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The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

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The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Sun Feb 02, 2014 7:29 pm

A rather short, dark mare in battered armor passed through gilded and marbled imperial halls, and a path opened before her; radiant, admiring glances followed her, while the ears of courtiers strained to catch her every word.  And she, sure of herself and her works, obviously paid no attention to all this.  Her country was in ruins, hungry, exhausted.  But her soldiers and followers, heavy with fame and wealth and drunk with glory and victory, had already trampled all armed opposition under their hooves, and she was convinced that she would soon see all the land and its people brought firmly and finally under the celestial throne.  She knew that she was one of the cruelest, most treacherous and blood-soaked figures in the history of ponykind.  But this did not worry her a bit, for she was convinced that she was only elevating her beloved to the position she was due, and that that was worth any price.
Modification of a passage by Milovan Djilas
This is a thread for the discussion of an alternate character interpretation of the Winningverse's Shadow Kicker based on the premise that her autobiography, as told in The Lunar Rebellion, is not a factual account of events.  The belief upon which this thread is founded is that Shadow Kicker, with help from her daughter and other followers, deliberately chose to portray herself as a not particularly wise hero simply swept along by events beyond her control.  In reality, she was one of the most brilliant, charismatic, driven, and morally complex ponies in Equestria's history.  Utterly devoted  to Celestia, though not to Celestia's desires, above all else, she would deliberately cause one of the worst wars in Equestrian history, preside over the violent extermination of her home civilization, orchestrate the whitewashing of the whole affair, and establish her own cult to insure that her descendants continued to serve her goddess-in-all-but-name.  Or something like that.  That is a somewhat charitable interpretation, but the lack of information and quality of her revision of history have made the true story rather difficult to piece together.  That, though, is what this thread is for.

(Note: I'm actually quite fond of the Winningverse; while it does have some bad stories in it as a result of being a shared universe, I've read quite a few good ones.  I just really dislike Shadow Kicker, and this is the only way I've found to prevent that dislike from spreading to the rest of the universe that would honor her.  And, as a friend said, however fun one finds The Lunar Rebellion to read, it does seem to be quite fun to talk about.)

edit: swicked and I (hopefully someone else will be here at some point) have expanded this thread to include other Winningverse speculation, as the new title says.

edit 2: For those interested particularly in our Lunarwinningverse speculation, it starts here.

edit 3: Turns out Shadow wasn't actually short. Not sure where I got that impression; sorry.


Last edited by O. Hinds on Sun Aug 09, 2015 10:15 pm; edited 10 times in total
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Sun Feb 02, 2014 7:29 pm

O. Hinds wrote:Potential spoilers for The Lunar Rebellion:
Spoiler:
(I've only read through Chapter 10 of The Lunar Rebellion so far, but I need to get this idea out of my head so that I can work on other things.)
So I was really starting to hate Shadow Kicker.  Actually hate, not "this is a bad character" dislike but a Cromwellian "We're still not telling you where his centuries-decayed body is because we're afraid that you'd still want to defile it" sort of feeling.  Reading the story was actually starting to make me dislike much of the present day Winningverse.  Then, though, just a short time ago, I was talking with some friends (including swicked), and it hit me.  The way that this all makes sense.  Yes, Shadow as portrayed is a treasonous idiot from my perspective.  The key things, though are firstly that this was not meant to be read from my perspective; it was meant to be read from the perspective of a modern Equestrian.  Secondly and more fundamentally, though, is "as portrayed".  Portrayed by whom?  By Shadow Kicker.  Shadow Kicker, who's daughter was a spymaster, who's talent was asymmetric warfare.  Who put her beloved Celestia in a position of more of less absolute power, who quite likely dissolved all the pegasus warrior clans other than her own*, who ended up Lady Protector of Equestria, who established a religion based on the worship of herself that was still going strong nine centuries later?  The story would have us believe that Shadow Kicker just blundered into all of that, that she did what she had to do in the situation she found herself in.  Shadow Kicker as portrayed, after all, wouldn't do and couldn't have done that deliberately.  But that's exactly the point.  This is a case of an unreliable narrator, of a mare hiding her rise to power and the elimination of her enemies behind a mask of simple heroism.  And it worked.  Shadow Kicker isn't a hero, but she isn't a treasonous fool, either.  She's a magnificent bastard who got away with it, Stalin without the Secret Speech.  She is the victor who wrote the history books.  And, actually, I'm not sure that I can even blame Celestia for anything here now; I wouldn't be at all surprised if she too was being manipulated by Shadow Kicker.  So I no longer hate our protagonist; I am in awe of her and what she pulled off.

(Yes, I'm pretty sure that this wasn't what the author intended, and I know that I may find something to somehow disprove it in the parts of the story/stories that I've not read yet.  For the moment, however, it saves the rest of the Winningverse for me and makes The Lunar Rebellion far more awesome.)


*I can believe this of Shadow more readily than I can of Celestia here, though I imagine that Celestia has also been whitewashed.  Seriously, "The clans that weren’t just outright killed off during the war were all forcibly disbanded.” There’s a reason Derpy’s family is just her parents and her brother instead of the massive extended clan that I’ve got, even though the Doos were about on par with the Kickers back in the day."?
"that weren't just killed off during the war were all forcibly disbanded"?  To the extent that, even nine hundred years later, they don't have close extended families?  Something tells me that "during the war" lasted until there were no clans left.

swicked wrote:Having not read the winningverse, I did not realize the extent of shadow's presence and impact on the modern equestria.
If it is as you say, however, I completely support your theory.

O. Hinds wrote:Well, I wouldn't say that she's a household name all across the land, but Celestia still speaks fondly of her and the Kicker Clan still reveres her (Literally.  Praying to idols of her literally.), has a large fortified private compound in the middle of Canterlot, and makes up a not-insignificant portion of Equestria's military.  And, now that I think about it, if you read between the lines, some of the mentions of how no one minds the dissolution of the clans and all that and everyone is happy with how the war turned out and it was nine hundred years ago anyway seem a bit... insistent.

O. Hinds wrote:Addition to my earlier Winningverse post:
Spoiler:
edit after finishing Gathering Shadows: Okay, no, it turns out that that was temporary.  I still hate her as much, and perhaps more, but I also respect her.
It's marked as an edit because I originally added it to my post on FIMFiction.

swicked wrote:
O. Hinds wrote:Addition to my earlier Winningverse post:
Spoiler:
edit after finishing Gathering Shadows: Okay, no, it turns out that that was temporary.  I still hate her as much, and perhaps more, but I also respect her.
It's marked as an edit because I originally added it to my post on FIMFiction.
What changed your opinion?

O. Hinds wrote:
swicked wrote:
O. Hinds wrote:Addition to my earlier Winningverse post:
Spoiler:
edit after finishing Gathering Shadows: Okay, no, it turns out that that was temporary.  I still hate her as much, and perhaps more, but I also respect her.
It's marked as an edit because I originally added it to my post on FIMFiction.
What changed your opinion?
My respect for her abilities has not changed since we last spoke on the matter; it is simply that I found, upon returning to the story, that the change to my emotions wrought by my revelation was a temporary one.  I believe that my realization of the extent of her actions temporarily obscured from my mind what seeing her attempt to cast herself as a beleaguered hero actually looked like.

O. Hinds wrote:You know, I may be too late for the poll, but what I find most interesting about it is choice of categories offered.  "Celestia", "Rebels", "Neutral", and "Whichever Side Shadow's on".  The idea that a reader might have no particular quarrel with and perhaps even pity Celestia, sympathize with the rebels, and regard Shadow as the villain of the piece does not seem to have occurred to the poll's creator.

I must confess, I am not used to having such strong emotional reactions to characters; I am not entirely sure what it is about Shadow that riles me so.

swicked wrote:
O. Hinds wrote:I believe that my realization of the extent of her actions temporarily obscured from my mind what seeing her attempt to cast herself as a beleaguered hero actually looked like.
I'm having some difficulty understanding what you are saying here. The extent of her actions... in light of the conspiracy you suspect exists behind them? Then that changed when you read the story and saw how she writes herself? I'm confused.

swicked wrote:
O. Hinds wrote:I must confess, I am not used to having such strong emotional reactions to characters; I am not entirely sure what it is about Shadow that riles me so.
Maybe it's just because you can't accept her narrative. That's more than just not liking a character, let alone hating a character. It's how the fic was written that angers you.

I had a similar experience when I tried to read Fallout Equestria: Heroes. The main character kills a bunch of the militia that keeps her home protected, then is let to go free. Well, one of them poisons her leg, but otherwise free. The poison would have eventually killed her, but she comes across a friendly machinist who replaces the leg with a cyber one that's much more powerful. For free.
Jump forward a bit and she's been contracted to kill what appears to be a friendly old lady. She accepts the job because whatever, it's money, and "luckily" it turns out the lady was running some kinda slave traffic in her basement that nobody knew about. The "hero" takes the little filly slave from down there and immediately sells her to some other slavers. Then turns around and kills them all as soon as they turn their backs. She gets incredibly wounded but, hey, turns out the filly is a trauma doctor.

You're basically being emotionally railroaded. The fic is telling you what you're supposed to be thinking and you're not accepting the narrative, much like I couldn't accept the way the author of Heroes constantly twisted the world around Silver in order to paint Silver as still being a hero and prevent her from suffering any real consequences for her actions.
Shadow is being a traitor and an asshole but the fic insists she's the hero so you're being forced to accept everyone else as being the bad guys.

O. Hinds wrote:
swicked wrote:
O. Hinds wrote:I believe that my realization of the extent of her actions temporarily obscured from my mind what seeing her attempt to cast herself as a beleaguered hero actually looked like.
I'm having some difficulty understanding what you are saying here. The extent of her actions... in light of the conspiracy you suspect exists behind them? Then that changed when you read the story and saw how she writes herself? I'm confused.
Hm.  My apologies.  I shall try to explain in more detail.
Spoiler:
Prior to the realization that I had in conversation with you (that the proper way to view the story is as one told by an unreliable narrator), I was taking things as they were presented.  This, of course, painted a highly unflattering picture of Shadow Kicker and, by extension, all those who later revered her.  While I at first disliked Sunbeam, or Unicornia, or even at times Celestia, it became increasingly clear to me that, while they and the Ephors were not spotless, it was quite predominantly Shadow Kicker's fault that things took the path they did.  As that path ended with the violent destruction of her society (We knew from this being a prequel that she would betray them, but the other Winningverse works I have read mentioned few details and gave, of course, the impression that she was clearly in the right to do so.), the end of earth pony democracy, and the great expansion of the unicorn nobility's power (Oh, Unicornia was dissolved to?  Funny how the Unicornian capital became the Equestrian capital, and how the old Unicornian government seems to have been little changed when it became the Equestrian government.), I classed her as a fool and a traitor who's ill-chosen actions resulted in tremendous bloodshed and suffering and who's high renown, even nine centuries later, was utterly baffling.

However, the revelation changed things.  The picture she paints of herself is the same, certainly, and it is still not a pretty one... but now it is not a true picture of a fool but an artful work of deception.  Shadow could not stray too far from the truth; there were simply too many who could contradict outright lies, and perfection, in any case, would be less believable.  No, she could not make herself out to be an untarnished hero, and, in any case, I do not think that such a thing was a high priority for her; after her victory, none would dare defy her while she lived, and, after her death, I think it likely that the only legacy she truly cared for was the power of her beloved Celestia.  By portraying herself as something of a less-intelligent pony, charismatic but driven by passions, hard necessity, and immediate cunning instead of wisdom, she obscures the true nature of her rise to and consolidation of power, and in so doing she makes it harder to accuse Celestia of having supported her actions (since such actions were taken on the spur of the moment)*.  And, indeed, judging by the polling and most of the comments, Shadow as she portrayed herself has been lauded by a great many even outside of the culture that she left.  All in all, Shadow got everything she wanted and more, the destruction left in her wake of no concern and still successfully concealed nine centuries later.  How can one not admire such skill, whatever it may be applied to?

Then, though, I resumed reading the story and was reminded just what it was applied to.  Shadow has done an amazing job of hiding her bloody work of raising an empire for herself and her beloved, but the whitewash still paints an ugly picture.  Shadow's presentation of herself serves her purpose well, but I still find it simply unlikeable.  Hm.

Really, I think that I would be happier reading the true account of events, the account of the master schemer, the charismatic, brilliant, and amoral (or at least differently-moralled) mare who, for the twin motives of love and powerlust**, forged a mighty empire uncaring of the slaughter and treachery, including the destruction of her entire home civilization, of which she was a well-regarded leader, upon which it was built.  And then she hid it all, concealed the blood behind a history most definitely written by the victors and masterfully crafted to stand against attempts to disprove it.  Nine hundred years later, the empire-by-another-name still stands, her beloved still rules absolutely***, her descendants are still the most prominent name in Equestria's military, still possess their compound in the heart of the government, and still pray to her, and she is still regarded as a hero who did everything she could, sadly too little, to stop the war, and immediately sided with the righteous side instead of falling to the corruption that necessitated the destruction of the rest of her civilization.  Yes, that is the mare I want to read about, not this fool who doomed her country through her own incompetence and was hailed as a hero for it.

Oh, and the more one looks, the more one finds.  Notice that Shadow is never described as being significantly in the wrong?  The most she'll ever admit to is making a decision in haste, or in the heat of the moment, and these are swiftly brushed away.  Her enemies, though?  Oh, the other Ephores aren't doing what they think is best for their people, oh no, they're just unreasonable and stubborn to the point of treason against their "rightful" (and legally, peacefully, and willingly removed from power) leader.  The ordinary people of Pegasopolis aren't scared, angry, misinformed, and possessed of entirely correct suspicions, they're a sign that the nation she believed in was dead long ago, if it ever existed in the first place.  The power and influence that Shadow was offered weren't good routes to peaceful solutions, hands of trust and friendship extended to the loyal opposition, they were attempts to shut her up, and the request that she publicly proclaim her loyalty wasn't a measure to raise public morale and quell unrest, it was a grievous personal insult.  And is it not curious that the animosity with Sunbeam faded so quickly?  I am sure that that had nothing to do with Sunbeam and the rest of Unicornia's nobility later becoming Shadow's allies.

*And I don't think Celestia did, except in a reactive matter or when Shadow manipulated her.  I really can't help but pity this Celestia now; I see her as a rather sad mare, a pawn between Shadow and Sunbeam as her country falls apart and then elevated to absolute power she didn't ask for by means she didn't approve of and is disappointed with the efficacy of.  She genuinely cares for her subjects, all of them, and her lot is to make mistakes, be used, and only be able to make the best of bad situations.

**...And, actually, I wonder if it wasn't just love?  Did Shadow do what she did solely out of an unhealthy devotion to Celestia?  Hm...  Possibly, but that would not explain the Cult of Shadow.  Yes, I think that if she did it only for Celestia, it would be idols of the alicorn they prayed to, not idols of the pegasus.

***Yes, Luna's back, but Luna was granted her throne by Celestia.  Celestia could just as easily have executed her sister.  While I believe Celestia's motivations and desire to share power to be genuine, I also have little doubt who the country would side with in the event of another conflict.  Luna may share rulership, but, at least for now, she does so only because Celestia wishes it.

O. Hinds wrote:
swicked wrote:
O. Hinds wrote:I must confess, I am not used to having such strong emotional reactions to characters; I am not entirely sure what it is about Shadow that riles me so.
Maybe it's just because you can't accept her narrative. That's more than just not liking a character, let alone hating a character. It's how the fic was written that angers you.

I had a similar experience when I tried to read Fallout Equestria: Heroes. The main character kills a bunch of the militia that keeps her home protected, then is let to go free. Well, one of them poisons her leg, but otherwise free. The poison would have eventually killed her, but she comes across a friendly machinist who replaces the leg with a cyber one that's much more powerful. For free.
Jump forward a bit and she's been contracted to kill what appears to be a friendly old lady. She accepts the job because whatever, it's money, and "luckily" it turns out the lady was running some kinda slave traffic in her basement that nobody knew about. The "hero" takes the little filly slave from down there and immediately sells her to some other slavers. Then turns around and kills them all as soon as they turn their backs. She gets incredibly wounded but, hey, turns out the filly is a trauma doctor.

You're basically being emotionally railroaded. The fic is telling you what you're supposed to be thinking and you're not accepting the narrative, much like I couldn't accept the way the author of Heroes constantly twisted the world around Silver in order to paint Silver as still being a hero and prevent her from suffering any real consequences for her actions.
Shadow is being a traitor and an asshole but the fic insists she's the hero so you're being forced to accept everyone else as being the bad guys.
...Hum.  An interesting point.  And because the story is Shadow's autobiography, edited by one of her descendants, my lack of acceptance of the narrative would be placed at her hooves...  Which would naturally lead me to the conclusion that, since it is the narrative's relation to her that I find unacceptable and she wrote the narrative, she was being mendacious to make herself look better.  And if this is her idea of making herself look better and can be assumed to not drift too far from the true historical facts (for such deviation would be noticed), then the matters that she's covering up must be very bad indeed.  And then one commences reading between the lines of this and other Winningverse fics...
That said, it is rather disturbing how easily the hidden dark history comes together.

(Oh, and I couldn't get very far in Heroes either.  :)  I'm pretty sure that I didn't manage to get to the middle of the second chapter...)

O. Hinds wrote:Also, you're quite right: however fun it is to read, it certainly is fun to talk about.  :)

O. Hinds wrote:...And I seriously now want to read the true story of Shadow Kicker as I've been deducing it.  It sounds pretty awesome.  Though, then again, it might be that a lot of it is like Stalin's rise: slow, methodical, devastatingly effective, and very boring to watch.

swicked wrote:It might be fun to create a separate topic for this. As additional chapters come out, we could try to dissect them to determine the facts from the bias. We might even have a nearly cohesive story by the end of this prequel story series.

Plus, if history is any indicator, chances are the author might somehow find their way here (like happens with most story threads that end up posted), see us talking about the story within his story, and denounce us as insane.

O. Hinds wrote:
swicked wrote:It might be fun to create a separate topic for this. As additional chapters come out, we could try to dissect them to determine the facts from the bias. We might even have a nearly cohesive story by the end of this prequel story series.

Plus, if history is any indicator, chances are the author might somehow find their way here (like happens with most story threads that end up posted), see us talking about the story within his story, and denounce us as insane.
Haha!  Yes!  Oh, and perhaps we should even get cameos in one of the stories as ranting conspiracy theorists of ill repute!
(Note: I am entirely serious in my delight at this prospect.  Yes, I know that I am weird.)

What do you think might be extracted from the two interludes of earth pony politics?  They portray important events, but they are by a different author, one presumably unconnected to the Kickers, and written long after the fact.  And, strangely, in them it is much easier to sympathize with everypony involved...

swicked wrote:
O. Hinds wrote:
swicked wrote:It might be fun to create a separate topic for this. As additional chapters come out, we could try to dissect them to determine the facts from the bias. We might even have a nearly cohesive story by the end of this prequel story series.

Plus, if history is any indicator, chances are the author might somehow find their way here (like happens with most story threads that end up posted), see us talking about the story within his story, and denounce us as insane.
Haha!  Yes!  Oh, and perhaps we should even get cameos in one of the stories as ranting conspiracy theorists of ill repute!
(Note: I am entirely serious in my delight at this prospect.  Yes, I know that I am weird.)

What do you think might be extracted from the two interludes of earth pony politics?  They portray important events, but they are by a different author, one presumably unconnected to the Kickers, and written long after the fact.  And, strangely, in them it is much easier to sympathize with everypony involved...
Huh, I felt it contained the same themes of a biased narrator.
The assassin, carrot, stood by and listened to Celestia's reasoned plans as to how to reform the earth pony sociopolitical system such that there would be less disparity between the bottom and top. He felt her offers were reasonable and portrayed Apple Tree is being a pretty darn aggressive idiot, rejecting the plans less due to them taking so long and more seemingly due to them not involving taking out what passed for the earth pony nobility entirely.
He then immediately suggested that the pegasi support for his reelection could be used to start his own revolution, which is why Carrot immediately killed him.

...actually, I forget if Carrot was even the narrator of that piece, but despite the title being "The Assassination of Apple Tree by the Coward Carrot ___" (I don't rightly recall what his "last name" was), it seemed to portray Carrot in as kind a light as possible.
I mean, Carrot was Apple's second-in-command. The guy had a similar educational and societal background. I would think they'd have to of been on the same page most of the time throughout Apple's campaign...

O. Hinds wrote:
Spoilers for said segments:
Apple Tree is leading a proletariate opposition to a distant government and an unjust economic system, but he doesn't really have a plan for the details of the replacement.

The magnates are often unfair, but they're running a stable system; however better things might be under an alternative, they're at least tenable now.

Celestia has a good long-term plan, but she has failed to secure the support and trust of her subjects and has no plans for helping them in the short term.  Granted, such help would not be needed if Apple Tree had not riled them, but he would not have been able to rile them if Celestia had taken a more active role to mend things sooner.

Danver Carrot makes a horrible choice between his best friend's life and worthy cause and the prevention of a civil war, and his error in choice causes the failure of both.  He is aware of his error, he is distraught, and he is vilified by history.  He is a tragic figure, not a despicable villain.

O. Hinds wrote:Yes, Apple Tree did not trust Celestia.  His experience with distant figures of power was quite negative, and he had no reason to think she'd be any different.  Her intentions may have been genuine, but the words that she used to convey them had been used before for lies.  And he was a simple farmer, with no political education.  He was wrong, but he was not inexcusably wrong, and the last we saw of him, he was despairing over how to properly help his people.

Shadow Kicker, on the other hand, was a clan head and Ephor of Pegasopolis and knew Celestia and various other prominent members of the Unicornian court both personally and professionally.

O. Hinds wrote:In my experience, a protagonist like Shadow Kicker is quite unusual in the Winningverse.  Granted, I do not read all of the stories, but the characters, heroes and villains alike (including one character who is a despicable villain in one story and the villain protagonist in another), tend to be, if not necessarily good, driven by sensible and often likeable motivations.  They fail at times, of course, but they are not lauded as heroes for doing so.  Shadow Kicker seems to me to be a significant outlier.

swicked wrote:I understand he was vilified for his actions and is, as such, a tragic figure. It still seems odd that there's so much disparity between Apple and Carrot given they have been working so closely throughout the campaign and are best friends.
I mean:
O. Hinds wrote:His experience with distant figures of power was quite negative, and he had no reason to think she'd be any different.  Her intentions may have been genuine, but the words that she used to convey them had been used before for lies.  And he was a simple farmer, with no political education.  He was wrong, but he was not inexcusably wrong, and the last we saw of him, he was despairing over how to properly help his people.
This should apply to Carrot, as well. Carrot certainly supported taking down the magistrates, though not quite with Apple's passion, which is why Apple was the head of the campaign.

Celestia, I would agree, has been ignoring the earth ponies entirely. That or only been interested in the representatives sent to her capital, which actually sounds a bit more likely. They wouldn't portray the situation as being as bad as it is, and the unicorns seem to create work for Celestia such that she can hardly pay attention to anything else.

I guess you could blame Celestia for trusting the earth pony magistrates' reps instead of viewing them with the scepticism she should view the unicorn nobility with, but that's a bit stretching it. If people don't bring problems to her attention she's just not going to know the problems exist.
Heck, given it's Sunbeam's goal to destabilize both the pegasi and the earth ponies so that they can be folded into the unicorn political system, she might have actively prevented Celestia from learning about the issues with the earth ponies while she worked on defaming the pegasi.

Celestia's also an immortal, so her 30 year plan WAS the short-term solution :P

O. Hinds wrote:
swicked wrote:This should apply to Carrot, as well. Carrot certainly supported taking down the magistrates, though not quite with Apple's passion, which is why Apple was the head of the campaign.
Aye, but Carrot was more conservative, more fearful of war.  To Apple Tree, justice was worth fighting; to Danver Carrot, a lack of fighting was worth a lack of justice.  And, had he been correct in his assessment… in thirty years, the system would be reformed.  No great blood would be spilled.  Earth pony democracy would endure, as would its semi-sovereignty.  Danver Carrot and Apple Tree were close to each other, but they were on opposite sides of thin line.  Before, that line had not mattered, but when the pressure got high enough…

swicked wrote:Heck, given it's Sunbeam's goal to destabilize both the pegasi and the earth ponies so that they can be folded into the unicorn political system, she might have actively prevented Celestia from learning about the issues with the earth ponies while she worked on defaming the pegasi.
On that note, I've just finished reading the only so-far-posed chapter of Rise of the Phoenix Empress, and AU story diverging, it would appear, after the Rebellion and starring Sunbeam Sparkle.  Who continues to, even with her faults, to be more sympathetic and likeable than Shadow Kicker's portrayal of herself.  Oh, and it contains this, among other things:
Spoiler:
Though I was tempted to make some show of defiance, I quickly thought better of it. Gale had always been a duplicitous creature, and in my current state ‘twould not be wise to provoke her. I would not wish to find her in my dungeon cell that night, arranging for me to take my own life in grief or suffer an unfortunate accident. For now, discretion and compliance were the better part of valor. For the moment, survival was my sole priority—one’s lost pride is far more easily recovered than a lost life. A lesson many of rebels learned far too late at Maresidian Fields.
Yep, I'm sure that everything's aboveboard there.

swicked wrote:Celestia's also an immortal, so her 30 year plan WAS the short-term solution :P
Of course.  To her, it makes perfect sense.  To the earth ponies, particularly the simple farmers who's only experiences with politics are the soft-hooved magnates collecting taxes and making empty promises?  To the ponies who haven't seen Celestia in decades because she's dwelling in faraway luxury among the unicorns?

swicked wrote:Kay, well, I haven't read any of the latest story, so that's a good place to leave off. G'night, hinds.

O. Hinds wrote:Goodnight!

O. Hinds wrote:
From Rise of the Phoenix Empress:

However, my position as Grand Vizier was already in peril, and from a most unlikely source.
Acting Grand Vizier Gale Kicker.
Shadow’s daughter had already begun to prove herself distressingly effective at exercising my office. ‘Twould have been easy to undo her if she sought to tear down my old policies, but instead she seemed quite happy to continue them. ‘Twas making her far too popular: many of my current allies were naturally quite content to work alongside a mare who protected their interests as carefully as I had. Meanwhile, my enemies were instantly fond of her on account of the fact that she was not me, and the great respect many held for Shadow reflected upon her daughter as well.
…Yeah.  So while Shadow is on Celestia's right hoof, Gale is on her left…
A year ago, Celestia had offered her dear Shadow a legitimate ascension to alicornhood. Shadow had refused, for some foolish reason.

Curious.  However, based on this line of the description
Worse, she succeeds in manipulating Celestia into not only surrendering rule over Equestria, but her immortality as well.
and in part on the cover image, I believe that it is likely that Celestia cannot make a new alicorn from nothing; to elevate Shadow, she would have had to make herself mortal.  And that, of course, Shadow would not allow (and having turned it down will, if anything increase her influence over Celestia and Equestria).
My daughter considered the matter for a time, her gaze shifting between myself and Gale. There was clear hesitation in her voice as she answered. “I always prefer training with you, Mother. But Gale’s lessons are enjoyable as well, other than the calisthenics. I am learning new things. Gale acquired the services of a pair of knights from the Order of Sol Invictus to help me with my defensive magic.” She paused, briefly touching her now-healed leg, before continuing. “I think I may enjoy the time spent with my squad as well. Gale is having much of my education done with the other children in the Kicker Clan. I was uncertain of the applicability of the lessons, but Gale has assured me that she is accounting for the fact that I am not a pegasus.”
And Gale is getting her hooks into Midnight, too.  This is probably after the point where the story diverges into an alternate universe, of course, but we can still find evidence both of matters of character and of the pre-pod past.

O. Hinds wrote:
swicked wrote:
O. Hinds wrote:
From Rise of the Phoenix Empress:

However, my position as Grand Vizier was already in peril, and from a most unlikely source.
Acting Grand Vizier Gale Kicker.
Shadow’s daughter had already begun to prove herself distressingly effective at exercising my office. ‘Twould have been easy to undo her if she sought to tear down my old policies, but instead she seemed quite happy to continue them. ‘Twas making her far too popular: many of my current allies were naturally quite content to work alongside a mare who protected their interests as carefully as I had. Meanwhile, my enemies were instantly fond of her on account of the fact that she was not me, and the great respect many held for Shadow reflected upon her daughter as well.
…Yeah.  So while Shadow is on Celestia's right hoof, Gale is on her left…
A year ago, Celestia had offered her dear Shadow a legitimate ascension to alicornhood. Shadow had refused, for some foolish reason.

Curious.  However, based on this line of the description
Worse, she succeeds in manipulating Celestia into not only surrendering rule over Equestria, but her immortality as well.
and in part on the cover image, I believe that it is likely that Celestia cannot make a new alicorn from nothing; to elevate Shadow, she would have had to make herself mortal.  And that, of course, Shadow would not allow (and having turned it down will, if anything increase her influence over Celestia and Equestria).
My daughter considered the matter for a time, her gaze shifting between myself and Gale. There was clear hesitation in her voice as she answered. “I always prefer training with you, Mother. But Gale’s lessons are enjoyable as well, other than the calisthenics. I am learning new things. Gale acquired the services of a pair of knights from the Order of Sol Invictus to help me with my defensive magic.” She paused, briefly touching her now-healed leg, before continuing. “I think I may enjoy the time spent with my squad as well. Gale is having much of my education done with the other children in the Kicker Clan. I was uncertain of the applicability of the lessons, but Gale has assured me that she is accounting for the fact that I am not a pegasus.”
And Gale is getting her hooks into Midnight, too.  This is probably after the point where the story diverges into an alternate universe, of course, but we can still find evidence both of matters of character and of the pre-pod past.
Can you post that in a separate topic for the fic? I want to read it after I've read the chapter.
I am in the process of making that now.  :)
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Sun Feb 02, 2014 8:42 pm

Oh, discussion of alternate alternate character interpretations of Shadow Kicker are also welcome. If you've got another explanation, feel free to share it.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Mon Feb 03, 2014 8:37 pm

FYI, I am going to use this thread for discussion of the fic(s) in general.
Our theory is a common understanding of the fic(s), but discussion of the fic(s) in general should be entertained.

That said, I have read the first chapter of the new fic.
I am incensed. Upset. My choler is up.

In talking about Celestia in regards to these fics I realized how much I loved Celestia due entirely to the fact that the way she's written in these fics aggravates me.
...which is to say the character aggravates me. There's nothing wrong with the depiction, characterization, dialogue, behavior, etc. The author did a fine job of making a character I find incredibly peeving.
Of all the things Sunbeam is capable of, let alone outright guilty of, she has had a consistent behavior of being incredibly doting to her daughter. Taking her where ever she can. Spends tons of time teaching her slash playing with her.
Given all of that, Celestia should have demanded context to this injury. It was completely inconsistent. As bad as Sunbeam could be, there was clearly still a devoted mother.
But no, she attacks her. The battlemage counterattacks on instinct and Celestia paralyzes her without a thought, leaving the mare without so much as a single diagnosis spell. For all she knew, Sunbeam could have died of internal injuries moments later. She was certainly battered enough.
Ugh.

Sunbeam's pretty annoying, too. She lies to herself too much. Her internal dialogue is inconsistent with the sort of manic, amoral, playful trickster demeanor she always had in the first fic. You remember when she first showed up? Grinning like an idiot at the kickers disabling those guards, then hitting on Shadow really hard?
She is now clearly not much of a sexual being, even if she expects it of others.
She enjoys hurting others, that cannot be denied. She enjoyed those guards being hurt for doing their duty, she enjoyed torturing that criminal in that fight to the death. She's a sadistic sociopath, plain and simple. Yet she insists that she does not enjoy being despicable. Being cruel for its own sake is not her motivation, but enjoying cruelty IS one of the perks of her position.

Honestly, the moment she revealed the rocks, I knew what was going to happen. Why she couldn't just take to giving her child lashes when a snowball hit I do not know. This was clearly as sub-optimal an opinion as one could get.

Feh. And what's with that chapter intro? Hinds, Celestia clearly isn't dead in the Winningverse based on what you've said previously. Is this some kind of alternate alternate universe?

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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:04 pm

Kay, caught up with the latest chapter.
Pretty darn fantastic, that.
I am quite proud of Sunbeam.

Her fall allowed her enemies to see some of her best qualities. The love and loyalty she shares with her daughter. The desire to see her succeed, even in another's care. Her restraint at pursuing vengeance. Her humility in accepting her situation insofar as she had to in order to continue on. Her diligence and her earnest desire to see the kingdom flourish on every level.

If greater proximity to Celestia is a result of this ascension. Sure, they already interact fairly often, but never on any meaningful level... Celestia seems to just hope for the best in Sunbeam and Sunbeam, in turn, disappoints her merely by having a different definition of her best.

The mare's a sociopath. She has a very weak sense of morality. It seems like she might very well need a literal moral compass to point her in the direct of the "good" solution to a given problem, 'cause she literally cannot tell the difference between compassion and the lack of resolve. It's pretty clear, most of the time, to someone with a strong moral grounding... and she just doesn't have that. She cannot "fix" herself on her own. Her best will continue to contain direct and violent means of achieving ends in the most efficient manner possible, because that's just the way she thinks.

...anyway, inevitably Sunbeam betrays Celestia, but there's a real chance of growth with Sunbeam as a result of this change. She will be in a position she DOESN'T have to fight to keep, for example. You gotta wonder what that will do to her psyche... no longer being a self-made unicorn of humble beginnings, but a reborn alicorn only concerned with the safety and prosperity of the realm throughout her eternal reign.

I am VERY excited to see what comes next. I love Sunbeam so much more than I did in the previous story, let alone ANY of the kickers at ANY point.

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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:12 pm

swicked wrote:FYI, I am going to use this thread for discussion of the fic(s) in general.
Our theory is a common understanding of the fic(s), but discussion of the fic(s) in general should be entertained.
Oh, certainly! Do you think that I need to change the title? I'm not sure how, or even if I can.

swicked wrote:In talking about Celestia in regards to these fics I realized how much I loved Celestia due entirely to the fact that the way she's written in these fics aggravates me.
...which is to say the character aggravates me. There's nothing wrong with the depiction, characterization, dialogue, behavior, etc. The author did a fine job of making a character I find incredibly peeving.
Of all the things Sunbeam is capable of, let alone outright guilty of, she has had a consistent behavior of being incredibly doting to her daughter. Taking her where ever she can. Spends tons of time teaching her slash playing with her.
Given all of that, Celestia should have demanded context to this injury. It was completely inconsistent. As bad as Sunbeam could be, there was clearly still a devoted mother.
But no, she attacks her. The battlemage counterattacks on instinct and Celestia paralyzes her without a thought, leaving the mare without so much as a single diagnosis spell. For all she knew, Sunbeam could have died of internal injuries moments later. She was certainly battered enough.
Ugh.
Well, you have to remember that Celestia is probably extremely emotionally compromised at the moment. She's just (particularly from her immortal perspective) been through either the worst or second-worst civil war in Equestria's history (which was in large part her fault, she no doubt feels, just like the fall of Luna), a lot of people almost certainly still think that she's a tyrant, just a victorious one it's unwise to speak ill of, it's been revealed just how fragile peace in Equestria was, and she's been placed in a position of absolute power to do good through circumstances she finds horrible. And that's just the straight presentation; with our theory, there's a good chance that she by this point knows all of what Shadow is up to, is sickened by it, especially since it's being done out of devotion to her (and she may reciprocate despite herself), and, what's worth, can't think of any better way to proceed. That she would be not in her right mind, particularly where her immediate subordinates and the defense of her subjects are concerned, is not just excusable but more or less expect. In fact… perhaps she was taking out some of her anger at Shadow? Shadow and Sunbeam are her right and left hooves, have dark pasts, plotted to increase her authority over Equestria… but Sunbeam, with an excuse, she can actually hit. And then she feels terrible about it, of course. The more I look at this Celestia, the more she seems a woobie…

swicked wrote:Sunbeam's pretty annoying, too. She lies to herself too much. Her internal dialogue is inconsistent with the sort of manic, amoral, playful trickster demeanor she always had in the first fic. You remember when she first showed up? Grinning like an idiot at the kickers disabling those guards, then hitting on Shadow really hard?
She is now clearly not much of a sexual being, even if she expects it of others.
She enjoys hurting others, that cannot be denied. She enjoyed those guards being hurt for doing their duty, she enjoyed torturing that criminal in that fight to the death. She's a sadistic sociopath, plain and simple. Yet she insists that she does not enjoy being despicable. Being cruel for its own sake is not her motivation, but enjoying cruelty IS one of the perks of her position.
Partly, the war probably changed her too. Partly, she quite possible was acting a lot before, putting on a useful guise. Partly, I expect that she does lie to herself a lot, likely as a result of Celestia's work.

swicked wrote:Honestly, the moment she revealed the rocks, I knew what was going to happen. Why she couldn't just take to giving her child lashes when a snowball hit I do not know. This was clearly as sub-optimal an opinion as one could get.
A lash for a missed interception is less direct; all sorts of things could interfere to prevent it, and there's nothing actually stopping Sunbeam from lashing Midnight without an excuse. A stone is direct. If you do not block it, you get hit and hurt. If you block it, you can stop it, and you can do it whenever and whyever it was thrown.

swicked wrote:Feh. And what's with that chapter intro? Hinds, Celestia clearly isn't dead in the Winningverse based on what you've said previously. Is this some kind of alternate alternate universe?
Yep. Most Winningverse stories don't carry the "Alternate Universe" tag, and, more to the point, this one is in the Winningverse group AU folder.

swicked wrote:Kay, caught up with the latest chapter.
Pretty darn fantastic, that.
I am quite proud of Sunbeam.

Her fall allowed her enemies to see some of her best qualities. The love and loyalty she shares with her daughter. The desire to see her succeed, even in another's care. Her restraint at pursuing vengeance. Her humility in accepting her situation insofar as she had to in order to continue on. Her diligence and her earnest desire to see the kingdom flourish on every level.

If greater proximity to Celestia is a result of this ascension. Sure, they already interact fairly often, but never on any meaningful level... Celestia seems to just hope for the best in Sunbeam and Sunbeam, in turn, disappoints her merely by having a different definition of her best.

...I mean, inevitably Sunbeam betrays Celestia, but there's a real chance of growth with Sunbeam as a result of this change. She will be in a position she DOESN'T have to fight to keep, for example. You gotta wonder what that will do to her psyche... no longer being a self-made unicorn of humble beginnings, but a reborn alicorn only concerned with the safety and prosperity of the realm throughout her eternal reign.

I am very excited to see what comes next.
Agreed! :D
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:14 pm

O. Hinds wrote:
A rather short, dark mare in battered armor passed through gilded and marbled imperial halls, and a path opened before her; radiant, admiring glances followed her, while the ears of courtiers strained to catch her every word.  And she, sure of herself and her works, obviously paid no attention to all this.  Her country was in ruins, hungry, exhausted.  But her soldiers and followers, heavy with fame and wealth and drunk with glory and victory, had already trampled all armed opposition under their hooves, and she was convinced that she would soon see all the land and its people brought firmly and finally under the celestial throne.  She knew that she was one of the cruelest, most treacherous and blood-soaked figures in the history of ponykind.  But this did not worry her a bit, for she was convinced that she was only elevating her beloved to the positions she was due, and that that was worth any price.
Modification of a passage by Milovan Djilas
This is a thread for the discussion of an alternate character interpretation of the Winningverse's Shadow Kicker based on the premise that her autobiography, as told in The Lunar Rebellion, is not a factual account of events.  The belief upon which this thread is founded is that Shadow Kicker, with help from her daughter and other followers, deliberately chose to portray herself as a not particularly wise hero simply swept along by events beyond her control.  In reality, she was one of the most brilliant, charismatic, driven, and morally complex ponies in Equestria's history.  Utterly devoted  to Celestia, though not to Celestia's desires, above all else, she would deliberately cause one of the worst wars in Equestrian history, preside over the violent extermination of her home civilization, orchestrate the whitewashing of the whole affair, and establish her own cult to insure that her descendants continued to serve her goddess-in-all-but-name.  Or something like that.  That is a somewhat charitable interpretation, but the lack of information and quality of her revision of history have made the true story rather difficult to piece together.  That, though, is what this thread is for.

(Note: I'm actually quite fond of the Winningverse; while it does have some bad stories in it as a result of being a shared universe, I've read quite a few good ones.  I just really dislike Shadow Kicker, and this is the only way I've found to prevent that dislike from spreading to the rest of the universe that would honor her.  And, as a friend said, however fun one finds The Lunar Rebellion to read, it does seem to be quite fun to talk about.)

I would argue about the idea of her being morally complex. She's more morally defunct. She has completely grasped Celestia's unintentional teachings regarding the value of immorality.
Chapter 8, in Celestia's own words, regarding Sunbeam's dismissal (as short-lived as it seems to of been):
Celestia turned away, refusing to meet my eyes. “And I think what sickens me most of all is that she is one of the best viziers I have ever had. That her wickedness has proved so effective where decency has failed to find a solution. That an evil mare might accomplish more good than a decent one.”
As I once said in the chat for the story, this is Celestia's greatest failure. Her inability to recognize how much she has lost through evil means than she could have gained through good ones.
Sunbeam's goading, her complete "failure" in diplomacy between the unicorns and the pegasi (I think it was clearly always her intention to cause this break so that the pegasi could be reformed under the unicorn empire), her goading and disrespect, her handling of that pegasi murderer... making him a martyr through a horrifying display of torture by taking advantage of an ancient pegasi warrior tradition (a barbaric tradition, but one she intentionally twisted to make a all the more barbaric, to the point of outright mockery of the honor the pegasi held for it).
There is nothing to suggest Sunbeam hasn't always been this way. In fact, there's everything to suggest she has, given Celestia states "The things she has done in my name disgust me.”
There's no telling how many allies and potential allies Celestia has lost due to Sunbeam. No telling how many possibilities for peace and harmony. A good vizer might have even headed off these earth pony issues, identifying the need for change before class warfare broke out. Likely, though, the current system creates more wealth for the empire, so Sunbeam preferred that over stability. After all, Sunbeam wasn't going to live forever. She was concerned with the gains she could make now, to help secure her position.

Shadow just embraced that. Understood the lesson Celestia didn't meant to teach. That she needed a morally defunct mare to guide her empire, but she also needed to not know about the deeds done in her name. It's only natural that Shadow would strive to be better than Sunbeam ever was at this game.
This is because Sunbeam never really tried to hide it all from Celestia. Sunbeam thought her job was to do what Celestia couldn't, so that she could be the bad pony. Sunbeam likely took the more amoral option, at times, simply because she thought it was expected of her. Celestia doesn't appear to have ever dissuaded Sunbeam of that notion... at least, not before dismissing her. I can't help but feel that, deep down, Celestia didn't really want to. Like she stated above, she recognizes it's more "effective".

For this reason, Shadow then moved to do the same as Sunbeam with one exception... not let Celestia know.
Shadow is no more morally complex than any pony appointed by Celestia due to their effectiveness through cruel and amoral means could be... Shadow's only advantage is the mere knowledge that Celestia doesn't want to be reminded that these are the ponies she decided to build her empire with.

Celestia, on the other hand... now THAT is a morally complex pony!  Spike


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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:16 pm

And... again, this is by the same author as The Lunar Rebellion and many other Winningverse stories, including both the original and the flagship. They clearly know how to write likeable characters and not have "heroes" praised for being foolish, abrasive traitors. I realize that it's extremely unlikely, but a tiny part of me is thinking that Shadow Kicker being an outlier in what's meant to be her autobiography must mean something.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:18 pm

And the little hints, the bits about forcible dissolution, lingering resentment, the Cult of Shadow, how good Gale is as Grand Vizier, Gale as spymaster and Shadow's talent being asymmetric warfare... I really wonder if this is all some sort of long and elaborate twist. If so, that would be awesome, though I expect that many readers would be upset.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:19 pm

And that's just the straight presentation; with our theory, there's a good chance that she by this point knows all of what Shadow is up to, is sickened by it, especially since it's being done out of devotion to her (and she may reciprocate despite herself), and, what's worth, can't think of any better way to proceed. That she would be not in her right mind, particularly where her immediate subordinates and the defense of her subjects are concerned, is not just excusable but more or less expect. In fact… perhaps she was taking out some of her anger at Shadow?
I don't think Celestia dislikes Shadow in the least. Even ignoring all the suppositions Sunbeam makes about Celestia and Shadow potentially sitting in a tree, kay eye ess ess eye en gee, it is known by her and others that Celestia offered Shadow ascension and Shadow turned it down. Clearly, Celestia sees Shadow as an equal, as that's the first thing she took issue with when Sunbeam suggested ascension; that Sunbeam would consider herself an equal to Celestia.

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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:23 pm

swicked wrote:She has completely grasped Celestia's unintentional teachings regarding the value of immortality.
Did you mean "immorality"? I'm not sure what the sentence is saying here otherwise.

swicked wrote:Shadow just embraced that. Understood the lesson Celestia didn't meant to teach. That she needed a morally defunct mare to guide her empire, but she also needed to not know about the deeds done in her name. It's only natural that Shadow would strive to be better than Sunbeam ever was at this game.
This is because Sunbeam never really tried to hide it all from Celestia. Sunbeam thought her job was to do what Celestia couldn't, so that she could be the bad pony. Sunbeam likely took the more amoral option, at times, simply because she thought it was expected of her. Celestia doesn't appear to have ever dissuaded Sunbeam of that notion... at least, not before dismissing her. I can't help but feel that, deep down, Celestia didn't really want to. Like she stated above, she recognizes it's more "effective".
:D

swicked wrote:For this reason, Shadow then moved to do the same as Sunbeam with one exception... not let Celestia know.
Shadow is no more morally complex than any pony appointed by Celestia due to their effectiveness through cruel and amoral means could be... Shadow's only advantage is the mere knowledge that Celestia doesn't want to be reminded that these are the ponies she decided to build her empire with.
Hm, yes… Good point. Shadow would try to hide what she's been doing from Celestia, and because of the genuine belief that it's better for Celestia that way. I wonder if Celestia ever worked it out? She probably suspected, but I doubt that she'd want to work it out.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:25 pm

swicked wrote:
And that's just the straight presentation; with our theory, there's a good chance that she by this point knows all of what Shadow is up to, is sickened by it, especially since it's being done out of devotion to her (and she may reciprocate despite herself), and, what's worth, can't think of any better way to proceed. That she would be not in her right mind, particularly where her immediate subordinates and the defense of her subjects are concerned, is not just excusable but more or less expect. In fact… perhaps she was taking out some of her anger at Shadow?
I don't think Celestia dislikes Shadow in the least. Even ignoring all the suppositions Sunbeam makes about Celestia and Shadow potentially sitting in a tree, kay eye ess ess eye en gee, it is known by her and others that Celestia offered Shadow ascension and Shadow turned it down. Clearly, Celestia sees Shadow as an equal, as that's the first thing she took issue with when Sunbeam suggested ascension; that Sunbeam would consider herself an equal to Celestia.
Aye, aye; I was working on the assumption that Shadow had told Celestia. Though the offer of ascension could have been Celestia breaking down in despair and offering her power to somepony who could govern effectively.

And good grief were you right about this being fun to talk about! I'm not even sure how many orders of magnitude of depth the Winningverse has gained!
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:26 pm

...Though one of my less-grimdark-ponies-loving friends did, when I attempted to share this with him, reply with "If I hear another word about dark evil backstabbing ponies based on the show called "friendship is magic" I'm gonna stick a knife in my jugular." Eh, to each their own.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:10 am

O. Hinds wrote:...Though one of my less-grimdark-ponies-loving friends did, when I attempted to share this with him, reply with "If I hear another word about dark evil backstabbing ponies based on the show called "friendship is magic" I'm gonna stick a knife in my jugular."  Eh, to each their own.
Well, being a grimdark-lover, I look forward to his contribution to the cause :D

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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:53 am

swicked wrote:
O. Hinds wrote:...Though one of my less-grimdark-ponies-loving friends did, when I attempted to share this with him, reply with "If I hear another word about dark evil backstabbing ponies based on the show called "friendship is magic" I'm gonna stick a knife in my jugular."  Eh, to each their own.
Well, being a grimdark-lover, I look forward to his contribution to the cause :D
Unlikely, I'm afraid. He has no problem with grimdark in general (I met him in an RPG where he was playing a cannibal ex-child-soldier) but doesn't seem to like it applied to ponies.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:28 pm

Reading the new chapter. Not even done with it yet.

“I cannot say if I will ever succeed in showing you how to be a righteous mare, Sunbeam, but I will never cease in attempting it. Perhaps that makes me a fool, for wishing to believe in something impossible. If so, then I contend that it is the best sort of folly. How will my little ponies ever become better if their Princess does not believe in them?”
One of my ears flicked in irritation. “I do not require redemption or salvation, Celestia. I do not know whether your insistence upon ‘believing’ in me is flattering or insulting. In either case, it is neither required, nor desired.”
“I know your feelings on the matter, Sunbeam.”

What the heck is wrong with Celestia?
How in the heck can she claim to knew Sunbeam's feelings on the matter if she doesn't take them to heart?
Sunbeam DOES NOT FEEL BAD ABOUT ANYTHING SHE HAS DONE.
Celestia keeps insisting that she thinks Sunbeam could become a righteous mare, but has NEVER instilled in Sunbeam what that means. Ever.
Sunbeam doesn't know what Celestia wants her to do other than, she supposes, be less effective. To be incompetent, perhaps. To be something Sunbeam honestly does not feel Celestia, let alone the realm, truly wants from her.

Celestia's aspirations can be quite noble, but what she's doing right now IS idiotic.

I wonder if she's like this with the royal baker.
"Okay, Celestia, what kind of cake do you want? Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, cheesecake, poundcake... the possibilities are endless, really. I just want to make the best possible cake for your birthday!"
"Look into your heart, my dear baker. You'll know what to do."
"...okay, uh... vanilla?"
"I'm so disappointed in you."
"....strawberry?"
"Don't worry, I'm certain you can pick the right one. I believe in you!"
"...........I don't understand."
"I know, but I have faith. I mean, how will my little ponies ever become better at selecting confections if their Princess does not believe in them?"
"What... I don't... what?!"

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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:29 pm

Read the new chapter.
I'm really liking Sunbeam.  :D
Also Midnight.
I am wondering what will happen when Luna returns to find her sister eight centuries dead, though…

Spoiler:

What did Gale and Shadow have to say when you informed them of your plans to elevate me? Did they approve of your choice, or did they warn you that I would surely betray you to your death?”
“Both of them were strongly opposed to my decision.”
Shadow’s support or at least tacit acceptance would be required if I wished for a smooth transition of power
What surprises.

“Why was I given the mantle of the sun, Celestia? Control over the moon was readily available, and you would not have needed to sacrifice your own immortality and power.”
Celestia stepped aside, quietly setting to work gathering her personal effects from the royal quarters. She was so long in answering my question that I was near to losing patience with her when she finally spoke. “My sister’s mantle is not a cheap set of robes, to be bargained and bartered for. Nor will I use it to make right mine own errors. Your injuries were my doing; ‘twould not be fitting to surrender Luna’s mantle to make the matter right.”
Ah, and we have explicit confirmation.

“The Nightmare's attempt to overthrow me was ended ere she had the chance to cause any true harm.”
Ah, so this universe didn't see a big war with Nightmare Moon.  That would make the Lunar Rebellion almost certainly the worst war in Equestria's history.

Her gaze shifted to the window, and I noted that Shadow Kicker stood in the courtyard. Celestia’s gaze lingered on the mare, and I wondered if, now that the barriers of duty and station were no longer an issue, she might take action regarding their mutual longing. The former princess gave a single nod, and a content smile spread across her face.  “I think that now, I would like to have a good life.”
And that would likely be why Shadow let Sunbeam get away with it. It is one thing to elevate your love to her "proper place" against her wishes when she has not explicitly ordered you not to, but when she is telling you that she's happy to be mortal because she can be with you?
So that's the end of the story.  I wonder if we'll get any more of this alternate universe?


Oh, and swicked, have you thought of reading any more of the Winningverse?
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:34 pm

swicked wrote:Reading the new chapter. Not even done with it yet.

“I cannot say if I will ever succeed in showing you how to be a righteous mare, Sunbeam, but I will never cease in attempting it. Perhaps that makes me a fool, for wishing to believe in something impossible. If so, then I contend that it is the best sort of folly. How will my little ponies ever become better if their Princess does not believe in them?”
One of my ears flicked in irritation. “I do not require redemption or salvation, Celestia. I do not know whether your insistence upon ‘believing’ in me is flattering or insulting. In either case, it is neither required, nor desired.”
“I know your feelings on the matter, Sunbeam.”

What the heck is wrong with Celestia?
How in the heck can she claim to knew Sunbeam's feelings on the matter if she doesn't take them to heart?
Sunbeam DOES NOT FEEL BAD ABOUT ANYTHING SHE HAS DONE.
Celestia keeps insisting that she thinks Sunbeam could become a righteous mare, but has NEVER instilled in Sunbeam what that means. Ever.
Sunbeam doesn't know what Celestia wants her to do other than, she supposes, be less effective. To be incompetent, perhaps. To be something Sunbeam honestly does not feel Celestia, let alone the realm, truly wants from her.

Celestia's aspirations can be quite noble, but what she's doing right now IS idiotic.
...Hm, I had a thought on this, but a: I'd probably better wait until you finish the chapter and b: I need to be heading to class in around six minutes.

swicked wrote:I wonder if she's like this with the royal baker.
"Okay, Celestia, what kind of cake do you want? Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, cheesecake, poundcake... the possibilities are endless, really. I just want to make the best possible cake for your birthday!"
"Look into your heart, my dear baker. You'll know what to do."
"...okay, uh... vanilla?"
"I'm so disappointed in you."
"....strawberry?"
"Don't worry, I'm certain you can pick the right one. I believe in you!"
"...........I don't understand."
"I know, but I have faith. I mean, how will my little ponies ever become better at selecting confections if their Princess does not believe in them?"
"What... I don't... what?!"
:D
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:51 pm

Hurrum. So, princess-sense is a thing. A thing that actually granted the one thing Sunbeam always lacked... empathy.
The one thing she needed to be righteous.

So, having finally grasped Sunbeam's nature and the means through which to "redeem" her, Sunbeam became an empress worth the title.
One could hardly of expected anything less.

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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:57 pm

And I kind of get the impression that Celestia, in the immediate aftermath of the war, was simply tired of ruling and immortality and heavily doubting her own competence. And a bit mentally unstable, given her snap temper.

Of course, this happy ending is an alternate Winningverse. In the main continuity, I doubt that things turned out so well. In the case of Sunbeam alone, well, consider her realization of what she was doing to her daughter. Even if Celestia eventually succeeded in making Sunbeam realize, how much more damage would have been done in the meantime?
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:15 pm

O. Hinds wrote:And I kind of get the impression that Celestia, in the immediate aftermath of the war, was simply tired of ruling and immortality and heavily doubting her own competence.  And a bit mentally unstable, given her snap temper.
Oh, right, kay.
Yeah, that makes more sense than Celestia finally understanding why all of her efforts with Sunbeam kept failing.

O. Hinds wrote:Of course, this happy ending is an alternate Winningverse.  In the main continuity, I doubt that things turned out so well.  In the case of Sunbeam alone, well, consider her realization of what she was doing to her daughter.  Even if Celestia eventually succeeded in making Sunbeam realize, how much more damage would have been done in the meantime?
Celestia would have never really realized, though... that's the point. If she realized all that Sunbeam needed was princess-sense, though, then it would be as simple (or difficult) as casting such a spell.
After which she might have considered giving more of her ruling class such a sense; it certainly helps put things in perspective.

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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:28 pm

swicked wrote:Oh, right, kay.
Yeah, that makes more sense than Celestia finally understanding why all of her efforts with Sunbeam kept failing.
Aye. Snapping into an overreactive fit of violence, being desperate to redeem and see the good in others, her offer of her crown and immortality (and, for a former immortal, fifty years might still be a good life, but it's such a small fraction of thousands of years), her happiness when she can just settle down with Shadow...

She was already expressing discontent and self-doubt prior to the war, she had to banish her mad sister (which she no doubt looked on as both a failure on her part and a warning of what can happen when alicorns go bad) less than a hundred years ago, much of the war can be laid at least indirectly at her hooves, and a great many of her subjects likely still quietly hate her. Under those circumstances, is it any wonder that she just wanted out? The only thing keeping her there was the fact that she still cared for the wellbeing of her ponies, but when she found someone else to take care of them, well, the choice was easy. In the main Winningverse, she seems to have gotten over this eventually, but I imagine that it took many decades.

swicked wrote:Celestia would have never really realized, though... that's the point. If she realized all that Sunbeam needed was princess-sense, though, then it would be as simple (or difficult) as casting such a spell.
After which she might have considered giving more of her ruling class such a sense; it certainly helps put things in perspective.
Right, Celestia never realized the Princess-sense thing, but she might, with a few more decades of work, have induced some degree of empathy in Sunbeam some other way. I rather doubt the likelihood of this, though (After all, what reason has Sunbeam to change? She and Shadow have been having far more success with their scheming and dirty dealings than Celestia has had with her light-touch niceness, after all.), and it's likely that it would be too late even if it did hapen.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:31 pm

On a related note, I just found this. It's written by a different author than The Lunar Rebellion and Rise of the Phoenix Empress, but it appears to be the only other story set in the Lunar Rebellion era (in this case, ten years after the war, from the little I've read so far). It's also in-universe an account written by Midnight, so, while we might need to correct for the different author, we still could possibly extract some useful data from it. (Present-day Winningverse fics also have a variety of authors, but, since those are set nine hundred years later, there's been ample time for the in-universe ideas to diverge.)
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:32 pm

Oh, and have you considered reading any other Winningverse stories? I think that that question got lost.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:40 pm

Oh (I seem to say that a lot), and if Sunbeam does drive Midnight away, one guess who's hooves she'll be driven into.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:43 pm

O. Hinds wrote:Celestia has had with her light-touch niceness, after all.
...that's the way Celestia sees her ruling style, not the way it is.
Her style, if it can be called that, is to be entirely reactive.

This has been modified from a post I previously made regarding one of the Rebellion chapters:
Celestia works by letting things boil over, then stepping in right after things get out of hand to chastise both parties. I would even go so far as to say she INTENTIONALLY set things up to boil over by, instead of mediating or making any effort to establish an accord, putting two people that hate each other (Shadow and Sunbeam, for a time, in the original fic) in close proximity and demanding they get along. Like that would work, when one of them does little but insult the other’s entire culture as part of an underlying agenda, while the other does little but tell the first to shut up over and over. What was Shadow supposed to do, just ignore Sunbeam entirely? Pretend she didn’t exist? Sunbeam was the clear instigator in every “argument” there, because it was her intention to cause strife.
Anyway, Celestia didn’t pay attention to the boarder issue until two ponies were eaten and so many of her soldiers died recovering those that survived. Her APATHY lead to the incident, she had the gall to use the incident as a way to profit her nation with one breath while condemning the pegasi leaders with the next. Wisely, she went no further than that. Unwisely, she NEVER went further than that.
Sunbeam deliberately manipulated a situation into one where he could personally torture a pony to absolutely horrendous lengths in full view of the leadership and citizenship of the pegasi. There is no chastising that. That befits only dismissal. She is a monster and if she cannot be in irons (due to the “duel” being fully sanctioned) she should, at the very least, be removed from a position from which she can claim to perform Celestia’s will.
I mean, the apparent reason (admittedly, this was only though Shadow's eyes, but if we suppose it is the reason) Celestia took Sunbeam on her tour to the earth pony and unicorn lands was so that she couldn't cause damage in Celestia's absence. What kind of advisor-to-the-crown does that make her?

I mean, when you have to ask your closest advisor, confidant and representative explicitly not to kill anyone on a visit to what amounts to a foreign nation, you clearly have a poor closest advisor, confidant and representative.

But no, Sunbeam just “fell from favor”. By so lenient a punishment, Celestia may as well of ordered the torture of the criminal, herself... just as she did the death of that young colt. Just as she did the slaughter of those raiders.

Celestia's style of governance was always to wait and see, and it never suited the nation(s) she reigned over all that well.

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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:46 pm

Good points. You seem to have a better grasp of this Celestia than I do.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:50 pm

O. Hinds wrote:Oh (I seem to say that a lot), and if Sunbeam does drive Midnight away, one guess who's hooves she'll be driven into.
I don't think that would have happened.
Yes, Midnight was Sunbeam's means of securing a legacy. Yes, Midnight resented her mom to a degree for the burden placed on her and her mother's lack of empathy.
Despite Sunbeam not understanding her own feelings, though, she loved her daughter. She was devoted to her.
She wasn't a very good mother, per say, but she wasn't a bad one. Not a failure of one, and never a consistently abusive one. I don't think there would have come a day when they hated each other. Sunbeam hated hurting her daughter, barely spared more than a few moments to figure out who to take her to after determining the severity of the injury (and not at all trying to come up with a cover story), and her first deed after she saw her daughter being cared for was to get Midnight her doll.

Almost MORE telling, when Celestia had crushed her, robbed her of her ability to even stand again, all she could think about was that her daughter needed her doll.

What's more, Midnight understood the significance of the gesture, thanked her for it, and came to Sunbeam of her own will to take care of her mother.

Sunbeam conceptually wants only for her daughter to be powerful and is willing to hurt her to do so. Emotionally, though, she cares about her too much. Of all her titles, she is most proud to be called a mother.

I think there's too much of a connection there to ever be severed.


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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:52 pm

O. Hinds wrote:Oh, and have you considered reading any other Winningverse stories?  I think that that question got lost.
I haven't so much as looked at any.

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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:00 pm

Good points, again. I was thinking of the princess-sense revelation of the full extent of the damage, but then, I suppose that Sunbeam just really wasn't seeing most of it previously.
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