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

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

Post by O. Hinds on Thu Mar 06, 2014 4:37 pm

Where, in the Lunaverse or Lunawinningverse? I'm aware that she doesn't have it in the former; I was saying that she would have it in the later if she took a straight Unicornia-style government, which is yet another reason why she wouldn't do that.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Thu Mar 06, 2014 10:35 pm

...so, are you just contemplating what names she would use with a system that is essentially identical to the night court? A "night congress"?

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

Post by O. Hinds on Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:10 pm

I still disagree that it would be essentially identical. Similar, yes, but unlikely to be more or less exactly the same. I am indeed, though, speaking here of nomenclature.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:03 am

O. Hinds wrote:I still disagree that it would be essentially identical.  Similar, yes, but unlikely to be more or less exactly the same.  I am indeed, though, speaking here of nomenclature.
We both understand how the Night Court works. Mostly.
Describe to me the differences between it and the "Night Congress".

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

Post by O. Hinds on Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:49 am

Well, I'm not sure of the details, but... it probably involves a lot of use of the word "officially", and I recall what you said about me using that. :)

As for de facto rather than just de jure differences, it probably would be a bit easier to remove members of the Congress by voting them out, and Luna couldn't just appoint ponies under normal circumstances (but her endorsement counts for a lot, I'd imagine). Then again, though, there's the question of how much of Pegasopolis's government was adopted into the unified system... I'm not sure. Sorry; for some reason, I'm a bit tired at the moment. :)
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:41 am

O. Hinds wrote:Well, I'm not sure of the details, but... it probably involves a lot of use of the word "officially", and I recall what you said about me using that.  :)

As for de facto rather than just de jure differences, it probably would be a bit easier to remove members of the Congress by voting them out, and Luna couldn't just appoint ponies under normal circumstances (but her endorsement counts for a lot, I'd imagine).  Then again, though, there's the question of how much of Pegasopolis's government was adopted into the unified system... I'm not sure.  Sorry; for some reason, I'm a bit tired at the moment.  :)
Luna can't appoint anyone to any upper rank. Luna told Trixie in the first story that she couldn't give her a high post if she wanted to, IIRC. Trixie had to earn a higher status within the Night Court if she wanted one.
Luna could just suggest (and easily attain) a post like that of a small-town representative for a pony if she wanted. Likely simply based on her recommendation to whoever typically places representatives in their positions, since I doubt she makes personal appointments in every case throughout Equestria.

But anyway, remove members how? Under what circumstances?

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

Post by O. Hinds on Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:58 am

swicked wrote:Luna can't appoint anyone to any upper rank. Luna told Trixie in the first story that she couldn't give her a high post if she wanted to, IIRC. Trixie had to earn a higher status within the Night Court if she wanted one.
Luna could just suggest (and easily attain) a post like that of a small-town representative for a pony if she wanted. Likely simply based on her recommendation to whoever typically places representatives in their positions, since I doubt she makes personal appointments in every case throughout Equestria.
Ah, okay.

swicked wrote:But anyway, remove members how? Under what circumstances?
Most basically, vote for their challengers instead of them in the next election. The circumstances would be them becoming sufficiently disliked while being insufficiently skilled at gerrymandering, probably.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Fri Mar 07, 2014 3:11 am

Kay, so there'd be elections. Got it.

I don't know much about Luna's powers, to be honest. It might be worth going through the Lunaverse forum to try to find if RDD ever defined them. That or just asking.

She doesn't have the ability to appoint to a high post, but she has the ability to remove every single last noble if she so chose per that scolding she did at the end of the best night ever episode (I don't recall what it was actually called). They way she mostly keeps herself out of discussions regarding issues the court is addressing makes me think she strictly holds the power to veto decisions if she so chooses. At least, that would make sense to me given what I know about her.

But... I don't know. Maybe there are old laws still in effect. Maybe she could dissolve the entire night court on a whim, if she so chose, and resume ruling the empire... and just doesn't do that.
Basically, as if it was set up like the Roman empire occasionally was, with the senate having equal or dominant power in theory, but the emperor perfectly capable of dissolving the senate entirely if he wanted.

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

Post by O. Hinds on Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:39 pm

Maybe. I agree that she'd certainly keep veto power, though, and even if she doesn't have the explicit power to remove ponies... I imagine that her opinions carry a lot of weight with the voters.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:48 pm

Right, a new chapter of The Lunar Rebellion is out!
Spoiler:

"I am Shadow Kicker, materfamilias of the clan Kicker, and for love of the true Commander of Pegasopolis, I have become a traitor to my own kind."
Well, that's certainly true.

"As it was, my clan’s ancestral home now lay in the hooves of traitors to the clan, blackguards and usurpers following the stallion who had once been my father."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zSHz7Thvbc
I don't usually use video links in replies like that, but come on.

"Those who betrayed clan and family are sundered from us"
…Yeah, okay, it looks like this is going to be a thing now.  I think that I shan't bother commenting on it again unless I notice an especially egregious example.  Funny how you have to keep reminding us that it's definitely the other side who are the treacherous villains, though, isn't it?

"For all that the modern Kickers take pride in our status as the only loyal clan, it’s worth mentioning that Shadow did a lot of reshuffling of the clan’s membership."
I've seen Winningverse stories giving slightly varying portrayals of exactly how the other clans were thought of and treated, so things like this are nice to clear the air.  Ponies who weren't Kickers fought for Celestia… and in the process were inducted into the clan and brought under Shadow Kicker's authority.

The appointment of Duke Polaris is interesting…  I wonder what the game is?
Ah, this is explained later.  While it's still a questionable choice, if the only option besides putting a headstrong incompetent in charge is massive internal division… not a good situation to be in.

"I have been ill at ease ever since determining that I cannot e’en offer a negotiated settlement for fear of appearing weak."
Oh?  You already lost a third of your realm to open rebellion, and another third is in the grip of civil war.  You're worried about appearing weak, now?  So worried that it's stopping you from trying to prevent more bloodshed?
swicked, what's your insight into Celestia's thought processes here?  I'm not understanding what she's thinking.  Alternatively, if this really isn't in character, why would this bit of the history have been revised?

"“Indeed. Polaris is in an almost unassailable position, so far as his support goes. Unless he is shortly found abed with Ephor Doo, several foals, and a goat, he will continue to enjoy the backing of all Unicornia.” I briefly gave thought to seeing if Gale could arrange something of that nature, but dismissed it as naught but an idle fancy."
But you admit entertaining the thought, and you don't actually say why you dismissed it.

"“And yet, if my daughter were here she would likely point out that a discrete assassination might well save many lives compared to accepting the results of politics in this matter.” Not that I would have accepted such a suggestion. E’en if the attempt succeeded, which was far from certain, ‘twas all too likely that Polaris’ death would worsen the situation rather than improve it."
And there might be ethics questions, but, y'know, who cares about those?

"6: Unsurprisingly, given the rift between them, Shadow doesn’t mention all the politicking her father did to help her succession."
You may be giving Shadow too much credit there, Cloud.

"That is not helped by the fact that Her Majesty rarely takes an active role in government affairs. As a ruler, she is inclined to allow matters to proceed as they have in the past, and only act when problems are brought to her attention."
That certainly worked out well.

Sunbeam continues to impress.

"Neigh, I would not countenance it. I would fight alongside her in Celestia’s name, but I would not name that foul mare as friend and ally. “‘Twould seem there is no other acceptable path then. I must seek an accommodation with Polaris."
Yeah, Shadow, that's looking out for your people!  Go ahead and let your personal vendetta push you away from a progressive and influential leader and towards a pony who thinks that pegasi are subequine!  I wonder what this bit of obfuscating stupidity is obfuscating?  Shadow and Gale's plans to purge Pegasopolis?  Or did Shadow really just have such a strong irrational dislike?
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Mon Apr 07, 2014 1:48 pm

This Copper fellow... I have an odd feeling about him. Notable enough to be worthy of her station, incompatible as a love interest (I kept wondering why his wife or children weren't about... Shadow was just a house guest, here), yet fully aligned with her ideals.
A source of confirmation that Polaris is absolutely and entirely unsuited for the job and an extensive argument as to why allying with Sunbeam is the only option for the good of Celestia.
Even so, she turns it down to give Polaris a single, inevitably biased chance.
All of this just to show how blameless she was for allying with a child killer in the end.

Basically, following our headcanon, I have the oddest feeling this guy may never have existed in the first place...

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

Post by O. Hinds on Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:53 pm

Ooh, I hadn't thought of that. Hm...
The main difficulty I can see is that, while for the most part Shadow could potentially rely on threats, loyalty, and the odd "accidental death" to keep the secret until it was just a matter of history, wouldn't Celestia notice that she apparently very recently had an Archmagus of the Eastern March that she doesn't remember at all?
Perhaps, instead of being completely fabricated, he was retroactively given some "secret" involvement with Shadow.

Oh, it looks like Copper Spark was introduced in Chapter 9 but hasn't appeared since.
Spoiler:
Just as I had resigned myself to a few lonely days, I felt a faint static charge in the air that brought a smile to my lips and fond memories to mind. I turned about, and quickly spotted an old, friendly face. The stallion slowly making his way through the crowd towards me wore robes that seemed plain of cut and material, yet far finer than many of the gaudy jewel-bedecked creations I’d seen on other magi. His distinctive dark blue mane with a single streak of bright yellow likewise rendered him easily recognizable e’en ‘mongst this large crowd of unicorns. Kind golden eyes looked up from a russet face, and his lips quirked up in a faint smile as I met his gaze.
Soon enough, we stood before each other. I offered my hoof to him readily, and unlike what had passed with other parties, when he opted to kiss it I took no offense. “Shadow. It has been far too long.”
A gay mood overtook me, and I offered a slight jest. “Art thou so certain of that, Copper? Thou must recall that most of our meetings were occasioned by the rise of some new warlock. In light of that, perhaps it was best that we not meet too often.”
“A fair point,” he conceded. “Though I would argue that there were times when the pleasure of thy company was such that I would have gladly braved the dangers of a dark magus. Especially if he was as that one we encountered ... what was the preposterous name he used?”
“Skullblight the Shadowmaster, or something to that effect,” I supplied. Most magi who fall to darkness are, in my experience, singularly uncreative when it comes to choosing new names and titles. Though I suppose such renamings are necessary at times; few would have been intimidated by a would-be conqueror named Strawberry Sunshine.
“Yes, all the names do tend to blend together after a while.” Copper gave a cavalier toss of his head. “I think I should assure thee that if I should ever go mad and fall to darkness, I will at least retain enough good sense to not name myself Deathspike the Painbringer before thou dost come to cut me down.”
“That would be much appreciated.” I set wit aside for the moments, and offered him a tired smile. “But that matter aside, I will agree that it has been too long since out paths last crossed.”
Copper Spark and I had fought alongside each other several times over the years, though mostly in younger times. We’d first met on an assignment in the early years of our careers, when he was naught but a promising young magus and I had not yet proven myself worthy to succeed my father as head of the clan and ephor. In that time we’d faced our share of warlocks, and seen them dealt with commendably and without needlessly sacrificing foals to achieve our objectives.
Over the course of said ventures, we’d grown close, and eventually done as young mares and stallions are wont to do in such circumstances. Nothing lasting came of it, but ‘twas still a fond memory. I’d not seen him since the conclave to name a new Archmagus of the Eastern March. To my pleasure, he’d emerged victorious, though I’ll not deny that I felt a very slight pang of jealousy over the fact that his new wife’s support was key to securing that victory. Still, ‘tis the nature of those passing fancies of youth to give way to the mature relations of adulthood.
“So, what news of the conclave then?” I asked, in part to keep myself from dwelling too long on things long past.
“Oh, little beyond the usual.” He offered an amused shrug. “All manner of treachery and double-dealing, most of which I find dreadfully tedious. Though I suppose it is somewhat hypocritical of me to pretend I’m above the political games now, when I played them so keenly in my youth. Mayhap ‘tis only now, after I’ve reached the post of Archmagus, that I’ve grasped how pointless the whole process was to begin with. For all my supposed power, I find that I am under far more restrictions now than I ever was as just another ordinary mage.”
“That is the way of power.” My mind went back to one of the many old tales I had heard in my youth. “There is a story of a great Commander in ‘mongst the old Pegasi, who believed that his power gave him the right to do as he pleased. So one of his subjects challenged him to walk out ‘mongst his own kind, without armor or bodyguards. The Commander refused to do so, out of fear for his own life. Such was the extent of his freedom.”
Copper Spark gave a slow nod. “We’ve a similar tale regarding one of the old Unicornian Kings. I suspect everypony has some variation on it. The message is universal; the more power one gains, the less freedom one has with their actions.” He turned to me, and his gaze pierced my defenses. “I’ve heard that matters in Pegasopolis have been most troubling to thee of late. Do the chains of thy office weigh more heavily ‘pon thee now?”
“Aye, they do,” I confessed.
Copper put a hoof on my shoulder in silent comfort, and for a time the two of us stood there in silent companionship despite standing ‘mongst a sea of other ponies. After several long moments, he broke from me and offered a reassuring smile. “Now then, I must ask that thou join me and my lady wife for dinner this evening. We’ve much to discuss and no doubt many tales to exchange about all that we have done since last we met, and now is hardly the time or place to do so.”
“Aye, I would enjoy that.” I had not had many opportunities to enjoy fine dining in Canterlot since my arrival in the city. Given the current tensions ‘tween Pegasopolis and Unicornia, I was hesitant to invoke the Warrior’s Privilege o’ermuch. It could too easily lead to regrettable consequences; better to avoid the risk than to see an incident occur because some fool thought it would make a fine jest to serve me spoiled food.
“As would I, Shadow.” Copper bestowed a quick kiss ‘pon my cheek and offered me a final smile before making his departure. I confess I gazed after him for a time, a fond smile on my face. Though Rightly might hold the first claim on my heart now, I would always have a certain fondness for those from my past with whom I remained on good terms.
Shadow has to fly back to Pegasopolis before the dinner can take place, though.
…Given that we've not seen anything of his family yet and assuming that he did actually exist, I'm kind of wondering if his family, or at least his wife, might be passing into history rather a lot sooner than he will. But then again, the hints of romance with him may be entirely to deflect suspicion from Shadow's feelings for Celestia. We'll see.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:48 pm

I'm not certain Celestia would be familiar with every regional archmagus. Even so, this meeting could have been fabricated. After Copper passes away in the war, Shadow might have integrated him into her story.
It's just that his entire involvement here is so functional and useful in painting her future actions as entirely justified. She's all but openly preaching how blameless she's going to be regarding what is inevitably going to come to pass.
So yeah, the whole thing feels really off, to me. Like she's lying out of her butt.

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

Post by O. Hinds on Mon Apr 07, 2014 7:02 pm

Aren't there only four ponies of Copper's station, though?
In any case, however, I could certainly see the meeting being fabricated, or at the very least the contents thereof. Even if any of the witnesses remembered Shadow departing with Copper, no one observed the meeting itself.

I do disagree slightly about how blameless she's making herself; she does seem to hint that she on some level knows that it would be better to ally with Sunbeam. The effect, however, I think is greater than if she was just absolving herself of all responsibility. This is, once again, an example of Shadow "messing up", making a mistake to prevent herself from being perfect and yet somehow not seeming to lose reputation from it. Celestia can barely do any wrong at all (what seem to be her mistakes are really always someone else's fault), and Shadow and Gale aren't that perfect but only ever seem to get slaps on the fetlocks in terms of whether they're in the right or not.
In this case, the mistake is also an example of her obviously not plotting anything; she was just swept along by a righteous, if perhaps unwise under the circumstances, abhorrence of working together with a scheming foal-killer. That she'll be in a perfect position to blame any questionable tactics on Duke Polaris and quite likely end up saving the day after he does or "does" something horribly incompetent and/or cruel never entered her mind.

Oh, and another advantage of Copper: he's her stated source for detailed inside information on Canterlot politics, as opposed to her daughter/spymaster, who we already know, IIRC, has agents in the city (and who has already, among no doubt many other things, broken into Sunbeam's chambers and made off with classified Unicornian state documents).
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Tue Apr 08, 2014 1:06 am

Rising Shadows 1 comments:

Commander Celestia answered her with a patient, forgiving smile. “Fear not, Gale. These times have been difficult for all of us, myself included. I will not take undue offense at a few simple words.”
I can't say I care for her disarming attitude.
This is a small thing, and it's probably just my personal preference, but given she was speaking with disrespect to her Materpony in front of Celestia, I feel a slight reprimand would have been more apt.
"These difficult times have already lead to one split in your clan. I require strength and unity from my ponies for the coming storm, Gale. Endeavor to maintain that."
War is no time for this supplicating, political nonsense. She's their Commander, not their Princess, and needs to finally learn how to act like it.
...but heck, this is Celestia's predominant character flaw, after all. Her desire to supplicate and comfort. Her general fluffyness. Why stop now?

There was much to discuss of the war’s handling, and this might be my only chance to speak with her on the matter absent her usual accompanying horde of useless prattling unicorns ere battle was properly joined.
I wonder if I'm the only one that finds it funny she was so worried about a single unicorn advisor not that long ago, but the rest of them (including Sunbeam's replacement)? Nah, useless and unimportant.

“I only pray that our young will not have to bear too many of the burdens from this war.”
Pray? Pray to whom? Pray to what?
Actually, I think I might vaguely recall religion in this universe being discussed... like how Shadow is worshiped in the present day. What was worshiped in the past, though? I dunno, just curious.

“For the moment they back Polaris, and though they are not fervent in their support, I fear thou hast less that would appeal to them, especially as most of them resent the taxes needed to pay for Pegasopolis’ many expenses.”

“Materialists,” I concluded, offering a disgusted snort. I have never understood why some ponies become so concerned with the acquisition of things. So long as I could provide for my clan, what need had I of more bits of gold that served no practical purpose?
...well, that's interesting. Copper explicitly states that the unicorns, particularly the guilds, have been bankrolling Pegasopolis and Shadow immediately implies that she can provide for her clan. Copper just said she didn't... the unicorns do. Shadow has hearing problems :P

“A most flattering presumption, but I fear an incorrect one.” Copper offered a smile, but I noted that it did not quite reach his eyes. “I am but one of her closer allies. I could most certainly arrange a meeting, but ere I do so, I must ask a question of thee. Given thine eagerness, I take it thou art not aware of who leads the populists. Would I be correct in that?”
Yeah, we all saw this coming.

As a ruler, she is inclined to allow matters to proceed as they have in the past, and only act when problems are brought to her attention.
False. She continues to ignore problems when they are brought to her attention, then makes a token effort to clean up after said problems violently resolve themselves in the worst possible ways.

Huh, so she turns down the idea of allying with Sunbeam initially. All the better to paint herself blameless, I suppose, for Polaris's fall.

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

Post by swicked on Tue Apr 08, 2014 8:58 am

Btw, Gale has never broken into Sunbeam's chambers; I suspect she is too smart to attempt it.
Sunbeam is an incredibly dangerous and accomplished magus and breaking into her study would very likely end with the interloper fried either on the spot or after Sunbeam showed up to see what tripped her intruder-incapacitating jinxes.
Gale is clever, but she's no unicorn. Even with a means of detecting the wards she could not break them, particularly without Sunbeam noticing.
Sunbeam's greatest weakness continues to be her daughter. The wards would be set not to hurt Midnight and Sunbeam likely intentionally calls Midnight to her study often-enough. Worse, Sunbeam keeps expecting Midnight to learn how to see through Gale's lies and manipulations since Midnight would never want to intentionally upset her mother. Midnight is just too timid for that, though, and so remains a means for Gale to access Sunbeam's documents.
It seems somewhat funny that Sunbeam matches "the definition of insanity" here. She keeps standing by while Midnight is manipulated, expecting a different result when she should just bar Midnight from ever entering her study ever again.

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

Post by O. Hinds on Tue Apr 08, 2014 10:58 am

swicked wrote:Btw, Gale has never broken into Sunbeam's chambers; I suspect she is too smart to attempt it.
Sunbeam is an incredibly dangerous and accomplished magus and breaking into her study would very likely end with the interloper fried either on the spot or after Sunbeam showed up to see what tripped her intruder-incapacitating jinxes.
Gale is clever, but she's no unicorn. Even with a means of detecting the wards she could not break them, particularly without Sunbeam noticing.
Sunbeam's greatest weakness continues to be her daughter. The wards would be set not to hurt Midnight and Sunbeam likely intentionally calls Midnight to her study often-enough. Worse, Sunbeam keeps expecting Midnight to learn how to see through Gale's lies and manipulations since Midnight would never want to intentionally upset her mother. Midnight is just too timid for that, though, and so remains a means for Gale to access Sunbeam's documents.
It seems somewhat funny that Sunbeam matches "the definition of insanity" here. She keeps standing by while Midnight is manipulated, expecting a different result when she should just bar Midnight from ever entering her study ever again.
Hm, I'd still call it breaking in. It's just that the lockpick is filly-shaped.

Well, really, how long can Midnight keep falling for it? She's meant to be a strong, independent archmage, after all; doesn't Sunbeam keep telling her to be that and to not let people push her around? :)
Yeah, bit of a blind spot there...
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:42 pm

Honestly, all Midnight needs is an ultimatum. "If Gale manipulates you into sabotaging me one more time, be it through acquiring documents or records, cutting off my contacts, ruining my plans... anything. If she uses your friendship ad leverage one more time I will refuse to let you see her. Endeavor to ensure you are not being used, from now on. You plan the outings and you do not let her change them. You never do her any favors. I would like you to have friends but Gale insists on using you as a means to get to me then that means must be ended. Understand?"

She fears refusing to let Midnight see Gale will distance Midnight from herself. By making it clear to Midnight that she is now responsible for ensuring that friendship stays friendly and not manipulative, Sunbeam allows Midnight to make the decision regarding Gale for her.
Midnight could hardly blame Sunbeam when she fails to stop Gale's machinations, then.

...well, that or use her daughter right back. Plant fake documents to be delivered to Gale. But Sunbeam's a bit too forward to consider that. Plus, she loves her daughter and deceiving her likely would feel right to Sunbeam.

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

Post by O. Hinds on Tue Apr 08, 2014 2:48 pm

Hm, good idea. Do you think that it just hasn't occurred to Sunbeam?

Regarding the second idea, I agree on why it would be discarded by am not certain that Sunbeam wouldn't think of it. What do you mean by "a bit too forward"?
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Tue Apr 08, 2014 8:39 pm

I don't think that would occur to Sunbeam at all. Like I said, despite the frequency, Sunbeam continues to be surprised each time Midnight is a lynchpin of Gale's in sabotaging Sunbeam's plans. She even is in that Midnight's Shadow fic, in which Midnight herself mentions offhand that this is a continual thing between the two... disagreements in which Midnight is directly involved.

And yet Midnight doesn't take any responsibility for it. It's become the norm for her, being manipulated by Gale.

And I'm not entirely sure whether or not she'd use Midnight that way, because while Sunbeam is clever and manipulative in her own right, she's also direct and pragmatic. It's kinda unpredictable how she would hurt Gale's usefulness.

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

Post by O. Hinds on Tue Apr 08, 2014 9:13 pm

I don't think that she'd actually use that idea; if she thought of it, it would be quickly discarded due to her wanting not to use her daughter that way (though she'd probably be bothered by wanting not to use her daughter that way). I'm not sure you're right about her not thinking of it, though. Sunbeam is direct and pragmatic, but sometimes the most direct and pragmatic course, particularly in this world of politics and subterfuge, is not a straight line. She might observe that her daughter seems to be unable to shake Gale on her own and have the idea of simultaneously striking at Shadow and making Midnight less useful to Gale.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:17 am

New Chapter Comments:

"I could hardly place my own dislike of Court o’er the need of Equestria"
Yeah, you could never do something like that, Shadow!  You portrayed feud with Sunbeam is completely different!  And this sort of thing is why, in order to enjoy this, I have to assume that you're merely pretending to be stupid.

"“Cyclone Cumulus is a traitor to clan and country both, and dishonors my father’s memory and all that he did in life.”"
You know, given that Canterlot is a mountain city, I bet it wouldn't be too hard to find an ice pick.  Why are we supposed to sympathize with Shadow, again?

Yay, Sunbeam's here!

"I whirled upon her, my lip curling back in disgust. “I would sooner return to Pegasopolis and pledge myself to the cause of traitors than name you as friend and ally, especially before the Commander.”"
"I could hardly place my own dislike of Court o’er the need of Equestria"
Nope, there is no possible way that these two quotes could be in conflict.
I wonder what was really going on?

"As pleasant as the sight was, ‘twas also a bitter reminder of all that I had left behind. For neither the first nor last time, I regretted the price of my loyalty to Commander Celestia."
I wonder, do you?  You have to say you do, obviously, but did you every look back and think that, while you were sure you did the "right" thing, you would have preferred to do it with less treachery and bloodshed?

"Love makes fools of us all"
Some worse than others.

"Equestria could ill afford to squander its strength to feed the ego of a politician who was more interested in personal honor and glory than the good of the nation. However, for all my need of a victory, I could not see a clear path to gain it."
…Why do people, in universe and out, not see that Shadow seems to be failing to apply this to herself?

"If the elderly veterans of the clan were truly so wise, they would not have betrayed Commander Celestia and their own kin."
Alternatively, they could, you know, not want to betray their civilization and popular, duly appointed and legal government, along with their other kin, to side with their legally and willingly deposed former leader-in-name-only and a few of her followers.  Why, why do people out of universe reading this see Shadow as a hero?  In universe readers puzzle me a bit too, but they at least have been taught Shadow's heroism since foalhood (and would have to contend with a lot of angry and powerful ponies if they publicly disagreed).
I'd really like to know more about Freeport.  From what little glimpse we got of it, it looked like a place with problems but also several promising points.

So Shadow is choosing to portray herself as disagreeing with even Gale's suggestion to meet with Sunbeam?  Hm, to make it look less like they were working together?

Eh.  I dislike the attempt at integrating the new show material, but it's not really germane here.

"Not the best one in terms of politics, but as my daughter had said, I could hardly afford to refuse anypony."

Again.  If you do not believe that Shadow is just making things up here, why on Equus don't you seem to care about how bloody stupid she's being?!

"I had an angry retort on my lips when an unpleasant thought struck me. Her assessment was not entirely mistaken. My own efforts had met with some success, but they had been slow to bear fruit. And had not Copper and Gale both advised me to make peace with Sunbeam? Was it possible that I’d mistaken stubborn pride for principle? And in so doing, had I doomed Equestria to fall to the rebels?"
[facehoofs]
So what's really going on here, I wonder?  Apart from Sunbeam continuing to  impress.  :)

Also, reading the comments, some people do seem to be calling Shadow out.  Slightly.  It looks like they're just thinking that this shows she has realistic flaws and wasn't wholly blameless… which I'm sure was the idea, since looking too perfect might make people suspect.  Still, Shadow's chosen portrayal of herself annoys me greatly.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Fri Apr 18, 2014 4:31 pm

So Chengar Qordath has apparently read this thread now!
Chengar Qordath wrote:>> Reese
Have to admit, that made for some very interesting reading. Have to say, you guys did pick up on one or two things that haven't been noticed by most of the readers, and I'm enough of a fan of alternate character interpretation to find the theory entertaining.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Fri Apr 18, 2014 5:08 pm

Cool.
I wonder who upvoted your comment. It wasn't me, couldn't be you, I expect chengar doesn't have an account here, so who else is reading this thread? :P

In any case, nice of him not to call us insane, as I originally thought he might should he of come across this stuff...

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

Post by O. Hinds on Fri Apr 18, 2014 9:41 pm

No idea. Another mystery...

So did I!
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Fri Apr 18, 2014 11:01 pm

O. Hinds wrote:"I have been ill at ease ever since determining that I cannot e’en offer a negotiated settlement for fear of appearing weak."
Oh?  You already lost a third of your realm to open rebellion, and another third is in the grip of civil war.  You're worried about appearing weak, now?  So worried that it's stopping you from trying to prevent more bloodshed?
swicked, what's your insight into Celestia's thought processes here?  I'm not understanding what she's thinking.  Alternatively, if this really isn't in character, why would this bit of the history have been revised?
It doesn't look like I ever addressed this bit.

It's difficult to say, exactly. Celestia's ruling style is reactionary, as I've said before. She lets things boil over, even encourages them to, then moves to put out the fires. Emergency meetings with griffin diplomatic envoys resulting in significantly beneficial settlements. Emergency meetings with Ephorate to try to maintain the peace. Emergency meetings with the popular opposition in an election to try and stave a revolution.
Her style hasn't worked so well as of late.
She listens to her ponies, though, and I think someone talked to her. Many someones, perhaps. The new archmagus, maybe?
Her instincts are definitely to go and obtain peace at almost any cost. She's even grumbling about the fact that she's not being allowed to do so. This, clearly, would not have been her choice if she hadn't agreed to follow someone else's advice on the matter. Someone persuasive that she trusts to know what she should do better than she, herself, does... after all, I'm pretty sure she lays most of the blame for this civil war on herself.

I honestly feel like she should be more emotional right now. She doesn't want anyone to die. She doesn't want that on her conscience.
I could actually imagine her crying a bit, here, at how screwed-up everything is. She might have even stated to Shadow who is was that has told her she cannot give in.
Honestly, though... Shadow would be among them. Shadow might even BE the one telling her this. Shadow's goal is to decimate the pegasi for the sake of the new empire, so she would be among those telling Celestia that she cannot let the pegasi continue.
If there has been some history editing here, it would include Shadow stating that this was the right decision.

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

Post by Forevermore on Fri Apr 18, 2014 11:10 pm

I've been reading through your discussion and I agree with most of it. The interpretation of Shadow as a magnificent bastard was inspired and greatly increases her depth as a character. Gale's interpretation came something out of left field for me, but after reading the arguments and looking back on her interactions with Midnight, it does make a scary sort of sense.

One thing I do have to disagree with you about is your interpretation of Celestia as a purely reactive ruler. While the Winningverse incarnation strays pretty far from my own, she does seem to have something of a longterm plan working out in order to better Equestria. Celestia's problem seems to be more that she doesn't see her subjects as actual people. This likely comes from her own immortal perspective, "What's a pony if they're just going to be a corpse within a century?" Many of Celestia's interactions seem forced, as if she's deliberately trying to make herself care about who she's talking to, or even that she's talking to somepony at all.
Celestia took her outing in stride because to her it isn't a big deal. She has problems to address, and she has the time to fix them. The Ephorate can be satisfied that they did something, and she can wait fifty or one hundred years for them to calm down or be replaced. Then she can address the new one and try to be better.
The same can be said of the earth ponies. To Celestia, the election doesn't matter as she can just wait for the next one. And the next one. And the next one. All while using her wisdom and influence to guide things the way she wants them to go. It's not like anyone is just going to ignore the centuries old immortal if she's giving you advice.
Having seen countless ponies die of old age, I find it very hard to believe that Celestia actually cares about the current generation. They are literally dust in the wind to her. While she may hate to see them suffer, she is perfectly willing to simply wait and try again in the future.

I believe her relationship with Shadow is also open to interpretation. If we assume that your interpretation is correct, that Shadow is heavily modifying history to put herself in a positive light, then we must also consider just how much Celestia actually cared about the pony. It's entirely possible that many of their more intimate, private moments were fabricated by Shadow to feed her own unhealthy obsession with the alicorn. Particularly given Celestia's ability to see into the hearts of ponies, I find it difficult to believe that she is as blind to Shadow's mental health as you imply. It is within the realm of possibility that Celestia is deliberately feeding her obsession in order to ensure Shadow's loyalty and continued usefulness. Just as she did with Sunbeam, heaping power upon her again and again while publicly condemning her actions.

Sunbeam's deposition is another example. The casual brutality of the juris ungula spectacle heavily implies that this isn't the first time Sunbeam has maimed a pony for her own ends. Yet she has never been publicly reprimanded for it until such an action benefited Shadow. Celestia is fully aware of both ponies' personal loyalty to her, and her every action serves to ensure that loyalty remains unshaken. Her entire "mishandling" of the Ephorate after her removal lead directly to Shadow, an able military commander, and hundreds of elite pegasus warriors abandoning their home and their culture to join her, after all.

Polaris, as much as I loath how the character is being handled, is established as a firm political opponent. Now he's in charge of the army, doomed to fail, and with his failure Celestia can endorse a more suitable candidate (Shadow) and earn back the public's trust and loyalty. Needing a powerful ally, Shadow will undoubtedly appoint Sunbeam to a high position. Thus, by sacrificing a few meaningless pony soldiers to the meat grinder, Celestia places both her most loyal followers into positions of extreme power and removes the greatest internal threat to her control.

You interpret Shadow and Sunbeam as being the chessmasters, yet the immortal they supposedly manipulate seems to be getting the better end of the bargain.

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

Post by swicked on Fri Apr 18, 2014 11:27 pm

Forevermore wrote:Celestia's problem seems to be more that she doesn't see her subjects as actual people. This likely comes from her own immortal perspective, "What's a pony if they're just going to be a corpse within a century?" Many of Celestia's interactions seem forced, as if she's deliberately trying to make herself care about who she's talking to, or even that she's talking to somepony at all.
First of all, hi! Welcome to the discussion.
Secondly, and you'll have to forgive me for not having read the rest of your post yet, but the part I'm quoting is not right.
In the alternate universe fic where Sunbeam takes the solar mantel, she gains Celestia's "princess sense". She can feel the souls of other ponies. Interacting with them, while she can't see their exact past and future, she can get an intimate sense of their life. Their hardships, their connections with others, their times of happiness and sadness... she can know them on a level that can take others a lifetime to try and develop.
Celestia references this connection in another alternate universe fic:
One could say that I have known Ditzy “Derpy” Doo since the day she was born, but that would not be accurate. I have known her far longer than that. I knew her when my sister declared a young adventurer named Daring the materfamilias of a new clan in Old Pegasopolis. I knew her even as that clan named me tyrant and usurper, issuing a call to war in my sister’s name. I knew her as I watched her ancestors burn at Maresidian Fields. I know her in ways far more intimate than the father of her foal, or her current lover, Cloud Kicker.

So no, she sees them as ponies. As fragile and hopeful and wonderous. She cares deeply about them and this is no lip service. It is part of her nature as the alicorn princess of the sun.

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

Post by swicked on Fri Apr 18, 2014 11:31 pm

Actually, scratch reading the rest, I see a reference to Polaris, which seems to have been from the latest chapter. I'll respond to the rest when I've caught up, if you don't mind.
'Till then, I'm certain Hinds will have some form of response to your stance on Sunbeam :P

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

Post by O. Hinds on Fri Apr 18, 2014 11:31 pm

swicked wrote:
O. Hinds wrote:"I have been ill at ease ever since determining that I cannot e’en offer a negotiated settlement for fear of appearing weak."
Oh?  You already lost a third of your realm to open rebellion, and another third is in the grip of civil war.  You're worried about appearing weak, now?  So worried that it's stopping you from trying to prevent more bloodshed?
swicked, what's your insight into Celestia's thought processes here?  I'm not understanding what she's thinking.  Alternatively, if this really isn't in character, why would this bit of the history have been revised?
It doesn't look like I ever addressed this bit.

It's difficult to say, exactly. Celestia's ruling style is reactionary, as I've said before. She lets things boil over, even encourages them to, then moves to put out the fires. Emergency meetings with griffin diplomatic envoys resulting in significantly beneficial settlements. Emergency meetings with Ephorate to try to maintain the peace. Emergency meetings with the popular opposition in an election to try and stave a revolution.
Her style hasn't worked so well as of late.
She listens to her ponies, though, and I think someone talked to her. Many someones, perhaps. The new archmagus, maybe?
Her instincts are definitely to go and obtain peace at almost any cost. She's even grumbling about the fact that she's not being allowed to do so. This, clearly, would not have been her choice if she hadn't agreed to follow someone else's advice on the matter. Someone persuasive that she trusts to know what she should do better than she, herself, does... after all, I'm pretty sure she lays most of the blame for this civil war on herself.

I honestly feel like she should be more emotional right now. She doesn't want anyone to die. She doesn't want that on her conscience.
I could actually imagine her crying a bit, here, at how screwed-up everything is. She might have even stated to Shadow who is was that has told her she cannot give in.
Honestly, though... Shadow would be among them. Shadow might even BE the one telling her this. Shadow's goal is to decimate the pegasi for the sake of the new empire, so she would be among those telling Celestia that she cannot let the pegasi continue.
If there has been some history editing here, it would include Shadow stating that this was the right decision.
Hm, yes, I can see that. Celestia's faith in her ability to keep ponies together at all must be awfully shaken at the moment… "The earth ponies already doubt you, and nothing need be said of the pegasi. You tried to settle this peacefully, and it didn't work. Negotiations now wouldn't bring peace; they'd just convince all concerned that you didn't think you could defend anypony." And either Polaris will be surprisingly competent and, being quite tribalist, do her job for her, or he'll fail as expected, probably badly, and be a suitable example for why a firmer hoof is needed. Shadow would definitely have reasons for supporting this course of action (including wanting Celestia to look like a strong ruler as an end in addition to a means) and motivations for hiding her support of it.

That said, I'm not sure that she started it. She certainly could have, but, while she's a lot more competent than we're lead to believe, she's not omnipotent and is in relatively unfamiliar and unfriendly territory. There certainly really would have been political maneuvering directly and indirectly against her by the entrenched unicorn elite, groups of whom were likely interested for their own reasons in prosecuting a war. And, if you didn't see it in the comments, Chengar Qordath hinted that Duke Polaris is indeed much more than he appears.

It will be interesting if we end up seeing Shadow facing off against somepony trying to play more or less the same game she is. That's not really the case with Sunbeam, I'd say; she thinks differently and has a goal that, while somewhat compatible, is fundamentally different ("Build a strong, unified Equestria" instead of "Build up the power, wealth, and fame of X").
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

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