she’s here.  Give her the tour, stretch things out, and hope to Luna that she runs out of time before she gets too nosy.  If all else fails, have the show ready.  F&F.

I have to admit, F&F are nothing if not entertaining. Though now I wonder just what the Equestrian date system was . . . Would that be the eleventh year of Luna's reign?


Internal memo: 10-23-11: Goodbye> Well, dust off your resumes, because you’re all fired effective tomorrow!  That’s right.  Let Applejack or whoever the hell is director now deal with this mess.  My brother and I are off to sunny Porca Porca where the beaches are warm, the local swine friendly, and the extradition treaties nonexistent.  So long, suckers!  F&F.

The sad thing is, this might actually be better than you could expect in the real world, where you probably wouldn't even get a "So long, suckers!" acknowledging they were screwing you.

Funny… hope they had an early flight.

I can't help wonder if Blackjack is serious here or not; I could honestly see it either way.


“I’m sure that you’re familiar with a great many of our products.”
“What kind of world would we be living in without Sparkle-Cola?”
. . .
“And how could we get though life without Wonderglue?” Flim asked as he held up a tube in his hooves.

I like that they are—or at least their company is—presented as competent. After all, their shadiness never came from their inventions, which were actually very impressive, but their business practices.


the other pony shook hard to free himself from the bottle of glue.  Then he looked out, smiled sheepishly, and stepped back as the mustached pony gestured to his side.

Nice touch.


“While dozens of our end user products like Abronco Detergent and Sugar Apple Bombs cereal are familiar to you, our most important product is a material you may not be very familiar with.”

Wow. It's like they're the P&G or Unilever of Equestria.


So, where does this magical mystery substance come from?  

Hee.


“With our own special blend of quality Equestrian gemstones…”

Could just be patriotism, but then again, maybe the (purported) sourcing is motivated by only Equestrian gems being magical. Though come to think of it, the zebras made talismans from other gems, too; then again, the talisman and fetish making process might be different than others.


The image then showed the building and, leaving it, wagons being pulled by train tractors heaped with smiling barrels.

What's a train tractor? Is that like a semi-tractor hauling multiple cars?


Then the projector flickered and died.  The three of us stared blankly at the wall and I murmured softly, “Well, now I have a better idea why the world blew up like it did.”

For a moment, I kind of stopped and wondered why they all waited and watched the film. But then, given Flim and Flam caused a musical number, and are just hard to ignore generally, it does sort of make sense.


“Condition?” he said weakly.  “I’m dying of poison and you’re giving me conditions?”
. . .
“When we’re done… you’re going to Scotch… and you are going to tell her you’re her daddy.  And you’re going to say nice things about her mom.  And you’re going to hug her!”
. . .
“And if I say no?” he panted as I backed towards him.
“Then I’ll give it to you, but with a huge guilt trip attached,” I countered.

This might just be my favorite fun exchange of the chapter.


“Hoofington to Porca Porca… departure time, 2 PM.”  I patted the skull sympathetically.  “Should have gotten a morning flight.”

So she was being serious. I'm kind of glad about that, that she still wishes they could have been saved from the bombing, even though they weren't exactly great people, given their plant and animal crossing experiments and industrial pollution. I wonder if she'll feel differently after learning the true source of Flux.


“I know… I know.  I’ve been trying not to think about it.

Well, he is a Stable 99 pony, too.
Chapter thirty seven overall thoughts:
This chapter starts out slowly but the pace really picks up soon after. The slow start is due to Blackjack's emotional breakdown, which leaves her almost catatonic on her mattress. (Well, the real start is a dream in which she plays the interaction with Sanguine from last chapter a differently, keeping Charity alive while killing Sanguine and keeping EC-1101.)This was tough to read, both emotionally painful and mentally draining. One part that probably would stand out even to someone apathetic at this point to Blackjack's reaction was Glory's, with her feeling the guilt that's much more often associated with Blackjack, but handling it differently. I'm glad this part ended relatively quickly (though the scene with Octavia was beautiful, and the story of how her life went, presumably communicated by the bass, was touching) both due to the drain and, more superficially, because only so much can happen when your viewpoint character is catatonic on a mattress.

Precious was interesting and pretty cute, but served mostly as an expositional character until Blackjack went off the deep end and tried to bully her into giving Lacunae access to her memories so they could teleport to Hippocratic Research.

Scotch was moved along in the early parts much as has been happening, with nothing groundbreaking, but some nice incremental development. What was a surprise, though, was the revelation that Blackjack gave Scotch a Mint-All to help her convince Precious to go quietly last chapter, and Glory went along with it. I thought Glory's violent outburst was misplaced, given that where medical stuff is concerned, she should recognize that she has to be the responsible one, not Blackjack. Also, it looks like easily becoming addicted to chems may be a trait Scotch inherited from her father, but it's too early to be seen.

It good to see Blackjack's new violence show up again, and the almost overpowering urge to win. Not that those are traits that look good on her, but they shouldn't just pop up for one chapter and then disappear. I'm hoping that they will gradually build until "Reaper," and improve in "Lucidity."

The best action in the chapter was, I think, the killer forest. The self-altering maze and interesting obstacles (the stabbing branches, the exploding zapapples, the seeds that will sprout rapidly, growing into your flesh) made for a different brand of challenge than has been seen for a while. There was also some good humor there, with a string of visual puns about trees and a "the cake is a lie" reference that wasn't terrible.

The killing joke scene was pretty strong. All of the jokes fit very well, but it seems like the joke may have missed that Blackjack's legs were mechanical. Or maybe it was funny enough without being able to blow limbs off. Notably, we saw that the jokes wear off in time, or can, anyway. Rampage's joke, having the ground open into a pit to swallow her alive, ended soonest, and Blackjack's "everything I touch explodes" seemed to die of fairly quickly, too—until it made (one last?) an appearance at the end of the chapter when it would be most effective. So it does seem to establish that effects requiring ongoing actions can stop, even if simple state changes may last indefinitely, but that given the right circumstances, a joke whose activity seems to be over may have just a little bit left.

Glory is now, of course, Rainbow Dash, and it's immediately shown that it's directly affecting her personality, but the degree it changes her mind and personality is unclear so far, as part of it is likely the stress of the situation. Scotch's joke, of course, splits the party so that Glory can care for her at the Fluttershy Medical Center, with Lacunae providing the transportation and unable to return to P-21, Rampage, and Blackjack due to magical exhaustion.

After this, comedy continued, with the real comedic high point of the chapter being Flim and Flam's informational video. Somber captured them beautifully, leaving them as exceedingly entertaining and completely amoral, while still competent (possibly brilliant) inventors (it could be that they just oversaw everything, and of course Flux wasn't really them, but it seems like they were pretty highly involved), which is part that sometimes seems to be lost even by writers who nail the first two.
Chapter thirty seven editing:
whatever ponies wallowed in. She had wanted a different life;

Only one space after the period.


Every second, Sanguine was getting further and further away and I was just lying here!
Every second I lay here, he was getting further away…

If you want, "farther" would be more precise.


Hadn’t that been what Tenpony had been for?

Should the first word be "Wasn't"?


That gave me a sullen half-lidded look.

"That got me"


And then she’d neatly put her instrument away, sealed it up, laid down, and died.

"laid" should be "lain," or else take an object.


Lots of fatties working for the Doc.  Cora always likes killing them.  She’s creepy.”  I’d noticed.

Who is Cora? More to the point, how does Blackjack know who she is? Is she Fury? I figure it's not Brass, since that was her name before being transformed, too. Maybe I just missed it, if it's a variant on another name, but "Cora" only shows up there and two paragraphs later.


“I think any cutie mark is fine, as long as its yours,”

"it's"


“Just because I’ve-“
“Look, Scotch, I’m not saying-“

Second hyphen for dash.


The park was little more than a dead square of trees and benches overlooked by a large billboard of a Pinkie Pie.

Is there a reason it's "a Pinkie Pie," not just "Pinkie Pie"?


I didn’t have an E.F.S.-- I wanted Glory and Scotch to have the advantages the PipBuck offered, even ignoring the feedback from trying to wire another PipBuck into me-- but I knew that,

Symmetrical spacing about dashes.


You know that’s why she’s here,” she said keeping her voice down.

"she said, keeping"


Scotch pointedly ignored both of us at that.

"after that"?


No trying to burn the nice not dead trees.”

Should "not dead" be hyphenated?


I think we’d found the suckiest.   From the depths of

Three spaces after the period.


One actually appeared to have slices of cake hanging from the ends of the limbs.

"its limbs"?


the usual mare’s-- otherwise it probably would have torn my flank clean off.
And a-- was it a pine tree?-- covered in steel pins!

Symmetrical spacing about dashes.


Then there were some thorny branches that barely scratched Scotch…. but once she started bleeding, she didn’t stop!

Ellipsis should have only three dots.


the transition as sharp as if there was some invisible line.

was to were?


but most of them were just...there.

Space needed after ellipsis.


trees rip a path in front of me, though, so...this shouldn’t be that frightening,

Space needed after ellipsis. Also, "shouldn't have been," I think.


I felt a tingle run through me.   And then, just as suddenly

Three spaces after period.


It was as if the earth itself was creeping away under her hooves to dump her into the depths.

Was to were?


Glory turned and shouted, “Aw yeah!”

Comma after "aw"?


they turned me into a dashite…. a dashite!

Ellipsis should have only three dots.


It might have looked like an old, classy style building,

Should "classy style" by hyphenated?


But worse of all was the smell.

"worst"


Rainbo-  Glory!

Second hyphen for dash?


“Lacunae!” The purple alicorn touched

Should have second space after quotation.


“What-“ Rampage began.
“Didn’t-“ I started to say.

Second hyphen for dash.


I sat by while P-21 worked on the lock. I was absent-mindedly

Only one space after the period.


Laying on top of my jumbled thoughts was the certainty that if there was a nexus for suckitude

"lying"


I was in such a need for scrap metal to repair myself that

Maybe it's just a variant of an idiom I don't know, but it seems like this should be "I had such a need for" or "I was in such need of."


‘Hippocratic Research,’ read the plaque on the base.  ‘A trusted friend in science!’

Should the comma be outside the quotation marks?


I scowled at the pair, then trotted to the base of the statue and rubbed away the grime at the base.  

This may be a little repetitive for one sentence. Maybe just "trotted to the statue"?


We moved into the offices with me nervously chewing my bit...okay, whoa; had to be careful with that, or I’d be eating it!-- while keeping an eye out.

I'd suggest switching out the ellipsis for a dash so that the punctuation demarkating the aside matches. Also, symmetrical spacing around the dash.


P-21 said softly as he tapped at the keyboard of a desk terminal  I blinked and glanced

Missing period after "terminal."


“Lets hope this turns out as well as that did.”
“Well?”  I blinked in shock.  “I was strapped

"let's"
Also, as written, it seems like responding well happens in sequence with the blinking in shock, and before it. Which could happen, but seems a little off. Making them simultaneous, as with "'Well' I [speaking verb], blinking in shock," or the blink happening first, like "I blinked in shock. 'Well? I was strapped" might come off as more natural, but your mileage may vary.


If that was ‘well,’ I’d hate to

comma to outside of quotation marks.


chalk boards covered with “ ________ X ________”

Should the space after the quotation mark and before the underscores be there? Also, I think those should be single-quotes.


Seeds ricocheted wildly inside.  “Zapapple Bombs! . . . Profit!”

If that's written on a plaque or something, they should be single-quotes.


‘Dog X Rattlesnake. All the loyalty of a dog.  All the viciousness of a snake.  Pro: loyaltyishness.  Con: Ugly as sin.  Pro: Natural camouflage makes ugliness moot.  Con: Name?’

Bolded quotation mark shouldn't be there, unless it's part of what they wrote on the board.


Passcard, then.” I muttered as I stared at the

Period should be comma.


“Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 9000” had been written on one side,
sign reading “Super Speedy Flux Mixer 9000 X Turbo” had been painted

Should be single-quotes


where science is pursued effectively…”
“Efficiently!” piped the twin.
“And Ethically,” they said in unison

"Ethically" should probably not be capitalized, but in any case "effectively" and "ethically" should match.


“Now, we want to caution you that something as super amazing, one of a kind as Flux is not something you should play around with.”

"one of a kind" should be hyphenated.


we’ve got opportunity in each and every community!   He’s Flim

Three spaces after the exclamation point.


“What hair-brained idiot would think of taking a scorpion and putting wings on it?!”

Should be "harebrained," I believe.


I am a grizzled Wasteland veteran and I will not wait for-”

Second hyphen for dash.


I saw a pair of tickets clutched into one brothers’ hooves and flipped them open.

Should that be "clutched in"? Maybe just another variant I've not seen.


“At last!  It’s Twi-“

Second hyphen for dash.


but I needed to go down had no doubt it would take me where I needed to go.

"to go down and had no doubt"
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Icy Shake
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by O. Hinds on Mon Dec 30, 2013 1:14 am

SilentCarto wrote:
O. Hinds wrote:Hm…  No, I think that it's better as it is.  Sorry.
(for reference)
I heard ribs snapping like dry branches, but, while Rampage grunted and bent a little, she didn’t go down.

I think Shake is picking up on a valid complaint, but the simpler fix would be to remove the comma after 'but'.
Eh... Sure.

Icy Shake wrote:So, a quick question: when do mares in 99 start their jobs? It seems to be implied at the start of chapter one that it's when they get their cutie marks, but the start of chapter seven has Blackjack's first male-retiring was before then. Was that just a special case, something that you might do before you started your job, or did pre–cutie mark fillies have reduced schedules or something? Or, I guess, a continuity shift.

Also, Hinds, since I forgot to say it earlier, there's no need to apologize for a little difference of opinion.

Anyway, because, like Blackjack, I enjoy a good binge, more PH!

Chapter thirty seven running thoughts:
Sanguine grabbed the bleeding Charity by her mane and leapt out through the hole in the wall.  I looked over at the struggling Glory and shouted over the din, “Lacunae!  Get those off her!”

Okay, so we're starting in a dream, I think.


“Only thing you get… is… mercy!” I shouted as I gave him one final applebuck that sent him flying across the word painted on the bridge.

Wouldn't have expected Blackjack to emulate the Angel, even in a twisted fashion, but I can see how it happens. No, wait, it's Priest, which fits perfectly here.

There was a red glow from the wall, then a blinding flash, and Sanguine was reduced to so much ash and washed into the river.  “And you don’t even deserve that, you undead fuck.”

Of course, in this context, mercy is something which one doesn't deserve; it is the principle that tempers justice.


(Glory) “If I’d jumped when P-21 did… gone left instead of right… I wouldn’t have gotten pinned.  It’s my fault.”
Don’t let her do this.  Don’t let her hurt herself.  Hug her.  Hold her.  Tell her it was your fault.  Try to make her laugh.  Do something other than lie here!  Move your ass and do something.  Anything!  But I couldn’t.

It hurts to see Glory like that, but almost as much there's Blackjack lying there, with the weight of so many failures and the knowledge of what she needs to do, but unable to do it.


Of all the things I’d been through… this was what broke me?  A bed?

Well, there are far worse representations of major depressive disorder, I'm sure.


He left, closing the door behind him.  Maybe he was right.  Maybe without me charging in all the time, they’d be better off.  Zodiac had given her organs to the wrong pony.  My mental paralysis fed my hate and my hate fed my paralysis.  I had to move.  I had to act… but I’d just get them killed.  Hurt.

As much as I've loved this scene, I can't help but feel like "My mental paralysis fed my hate and my hate fed my paralysis" may have been better left implicit. It's been shown very well, and the telling feels a little too on the nose.


But, eventually, all my hating and loathing was boiling down to one simple, fundamental truth:
I had to go pee.

This was already reminding me of Hyberbole and a Half's depression posts, but this put it over the edge (not saying anything was lifted—common experience, common results and all that, and in fact this chapter predates the second post) and I just have to say this: I think they are something that just about anyone would do well to read. The whole blog, really, but them in particular.


I felt such an absolute loathing just then.  Not of myself, oddly enough, but of my cutie mark.  An ace and a queen.  What did that mean?  That I was three cards short of a winning hand?

I figure it's a symptom of the depression, but wow is that myopic; not only is that ignoring the other types of poker (and that's a pretty good hand for Texas Hold'em), but she was playing blackjack when she got it!

I should have a cutie mark of a dead pony… no… a dead filly torn in two.

You know, it really could have been, depending on the specifics of what happened with Hatches.


I imagined [Octavia] practicing just like this; had she loved it?  Hated it?  No… I smiled a little to myself.  She might have hated making music into a career, but she'd never hated the music itself.

Octavia always gets to me. Perhaps more so, now, but even the first time around the idea and memory of Octavia seemed a particularly poignant example of someone who was a relic of a better world even in her own time.


Apparently, giving fillies mildly addictive substances was really effective!

That really turned the mood around nicely.

Two more gems later and she followed me back up into my room.

Nope, that doesn't sound sketchy out of context at all.


Lots of fatties working for the Doc.  Cora always likes killing them.  She’s creepy.”  I’d noticed.

Who is Cora? More to the point, how does Blackjack know who she is? Is she Fury? I figure it's not Brass, since that was her name before being transformed, too.


“Hey… Blackjack?  Do you have any more of those mint candies?  They were really good.”
. . .
I mean, I’d given her drugs to try and win… and sure, it’d worked, but now she was paying the price for luring Precious away from Sanguine.

Whoa! That wasn't spelled out last chapter! I guess Blackjack really is handing out the addictive substances to kids.


“Good.  Then I don’t feel quite so bad for this,” [Glory] said as she looked me in the eyes with a loving smile, pulled back a little, and hit me so hard upside the head that I went flopping clear off the other side of the bed.  “What in Equestria were you thinking?  Giving highly addictive mind-altering chemicals to a filly like that? . . . And I actually sat by and let you!

That felt kind of good. I can see how Blackjack would go right to the chemical solutions—they've tended to work well for her, she never really developed addictions to them, and isn't the best at long-term thinking—but I really think that Glory was the more responsible one here. She's the one with the knowledge of the downsides, and she knew what was happening and let it go on any way. I'm not entirely sure if she sees this herself, but I'd kind of like to think so, and that she's taking out her frustration with herself on Blackjack—not that that's healthy, either, but it seems preferable to displacing the blame.


I mean, I loved plumbing as much as the next mare but… wait… suddenly, that thought led to the question of how Thunderhead handled its sewage.  Now I was shuddering… I’d never look at the rain the same way again.

But wouldn't this be a great place to apply the Stable 99 motto?


Huh?  What’s gross about that?  I always saw mares kissing mares back in the stable.”  She crossed her hooves.  “Now kissin’ stallions… that’s gross.”
“Oh, it isn’t so bad,” P-21 murmured idly.  Then he blinked and looked at Rampage grinning ear to ear at him.  “No… no no…”  She pounced at him kissing wildly, and he barely leapt onto the table and off the other side in time.

Well, P-21's line could be taken a couple of different ways, but there's no denying it's something. Hiding it between a mild joke about kids and cooties and a big one with Rampage was a good touch. Also, it's not often that we see him unguarded, even for a little while. Granted, that may well be in large part because Blackjack is our viewpoint.


“Look!” I smacked the table with my hoof.  “You were working for our enemy, but we took you in.  I even shared some gems with you.  All I’m asking for is enough memories of that place so that Lacunae can teleport us there.  We don’t care about what happened to you two hundred years ago!”

I'm ready for Rampage to step in and knock some sense into this conversation, because this is simply reprehensible. On the other hand, it's good that the vicious turn that started at the beginning of last chapter didn't wither on the vine.


I didn’t want to mess with foals and the like.  I just wanted to win.

“I have been forced to cartoonish levels of monsterdom simply to get what I need!”


It had a far more classical look than the rest of the Hoof, with a central peak that rose far above the treeline.  It had to be three stories at least.

Wow. Either those aren't very tall trees or each floor has damn high ceilings. Or maybe it's just three stories above the treeline?


“Don’t worry.  I’m tough, just like Security!” she said with a grin as she looked down at me,  “Now, let’s get going!” she said brightly.  Great... now I was a role model!

Also, Scotch, you may not have noticed, but Security isn't as tough as she may appear.


‘Hippocratic Research: Bringing new discoveries effectively, efficiently, and ethically to you.’

Well, I can buy the first two, at least.


“Well, if they’re wood, then they burn,” P-21 said.  He pulled out an apple with a red band, tugged out the stem, and tossed it into the trees blocking our path.

Come on, man, you're supposed to be smarter than this. Who chucks an incendiary in the middle of a dense forest which appears to be all dead trees? You're actually lucky you're wrong. Kind of.


One actually appeared to have slices of cake hanging from the ends of the limbs.  From the number of waxy and warped bones lying at the base of the tree, I suspected that the cake was a lie.

Not too bad.


and suddenly Glory screamed.  A gray wooden shoot was growing out of her foreleg!  Scotch wasted no time, jumping off me and racing to where it was sprouting.  She bit down, set her forelegs, and pulled as hard as she could.  There was a horrible wet noise as the bloody seed was ripped out.  As she spat it aside, I watched in sick horror as another waxy tree began to grow before our eyes in the dirt beside us.  P-21 and Scotch also had pieces of apple seed shrapnel that had to be dug out even as they started to sprout.

And we have our first answer to "what new horror will be visited upon them" for the chapter.


We’d encountered other weirdness too, like a tree with drooping branches that cried rainbow gunk.

Nice visual pun.

And a-- was it a pine tree?-- covered in steel pins!

Two in a row!

One tree looked perfectly fine and leafy but made P-21 violently ill when we approached.  Another had watched us with dozens of eyes that looked oddly just like P-21’s... weird.

Nope, don't know what those are.

Glory came across an apple tree, but at her approach the luscious red apples revealed themselves to be red chitinous monsters that scuttled after us, snapping pincers.

Three for five so far.

Then there were some thorny branches that barely scratched Scotch…. but once she started bleeding, she didn’t stop!

And, down to three out of six.


The trees were closing the path behind us with the grinding creaks and groans of tortured wood.  And then the foliage ended abruptly, the transition as sharp as if there was some invisible line.  Spread out before us was a huge lawn of blue-green grass.  It was covered with strange train-like engines and wagons, and heaps of barrels loomed like oozing encrustations, slowly dripping their congealed contents like colorful pus.  Most bizarre of all were the statues.  One showed three foals frolicking, another was a mare looking impressive, rearing with a flag clutched between her forehooves...  There were dozens of them scattered across the strange grass.  A few had tumbled over and others were covered in creeping blue vines, but most of them were just...there.

Best, most unsettling atmosphere of the chapter so far, and that's saying something, considering the forest.


Green beams sliced the vine into quivering lengths as Glory leapt in place behind him, covering him as he hauled Rampage out.  Then I saw it.  It was just a moment when she took her eyes off the vines to look at the pair.  In that moment, the vines struck.  They shot out and coiled around her.  “No!” I screamed as a blue flash engulfed her body.

Ah, one of the defining moments of the second half of the story. And it just comes so fast. Incidentally, does anyone remember if Rainbow!Glory was ever accused of being a Mary Sue, given she was a prodigy with the body of one of Equestria's finest athletes, who was given the latter (also healing her fallen-off wing) without working for it, and felt sorry for herself for her new body?


Glory turned and shouted, “Aw yeah!”

I'd forgotten just how soon the transformation started changing her mind and personality.


What if there’s some kind of mental contamination?  I was slated for a fast track medical career!  Rainbow Dash was an idiot!

Hey! There's a difference between being a former mild anti-intellectual and being an idiot! Just because she had different priorities than you do, doesn't mean you should call her names.


“So… all in all, pretty good day in the Hoof, huh?” the striped filly said with a smirk.

Interestingly enough, given the context of when she said she could tell it was going to be a shitty day (Well, not much point in beating him if you turn into him,” Rampage muttered as she trotted away to her room.  “I better go get into my armor.  I can just tell it’s gonna be another shitty day in Hoofington.”), in a way, it actually was good, since nobody's been acting like a moral monster.


“Stay close.  No E.F.S., but I just know that there’s something nasty in here.”

Ah, I missed that. Earlier Blackjack had listed what they lost when Scotch, Glory, and Lacunae had to leave to get Scotch to the Fluttershy Medical Center: medic (times two, really), teleportation escape plan, magical support, moral support. I forgot that Scotch and Glory were the only ones with E.F.S. at that point.


Internal Memo: 10-16-11: Twilight Sparkle’s visit>  Thankfully, we got warning of the Ministry Mare’s ‘surprise’ inspection.  Now I want all of us on our very tippy toppest best behavior while she’s here.  Give her the tour, stretch things out, and hope to Luna that she runs out of time before she gets too nosy.  If all else fails, have the show ready.  F&F.

I have to admit, F&F are nothing if not entertaining. Though now I wonder just what the Equestrian date system was . . . Would that be the eleventh year of Luna's reign?


Internal memo: 10-23-11: Goodbye> Well, dust off your resumes, because you’re all fired effective tomorrow!  That’s right.  Let Applejack or whoever the hell is director now deal with this mess.  My brother and I are off to sunny Porca Porca where the beaches are warm, the local swine friendly, and the extradition treaties nonexistent.  So long, suckers!  F&F.

The sad thing is, this might actually be better than you could expect in the real world, where you probably wouldn't even get a "So long, suckers!" acknowledging they were screwing you.

Funny… hope they had an early flight.

I can't help wonder if Blackjack is serious here or not; I could honestly see it either way.


“I’m sure that you’re familiar with a great many of our products.”
“What kind of world would we be living in without Sparkle-Cola?”
. . .
“And how could we get though life without Wonderglue?” Flim asked as he held up a tube in his hooves.

I like that they are—or at least their company is—presented as competent. After all, their shadiness never came from their inventions, which were actually very impressive, but their business practices.


the other pony shook hard to free himself from the bottle of glue.  Then he looked out, smiled sheepishly, and stepped back as the mustached pony gestured to his side.

Nice touch.


“While dozens of our end user products like Abronco Detergent and Sugar Apple Bombs cereal are familiar to you, our most important product is a material you may not be very familiar with.”

Wow. It's like they're the P&G or Unilever of Equestria.


So, where does this magical mystery substance come from?  

Hee.


“With our own special blend of quality Equestrian gemstones…”

Could just be patriotism, but then again, maybe the (purported) sourcing is motivated by only Equestrian gems being magical. Though come to think of it, the zebras made talismans from other gems, too; then again, the talisman and fetish making process might be different than others.


The image then showed the building and, leaving it, wagons being pulled by train tractors heaped with smiling barrels.

What's a train tractor? Is that like a semi-tractor hauling multiple cars?


Then the projector flickered and died.  The three of us stared blankly at the wall and I murmured softly, “Well, now I have a better idea why the world blew up like it did.”

For a moment, I kind of stopped and wondered why they all waited and watched the film. But then, given Flim and Flam caused a musical number, and are just hard to ignore generally, it does sort of make sense.


“Condition?” he said weakly.  “I’m dying of poison and you’re giving me conditions?”
. . .
“When we’re done… you’re going to Scotch… and you are going to tell her you’re her daddy.  And you’re going to say nice things about her mom.  And you’re going to hug her!”
. . .
“And if I say no?” he panted as I backed towards him.
“Then I’ll give it to you, but with a huge guilt trip attached,” I countered.

This might just be my favorite fun exchange of the chapter.


“Hoofington to Porca Porca… departure time, 2 PM.”  I patted the skull sympathetically.  “Should have gotten a morning flight.”

So she was being serious. I'm kind of glad about that, that she still wishes they could have been saved from the bombing, even though they weren't exactly great people, given their plant and animal crossing experiments and industrial pollution. I wonder if she'll feel differently after learning the true source of Flux.


“I know… I know.  I’ve been trying not to think about it.

Well, he is a Stable 99 pony, too.
Chapter thirty seven overall thoughts:
This chapter starts out slowly but the pace really picks up soon after. The slow start is due to Blackjack's emotional breakdown, which leaves her almost catatonic on her mattress. (Well, the real start is a dream in which she plays the interaction with Sanguine from last chapter a differently, keeping Charity alive while killing Sanguine and keeping EC-1101.)This was tough to read, both emotionally painful and mentally draining. One part that probably would stand out even to someone apathetic at this point to Blackjack's reaction was Glory's, with her feeling the guilt that's much more often associated with Blackjack, but handling it differently. I'm glad this part ended relatively quickly (though the scene with Octavia was beautiful, and the story of how her life went, presumably communicated by the bass, was touching) both due to the drain and, more superficially, because only so much can happen when your viewpoint character is catatonic on a mattress.

Precious was interesting and pretty cute, but served mostly as an expositional character until Blackjack went off the deep end and tried to bully her into giving Lacunae access to her memories so they could teleport to Hippocratic Research.

Scotch was moved along in the early parts much as has been happening, with nothing groundbreaking, but some nice incremental development. What was a surprise, though, was the revelation that Blackjack gave Scotch a Mint-All to help her convince Precious to go quietly last chapter, and Glory went along with it. I thought Glory's violent outburst was misplaced, given that where medical stuff is concerned, she should recognize that she has to be the responsible one, not Blackjack. Also, it looks like easily becoming addicted to chems may be a trait Scotch inherited from her father, but it's too early to be seen.

It good to see Blackjack's new violence show up again, and the almost overpowering urge to win. Not that those are traits that look good on her, but they shouldn't just pop up for one chapter and then disappear. I'm hoping that they will gradually build until "Reaper," and improve in "Lucidity."

The best action in the chapter was, I think, the killer forest. The self-altering maze and interesting obstacles (the stabbing branches, the exploding zapapples, the seeds that will sprout rapidly, growing into your flesh) made for a different brand of challenge than has been seen for a while. There was also some good humor there, with a string of visual puns about trees and a "the cake is a lie" reference that wasn't terrible.

The killing joke scene was pretty strong. All of the jokes fit very well, but it seems like the joke may have missed that Blackjack's legs were mechanical. Or maybe it was funny enough without being able to blow limbs off. Notably, we saw that the jokes wear off in time, or can, anyway. Rampage's joke, having the ground open into a pit to swallow her alive, ended soonest, and Blackjack's "everything I touch explodes" seemed to die of fairly quickly, too—until it made (one last?) an appearance at the end of the chapter when it would be most effective. So it does seem to establish that effects requiring ongoing actions can stop, even if simple state changes may last indefinitely, but that given the right circumstances, a joke whose activity seems to be over may have just a little bit left.

Glory is now, of course, Rainbow Dash, and it's immediately shown that it's directly affecting her personality, but the degree it changes her mind and personality is unclear so far, as part of it is likely the stress of the situation. Scotch's joke, of course, splits the party so that Glory can care for her at the Fluttershy Medical Center, with Lacunae providing the transportation and unable to return to P-21, Rampage, and Blackjack due to magical exhaustion.

After this, comedy continued, with the real comedic high point of the chapter being Flim and Flam's informational video. Somber captured them beautifully, leaving them as exceedingly entertaining and completely amoral, while still competent (possibly brilliant) inventors (it could be that they just oversaw everything, and of course Flux wasn't really them, but it seems like they were pretty highly involved), which is part that sometimes seems to be lost even by writers who nail the first two.
Chapter thirty seven editing:
whatever ponies wallowed in. She had wanted a different life;

Only one space after the period.


Every second, Sanguine was getting further and further away and I was just lying here!
Every second I lay here, he was getting further away…

If you want, "farther" would be more precise.


Hadn’t that been what Tenpony had been for?

Should the first word be "Wasn't"?


That gave me a sullen half-lidded look.

"That got me"


And then she’d neatly put her instrument away, sealed it up, laid down, and died.

"laid" should be "lain," or else take an object.


Lots of fatties working for the Doc.  Cora always likes killing them.  She’s creepy.”  I’d noticed.

Who is Cora? More to the point, how does Blackjack know who she is? Is she Fury? I figure it's not Brass, since that was her name before being transformed, too. Maybe I just missed it, if it's a variant on another name, but "Cora" only shows up there and two paragraphs later.


“I think any cutie mark is fine, as long as its yours,”

"it's"


“Just because I’ve-“
“Look, Scotch, I’m not saying-“

Second hyphen for dash.


The park was little more than a dead square of trees and benches overlooked by a large billboard of a Pinkie Pie.

Is there a reason it's "a Pinkie Pie," not just "Pinkie Pie"?


I didn’t have an E.F.S.-- I wanted Glory and Scotch to have the advantages the PipBuck offered, even ignoring the feedback from trying to wire another PipBuck into me-- but I knew that,

Symmetrical spacing about dashes.


You know that’s why she’s here,” she said keeping her voice down.

"she said, keeping"


Scotch pointedly ignored both of us at that.

"after that"?


No trying to burn the nice not dead trees.”

Should "not dead" be hyphenated?


I think we’d found the suckiest.   From the depths of

Three spaces after the period.


One actually appeared to have slices of cake hanging from the ends of the limbs.

"its limbs"?


the usual mare’s-- otherwise it probably would have torn my flank clean off.
And a-- was it a pine tree?-- covered in steel pins!

Symmetrical spacing about dashes.


Then there were some thorny branches that barely scratched Scotch…. but once she started bleeding, she didn’t stop!

Ellipsis should have only three dots.


the transition as sharp as if there was some invisible line.

was to were?


but most of them were just...there.

Space needed after ellipsis.


trees rip a path in front of me, though, so...this shouldn’t be that frightening,

Space needed after ellipsis. Also, "shouldn't have been," I think.


I felt a tingle run through me.   And then, just as suddenly

Three spaces after period.


It was as if the earth itself was creeping away under her hooves to dump her into the depths.

Was to were?


Glory turned and shouted, “Aw yeah!”

Comma after "aw"?


they turned me into a dashite…. a dashite!

Ellipsis should have only three dots.


It might have looked like an old, classy style building,

Should "classy style" by hyphenated?


But worse of all was the smell.

"worst"


Rainbo-  Glory!

Second hyphen for dash?


“Lacunae!” The purple alicorn touched

Should have second space after quotation.


“What-“ Rampage began.
“Didn’t-“ I started to say.

Second hyphen for dash.


I sat by while P-21 worked on the lock. I was absent-mindedly

Only one space after the period.


Laying on top of my jumbled thoughts was the certainty that if there was a nexus for suckitude

"lying"


I was in such a need for scrap metal to repair myself that

Maybe it's just a variant of an idiom I don't know, but it seems like this should be "I had such a need for" or "I was in such need of."


‘Hippocratic Research,’ read the plaque on the base.  ‘A trusted friend in science!’

Should the comma be outside the quotation marks?


I scowled at the pair, then trotted to the base of the statue and rubbed away the grime at the base.  

This may be a little repetitive for one sentence. Maybe just "trotted to the statue"?


We moved into the offices with me nervously chewing my bit...okay, whoa; had to be careful with that, or I’d be eating it!-- while keeping an eye out.

I'd suggest switching out the ellipsis for a dash so that the punctuation demarkating the aside matches. Also, symmetrical spacing around the dash.


P-21 said softly as he tapped at the keyboard of a desk terminal  I blinked and glanced

Missing period after "terminal."


“Lets hope this turns out as well as that did.”
“Well?”  I blinked in shock.  “I was strapped

"let's"
Also, as written, it seems like responding well happens in sequence with the blinking in shock, and before it. Which could happen, but seems a little off. Making them simultaneous, as with "'Well' I [speaking verb], blinking in shock," or the blink happening first, like "I blinked in shock. 'Well? I was strapped" might come off as more natural, but your mileage may vary.


If that was ‘well,’ I’d hate to

comma to outside of quotation marks.


chalk boards covered with “ ________ X ________”

Should the space after the quotation mark and before the underscores be there? Also, I think those should be single-quotes.


Seeds ricocheted wildly inside.  “Zapapple Bombs! . . . Profit!”

If that's written on a plaque or something, they should be single-quotes.


‘Dog X Rattlesnake. All the loyalty of a dog.  All the viciousness of a snake.  Pro: loyaltyishness.  Con: Ugly as sin.  Pro: Natural camouflage makes ugliness moot.  Con: Name?’

Bolded quotation mark shouldn't be there, unless it's part of what they wrote on the board.


Passcard, then.” I muttered as I stared at the

Period should be comma.


“Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 9000” had been written on one side,
sign reading “Super Speedy Flux Mixer 9000 X Turbo” had been painted

Should be single-quotes


where science is pursued effectively…”
“Efficiently!” piped the twin.
“And Ethically,” they said in unison

"Ethically" should probably not be capitalized, but in any case "effectively" and "ethically" should match.


“Now, we want to caution you that something as super amazing, one of a kind as Flux is not something you should play around with.”

"one of a kind" should be hyphenated.


we’ve got opportunity in each and every community!   He’s Flim

Three spaces after the exclamation point.


“What hair-brained idiot would think of taking a scorpion and putting wings on it?!”

Should be "harebrained," I believe.


I am a grizzled Wasteland veteran and I will not wait for-”

Second hyphen for dash.


I saw a pair of tickets clutched into one brothers’ hooves and flipped them open.

Should that be "clutched in"? Maybe just another variant I've not seen.


“At last!  It’s Twi-“

Second hyphen for dash.


but I needed to go down had no doubt it would take me where I needed to go.

"to go down and had no doubt"
…I tend to apologize a lot. Anyway, thanks for the error-spotting. :)

So what exactly is the different between "further" and "farther"?

Icy Shake wrote:Hadn’t that been what Tenpony had been for?

Should the first word be "Wasn't"?
I don't think so. "Hadn't" seems to work fine, whereas "Wasn't that been what…" is flawed. So-- :)

Icy Shake wrote:Who is Cora? More to the point, how does Blackjack know who she is? Is she Fury? I figure it's not Brass, since that was her name before being transformed, too. Maybe I just missed it, if it's a variant on another name, but "Cora" only shows up there and two paragraphs later.
It's Brass. "Cora" is derived from "manticore".

Icy Shake wrote:Comma after "aw"?
I think that it sounds better without one.

Icy Shake wrote:Come on, man, you're supposed to be smarter than this. Who chucks an incendiary in the middle of a dense forest which appears to be all dead trees? You're actually lucky you're wrong. Kind of.
Where would P-21 have found information on forestry?

Icy Shake wrote:I have to admit, F&F are nothing if not entertaining. Though now I wonder just what the Equestrian date system was . . . Would that be the eleventh year of Luna's reign?
Aye.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Icy Shake on Mon Dec 30, 2013 1:29 am

O. Hinds wrote:
Icy Shake wrote:Hadn’t that been what Tenpony had been for?

Should the first word be "Wasn't"?
I don't think so.  "Hadn't" seems to work fine, whereas "Wasn't that been what…" is flawed.  So-- :)
Oops. Meant for the alternate to be "Wasn't that what what Tenpony had been for?" Ah, well.

O. Hinds wrote:
Icy Shake wrote:Who is Cora? More to the point, how does Blackjack know who she is? Is she Fury? I figure it's not Brass, since that was her name before being transformed, too. Maybe I just missed it, if it's a variant on another name, but "Cora" only shows up there and two paragraphs later.
It's Brass.  "Cora" is derived from "manticore".
Okay, thanks. That makes sense.

O. Hinds wrote:
Icy Shake wrote:Come on, man, you're supposed to be smarter than this. Who chucks an incendiary in the middle of a dense forest which appears to be all dead trees? You're actually lucky you're wrong. Kind of.
Where would P-21 have found information on forestry?
You don't think the demo man would know "dry wood burns good" and extrapolate to "lots of dry wood, all together, will spread fire fast"? On the other hand, I guess it is Hoofington, so the concept of "dry" wood may not really come into play that much.

O. Hinds wrote:So what exactly is the different between "further" and "farther"?
Basically, the way I learned it is "farther" is about physical distance (the house is farther down the road), while "further" is about metaphorical progression/distance (the bill got further through the legislative process than expected), in addition to being a verb (how can I help you further your goals) and a shortening of "furthermore."
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by O. Hinds on Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:21 am

Icy Shake wrote:You don't think the demo man would know "dry wood burns good" and extrapolate to "lots of dry wood, all together, will spread fire fast"? On the other hand, I guess it is Hoofington, so the concept of "dry" wood may not really come into play that much.
Also, burning down the forest is here not so much an unintended consequence as it is the point of the thing.

Icy Shake wrote:Basically, the way I learned it is "farther" is about physical distance (the house is farther down the road), while "further" is about metaphorical progression/distance (the bill got further through the legislative process than expected), in addition to being a verb (how can I help you further your goals) and a shortening of "furthermore."
Ah, thank you. I shall try to remember that.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Train Dodger on Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:22 am

I should mention, there are instances in Chapter 11, 30 and 37 where Robronco is misspelled as "Robroco" without the N.

EDIT: Oh, and Chapter 9, as well.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by O. Hinds on Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:32 am

Train Dodger wrote:I should mention, there are instances in Chapter 11, 30 and 37 where Robronco is misspelled as "Robroco" without the N.

EDIT: Oh, and Chapter 9, as well.
Ah, thank you.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by SilentCarto on Mon Dec 30, 2013 3:22 am

Icy Shake wrote:
O. Hinds wrote:So what exactly is the different between "further" and "farther"?
Basically, the way I learned it is "farther" is about physical distance (the house is farther down the road), while "further" is about metaphorical progression/distance (the bill got further through the legislative process than expected), in addition to being a verb (how can I help you further your goals) and a shortening of "furthermore."
Right on the money, except that you can always use "further" and it's correct, even if you're talking about literal physical distance.

P.S. I got home today from a trip and watched "Bats!". My only possible comment is "what the actual fuck."
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Vergil on Tue Dec 31, 2013 1:22 pm

Ch.44: "I picked it up and floated down onto the nightstand. "
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by O. Hinds on Tue Dec 31, 2013 4:44 pm

Vergil wrote:Ch.44: "I picked it up and floated down onto the nightstand. "
Ah, thank you.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Icy Shake on Wed Jan 01, 2014 3:10 am

Happy New Year, PHCC!

SilentCarto wrote:
Icy Shake wrote:
O. Hinds wrote:So what exactly is the different between "further" and "farther"?
Basically, the way I learned it is "farther" is about physical distance (the house is farther down the road), while "further" is about metaphorical progression/distance (the bill got further through the legislative process than expected), in addition to being a verb (how can I help you further your goals) and a shortening of "furthermore."
Right on the money, except that you can always use "further" and it's correct, even if you're talking about literal physical distance.

P.S. I got home today from a trip and watched "Bats!". My only possible comment is "what the actual fuck."
Ah, thanks. I'll keep that in mind.
As to the P.S., I'm sure you could say more. But in the end, it would likely add up to the same.

Anyway, after running through my head for a while, I now can't shake a feeling of connection between Blackjack's general outlook, and her way of dealing with hostage situations in particular, and the parable of the lost sheep. Don't know if it's apt, though.

Is there a law of conservation of shitty in Project Horizons? It sure feels like that, with things basically going decently (bearing the Hoofington baseline in mind) for Blackjack the last couple chapters I've read, but with her friends (also) dealing with serious loss, bad cases of near-death and body and identity horror, and now the complete emotional destruction of Psychoshy.

Chapter Thirty Eight Running Thoughts:
I could see and hear, but that was all.  It was almost like being in a memory orb, but I couldn’t tell who or even what my host was.

Ah, we're getting to the implanted visions of ordinary recordings now.


Flim and Flam paced back and forth nervously, plucking at their business suits.

That's actually kind of hard to imagine, with how ingrained their travelling-promoter image is in my mind.


And the scorposprites have been working like a charm behind the lines.  Maybe we can get through to Rainbow Dash to talk to her and…

You know, they work really well as off-the-wall weapons manufacturers, and it's not that much of a stretch considering what the SSCS6000 could do to the Apples' orchard. And as a possibly key supplier for behind-enemy-lines goodness (which would play to a nostalgia for pranking, perhaps), Rainbow might well be inclined to give them at least a decent hearing.


Worst of all, though, was the hard look in her eyes; it made me wonder if she was going to just turn the pair into stone or something just with that glare.

Nice bit of foreshadowing, there.


“I’ve examined all the formal documents you’ve submitted on Flux over the last decade.  Every single one.  And I’ve concluded that I’ve never seen a larger collection of gibberish in my life.”
“Oh… you couldn’t have really read…” Flam began, and then he met Twilight’s flat gaze.

Know thine enemy, guys. It doesn't pay to underestimate how much Twilight is ready and willing to read.


“Ah, if we may ask… by any chance, have you spoken with the director about this?” Flim asked weakly.
. . .
“No no.  Not him?  I mean the other director?”

Horse never did really get to be fully in control, or even particularly respected, did he? But then, big shoes to fill.


All but one.  ‘Metamagical Flux’, which is identical to ‘Biomagical Flux’, and ‘Transmogrifical Flux.’  You just put on different colored labels,” she said with a glare at the twins.

Ballsy move, but I guess less so considering it can't be replicated and is probably extremely difficult and dangerous to study.


“Twilight, go back to Canterlot.  You’re making great progress on your stealth suit.  Focus on that.  Relax and forget all about Hippocratic Research and Flux.  You don’t want to know, and you don’t want to force this.”

The last part comes off as something of a threat, but given what I remember from my first read-through, he may well just be telling the simple truth that she'll be happier not knowing, and there's no good way to back out whether she knows the truth or not.

If anything, his eyes were pitying rather than hard.

Yeah, looking that way.


“I’ve done nothing… nothing… for five years now.  Nothing since Big Macintosh died! . . . Don’t you understand?  I’m a failure.”
. . .
“But… why?” Twilight asked in quiet disbelief, looking at him in amazement.  “Why are you showing me this now?”
“Because… I owe you,” he replied quietly as he walked to the elevator door.  “And I’m sorry.”

Of course, it's not hard to see how losing so much of her work to Goldenblood's memory extraction would leave Twilight empty and defeated, especially since she'd always identified herself so much by her work and her talent, but compounding that with losing the memories relating to Bic Macintosh, which I believe were her own choice, so much the worse, especially when that's on top of the growing distance between herself and her friends.
But just as much, I think Goldenblood's line highlights what a perfect foil he is to Blackjack, spinning webs where she unravels them and choosing the greater good where she seeks first to do no harm, but with both always paying a price.


I clenched my eyes shut and twisted my face into ridiculous expressions.

Ah, but are they as ridiculous as the ones we've been seeing in season four?


Finally… it might not have been the most ‘magical’ of methods, but I just made like I had the worst case of constipation ever, grit my teeth, and pushed!

So, the DBZ method, I guess?


Then there was a pop and a discharge like when I fired a magic bullet, followed by a zap and an immense sense of relief.  I stared at the tiny mote of light hanging in front of me.

Has Blackjack used this one again? I guess I wouldn't be surprised if not, since the need for illumination probably doesn't come up that much considering the augmented vision.


But there’s some folk like the doc who keep saying we’re suppose to do what he says, and at the same time we’re suppose to do what the Core Command says and at the same time we’re getting Core commands to not do what Core Command says!

There we go. Because why have one overblown computer system when you can have two for twice the price?


“Guess so,” I murmured, looking up the shaft.  There was no sign of my friends; I supposed they were going to find another way down to me.

Almost too bad P-21 was there; if it was just Rampage, she might have just jumped down the shaft and regenerated.


I travelled further along and reached some sort of security station in front of a heavy door; there were bones behind the bulletproof glass… and a sidearm.  An IF-38 Cornhusker revolver.

Neighbraska is now canon to PH? :D Or, perhaps, Nebrayska, which would work as a donkey-centric area?


Quick as I could, I was running from the rain of droplets.  Really.  Hazardous material suit!  Sounded great.  Especially having doffed the battle saddle!

If that's Flux, which it might not be, I don't think it would help. In fact, making it harder to move would probably make it a net-loser. [Edit:]Oh, wait, I'm thinking about dimethylmercury from reading "A Tall Tail" last night.


When this was over, I was going to take a few days to try and get my horn back in order.

Right, because you did so well at taking time to recover from dying. Also, that depends highly on just what "this" is, doesn't it?


A little blue pony in my head had come up with an idea, and it was gonna be awesome!

I like the subtle change in diction to more match Rainbow's. Though now that I think about it again, I'm a little surprised that none of the little ponies in Blackjack's head reacted to Glory turning into Rainbow Dash, especially the little blue one.


“What, did you simply steal Maripony’s design and bury it underground?”
“Steal?  Of course not,” he said in a faintly hurt tone.  “Stealing implies removal.  We steal from Stable-Tec.  We copy from the M.A.S...”


“What the hell…” I muttered with a groan, rubbing my temples as I felt a doozy of a headache start.

This doesn't seems like a smart move (surprise); you sure you haven't stepped in Flux with the hooves you're now rubbing your head with?


“Do not tell me I have to choose between crazy and ghosts.”

That's a pretty good line.


That left me to see the other fun little addition to the latest house of horrors: bloody bones and viscera were heaped among piles of pale white hide.  The stench made me gag as I stepped past.

Not a very pleasant introduction to blanks, but perhaps less disturbing than actually seeing typical blanks alive.

Then I jumped completely out of my hooves at the sight of the mare standing right beside me.  I probably would have shot her if it wasn’t clear that she wasn’t a threat to me.  Unarmed and unarmored, the white earth pony with the white mane had eyes so pale that it was hard to tell where the irises ended and the sclera began.  The only reason I didn’t think she might be some kind of ghost was that I couldn’t see through her.  All ghosts were transparent… right?

And now Boo. Of course, given her experience in the Hoof, I'm not sure I'd agree with Blackjack that a weird-looking pony, completely unarmed and unarmored, wouldn't be a threat.


By the first ‘here’ I had the revolver out.  By the second, I’d put a bullet between her eyes.

Not bad, for not having magic or S.A.T.S.


She glowed one final time, exploding in a spray of dirty water, and when I next looked back there was nothing but the gurgle of ashy liquid flowing down into the shattered drain.

The fight with Fury was, sadly, quite a bit less exciting the second time around. I guess it's a problem with knowing how it ends, and the real threat from her being her inevitability and demeanor, given how all she did was walk towards Blackjack and explode whenever shot. That said, I remember the first time I read this scene as very intense, and was surprised at just how short it actually is.


I’d named her Boo because at the slightest noise she would go scampering away for a hiding place.  This proved quite a useful warning system, as her hearing seemed much better than my own.  I wondered if the professor had done something with my ears, too; she hadn’t said anything, and I didn’t think my ears were worse, but whenever Boo’s eyes went round and she backed away, I’d find some little niche to hide in with her.

Granted, it might not be sounds that send her off. And yes, she has started out pretty adorable.


A nasty little part of me coldly thought of leaving her; I needed to win.  I couldn’t stay here till we were discovered.  I couldn’t drag her kicking after me.  But as I looked back at her, I took that thought and smashed it with a mental hammer till it retreated.
Softest heart in the Wasteland?  Maybe, but I couldn’t do better by leaving her behind.

Good to see that the urge to win at any cost is still an undercurrent. However, it brought my mind right to this: "Pity? It was pity that stayed [Blackjack]'s hand. . . . My heart tells me that [Boo] has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of [Blackjack] may rule the fate of many."


Guess I still had a little luck left in me.  I threw it wide and stepped into a stairwell going up... a stairwell dripping with Flux.  

Well, you were asking for it. Though, I now wonder whether Flux affects griffins, since it doesn't manticores, or was that cockatrices, or both?

Bullets started to shred it in midair, but it was still solid enough when it crashed into him to send him slipping and sliding down the stairs into the puddle of rainbow goop.  Down below, he started to yell and then scream... and then suddenly there was a loud crunching noise and it all went silent.

I guess that answers that.


It appeared that all of Sanguine’s shit had finally come back to bite him in the ass.  Looked like I’d have some competition for taking my own chomp.

Well, there was already P-21 as well.


There were four steel tables in a row with four machines hanging overhead that reminded me of Ol’ Hank’s limbs.

I guess it's much more recent, but I'm surprised Blackjack wouldn't think of her time in the Fluttershy Medical Center on what was probably a very similar table.


I interrupted her by grabbing her neck and ramming my horn deep into her throat.  The piercing headbutt made her choke and gag.

"Deep" might be a bit of an exaggeration, since we're probably talking a 2.25-3.5" horn, but I'll buy the choking and gagging.


Watching her closely while trying to dodge, I noticed her wounds weren’t regenerating.

How bad is it that she basically takes regenerating opponnents as a baseline, at least for non-mooks?


“Mmmm… the Blackjack diet.  Somehow, that’ll make this all better.”
“Be careful.  I bet I taste like regret and failure,”

That's a good point. More so, though, do you know what kind of trash she eats? I'm not sure manticores could handle that.


The silvery steel sang with a single deadly note that made me grin even as I felt a twinge inside at the sound.

That's interesting. Could just be the sound, but maybe it's more, especially since I'd expect her, even having forgotten what her soul experienced, to react negatively to the sound from what she's seen in memories and the like.

She flapped her wings to keep from falling flat on her face, and I feinted with a cut to her head... wait, when had I learned to feint?  Sure enough, she pulled her snarling maw back and stabbed with her venomous tail.  The sword reversed and sliced the bulbous tip away.

Yeah, I think that the sword might like Blackjack more now than before she died and came back bitter and harsher.


Her jaws closed on my throat, grating on something in my...skin?  Something else the professor hadn’t told me about, I guessed.

In fairness, the lesson of this chapter is that as long as no one finds out, secrets are the way of preserving happiness. It's not her fault you broke that part.


An eye that swore evisceration for me and then P-21, then all-you-can-eat buffet status for Rampage.  I’d killed her pets and her lovers, and that frenzied glare promised to do the same to me and mine.

Well, I guess P-21 counts as a former lover under a disturbingly broad definition of the term, but Rampage is neither. Speaking of pets, though, Boo seems to have done a good job of disappearing, lending more weight to my suspicion that she is, in fact, a cat. Just a more agreeable one than those Blackjack is dealing with at the moment.


Earlier, Trueblood (I think) said that manticore-pony hybrids were too aggressive for deployment. I wonder, though, could it be the case that it's just the subject they chose, and if they had instead tried it on someone not quite possibly already an amoral psychopath, they would have been fine? Of course, it's also possible they tried it on more than just Brass, but only she made it to the future.


“Remember?  We called down for five or six minutes; the elevator was only ten or twenty feet down before it jammed.  You finally said you were all right and that we should go through the door and meet you down here.  Warned us to watch out for the turrets too,” P-21 said, sharing a look with Rampage; that ‘Is she going crazy, or does she just not remember?’ look.

Well, going crazy might not be the right question to ask.


I turned to get P-21 and Rampage’s opinions, but then I spotted him tossing an empty Med-X syringe into the trash and frowned.  “Did you get hurt?”  Rampage glanced at him, and immediately her smile sickened.
“Haven’t we all?” he replied without meeting my eyes.
. . .
“Uh, no.  Actually.  No.  I don’t think you got hit since we entered the woods.”

. . .
“Well then, my leg hurts, alright?”  He scowled, leaning back with a sigh.  “I’m just worn out.  I hate this place.  With everything that’s happened, I just need it to keep me steady.”

And here might be the tipping point where it really becomes clear that P-21 either has some kind of problem causing prolonged pain in his leg which has been healed for a long time or, given Rampages reaction and his own followup, he's dependent on Med-X.


“Have you two been seeing ghosts too?”  Predictably, both of them looked at me like I was crazy.

You know, at some point you'd think that "looking at Blackjack like she's crazy" and "just looking at Blackjack" would become the same thing.


Whoa. We just dropped into after-school special territory on the drug issue. Decently handled, though, with pretty good interpersonal tension and the underlying assumption that not all drugs or all users are seriously problematic.


Back in 99, nopony had problems with chems because they were strictly controlled out of medical.  Anypony stealing chems for whatever reason could be flogged for possession or use.  Even possession of an empty syringe could be construed as guilt.

Ah, but here, "nopony" equates to "no mare"; granted, I don't believe she's yet been told about how Med-X was the all-purposes solution for males' problem.


“So we promise him whatever he wants, get Scotch’s clone, and then kill him,” P-21 said so matter-of-factly that it chilled me.  Worse, a part of me agreed with him.  Kill him afterwards.  That sounded so neat.  So pat.  So…
So exactly what Sanguine would do.

Incidentally, it's also what the Stable Dweller would do. Now, checking the date . . . comments on the chapter are from late February to early March 2012, so well after FoE ended, and more so after the Battle of the Everfree Forest.


“It’s not.  It won’t work!” Psychoshy sobbed.  “It just keeps telling me how Blackjack is going to kill me.  It won’t open the casing.”
“It must!  EC-1101 was designed to work for only a select few ponies or their offspring.  It must work for you, Fluttershy!  That’s what it was designed to do!”

So, is it Echo acting as an extra gatekeeper, or was EC-1101 changed to have Goldenbloods' progeny locked out? Figure if it were the former, he might have stopped Blackjack at some point, but then I get the feeling he likes her and at least respects her enough to believe she'll try to do right with it.


It's hard to see the bad guys as pathetic as Psychoshy is trying to get EC-1101 to work in the Production room. But then, that's also one of the draws of the story; almost everyone has desires you can really understand, even if you don't agree with them, and seeing her suffer and try so hard to do what Sanguine wants, and just wish more than anything that she could and not knowing why she can't is a great example.


‘Get her?’  Really?  He was hitting the villain clichés hard!

In fairness, it's a big room and maybe someone missed the location. And come on, in terms of efficiency, you can't do much better than a full sentence in two syllables.


I grit my teeth and hooked my hind legs through the railing, then extended my fingers and grabbed her own shoving forelegs.

Murky would be sooo happy. Granted, there are still all the warning signs, and the worse-than-warning signs.


Instead, my eyes popped wide as I stared at Boo gripping the mouth trigger of one of the guns.  Her blank eyes stared back, and she swallowed.  The gun went off again, spraying me briefly and punching a whole slew of holes in my limbs as I raised them reflexively.  I’d just regenerated those!  The terrified mare let the gun fall out of her mouth as she curled up into a trembling ball again.

And Boo officially joins the party. Oh, and had immediately prior demonstrated her insane luck by offing a guard. Whatever's special about her, it didn't start with Discord.


“I wasn’t supposed to become this.  My family wasn’t supposed to die.  I was going to be Equestria’s greatest biological researcher!”  He pointed a hoof at me and yelled, “It’s not fucking fair!”

Yeah, sorry, but you know who else didn't get a fair shake in this continuity? I'm going to go with . . . let's see . . . hmm, carry the two . . . damn near everybody.

“Yes.  My family.  We were supposed to be safe in Stable One.  The finest and safest stable in all of Equestria.  But the poison… we couldn’t reach it.”

So, speaking of fair . . . it sounds like you and yours kind of got lucky.


“Because I know that you’re a good pony, P-21, and good ponies don’t kill in cold blood.”

I agree with the point, but given how on-the-nose it is I have a feeling this isn't directed solely at P-21.


“Sure.  Here and everywhere.  Word will go out to let Chimera be accessible along the networks and allow anypony with the right access codes to use the files.  I have no idea how far and wide those networks stretch,”

Wait . . . is he serious? If so, that seems like tremendously bad design, and in fact counter to the whole point of EC-1101, which was to grant some but not all ponies access.
Chapter Thirty Eight Overall Thoughts:
I'll start off by saying that the clear high point of the chapter, to me, is Twilight's tour of Chimaera. It is what gives us the sight of just how defeated she is by the loss of so much to her memory extractions; how strongly she reacted against the means used to keep ponies from getting hurt, despite the fact that helping Luna win the war was all she had left; Goldenblood's conflicted feelings and regrets regarding much of what he's been a part of, including at long last thinking about what Equestria would be like after it won the war and, it seems, losing trust in Luna, as he expresses the belief that in time she would give in to the temptation to use an army of blank chimaeras to take over the world; great snide back-and-forth between Goldenblood and Trueblood; Goldenblood's pledge to make sure nopony was hurt as badly as he hurt Fluttershy (but with the context still missing); and of course some quality humor injected by Flim and Flam. Oh. And the reveal that Discord is the source of Flux. Sometimes those little things slip one's mind.

Otherwise, I think that the emotional peak was the Psychoshy-Sanguine nexus. Frankly, I'm not sure that anyone has been quite as emotionally destroyed in the story as Psychoshy was in this chapter and the last few. Even at the very beginning it was uncomfortable, with her begging for Blackjack to help Sanguine and relating just what their relationship was, which clearly was a sore point for her. Now, she's returned to Sanguine, having ripped herself free from being Wonderglued to a tree or something and missing a bunch of fur and feathers, and simply broken down because she can't activate EC-1101 and doesn't know why, and for that matter, doesn't know why there's a creepy dead guy telling her that Blackjack is going to kill them. Yet that still isn't enough, as in the end, Sanguine loses as Red Eye's forces pull out, and he reveals just how little Psychoshy meant to him, that his end game wasn't living with her in Fillydelphia, but freeing his family and, hopefully, staying with them. She starts with a characteristic attack, calling him out, but once he says just how little she meant to him and what contempt he had for her, she's out of it, going from shock when P-21 was going to kill Sangune to avoidance or shame during the argument over what to do with him to simple silence after he reveals she's Fluttershy's daughter and apologizes for using her.
The support to this, of course, is the build-up and revelation of Sanguine's family and his desire to get them out of the stasis pods they were in safely, making cloned body parts to help keep them alive. To an extent, it's a bit of a mixed bag, as while it holds together, it doesn't change the fact that as long as Sanguine was unaware that they may not be unconscious in the pods, he wasn't in any particular hurry to get them out.

P-21's Med-X addiction is brought out front-and-center, with Rampage playing the role of DARE educator and Blackjack in denial. Beyond that, P-21's head isn't in the game as he can't think about anything but Priest and getting revenge on Sanguine.

Fury is defeated much more easily that was my impression on the first read, but then again it was memorable enough that I knew how it ended, which probably cut the tension for what was otherwise a short and low-action fight. Brass went out with all the blood, grace, and charm you'd expect. (But she loved her manticores.) In the end, I believe she was just a nasty, nasty piece of work who enjoyed being that way and who made what turned out to be a deathbed confession which may have been sincere, but which I suspect was meant to get Blackjack to try to get Sanguine to help keep her alive.

There's Ol' Hank, who reveals that the Core is sending out huge numbers of orders that are almost all countermanded immediately after, and suggests the one sending the orders is smarter or faster than the one cancelling them. Then he's taken over and tries to kill Blackjack after she mentions Goldenblood.

Lastly, we have the introduction of much of Project Chimaera. There are the blanks and the fatties, and golden mechanical tree they come from; the organ extraction and transplantation; the megaspell chamber for the fusion operation; and the source of Flux. As a corollary, Boo is introduced and displays remarkable ability to identify threats—presumably by sound—and kills a guard who was about to be a problem for Blackjack. She then shoots Blackjack nonlethally, in the forelegs I believe (at any rate it didn't meaningfully harm Blackjack's ability to operate from then on, but she didn't need to do much anyway), making her an "official" part of the crew. And she's cute, but not as cute as she would become later.
Chapter Thirty Eight Editing Matters:
“If either of you start to sing, I’m sending you to Pinkie Pie,”

"starts"


“I’ve sent six letters, four polite inquiries and five formal requests,

Final serial comma after "inquiries"


‘Metamagical Flux’, which is identical to ‘Biomagical Flux’, and ‘Transmogrifical Flux.’

The period should be outside the quotation marks and there should probably not be a comma after "'Biomagical Flux'".


it was a marketing decision, I think….”

Ellipsis should have only three dots.


He didn’t even blink. If anything,

Only one space after the period.


shaft by one of my forelegs.   It’d gotten caught

Three spaces after the period.


lighty light light…  the electric crackle grew in my horn

Should have only one space after the ellipsis.


falling down alongside one? My enameled limbs were squealing,

Only one space after the question mark.


“Well, he ain’t much of an engineer,” Ol’ Hank muttered, “He’s trying to wake the machines down below up.

Should the comma after "muttered" be a period?


“Can you tell me what Sangui- I mean, the doc needs with Chimera?”

Second hyphen for dash?


and I frowned.   “Hank?”

Three spaces after the period.


and bundled up Taurus’ rifle and the shotgun.

Taurus's


In the break room behind the station was a fold-out cot and some lockers that I cleared out

"was" to "were"


After a bit of determined twisting, the plastic lid popped off cartridge’s base.

"the cartridge's"


looked down at the glaring beast beneath me.   Okay, Rover was

Three spaces after the period.


thousands of pounds of drums in a cascade of steel and chemical that pounded down on top of it.

"steel and chemicals"?


down hard, immobilized by the sight.    “It really is an impressive facility,

Four spaces after the period.


We copy from the M.A.S...”

I think in this case, you might actually want four dots, or to end with a dash, especially if he was cut off by tripping, which admittedly isn't clearly the case.


“Trying for Deus’ spot in the foul mouth brigade?”

Deus's


The pale mare let out a bawling cry that drew the yellow mare’s glare.
The yellow mare took shape again,

Fury was originally described as orange and red (or just "flame-colored") in chapter 31:
It was an earth pony with a mane and coloration that resembled crackling flame.
“Who cares?” the orange and red mare drawled.  “Get clear.”  Now that’s never a good thing to hear.
Then the pile of ashes glowed, and from them reformed the flame colored mare.
she said as she turned towards the regenerated red and orange mare.


“Didn’t think it could happen…fuck

Should have space after ellipsis.


Slowly, the white pony stepped closer, then nuzzled one of the Fancy Buck Cakes laying in a pool of the nasty water

Lying


There was the problem of getting Boo to follow though

Comma after "follow"?


closing the door behind me. Boo was no

Only one space after the period.


and pointing Taurus’ rifle down at him

"Taurus's"


The doctor sat down hard, his mouth working as be stammered.

"as he stammered."


“But... But you can’t be here!

Second space after ellipsis, or don't capitalize second "but."


dozens of sharp and pointy teeth. How could it be that the

Only one space after the period.


How could it be that the undying cyberpony who blows up was easier to kill than the idiot who screwed beasts?

Fury, right? Was she a cyberpony?


P-21 scrambled down towards her, and I grinned. As soon as Rampage was

Only one space after period.


Her jaws closed on my throat, grating on something in my...skin?  Something else the professor hadn’t told me about, I guessed.

Should have space after ellipsis.


“Blackjack, when has it ever been as simple as ‘go straight there?’”

Question mark should be between the single and double quotation marks.


Finally we reached the ‘Copyroom.’

Period to outside of quotation marks.


Luna could never-“

Second hyphen for dash


She said the word like I might say ‘Overmare.’

Period to outside of quotation marks.


“She was a criminal, a thief. She boasted

Only one space after period.


Was that what security was all about now?

I think that in this instance, "security" should be capitalized, as it's always been capitalized in the phrase "Security saves ponies."


Warning: absolutely no sneezing.’

Needs opening single quotation mark


The Med-X and Moon Dust mix shot into her, and she swayed on her hooves before flopping on her face.

Fixer and Moon Dust


“For wh-”  But the what was

Second hyphen for dash.


silent as the mare I’d used for cover went down. The bulky earth pony

Only one space after period.


I focused… imagined… concentrated… Oh, this was so much easier in S.A.T.S.!

Second space needed after last ellipsis.


The bloodied guard levitated an SMG with a look of pleasured satisfaction in my imminent demise.

Either he's really into the idea of killing her or this should be "pleased."


But with machineguns, you just needed one or two lucky shots.

Almost exactly a page ago, there was this: My aim was a lot more careful, but with automatic machinegun fire you didn’t need skill, just luck, time, and a large enough supply of bullets.
That might bee a little early to reiterate the point.


“Do you really think Red Eye is big on sentimentalism?  Or reapers?

I think "reapers" should be capitalized, if it's referring to the group.


The Pegasus with the ratty wings couldn’t look at anypony.

"pegasus" shouldn't be capitalized.


“I wonder if LittlePip wants to trade?  I’ll go fight brainreading monsters, and she can deal with all this mystery horseshit!”

Should "brainreading" be hyphenated? Mind-reading is in all but one case.


“You sure you want to do this, Blackjack? That ghoul doesn’t deserve your spit, let alone your mercy.”

Only one space after the question mark.


I wondered just where the line was between a sane ghoul like Harpica and the many ferals I’d seen elsewhere, and just how close was Sanguine to crossing it.

Do you think the sentence would flow better with "close Sanguine was"?


Written at the bottom of the strange mish-mash creature were the words: ‘Project Chimera.’

Should the period be outside the quotation marks?


thousands of barrels with rainbow Flux. My friends all disappeared
I felt my lips move with him as I spoke his words. “Project Chimera containment

Only one space after the period.


Password: A wonderful, wonderful thing.

You don't normally capitalize following colons.


were evenly spaced out in a foot by foot grid covering the inner surface of the cylinder.

should "foot by foot" be hyphenated?


It wore an expression of absolute terror, twisted as if it had frozen in this state. The detail was such that I almost

Only one space after the period. "This" to "that"?
Other Chapter Editing:
31: Then the pile of ashes glowed, and from them reformed the flame colored mare.
(for this one, should "flame colored" be hyphenated?)

35: “So… you figure out how you’re going to deal with your mindreading nemesis?”
"mind-reading"

O. Hinds wrote:
Icy Shake wrote:You don't think the demo man would know "dry wood burns good" and extrapolate to "lots of dry wood, all together, will spread fire fast"? On the other hand, I guess it is Hoofington, so the concept of "dry" wood may not really come into play that much.
Also, burning down the forest is here not so much an unintended consequence as it is the point of the thing.
Well, my impression was that the goal was to burn just a few of the trees that were blocking their path. I hope his goal wasn't to burn down the whole forest. Granted, if his situational awareness was on the level it was in the succeeding chapter, that might have been what he was going for, and I can't exactly blame him (much) for making bad decisions while distraught and possibly in withdrawal.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Derpmind on Wed Jan 01, 2014 1:34 pm

Icy Shake wrote:Is there a law of conservation of shitty in Project Horizons?

I think that's just how stories work. Characters have to deal with conflict, and in PH most conflicts are pretty damn extreme.

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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by O. Hinds on Wed Jan 01, 2014 3:33 pm

Icy Shake wrote:Happy New Year, PHCC!
Aye, happy new year!

Icy Shake wrote:
SilentCarto wrote:
Icy Shake wrote:
O. Hinds wrote:So what exactly is the different between "further" and "farther"?
Basically, the way I learned it is "farther" is about physical distance (the house is farther down the road), while "further" is about metaphorical progression/distance (the bill got further through the legislative process than expected), in addition to being a verb (how can I help you further your goals) and a shortening of "furthermore."
Right on the money, except that you can always use "further" and it's correct, even if you're talking about literal physical distance.

P.S. I got home today from a trip and watched "Bats!". My only possible comment is "what the actual fuck."
Ah, thanks. I'll keep that in mind.
As to the P.S., I'm sure you could say more. But in the end, it would likely add up to the same.

Anyway, after running through my head for a while, I now can't shake a feeling of connection between Blackjack's general outlook, and her way of dealing with hostage situations in particular, and the parable of the lost sheep. Don't know if it's apt, though.

Is there a law of conservation of shitty in Project Horizons? It sure feels like that, with things basically going decently (bearing the Hoofington baseline in mind) for Blackjack the last couple chapters I've read, but with her friends (also) dealing with serious loss, bad cases of near-death and body and identity horror, and now the complete emotional destruction of Psychoshy.

Chapter Thirty Eight Running Thoughts:
I could see and hear, but that was all.  It was almost like being in a memory orb, but I couldn’t tell who or even what my host was.

Ah, we're getting to the implanted visions of ordinary recordings now.


Flim and Flam paced back and forth nervously, plucking at their business suits.

That's actually kind of hard to imagine, with how ingrained their travelling-promoter image is in my mind.


And the scorposprites have been working like a charm behind the lines.  Maybe we can get through to Rainbow Dash to talk to her and…

You know, they work really well as off-the-wall weapons manufacturers, and it's not that much of a stretch considering what the SSCS6000 could do to the Apples' orchard. And as a possibly key supplier for behind-enemy-lines goodness (which would play to a nostalgia for pranking, perhaps), Rainbow might well be inclined to give them at least a decent hearing.


Worst of all, though, was the hard look in her eyes; it made me wonder if she was going to just turn the pair into stone or something just with that glare.

Nice bit of foreshadowing, there.


“I’ve examined all the formal documents you’ve submitted on Flux over the last decade.  Every single one.  And I’ve concluded that I’ve never seen a larger collection of gibberish in my life.”
“Oh… you couldn’t have really read…” Flam began, and then he met Twilight’s flat gaze.

Know thine enemy, guys. It doesn't pay to underestimate how much Twilight is ready and willing to read.


“Ah, if we may ask… by any chance, have you spoken with the director about this?” Flim asked weakly.
. . .
“No no.  Not him?  I mean the other director?”

Horse never did really get to be fully in control, or even particularly respected, did he? But then, big shoes to fill.


All but one.  ‘Metamagical Flux’, which is identical to ‘Biomagical Flux’, and ‘Transmogrifical Flux.’  You just put on different colored labels,” she said with a glare at the twins.

Ballsy move, but I guess less so considering it can't be replicated and is probably extremely difficult and dangerous to study.


“Twilight, go back to Canterlot.  You’re making great progress on your stealth suit.  Focus on that.  Relax and forget all about Hippocratic Research and Flux.  You don’t want to know, and you don’t want to force this.”

The last part comes off as something of a threat, but given what I remember from my first read-through, he may well just be telling the simple truth that she'll be happier not knowing, and there's no good way to back out whether she knows the truth or not.

If anything, his eyes were pitying rather than hard.

Yeah, looking that way.


“I’ve done nothing… nothing… for five years now.  Nothing since Big Macintosh died! . . . Don’t you understand?  I’m a failure.”
. . .
“But… why?” Twilight asked in quiet disbelief, looking at him in amazement.  “Why are you showing me this now?”
“Because… I owe you,” he replied quietly as he walked to the elevator door.  “And I’m sorry.”

Of course, it's not hard to see how losing so much of her work to Goldenblood's memory extraction would leave Twilight empty and defeated, especially since she'd always identified herself so much by her work and her talent, but compounding that with losing the memories relating to Bic Macintosh, which I believe were her own choice, so much the worse, especially when that's on top of the growing distance between herself and her friends.
But just as much, I think Goldenblood's line highlights what a perfect foil he is to Blackjack, spinning webs where she unravels them and choosing the greater good where she seeks first to do no harm, but with both always paying a price.


I clenched my eyes shut and twisted my face into ridiculous expressions.

Ah, but are they as ridiculous as the ones we've been seeing in season four?


Finally… it might not have been the most ‘magical’ of methods, but I just made like I had the worst case of constipation ever, grit my teeth, and pushed!

So, the DBZ method, I guess?


Then there was a pop and a discharge like when I fired a magic bullet, followed by a zap and an immense sense of relief.  I stared at the tiny mote of light hanging in front of me.

Has Blackjack used this one again? I guess I wouldn't be surprised if not, since the need for illumination probably doesn't come up that much considering the augmented vision.


But there’s some folk like the doc who keep saying we’re suppose to do what he says, and at the same time we’re suppose to do what the Core Command says and at the same time we’re getting Core commands to not do what Core Command says!

There we go. Because why have one overblown computer system when you can have two for twice the price?


“Guess so,” I murmured, looking up the shaft.  There was no sign of my friends; I supposed they were going to find another way down to me.

Almost too bad P-21 was there; if it was just Rampage, she might have just jumped down the shaft and regenerated.


I travelled further along and reached some sort of security station in front of a heavy door; there were bones behind the bulletproof glass… and a sidearm.  An IF-38 Cornhusker revolver.

Neighbraska is now canon to PH? :D Or, perhaps, Nebrayska, which would work as a donkey-centric area?


Quick as I could, I was running from the rain of droplets.  Really.  Hazardous material suit!  Sounded great.  Especially having doffed the battle saddle!

If that's Flux, which it might not be, I don't think it would help. In fact, making it harder to move would probably make it a net-loser. [Edit:]Oh, wait, I'm thinking about dimethylmercury from reading "A Tall Tail" last night.


When this was over, I was going to take a few days to try and get my horn back in order.

Right, because you did so well at taking time to recover from dying. Also, that depends highly on just what "this" is, doesn't it?


A little blue pony in my head had come up with an idea, and it was gonna be awesome!

I like the subtle change in diction to more match Rainbow's. Though now that I think about it again, I'm a little surprised that none of the little ponies in Blackjack's head reacted to Glory turning into Rainbow Dash, especially the little blue one.


“What, did you simply steal Maripony’s design and bury it underground?”
“Steal?  Of course not,” he said in a faintly hurt tone.  “Stealing implies removal.  We steal from Stable-Tec.  We copy from the M.A.S...”


“What the hell…” I muttered with a groan, rubbing my temples as I felt a doozy of a headache start.

This doesn't seems like a smart move (surprise); you sure you haven't stepped in Flux with the hooves you're now rubbing your head with?


“Do not tell me I have to choose between crazy and ghosts.”

That's a pretty good line.


That left me to see the other fun little addition to the latest house of horrors: bloody bones and viscera were heaped among piles of pale white hide.  The stench made me gag as I stepped past.

Not a very pleasant introduction to blanks, but perhaps less disturbing than actually seeing typical blanks alive.

Then I jumped completely out of my hooves at the sight of the mare standing right beside me.  I probably would have shot her if it wasn’t clear that she wasn’t a threat to me.  Unarmed and unarmored, the white earth pony with the white mane had eyes so pale that it was hard to tell where the irises ended and the sclera began.  The only reason I didn’t think she might be some kind of ghost was that I couldn’t see through her.  All ghosts were transparent… right?

And now Boo. Of course, given her experience in the Hoof, I'm not sure I'd agree with Blackjack that a weird-looking pony, completely unarmed and unarmored, wouldn't be a threat.


By the first ‘here’ I had the revolver out.  By the second, I’d put a bullet between her eyes.

Not bad, for not having magic or S.A.T.S.


She glowed one final time, exploding in a spray of dirty water, and when I next looked back there was nothing but the gurgle of ashy liquid flowing down into the shattered drain.

The fight with Fury was, sadly, quite a bit less exciting the second time around. I guess it's a problem with knowing how it ends, and the real threat from her being her inevitability and demeanor, given how all she did was walk towards Blackjack and explode whenever shot. That said, I remember the first time I read this scene as very intense, and was surprised at just how short it actually is.


I’d named her Boo because at the slightest noise she would go scampering away for a hiding place.  This proved quite a useful warning system, as her hearing seemed much better than my own.  I wondered if the professor had done something with my ears, too; she hadn’t said anything, and I didn’t think my ears were worse, but whenever Boo’s eyes went round and she backed away, I’d find some little niche to hide in with her.

Granted, it might not be sounds that send her off. And yes, she has started out pretty adorable.


A nasty little part of me coldly thought of leaving her; I needed to win.  I couldn’t stay here till we were discovered.  I couldn’t drag her kicking after me.  But as I looked back at her, I took that thought and smashed it with a mental hammer till it retreated.
Softest heart in the Wasteland?  Maybe, but I couldn’t do better by leaving her behind.

Good to see that the urge to win at any cost is still an undercurrent. However, it brought my mind right to this: "Pity? It was pity that stayed [Blackjack]'s hand. . . . My heart tells me that [Boo] has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of [Blackjack] may rule the fate of many."


Guess I still had a little luck left in me.  I threw it wide and stepped into a stairwell going up... a stairwell dripping with Flux.  

Well, you were asking for it. Though, I now wonder whether Flux affects griffins, since it doesn't manticores, or was that cockatrices, or both?

Bullets started to shred it in midair, but it was still solid enough when it crashed into him to send him slipping and sliding down the stairs into the puddle of rainbow goop.  Down below, he started to yell and then scream... and then suddenly there was a loud crunching noise and it all went silent.

I guess that answers that.


It appeared that all of Sanguine’s shit had finally come back to bite him in the ass.  Looked like I’d have some competition for taking my own chomp.

Well, there was already P-21 as well.


There were four steel tables in a row with four machines hanging overhead that reminded me of Ol’ Hank’s limbs.

I guess it's much more recent, but I'm surprised Blackjack wouldn't think of her time in the Fluttershy Medical Center on what was probably a very similar table.


I interrupted her by grabbing her neck and ramming my horn deep into her throat.  The piercing headbutt made her choke and gag.

"Deep" might be a bit of an exaggeration, since we're probably talking a 2.25-3.5" horn, but I'll buy the choking and gagging.


Watching her closely while trying to dodge, I noticed her wounds weren’t regenerating.

How bad is it that she basically takes regenerating opponnents as a baseline, at least for non-mooks?


“Mmmm… the Blackjack diet.  Somehow, that’ll make this all better.”
“Be careful.  I bet I taste like regret and failure,”

That's a good point. More so, though, do you know what kind of trash she eats? I'm not sure manticores could handle that.


The silvery steel sang with a single deadly note that made me grin even as I felt a twinge inside at the sound.

That's interesting. Could just be the sound, but maybe it's more, especially since I'd expect her, even having forgotten what her soul experienced, to react negatively to the sound from what she's seen in memories and the like.

She flapped her wings to keep from falling flat on her face, and I feinted with a cut to her head... wait, when had I learned to feint?  Sure enough, she pulled her snarling maw back and stabbed with her venomous tail.  The sword reversed and sliced the bulbous tip away.

Yeah, I think that the sword might like Blackjack more now than before she died and came back bitter and harsher.


Her jaws closed on my throat, grating on something in my...skin?  Something else the professor hadn’t told me about, I guessed.

In fairness, the lesson of this chapter is that as long as no one finds out, secrets are the way of preserving happiness. It's not her fault you broke that part.


An eye that swore evisceration for me and then P-21, then all-you-can-eat buffet status for Rampage.  I’d killed her pets and her lovers, and that frenzied glare promised to do the same to me and mine.

Well, I guess P-21 counts as a former lover under a disturbingly broad definition of the term, but Rampage is neither. Speaking of pets, though, Boo seems to have done a good job of disappearing, lending more weight to my suspicion that she is, in fact, a cat. Just a more agreeable one than those Blackjack is dealing with at the moment.


Earlier, Trueblood (I think) said that manticore-pony hybrids were too aggressive for deployment. I wonder, though, could it be the case that it's just the subject they chose, and if they had instead tried it on someone not quite possibly already an amoral psychopath, they would have been fine? Of course, it's also possible they tried it on more than just Brass, but only she made it to the future.


“Remember?  We called down for five or six minutes; the elevator was only ten or twenty feet down before it jammed.  You finally said you were all right and that we should go through the door and meet you down here.  Warned us to watch out for the turrets too,” P-21 said, sharing a look with Rampage; that ‘Is she going crazy, or does she just not remember?’ look.

Well, going crazy might not be the right question to ask.


I turned to get P-21 and Rampage’s opinions, but then I spotted him tossing an empty Med-X syringe into the trash and frowned.  “Did you get hurt?”  Rampage glanced at him, and immediately her smile sickened.
“Haven’t we all?” he replied without meeting my eyes.
. . .
“Uh, no.  Actually.  No.  I don’t think you got hit since we entered the woods.”

. . .
“Well then, my leg hurts, alright?”  He scowled, leaning back with a sigh.  “I’m just worn out.  I hate this place.  With everything that’s happened, I just need it to keep me steady.”

And here might be the tipping point where it really becomes clear that P-21 either has some kind of problem causing prolonged pain in his leg which has been healed for a long time or, given Rampages reaction and his own followup, he's dependent on Med-X.


“Have you two been seeing ghosts too?”  Predictably, both of them looked at me like I was crazy.

You know, at some point you'd think that "looking at Blackjack like she's crazy" and "just looking at Blackjack" would become the same thing.


Whoa. We just dropped into after-school special territory on the drug issue. Decently handled, though, with pretty good interpersonal tension and the underlying assumption that not all drugs or all users are seriously problematic.


Back in 99, nopony had problems with chems because they were strictly controlled out of medical.  Anypony stealing chems for whatever reason could be flogged for possession or use.  Even possession of an empty syringe could be construed as guilt.

Ah, but here, "nopony" equates to "no mare"; granted, I don't believe she's yet been told about how Med-X was the all-purposes solution for males' problem.


“So we promise him whatever he wants, get Scotch’s clone, and then kill him,” P-21 said so matter-of-factly that it chilled me.  Worse, a part of me agreed with him.  Kill him afterwards.  That sounded so neat.  So pat.  So…
So exactly what Sanguine would do.

Incidentally, it's also what the Stable Dweller would do. Now, checking the date . . . comments on the chapter are from late February to early March 2012, so well after FoE ended, and more so after the Battle of the Everfree Forest.


“It’s not.  It won’t work!” Psychoshy sobbed.  “It just keeps telling me how Blackjack is going to kill me.  It won’t open the casing.”
“It must!  EC-1101 was designed to work for only a select few ponies or their offspring.  It must work for you, Fluttershy!  That’s what it was designed to do!”

So, is it Echo acting as an extra gatekeeper, or was EC-1101 changed to have Goldenbloods' progeny locked out? Figure if it were the former, he might have stopped Blackjack at some point, but then I get the feeling he likes her and at least respects her enough to believe she'll try to do right with it.


It's hard to see the bad guys as pathetic as Psychoshy is trying to get EC-1101 to work in the Production room. But then, that's also one of the draws of the story; almost everyone has desires you can really understand, even if you don't agree with them, and seeing her suffer and try so hard to do what Sanguine wants, and just wish more than anything that she could and not knowing why she can't is a great example.


‘Get her?’  Really?  He was hitting the villain clichés hard!

In fairness, it's a big room and maybe someone missed the location. And come on, in terms of efficiency, you can't do much better than a full sentence in two syllables.


I grit my teeth and hooked my hind legs through the railing, then extended my fingers and grabbed her own shoving forelegs.

Murky would be sooo happy. Granted, there are still all the warning signs, and the worse-than-warning signs.


Instead, my eyes popped wide as I stared at Boo gripping the mouth trigger of one of the guns.  Her blank eyes stared back, and she swallowed.  The gun went off again, spraying me briefly and punching a whole slew of holes in my limbs as I raised them reflexively.  I’d just regenerated those!  The terrified mare let the gun fall out of her mouth as she curled up into a trembling ball again.

And Boo officially joins the party. Oh, and had immediately prior demonstrated her insane luck by offing a guard. Whatever's special about her, it didn't start with Discord.


“I wasn’t supposed to become this.  My family wasn’t supposed to die.  I was going to be Equestria’s greatest biological researcher!”  He pointed a hoof at me and yelled, “It’s not fucking fair!”

Yeah, sorry, but you know who else didn't get a fair shake in this continuity? I'm going to go with . . . let's see . . . hmm, carry the two . . . damn near everybody.

“Yes.  My family.  We were supposed to be safe in Stable One.  The finest and safest stable in all of Equestria.  But the poison… we couldn’t reach it.”

So, speaking of fair . . . it sounds like you and yours kind of got lucky.


“Because I know that you’re a good pony, P-21, and good ponies don’t kill in cold blood.”

I agree with the point, but given how on-the-nose it is I have a feeling this isn't directed solely at P-21.


“Sure.  Here and everywhere.  Word will go out to let Chimera be accessible along the networks and allow anypony with the right access codes to use the files.  I have no idea how far and wide those networks stretch,”

Wait . . . is he serious? If so, that seems like tremendously bad design, and in fact counter to the whole point of EC-1101, which was to grant some but not all ponies access.
Chapter Thirty Eight Overall Thoughts:
I'll start off by saying that the clear high point of the chapter, to me, is Twilight's tour of Chimaera. It is what gives us the sight of just how defeated she is by the loss of so much to her memory extractions; how strongly she reacted against the means used to keep ponies from getting hurt, despite the fact that helping Luna win the war was all she had left; Goldenblood's conflicted feelings and regrets regarding much of what he's been a part of, including at long last thinking about what Equestria would be like after it won the war and, it seems, losing trust in Luna, as he expresses the belief that in time she would give in to the temptation to use an army of blank chimaeras to take over the world; great snide back-and-forth between Goldenblood and Trueblood; Goldenblood's pledge to make sure nopony was hurt as badly as he hurt Fluttershy (but with the context still missing); and of course some quality humor injected by Flim and Flam. Oh. And the reveal that Discord is the source of Flux. Sometimes those little things slip one's mind.

Otherwise, I think that the emotional peak was the Psychoshy-Sanguine nexus. Frankly, I'm not sure that anyone has been quite as emotionally destroyed in the story as Psychoshy was in this chapter and the last few. Even at the very beginning it was uncomfortable, with her begging for Blackjack to help Sanguine and relating just what their relationship was, which clearly was a sore point for her. Now, she's returned to Sanguine, having ripped herself free from being Wonderglued to a tree or something and missing a bunch of fur and feathers, and simply broken down because she can't activate EC-1101 and doesn't know why, and for that matter, doesn't know why there's a creepy dead guy telling her that Blackjack is going to kill them. Yet that still isn't enough, as in the end, Sanguine loses as Red Eye's forces pull out, and he reveals just how little Psychoshy meant to him, that his end game wasn't living with her in Fillydelphia, but freeing his family and, hopefully, staying with them. She starts with a characteristic attack, calling him out, but once he says just how little she meant to him and what contempt he had for her, she's out of it, going from shock when P-21 was going to kill Sangune to avoidance or shame during the argument over what to do with him to simple silence after he reveals she's Fluttershy's daughter and apologizes for using her.
The support to this, of course, is the build-up and revelation of Sanguine's family and his desire to get them out of the stasis pods they were in safely, making cloned body parts to help keep them alive. To an extent, it's a bit of a mixed bag, as while it holds together, it doesn't change the fact that as long as Sanguine was unaware that they may not be unconscious in the pods, he wasn't in any particular hurry to get them out.

P-21's Med-X addiction is brought out front-and-center, with Rampage playing the role of DARE educator and Blackjack in denial. Beyond that, P-21's head isn't in the game as he can't think about anything but Priest and getting revenge on Sanguine.

Fury is defeated much more easily that was my impression on the first read, but then again it was memorable enough that I knew how it ended, which probably cut the tension for what was otherwise a short and low-action fight. Brass went out with all the blood, grace, and charm you'd expect. (But she loved her manticores.) In the end, I believe she was just a nasty, nasty piece of work who enjoyed being that way and who made what turned out to be a deathbed confession which may have been sincere, but which I suspect was meant to get Blackjack to try to get Sanguine to help keep her alive.

There's Ol' Hank, who reveals that the Core is sending out huge numbers of orders that are almost all countermanded immediately after, and suggests the one sending the orders is smarter or faster than the one cancelling them. Then he's taken over and tries to kill Blackjack after she mentions Goldenblood.

Lastly, we have the introduction of much of Project Chimaera. There are the blanks and the fatties, and golden mechanical tree they come from; the organ extraction and transplantation; the megaspell chamber for the fusion operation; and the source of Flux. As a corollary, Boo is introduced and displays remarkable ability to identify threats—presumably by sound—and kills a guard who was about to be a problem for Blackjack. She then shoots Blackjack nonlethally, in the forelegs I believe (at any rate it didn't meaningfully harm Blackjack's ability to operate from then on, but she didn't need to do much anyway), making her an "official" part of the crew. And she's cute, but not as cute as she would become later.
Chapter Thirty Eight Editing Matters:
“If either of you start to sing, I’m sending you to Pinkie Pie,”

"starts"


“I’ve sent six letters, four polite inquiries and five formal requests,

Final serial comma after "inquiries"


‘Metamagical Flux’, which is identical to ‘Biomagical Flux’, and ‘Transmogrifical Flux.’

The period should be outside the quotation marks and there should probably not be a comma after "'Biomagical Flux'".


it was a marketing decision, I think….”

Ellipsis should have only three dots.


He didn’t even blink. If anything,

Only one space after the period.


shaft by one of my forelegs.   It’d gotten caught

Three spaces after the period.


lighty light light…  the electric crackle grew in my horn

Should have only one space after the ellipsis.


falling down alongside one? My enameled limbs were squealing,

Only one space after the question mark.


“Well, he ain’t much of an engineer,” Ol’ Hank muttered, “He’s trying to wake the machines down below up.

Should the comma after "muttered" be a period?


“Can you tell me what Sangui- I mean, the doc needs with Chimera?”

Second hyphen for dash?


and I frowned.   “Hank?”

Three spaces after the period.


and bundled up Taurus’ rifle and the shotgun.

Taurus's


In the break room behind the station was a fold-out cot and some lockers that I cleared out

"was" to "were"


After a bit of determined twisting, the plastic lid popped off cartridge’s base.

"the cartridge's"


looked down at the glaring beast beneath me.   Okay, Rover was

Three spaces after the period.


thousands of pounds of drums in a cascade of steel and chemical that pounded down on top of it.

"steel and chemicals"?


down hard, immobilized by the sight.    “It really is an impressive facility,

Four spaces after the period.


We copy from the M.A.S...”

I think in this case, you might actually want four dots, or to end with a dash, especially if he was cut off by tripping, which admittedly isn't clearly the case.


“Trying for Deus’ spot in the foul mouth brigade?”

Deus's


The pale mare let out a bawling cry that drew the yellow mare’s glare.
The yellow mare took shape again,

Fury was originally described as orange and red (or just "flame-colored") in chapter 31:
It was an earth pony with a mane and coloration that resembled crackling flame.
“Who cares?” the orange and red mare drawled.  “Get clear.”  Now that’s never a good thing to hear.
Then the pile of ashes glowed, and from them reformed the flame colored mare.
she said as she turned towards the regenerated red and orange mare.


“Didn’t think it could happen…fuck

Should have space after ellipsis.


Slowly, the white pony stepped closer, then nuzzled one of the Fancy Buck Cakes laying in a pool of the nasty water

Lying


There was the problem of getting Boo to follow though

Comma after "follow"?


closing the door behind me. Boo was no

Only one space after the period.


and pointing Taurus’ rifle down at him

"Taurus's"


The doctor sat down hard, his mouth working as be stammered.

"as he stammered."


“But... But you can’t be here!

Second space after ellipsis, or don't capitalize second "but."


dozens of sharp and pointy teeth. How could it be that the

Only one space after the period.


How could it be that the undying cyberpony who blows up was easier to kill than the idiot who screwed beasts?

Fury, right? Was she a cyberpony?


P-21 scrambled down towards her, and I grinned. As soon as Rampage was

Only one space after period.


Her jaws closed on my throat, grating on something in my...skin?  Something else the professor hadn’t told me about, I guessed.

Should have space after ellipsis.


“Blackjack, when has it ever been as simple as ‘go straight there?’”

Question mark should be between the single and double quotation marks.


Finally we reached the ‘Copyroom.’

Period to outside of quotation marks.


Luna could never-“

Second hyphen for dash


She said the word like I might say ‘Overmare.’

Period to outside of quotation marks.


“She was a criminal, a thief. She boasted

Only one space after period.


Was that what security was all about now?

I think that in this instance, "security" should be capitalized, as it's always been capitalized in the phrase "Security saves ponies."


Warning: absolutely no sneezing.’

Needs opening single quotation mark


The Med-X and Moon Dust mix shot into her, and she swayed on her hooves before flopping on her face.

Fixer and Moon Dust


“For wh-”  But the what was

Second hyphen for dash.


silent as the mare I’d used for cover went down. The bulky earth pony

Only one space after period.


I focused… imagined… concentrated… Oh, this was so much easier in S.A.T.S.!

Second space needed after last ellipsis.


The bloodied guard levitated an SMG with a look of pleasured satisfaction in my imminent demise.

Either he's really into the idea of killing her or this should be "pleased."


But with machineguns, you just needed one or two lucky shots.

Almost exactly a page ago, there was this: My aim was a lot more careful, but with automatic machinegun fire you didn’t need skill, just luck, time, and a large enough supply of bullets.
That might bee a little early to reiterate the point.


“Do you really think Red Eye is big on sentimentalism?  Or reapers?

I think "reapers" should be capitalized, if it's referring to the group.


The Pegasus with the ratty wings couldn’t look at anypony.

"pegasus" shouldn't be capitalized.


“I wonder if LittlePip wants to trade?  I’ll go fight brainreading monsters, and she can deal with all this mystery horseshit!”

Should "brainreading" be hyphenated? Mind-reading is in all but one case.


“You sure you want to do this, Blackjack? That ghoul doesn’t deserve your spit, let alone your mercy.”

Only one space after the question mark.


I wondered just where the line was between a sane ghoul like Harpica and the many ferals I’d seen elsewhere, and just how close was Sanguine to crossing it.

Do you think the sentence would flow better with "close Sanguine was"?


Written at the bottom of the strange mish-mash creature were the words: ‘Project Chimera.’

Should the period be outside the quotation marks?


thousands of barrels with rainbow Flux. My friends all disappeared
I felt my lips move with him as I spoke his words. “Project Chimera containment

Only one space after the period.


Password: A wonderful, wonderful thing.

You don't normally capitalize following colons.


were evenly spaced out in a foot by foot grid covering the inner surface of the cylinder.

should "foot by foot" be hyphenated?


It wore an expression of absolute terror, twisted as if it had frozen in this state. The detail was such that I almost

Only one space after the period. "This" to "that"?
Other Chapter Editing:
31: Then the pile of ashes glowed, and from them reformed the flame colored mare.
(for this one, should "flame colored" be hyphenated?)

35: “So… you figure out how you’re going to deal with your mindreading nemesis?”
"mind-reading"

O. Hinds wrote:
Icy Shake wrote:You don't think the demo man would know "dry wood burns good" and extrapolate to "lots of dry wood, all together, will spread fire fast"? On the other hand, I guess it is Hoofington, so the concept of "dry" wood may not really come into play that much.
Also, burning down the forest is here not so much an unintended consequence as it is the point of the thing.
Well, my impression was that the goal was to burn just a few of the trees that were blocking their path. I hope his goal wasn't to burn down the whole forest. Granted, if his situational awareness was on the level it was in the succeeding chapter, that might have been what he was going for, and I can't exactly blame him (much) for making bad decisions while distraught and possibly in withdrawal.
Ah, thank you very much as always.

Icy Shake wrote:Well, you were asking for it. Though, I now wonder whether Flux affects griffins, since it doesn't manticores, or was that cockatrices, or both?
Manticores. Why? We don't know. Maybe because affecting everything was just too orderly, and manticores got the luck of the random draw.

Icy Shake wrote:How bad is it that she basically takes regenerating opponnents as a baseline, at least for non-mooks?

Icy Shake wrote:You know, at some point you'd think that "looking at Blackjack like she's crazy" and "just looking at Blackjack" would become the same thing.
:D

Icy Shake wrote:Murky would be sooo happy. Granted, there are still all the warning signs, and the worse-than-warning signs.
Hee. :)
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by O. Hinds on Wed Jan 01, 2014 5:47 pm

Okay, after significant struggling with the revisions, we have decided not to make any such changes at this time. We may later make some alterations and additions of this nature, but Somber wishes to press on with the story.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Vergil on Wed Jan 01, 2014 11:29 pm

Happy new year folks (and thanks for the update Hinds)!

Ch.45 "Look, I know how you forgive on the drop of a hat, but Psycho isn't a good pony." I could be mistaken, but shouldn't it be 'forgive at the drop of a hat'?

Also

"Just finding the damn place had taken me an hour of winding hallways, rooms turns into flophouses, and dead ends."
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

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