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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 Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:03 pm

From Midnight's Shadow:
Spoiler:
I let out a frustrated sigh. Mother had a most infuriating talent of needling me until she uncovered her desired truth. “Gale uncovered a nefarious, dark tome in a local shop and required my aid to confiscate it. ‘Twas a minor matter which was resolved quickly.”
Mother’s scowl deepened. “And who owned this shop?”
“A stallion by the name of Cantrip,” I said.
Her demeanor became all the darker. “Meet me downstairs for breakfast. Do not tarry, lest it be cold upon thine arrival.”
“Yes, Mother.” I did not entirely keep a hint of irritation out of my tone.
With that, she departed downstairs. I increased the pace of my grooming. It would appear as though fortune was not my companion this day.
------
Mother slammed her hooves on her office desk. “Would you mind explaining why your daughter killed one of my contacts, Shadow?” Mother had wasted no time getting right to the task on her agenda as the Lady Protector, Shadow Kicker, and her daughter, Gale Kicker, entered my mother’s office in the palace.
Gale appeared much as she did the previous night, her mane wildly swept back, wearing her blood-red armor, wingblades, and ironshode shoes. It was such a rare thing to see a member of the Kicker Clan without their armor that one could scarcely imagine one without it, and Gale was no exception.
As always, Shadow was a striking figure. Battle-scarred and unbowed, her own blood-red armor contrasted sharply with her black coat and braided, yellow mane. Her equipment gave off a gentle hum of magic that was always there in the background. That was not surprising, given the sheer magnitude of all the enchantments on her armament and armature.
In any event, Shadow let out a patient sigh at my mother’s display. “What is this about, Archmagus?”
Mother walked from around her desk to get closer to the two Kickers. “Your daughter slew a contact of mine by the name of Cantrip,” she grumbled. “A petty shop owner, but a pony I used to keep tabs on the movement of certain items. He was an invaluable source of information on the black market in Canterlot, and now he’s a corpse.” She scowled and jabbed a hoof into Gale’s chest. “Thanks to thee.”
Gale gave my mother a condescending smirk. To say Mother and Gale did not get along was akin to saying cats and dogs had a historical misunderstanding with one another. They had traded barbs for the past decade, and it did not look like their exchange would end any time soon. Fortunately, it had never escalated to a violent state. It truly could be much worse.
“I am sure Gale had her reasons for acting in the manner she did,” Shadow tried to assure my mother. Gale continued to smile her confident smirk while Mother fumed. It seemed that Gale was content to hide behind her mother in this matter. I could see little Mother could do in this matter considering Cantrip had been selling highly illegal goods and had then threatened and assaulted a royal magus. No doubt this was something Gale was all-too-aware of. Stars and stones, I cared for Gale deeply, but I did not like being used as a tool in her games against my mother.
“I think we both know her intentions,” Mother bit back venomously. “And by using my own daughter and placing her in harm's way, add insult to injury.” I was doing my best to stand to the side, and remain silent and uninvolved. Shadow’s own uncomfortable shufflings told me she would rather be elsewhere. Shadow and I shared this kinship; we were often caught into between the two feuding parties.
Shadow inserted herself between Gale and Mother. “‘Tis done and over,” she said, giving Mother a firm stare. “There is other, more important business I wish to discuss with you.”
“You would so lightly dismiss your daughter’s injury against me?” Mother glowered.
Shadow let out a long breath. “There are far more pressing matters to contend with than the death of a crooked peddler.”
Mother stood looking at Gale and Shadow for a long moment before she relented. A battle had been fought and lost, but I knew from my mother’s countenance that this was not the end of their war. She waved a hoof dismissively. “Very well. What matter be this?”
I suppose that it could have been a genuine accident and Shadow could really be uninvolved... but I doubt it.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:11 pm

I have to love Celestia's devotion to the nebulous concept of "fate" and "destiny", without ever stopping to think about if her devotion would ultimately be good or ill for the empire.

I mean, Celestia was destined to rule, and look how bad things got due to her policies. Her reactive nature. Her intention to abide evil, so long as it wasn't absolute.
I mean, things certainly weren't terrible, but you can hardly say being so reactive was the optimal way to rule.

Sunbeam was not destined to rule, particularly not eternally, but she performed more than adequately... so much so that Celestia was content to pass away due to natural causes with the entire nation and all of her ponies in Sunbeam's care. Celestia trusted Sunbeam with it.

I should think that destiny seems to not necessarily be a thing worthy of being obeyed.

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

Post by O. Hinds on Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:14 pm

Celestia probably realized that in the Phoenix Empress continuity.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:15 pm

Late on, I mean, when she saw how well Sunbeam was doing.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Tue Feb 04, 2014 5:54 pm

...I wonder why Robored, Valikdu and the others that read these stories haven't posted.
I'd like to hear some other thoughts; I hate echo-chambers.

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

Post by O. Hinds on Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:44 am

Yes... as interesting as you are to talk to and even though I kind of do like the sound of my own voice*, it would be quite nice to have more input. Do you think that we ought to post an invitation in the chat thread? I put one up when I made this thread, but perhaps they missed it.

*Yes, I know that that doesn't apply to text.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:17 am

O. Hinds wrote:Oh, and have you considered reading any other Winningverse stories?  I think that that question got lost.
Why do you like the other Winningverse stories? Are they at all similar to these?
I don't particularly feel like reading slice of life stories right now, particularly not any where shipping is involved. These stories have barely addressed shipping, but it looks to be a common theme in the Winningverse. That Cloudkicker is promiscuous, particularly.
It's all very off-putting.

Edit:
Do any of them primarily  involve Celestia, though?  Princess Celestia

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

Post by O. Hinds on Wed Feb 05, 2014 2:03 am

swicked wrote:Why do you like the other Winningverse stories?
Weeeeell, in a revelation that will likely shock you to the core, a lot of it is probably just the worldbuilding. :D Particularly now that I'm viewing it in a new light. Other than that… I'm not sure, really. Part of it is likely sociological study (the more data I have, the better; I'm bad enough already), but, knowing me, worldbuilding could quite possible be enough all on its own.

swicked wrote:Are they at all similar to these?
Hmm… Not especially, I'd say. Midnight's Shadow may be, but I've only just started reading it and therefore can't really recommend it at this time.

swicked wrote:I don't particularly feel like reading slice of life stories right now, particularly not any where shipping is involved. These stories have barely addressed shipping, but it looks to be a common theme in the Winningverse. That Cloudkicker is promiscuous, particularly.
It's all very off-putting.
I was going to say that shipping was actually much less prevalent than you might have heard, but then I started looking over the stories I'd read… Yeah, shipping does seem to creep a little bit into most of them. I found… two. One of which is another alternate universe. Well, if you're interested, here's that one, and here's the other.

swicked wrote:Do any of them primarily involve Celestia, though?
Not that I know of; sorry. That would be nice, though, assuming that it was well-written.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Wed Feb 05, 2014 8:22 pm

Oh! Regarding your earlier question, it looks like there is a story about Celestia. It's in the DeadDerpyVerse alternate Winningverse, though, and very short. I'm reading it now.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Wed Feb 05, 2014 8:40 pm

And finished.
Spoiler:

So apparently someone destined to ascend and rule can very easily turn it down, in addition to someone not destined to ascend and rule being able to do a very good job. Is "Destiny" just the name of Discord's favorite dartboard, or something, because it doesn't seem to… actually have any relation to or power over the world.

I'm also rather puzzled regarding what exactly Celestia was planning to do to cause Shadow's ascension. In Rise of the Phoenix Empress, she says that Luna's mantle isn't hers to give, yet here she speaks of giving it to Shadow.

Ah, this is addressed.

Ahhhh. And here's our explanation for Shadow's actions, if not for Celestia's. Had Shadow accepted, things would for nearly nine centuries have been glorious. And then Celestia would have to choose between killing her lover or killing her sister. And as Shadow is still clearly as in love with Celestia as ever, she doesn't want her Commander to have to make that choice.
And regarding Celestia's actions, while I'm eager to hear your input, I had misremembered Rise of the Phoenix Empress. Celestia didn't say that she couldn't transfer Luna's mantle but that she wouldn't do it for Sunbeam under the circumstances.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Wed Feb 05, 2014 8:40 pm

I'm not sure where the PoD of the DeadDerpyVerse is, but the story was very much about Celestia.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:30 pm

I'll read it tomorrow. Or the next day.
Strapped for time...

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

Post by swicked on Thu Feb 06, 2014 8:21 pm

O. Hinds wrote:And finished.
Spoiler:

So apparently someone destined to ascend and rule can very easily turn it down, in addition to someone not destined to ascend and rule being able to do a very good job.  Is "Destiny" just the name of Discord's favorite dartboard, or something, because it doesn't seem to… actually have any relation to or power over the world.

I'm also rather puzzled regarding what exactly Celestia was planning to do to cause Shadow's ascension.  In Rise of the Phoenix Empress, she says that Luna's mantle isn't hers to give, yet here she speaks of giving it to Shadow.

Ah, this is addressed.

Ahhhh.  And here's our explanation for Shadow's actions, if not for Celestia's.  Had Shadow accepted, things would for nearly nine centuries have been glorious.  And then Celestia would have to choose between killing her lover or killing her sister.  And as Shadow is still clearly as in love with Celestia as ever, she doesn't want her Commander to have to make that choice.
And regarding Celestia's actions, while I'm eager to hear your input, I had misremembered Rise of the Phoenix Empress.  Celestia didn't say that she couldn't transfer Luna's mantle but that she wouldn't do it for Sunbeam under the circumstances.
I think "destiny" appears to be some sort of special sense or insanity only Celestia of the Winningverse feels since her sister, mantled-up and all, doesn't seem to empathize with Celestia. Not only does she not feel that Shadow was meant to have her mantel, she doesn't seem to acknowledge "destiny" as justified reason to take it from her.

I am far, far from convinced Shadow would have even been a competent ruler, btw. She's very loyal to Celestia, yes. She would do anything Celestia asked of her except something that would cause Celestia pain. She... doesn't seem like a strong second ruler in a diarchy.
I'm rather glad she dies, and continue to question why she would have a cult following. Maybe Celestia kept it alive in memory of Shadow? I could see this Celestia doing that.

Also:
He doesn’t know that he even has a daughter, let alone that the mother of his child is dying right now. He is a good stallion, I am sure if he knew of his child or her mother, he would want to do something before the end came. But all that knowledge would do now is bring him grief and pain. Neigh, I think in this case we can say that ignorance is bliss.
I think not.
If there is any claim within this society through blood, the father has the right to know he has a daughter, all the more if Celestia KNOWS he would want to support her. What would cause him grief and pain would also grant both him and Derpy closure at her passing. This is an unpleasant stance for Celestia to take.

"Dinky is innocent. Too innocent. I would spare her this cruel awakening to the harsh realities of life, if I could."
If ignorance is such bliss, rip the knowledge of her mother from her head. Truly, there'd be no grander blessing, no? Then Dinky doesn't have to be burdened by it and Ditzy can die knowing one more pony that would have loved and cared for her in her final hours will never know she was ever ill in the first place, let alone have had any strong emotional attachment to lose.
Win-win, huh?

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

Post by O. Hinds on Thu Feb 06, 2014 8:40 pm

swicked wrote:I think "destiny" appears to be some sort of special sense or insanity only Celestia of the Winningverse feels since her sister, mantled-up and all, doesn't seem to empathize with Celestia. Not only does she not feel that Shadow was meant to have her mantel, she doesn't seem to acknowledge "destiny" as justified reason to take it from her.
Yeah. I mean, yes, some universes, including some poniverses, do indeed have destiny as an actual force, when only one person seems to really believe in it and is repeatedly proved wrong about it…

swicked wrote:I am far, far from convinced Shadow would have even been a competent ruler, btw. She's very loyal to Celestia, yes. She would do anything Celestia asked of her except something that would cause Celestia pain. She... doesn't seem like a strong second ruler in a diarchy.
Aye. One way or another, it would end badly. I mean, among other things, if Shadow kept up her strategy of using unpleasant methods to support Celestia behind Celestia's back… probability says that she'd slip up eventually.

swicked wrote:I'm rather glad she dies, and continue to question why she would have a cult following. Maybe Celestia kept it alive in memory of Shadow? I could see this Celestia doing that.
Hm, possibly, yes, though I'm not sure that she'd need to. The Cult of Shadow is basically the private religion of the Kicker Clan, and, well, the modern Kicker Clan is directly descended from the ponies who abandoned Pegasopolis with Shadow.

I can't think of any replies to your other two comments, I'm afraid.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:18 pm

I didn't particularly expect you to, which is why I posted it to the fic.

Celestia's was also a bit overdramatic in the fic. She's a bleeding heart, which is good, but-
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.
-is not.
Known her far longer? Know her more intimately?
We understand what she means, but it's definitely a different sort of intimate, and it's weird for her to challenge the bond between Derpy and Cloud. Though I dunno, maybe those two had only been together for a week.

ANYway, I'd like more info on this Cult of Shadow. What do they do, other than exist? How do they keep their faith fresh? It still seems odd to me that an entirely cloistered group worshipping a dead mare as a goddess (especially when there are actual goddesses about) could remain strong for so long.

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

Post by O. Hinds on Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:24 pm

swicked wrote:I didn't particularly expect you to, which is why I posted it to the fic.

Celestia's was also a bit overdramatic in the fic. She's a bleeding heart, which is good, but-
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.
-is not.
Known her far longer? Know her more intimately?
We understand what she means, but it's definitely a different sort of intimate, and it's weird for her to challenge the bond between Derpy and Cloud.
Yes, I rather thought so too. And I'm sorry that I keep agreeing with you, but... I keep agreeing with you!

swicked wrote:Though I dunno, maybe those two had only been together for a week.
Can't help you there, I'm afraid; this is the only story in the DeadDerpyVerse I've read, so I don't know the details of its divergence. Except for Derpy dying, obviously.

swicked wrote:ANYway, I'd like more info on this Cult of Shadow. What do they do, other than exist? How do they keep their faith fresh? It still seems odd to me that an entirely cloistered group worshipping a dead mare as a goddess (especially when there are actual goddesses about) could remain strong for so long.
Well, partly it's a way of life, for the Kicker Clan a lot like the teachings of Lyequinigus (So much like said teachings in some respects, in fact, that you can still see things that look suspiciously like file marks and the imprint of an older nameplate. But surely Shadow Kicker wouldn't just lift ancient Pegasopolis tradition and claim it as her own creation, right?), emphasizing austerity, community, family, and martial strength. The Kickers have been gradually loosening up, but their compound is still strikingly plain next to its Canterlot surroundings.
Oh, here's a good quote from a non-Kicker::
She took a deep breath and patted my hoof, then led the way further into the compound without a word. There wasn’t much by way of decoration. The few bits of furniture that were there needed to be there. In keeping with Kicker (and likely Cult) traditions of austerity, there was the occasional Shadow Kicker statue and a few Kicker coats-of-arms here and there, tastefully sparse—although I dunno how anything that has to do with Celestia or her favorite war-whorse could be considered ‘tasteful.’
Okay, better head that thought off before it goes too far. Even if Missus Nimbus deserved better than to be lost and forgotten in the marble garden surrounding Shadow’s tomb, Star at least’d gone out of her way for me.
Which of course also brings up one of the most obvious aspects of the Cult of Shadow: the statues.
Oh, and here's another good quote from the same story (sorry about the shipping)::
I lost track of time, laying there. Star eventually drifted off, and I felt my own eyelids start to get heavy. I was even ready to fall asleep myself when I saw it. The statue.
The creepy-flanked little statue.
Shadow Kicker was staring at me. It was bad enough ponies thought about the dead bitch as a hero, much less gave her her own religion, but having a statue? It was cree—
GYAH!
It moved! I swear the little thing moved, right when I blinked!
“Mm...” Star shifted beside me. I guess she wasn’t as asleep as I thought she was. “Y’okay?”
“Fine.”
Star wasn’t buying it, though. “What is it?”
“Nothing.” No, really, it was nothing.
“You're getting all tense and twitchy. Kinda makes it hard to sleep.”
My tail gave a small twitch as she said that. “Sorry. Trying not to.” Silly as it sounds, I pulled her foreleg over me to try and put whatever I could between myself and that creepy little statue.
“It's fine.” Star gave me a small, reassuring squeeze, then reached out to tap the statue and murmured something before going back to sleep. I think it was some kind of prayer for guidance.
Not that the statue needed a lot of guidance, either way. It was still there. I swear, it shifted again. I wasn’t going to get any sleep tonight.
Oh, Luna … it was watching meeeeeeee...
I don't remember any particular bits of information on rituals or the like, but that it's such a way of life sort of makes every day growing up in the compound (as nearly all Kickers still do) a ritual to some degree.

Oh, and Cloud Kicker at one point mentions that she doesn't think that Shadow was actually very keen on the cult... because Shadow expressed some distaste for it in her memoirs. Given that we're already doubting anything written by Shadow (with aid from Gale, probably) and the fact that I'd think it very odd that the cult would have survived if Shadow and Celestia had actually tried to put an end to it, I'm inclined to think that this may just have been another ruse. Celestia doesn't seem very keen on being worshipped, after all, so Shadow wouldn't want to look as if she supported it...
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:27 pm

The thinker in those quotes is Sparkler, by the way, a Doo by adoption (adoption unusually late in life, no less). And I don't recall any dislike of Shadow that strong ever being heard voiced instead of just thought...
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Fri Feb 07, 2014 4:40 pm

O. Hinds wrote:
swicked wrote:I think "destiny" appears to be some sort of special sense or insanity only Celestia of the Winningverse feels since her sister, mantled-up and all, doesn't seem to empathize with Celestia. Not only does she not feel that Shadow was meant to have her mantel, she doesn't seem to acknowledge "destiny" as justified reason to take it from her.
Yeah.  I mean, yes, some universes, including some poniverses, do indeed have destiny as an actual force, when only one person seems to really believe in it and is repeatedly proved wrong about it…
I'm a strict determinist. Destiny is what happens, and is unchangeable. The princess-sense of the solar mantel allows its bearer to see all the possibilities a pony's life can take, but only in Celestia is there an option that's the "right" one (since Sunbeam very clearly wasn't sure of what direction her daughter's life would take to even the slightest degree).
I can understand some ponies being more capable of "ascending" than others, but everything else... I think she's a madmare.

O. Hinds wrote:
swicked wrote:I am far, far from convinced Shadow would have even been a competent ruler, btw. She's very loyal to Celestia, yes. She would do anything Celestia asked of her except something that would cause Celestia pain. She... doesn't seem like a strong second ruler in a diarchy.
Aye.  One way or another, it would end badly.  I mean, among other things, if Shadow kept up her strategy of using unpleasant methods to support Celestia behind Celestia's back… probability says that she'd slip up eventually.
Who knows, maybe the guilt finally caught up with her. That or, maybe, Celestia told her about the ascension process.
The first thing that happens, after death, is entering a cosmic realm where every one of her memories are available and on display. If Shadow entered that area with Celestia, who knows? Maybe Celestia might have seen enough to leave Shadow there, as she'd threatened to do to Sunbeam.

O. Hinds wrote:The thinker in those quotes is Sparkler, by the way, a Doo by adoption (adoption unusually late in life, no less).  And I don't recall any dislike of Shadow that strong ever being heard voiced instead of just thought...
Huh, late adoption? Any reason why she was adopted at all, then?

O. Hinds wrote:Which of course also brings up one of the most obvious aspects of the Cult of Shadow: the statues.
Makes you kinda wonder if she's one of them. We don't technically see the moment of her death. Where does one hide a tree if not in a forest?
I realize it's a big stretch based on, essentially, nothing at all... but what if she WAS still looking for that "third option"? :P

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

Post by O. Hinds on Fri Feb 07, 2014 6:14 pm

swicked wrote:I'm a strict determinist. Destiny is what happens, and is unchangeable. The princess-sense of the solar mantel allows its bearer to see all the possibilities a pony's life can take, but only in Celestia is there an option that's the "right" one.
I can understand some ponies being more capable of "ascending" than others, but everything else... I think she's a madmare.
Sigh… Sorry, but, assuming that you're exaggerating when you say "madmare", I'm going to agree with you again there. :)

Though, if you're not exaggerating, perhaps we could debate to what degree Celestia's behavior constitutes a valid diagnosis of mental illness.

swicked wrote:Who knows, maybe the guilt finally caught up with her.
Hm; I didn't think of that.

swicked wrote:That or, maybe, Celestia told her about the ascension process.
The first thing that happens, after death, is entering a cosmic realm where every one of her memories are available. If Shadow entered that area with Celestia, who knows? Maybe Celestia might have seen enough to leave Shadow there, as she'd threatened to do to Sunbeam.
Ah. Ah. I definitely did not think of that, but yes. Princess-sense seems to be mostly empathy- and prediction-based; it doesn't let Celestia see thoughts or the details of the past, and the predictions seem like they're extrapolation/simulation rather than actual precognizance. If Celestia… Good grief, yes, there is no way Shadow would allow that if she knew. Just… can you imagine Celestia's reaction? She's so happy, she's getting an eternal lover (bit of a problem with her sister, but they'll have nine centuries or so to work that out) and talented co-ruler, everything is going wonderfully… and then all these horrible things that she never even suspected, that were done in her name, play out in front of her. She trusted this mare enough to offer her her sister's mantle, she believes that it's destiny, she believes that she's living evidence that 'good' rule is better than Sunbeam's methods, and she is… not.

swicked wrote:Huh, late adoption? Any reason why she was adopted at all, then?
Just Derpy's compassion, as I recall. And there's an AU story where she wasn't adopted by Derpy and is living homeless in the streets of Canterlot.

swicked wrote:Makes you kinda wonder if she's one of them. Her corpse, at least. Where does one hide a tree if not in a forest?
I realize it's a big stretch based on, essentially, nothing at all... but what if she WAS still looking for that "third option"? :P
:D
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Fri Feb 07, 2014 7:44 pm

We've established that the author couldn't possibly have this entire conspiracy in mind, but it still WOULD be funny if Celestia found a means of releasing a third celestial body, complete with mantel, after so many hundreds of years of searching and pining for Shadow, who she froze in stone and spirited away moments before her death, having come to the conclusion that Shadow was just sparing Celestia the pain of potentially having to choose between her and Luna.
Now, so many centuries later, Luna is at full strength and helps Celestia raise the third body before freeing Shadow from stone and immediately ascending her without asking again.

All that work, all that forlorn love, all that preparation and magic and risk at putting a third in the sky and suddenly the truth is out XD

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

Post by O. Hinds on Fri Feb 07, 2014 9:26 pm

That's horrible. :D
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by O. Hinds on Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:14 pm

...I wonder. If it did happen, how would Celestia reply to Shadow simply pointing to modern Equestria and saying "It worked."?

I mean, really, she's the one who built it to begin with. Maybe Sunbeam's reforms would have eventually done the same thing, but maybe not; they might just have driven Pegasopolis and whatever the earth ponies call their state away from Unicornia. Pre-Rebellion Equestria was basically just a close military alliance and trade treaty system between three separate states that just happened to have the same head of government (who faces regular elections among the earth ponies and could be legally removed from her position in Pegasopolis; only in Unicornia did she have absolute power); Celestia even has three different titles. Shadow broke the power of Pegasopolis and basically conquered them and the earth ponies for Unicornia, which she, Sunbeam, and Celestia then reformed into Equestria; the state developed from there, but that was where the groundwork was laid. The war was also the beginning of the end of de jure tribalism, and modern Equestria doesn't even seem to have much de facto. Shadow ensured both that Celestia would have power over all of Equestria and that she'd know she had to use it. By declining Ascension, she let Celestia get Luna back without having to make a terrible choice. The Kicker Clan has indeed continued to provide Celestia with strong military support. In short, Shadow's plan worked.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Mon Feb 10, 2014 7:01 pm

I don't think Celestia would really of had to make a terrible choice. Near the time of Luna's return, Shadow would have undoubtedly found a way to either give up her mantel or take her own life. She wouldn't put Celestia in a position where she had to choose between two ponies she loved. That was potentially the point of refusing ascension in the first place: choosing for her.

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

Post by O. Hinds on Mon Feb 10, 2014 7:27 pm

Good point. Still, what do you think of the rest of it?
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:35 pm

What do you mean?

I'm still of the opinion that it was Sunbeam's plan to start a war, first with the pegasi, then probably later with the earth ponies. Her plot with this clippings thing... she was never anything but disrespectful to Shadow and the other Euphors at the start, she had a hand in picking the all-unicorn task force that would investigate each home and might have even coached them in how to behave. Her attitude in the capital, killing that one murderer in an excessive, torturous mockery of what was considered an ancient honorable means of settling disputes.
I think she enjoyed causing others pain, but the degree to which she laid into that guy was so much more than that, IIRC. Took his wings, first and foremost. Entirely. Burned and disfigured him, castrated him, made him scream and drew out that dual all after making a big-enough show to get as many pegasi in attendance as possible. She knew what she was doing. She was inciting a war.

I think Sunlight was ousted for that performance, but I'm willing to bet she expected to find some way back into Celestia's graces. Well... that or she simple never thought Celestia would kick her out in the first place. Sunlight was pretty arrogant and certain of her own necessity.

I don't think she planned on having the earth ponies at war with the unicorns at the same time, though. She didn't plan on Shadow learning enough about her to defame her and Celestia in the eyes of the earth ponies, and she certainly didn't want the entire scandal regarding the election. She couldn't have known Carrot would assassinate Apple, most of all.

She wanted a single empire over which she could basically be second in command. Shadow complicated that by taking Celestia's ear and weakening Sunlight's status and importance in Celestia's eyes.

Long story short, though... I consider what Shadow did to be an extension/inheritance of Sunbeam's plan. Shadow just played the game better because, again, she knew she needed to keep the truth from Celestia.

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

Post by O. Hinds on Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:41 pm

Hm, interesting; I've been assuming that Sunbeam desired reform without major conflict. She may have wanted to provoke the pegasi, make them give an example of why they needed firmer management, but I'm somewhat skeptical that she wanted or expected a war at all.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:41 am

O. Hinds wrote:Hm, interesting; I've been assuming that Sunbeam desired reform without major conflict.  She may have wanted to provoke the pegasi, make them give an example of why they needed firmer management, but I'm somewhat skeptical that she wanted or expected a war at all.
She manipulated Celestia majestically. She knew that Celestia's hot-button was harm to children. She put together and entire presentation to start off the issue to convince Celestia to bring the hammer down on the pegasi.
Sunbeam was smart. Everything she did in the fic was a play to provoke the pegasi at every step. She knew they were hotheaded and thought of themselves as independent, and Celestia was happy to leave them that way. I could not be more convinced Shadow's intention was, the entire time, to incite a rebellion and bring them to heel.
I believe it WAS the author's intention to relay that much, too.

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

Post by O. Hinds on Wed Feb 12, 2014 2:01 am

Oh, do you think that Shadow and Sunbeam were working together that early?
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

Post by swicked on Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:29 am

O. Hinds wrote:Oh, do you think that Shadow and Sunbeam were working together that early?
No, let me break it down.
(note, I'm going to be inaccurate at several points or confuse certain things, I have a fairly bad memory and I'm using it to recall and summarize the entire fic... but I think most of it should still be roughly factual...)

Sunbeam wanted to unite the empires. Celestia was allowing the earth ponies to govern themselves with little oversight from her office as president.
Celestia was ignoring the pegasi entirely.
Celestia didn't have the time, because the unicorns made everything so difficult. The bureaucracy, but particularly, the nobles. The incompetence and inefficiency of allowing governing positions to be passed down through family lines.
Sunbeam was never going to be empress but, barring that, the grand vizer to the de facto empress? Not so bad.
The plan? Break the three empires through war (IE, the fastest way for a mortal pony to see so much change so quickly) and the spilling of blood, culling family lines and requiring a complete reorganization. Wartime taxes, jurisdictional changes, the draft, she would employ it all.
The problem? Celestia doesn't like war...
...but wait! One of these races is made ENTIRELY of warlike ponies! The one that's essentially been independant this entire time! Oh, but Celestia's content with leaving them to their own devices... how could Sunbeam change that status quo? These massive books of idiotic stoic philosophy should have SOMETHING sufficiently barbaric in them, though really the only thing that really gets her worked up much anymore is danger to children...
...hold on now. Something about clipping children? But no, there hasn't been an incident in decades, has there? Oh, but their training methods certainly seem to end up injuring their young's wings a lot. Check adoption records, maybe doctor a few numbers to make it look better, and just wait for the right moment. I'm certain the pegasi will screw up sometime.

Done (probably the weakest part of my argument since clippings were so rarely discovered... and yet, right after the clipping occurred, Sunbeam had all of this evidence out of nowhere that should have taken months to compile if it really was as much of a conspiracy as she claimed...)
(basically, I don't know HOW she did it, but I think she may have had a hoof in either causing the clipping or, at least, ensuring that it would be discovered)

Okay, so, paint them all as barbaric, especially in front of this visiting ephor. Get one of those blowhard nobles to goad her into a fight, and make sure I'm there to provide eyewitness testimony! Perfect.
Oh, the griffins have been attacking more and more lately? Respect the boarder, I'm certain this'll boil over and just add MORE credence to the fact that these warrior ponies are barbarians. Especially... oh wow, they massacred those guys. This is actually working out really well!
Appeal to Celestia some more that the pegasi cannot be trusted to take care of their own people, let alone those of the empire. They are hopelessly twisted and backward.
Now, while she leaves to tour her kingdoms, I can start REALLY drumming up anti-pegasi sentiment... oh, huh, so I have to go with her? I guess that's... okay.
Earth ponies, whatever. You'll all be next when... this Ephor, again. Manipulating my daughter. Defaming me? Celestia knows exactly where my loyalties lie!
Ugh, the timetable on the earth ponies has moved up, I suppose. Before the sentiment here gets too high, I'd better kickstart something with the pegasi.
The investigators... they aren't really finding much. Just the same brutal training regiment with no permanent damage. Better keep pushing them, there HAS to be more, accusing them all of anything! Now... Yes! The pegasi killed one of them! Dream come true!
Now we can have a custody despite, armed ponies vs. armed ponies, accuse their police force yet again of being amoral and incompetant and... a dual? Oh, marvelous!
Hah, after all I've organized, nearly their entire population is here to watch this idiot attempt to beat me... even their ephors! Better put on a good show...

...that's done it. They are in a rage and want all of the unicorns to go. Now we just... uh, Celestia looks a bit more mad than I... wait, what? It was perfectly legal! You need me! You can't just kick me out now! This is your fault for taking me here, anyway!
Crap!
Well, I started from nothing, I know I can build my utility and get back to the top... unless that Shadow pony... oh no.
The earth pony election is closer than I thought, I'd better try and make sure Celestia can hold on for at least another term or so, we can't have two nations against one here...
...oh, you stupid, stupid nobles. Now the entire election is screwed up. Oh well, warn Celestia... oh wait, I guess I don't have her ear. Well, warn Shadow about all this, then. The mare is a fool, but she has Celestia's ear. The princess is good at negotiating, she should be able to resolve this power struggle amicab-
-the earth pony died? What the crap! Now we'll be facing a war on all fronts! Oh well, I can still scavenge this if...
...Shadow is doing what, now? Her entire clan? It's really come to that?! How can I even attempt to top that?
Ugh, you badmouth a pony and her entire race nearly to the point of war and suddenly she refuses to trust you. Shadow's locking me out of everything, now. My connections are turning to my rivals... even to her. Especially to her, and that daughter of hers. How am I going to win, now? Is there even a way?

Long story short, the grand adviser to an ignorant ruler, originally born in poverty, is thrown down when put up against a born ruler of ponies.
(yes, I know she was adopted, but she was still adopted at a young age and raised to rule)
Huh, I wonder why that sounds so familiar...

"Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Crossroads of Destiny (#2.20)" (2006)
Azula: [to Long Feng] I can see your whole history in your eyes. You were born with nothing. So you've had to struggle and connive and claw your way to power. But true power, the divine right to rule, is something you're born with. The truth is: they don't know which one of us is going to be sitting down on that throne, and which of us is going to be bowing down. But *I* know, and *you* know.
[Azula sits on the throne]
Azula: Well?
Long Feng: [Bows, resigned] You've beaten me at my own game.
Azula: Don't flatter yourself. You were never even a player.

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

Post by O. Hinds on Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:35 am

(Hey, I finally get to give you an argument! :))

Hm... You make a lot of good points, but the total of what you've said
just seems... off, to me. I think that it revolves around us having differing conceptions of the character of Sunbeam (who I do rather sympathize with). From reading Rise of the Phoenix Empress, I'm pretty sure that she really didn't care about power or fame as ends. As means, certainly, but she just wanted to be good at what she did, whatever that was. The important difference here is that, while she may have enjoyed cruelty and believed herself to be getting her hooves dirty so that Celestia didn't have to, she would try to find the optimal, pragmatic solution. That she recognized the looming problem is clear, and, even if she hadn't, I expect that she would have attempted reforms to make Equestria run better and to knit it together into a true single state. Civil war, though, I'd argue was rather clearly not optimal for Sunbeam's purposes, and she'd have realized this. There were far too many unpredictable factors, far too many things that could go wrong. Even if it worked perfectly, a great deal of damage would be done, and Sunbeam would prefer to keep casualties and unrest to a minimum. Oh, I have no doubt that she'd burn Manehattan to the ground without batting an eye if she thought that it was the best way forward, but Sunbeam sees herself as serving Equestria*. Killing large numbers of Equestrians and fostering distrust among the rest has some obvious flaws as a plan. No, Sunbeam may very well have been deliberately trying to provoke an incident or two that would open Celestia's eyes, but I assume that her plan was a slow push of diplomatic. legislative, and police action. Maybe a few "accidents" befalling troublesome members of the opposition, if need be, but nothing large-scale. When Shadow brought the war (and I wonder if she and Gale might even have been manipulating Apple Tree and Danver Carrot), Sunbeam worked with it and Shadow as well as she could and got it to turn out pretty well, but I really don't think that war is what she wanted.


*As opposed to Shadow Kicker, who sees herself as serving Celestia. If Celestia suddenly snapped and ordered each of the two of them to murder half of Equestria's population, Shadow would start working out how best to do it and Sunbeam would start working out how best to remove Celestia.
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Re: The True Story of Shadow Kicker (and other Winningverse speculation)

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