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[GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by OneMoreDaySK on Fri Apr 04, 2014 10:03 am

@SilentCarto
Thought that Littlepip encountered some active ghouls underwater in Canterlot. Need to double check that, though.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Meleagridis on Fri Apr 04, 2014 12:03 pm

Shujaa immediately recognized Coyotl as meaning Discord. Does this mean that all modern zebras know what that means? And if that's the case, it's a little surprising that they never freaked out before now. I think it was Xanthe who named him, 'Trickster of the Stars.' Going by how thorough Viti's been in spreading starphobia among his subjects, one would think they'd have a stronger reaction to the Brood than, "Oh my, I'm somewhat unnerved."
Then again, the day is young.

SilentCarto wrote:
Meleagridis wrote:Hrm? I'm remembering something completely different. I thought you had to sever some part of them, head or limb, or otherwise disintegrate or rip to shreds. Like the Ghosts in Dead Money.
Canterlot Ghouls, you mean? I don't think losing a limb does more than slow them down. FOE mentioned "dismemberment", but then went on to say that decapitation was the standard solution.
Well, that's sufficiently vague to be either. I can't remember any specific instance of Pip or company tearing off anybody's legs, so I'll just accept this as my headcanon rather than canon canon for now.

Stormhopper wrote:Oh and im a new guy around here, howdy and all that
Howdy, new guy around here. I'd offer the standard starting package, but we're all out of whiskey.

O. Hinds wrote:
Meleagridis wrote:I do think it’s strange how he seems to be on the exact same wavelength as Steel Rain. I wonder if they’ve been talking.

Brain, why do you do this?  For those of you not in my head, my inner shipper has just started looking at the two of them and humming thoughtfully.
Dammit, Hinds. One has literal dragon killing cannons on his side and the other is eternal. The innuendo here is practically limitless. What have you done?
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by O. Hinds on Fri Apr 04, 2014 12:40 pm

Welcome, Stormhopper.

Meleagridis wrote:Dammit, Hinds. One has literal dragon killing cannons on his side and the other is eternal. The innuendo here is practically limitless. What have you done?
Hey, you're the one who sparked the idea to begin with! :D
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by OneMoreDaySK on Fri Apr 04, 2014 3:58 pm

Huh, this escaped my notice until recently.
Blackjack still hasn't actually found a virtue she attributes to, right?

Random thought: who's expecting this to end with a ship (sea, air, space) dropping on the EoS / Tokomare / Cogitum?
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Borsuq on Fri Apr 04, 2014 4:13 pm

Well, I'm back from my five-day trip. So...

I've mentioned that I would post a list of ways I would like Steel Rain to die but... oddly, I found out that I am so enraged with this character, that I cannot think of anything too creative... I've already mentioned a few times that I would like to see him impaled on Deus' cannon (I'm kind off a fan of Dracula [the historical one, I read a very good book about him once] and his anime incarnation, Alucard). Other than that, I thought about him having his helmet melted while he was wearing it, so he could go out like Viserys from "Game of Thrones":
Well, anyway... look, I'm just to emotional about everything in the story, so I think I will skip this idea of list. Just... Somber, please, promise me Steel Rain's inevitable demise will be something spectacular. I like (/respect/feel compasion towards) every other villain in this story but him. Even Legate. He at least worships Tokomare or is her servant or whatever. Steel Rain? He is just a power-hungry jerk, a bully. A stinkin' bully!

Okay, now a few matters I forgot to mention in my post immediately after reading (cut me some slack, it was 4 am on my side, and I had to get up in like 2 hours).

Rampage, what the f***?! How could you leave Blackjack there like that?! You're no longer one of my favorite characters, missy! Pity I cannot wish you death, since that's what you want... I mean, I could understand to some extent that she really wants to die and for that she had even allied with Cogs, but what was all that crap she would make sure Cogs won't misuse her power if she just leaves in the next two pages!?
I cannot belief she was actually a mother once if she let Cogs do this to Blackjack. Doesn't she know how Blackjack must have felt after she no longer had her baby(ies) in her? And she just... walks away!?!!?!??!?!?!

Now, on to the next traitor.. Echo. Echo... YOU PIECE OF S***T! You were a soldier once?! And you had basically abandoned a pregnant mare, who was just, what, you're only friend you had in the last 200 years!?
Blackjack was nothing but a friend to him since she had realized that he wasn't an apparition of her mind, and even before that (I think), while he had acted since the beginning like a jerk! What an a*****e!
I guess this proves Luna was right not to trust him... he cannot be trusted. And yeah, I figure that both him and Rampage will have some redemption thing, but... I would like Blackjack to just give both of them a cold shoulder once everybody bad is killed.
Also, why the hell Echo even bothers wanting to live? Did he forgot already about that zebra's curse on Marauders? That except for the one that wanted to quit they would all die horribly? He is gonna die horribly either way! He could have at least continue to be a good guy!
I know that he had his reasons, but I would have expect a 200 + something guy to be a little bit wiser. In the end, everybody is gonna die someday. What matters is how you chose to die (especially in a story like this, were dying is a common occurrence).

On that note, I found it interresting that Rampage and Echo, both ponies Blackjack trusted, had betrayed her for literally opposite reasons.

Now, on to Cogs... what a lying b***h! Didn't it (yep, I called Cogs it. That's what she is. Even if it has Luna's soul in her now, it doesn't deserve to be called a pony) promise Blackjack she would let her go? I mean, it's funny how it, a machine, has some semblance of equinity (you know, humanity) unlike her two minions, Steel Rain and Legate. She did told Steel Rain to shut up when he was about to suggest using Blackjack's baby. Which is one of the things that makes me like Cogs more than him...

So, is Cogs now going to pretend she's Blackjack? Ugh... you know, this sounds as if this is going to be a lot like a "liar revealed" plot-line in the end, which, like Nostalgia Critic, I don't really like. Please, tell me Blackjack's friends are going to figure out somethings wrong, or that Rampage will get her s**t together and will notice that Cogs pretending to be Blackjack means something went off with the deal... or that Blackjack will make rather quick return, before Cogs will ruing her good name too much.

Soo... Blackjack doesn't have a cutie mark... or mind... or her babies... and she was betrayed by almost every one of her friends present in this chaper. Wow. I think this might be even more hurtfull for her that what happened in the chapter that shall not be named. At least she got to be a badass in the first half here...

Also, back to lacking cutie mark thing... you know, I believe there was an episode some time ago that centered around characters having problems with their cutie marks, and it ended with a certain main character gaining something best described as a power-up? Hm....
I mean, Snips (spineless idiot, he could have pretended he had failed with at least that) said that taking a cutie mark, the special talent/destiny, was just theoretical. I guess this means Blackjack could regain her talent once she had remembered what it stood for... can be kinda hard without her mind, though...

Now, Discord... I don't think he is done for. A magician greatest tool is misdirection, and his first rule is "The magician is the smartest person in the room". So I think this whole thing he did was staged, and that Cogs having Luna's soul is part of his great scheme... I mean, Discord probably knows the script for this story, so I doubt he would get himself killed and out-played by Cogs. Of course, I could be wrong and he could be dead... if that is possible... but I am pretty certain that my guess in regards to his plan is correct, at least.

Well, I think that's all from me. Have been pilling up those thougts for five days. It's good to finally have that off my chest.

Now, I hate to ask this... well, not really, but I do realize this is rather rude. When can we expect the next chapter? Because I think I speak for everybody when I say that we are all really anticipating it.

I was really sad for two days for after I read the new chapter, and I had to force myself to not think about Blackjack's status too deeply. I... I just want to give her a hug... Poor Blackjack. Why everything has to be so hard for her? I know that otherwise this story wouldn't be so exciting to ready, but I think she deserves a complete, easy win. I mean, I think she hadn't had a complete win since arc IV... Even Littlepip didn't have as much problems as she had.

Okay, now it's really everything from me. For now. Like I said, great chapter, as always, but I really wish things would start looking good for Blackjack... which hadn't been the case for what, four chapters now?
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by SilentCarto on Fri Apr 04, 2014 8:38 pm

Meleagridis wrote:"Otherwise, even if we are lucky enough to intercept the projectile, it would simply become whatever form was last programmed into the Tokomare.”
Shit son. Can I just point out that we have no idea what this very brief and casual mention could possibly lead to? Other than something terrible and ultimately climactic?
Oh. Oh wow. That one slipped right past me. All I can think of are the words "Godzilla Threshold" and the fact that Whisper is also related to a Ministry Mare.

Meleagridis wrote:"Then Discord turned his attention to Snips.  “This one isn’t even finished yet!  Let me see.”  And he snapped his claws.  From the storm, a cloud of tiny motes swept through the side of the jar and into the skull.
That's another bit I didn't register the significance of in the midst of all my worry for BJ. So he reunited Snips' soul...

Meleagridis wrote:At this point, Snips seems to be doomed to step into villain territory with no hope of return- FO:E is still a fantasy setting, and fantasy has a thing about bone-heads with powers over life and death. But… isn’t that just so boring? The standard solution would be to kill him, or at best to somehow give his spirit rest. But wouldn’t fixing him just be so much more original? Really looking forward to having a skeletal necromancer on Team Good Guy.
But that's exactly what Discord did! They made the point that having half his soul severed removed his morality, but Discord snagged the other half of his soul out of the Tokomare and put it back in him -- and then flashed him away before Cogs could catch on to what he just did or Snips could blow his cover.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Evilgidgit on Fri Apr 04, 2014 8:39 pm

OneMoreDaySK wrote:Huh, this escaped my notice until recently.
Blackjack still hasn't actually found a virtue she attributes to, right?

Random thought: who's expecting this to end with a ship (sea, air, space) dropping on the EoS / Tokomare / Cogitum?
Someone made a pretty cool Deviantart wallpaper where Blackjack's virtue was perseverance: http://www.deviantart.com/art/Virtues-of-the-Wasteland-Wallpaper-367778873
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by RoboRed on Fri Apr 04, 2014 8:45 pm

Tangentially related: look at whose tumblr got featured on EQD: http://www.equestriadaily.com/2014/04/tumblr-spotlight-requiem-docs-stuck-in.html

------------------
Aonee wrote:
jacky2734 wrote:((Aonee, don't make me invent a way to punch you over the internet.))
((If you do, I will invent a Korean technique to block it with someone else's face. And, construct more pylons.))

CamoBadger wrote:((Wow, zebra incest is powerful shit))

Mister Frost's friend, "Darren" wrote:"I'm scared to break up with her, though. Her dad's an ex-marine; if I make her cry he'll club me over the head with a pillowcase full of doorknobs and Tom Clancy novels."

Sindri wrote:This is a thread for fans of a fanfiction of a fanfiction about murderous miniature pastel equines in a grimdark post-apocalyptic future.
If you wanted to stay anywhere near socially acceptable, you should have taken a left turn about three layers of WTF back.

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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Icy Shake on Fri Apr 04, 2014 10:03 pm

RoboRed wrote:Tangentially related: look at whose tumblr got featured on EQD: http://www.equestriadaily.com/2014/04/tumblr-spotlight-requiem-docs-stuck-in.html
The blurb:
While we're very accustomed to the bright and happy world our ponies live in, we do know that their world is quite perilous outside the cities and that old age and death are indeed a part of their lives. And when all is said and done it's up to one pony to take care of it all. Meet Requiem, a somber pony in charge of the dead along with related services who is answering questions from the living about her life and her world. If you've been looking to explore the sadder parts of Equestria this is certainly the tumblr for you.

I have to assume it was intentional.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by SilentCarto on Fri Apr 04, 2014 11:35 pm

OneMoreDaySK wrote:Thought that Littlepip encountered some active ghouls underwater in Canterlot. Need to double check that, though.
I don't remember that. She ran into some Canterlot ghouls down in the Zebratown storm drains, but we know they don't need much of anything to keep going.

Meleagridis wrote:Dammit, Hinds. One has literal dragon killing cannons on his side and the other is eternal. The innuendo here is practically limitless. What have you done?
Heck, Discord already made the "compensating" joke in the text itself.

Steel Rain is totally the bitch.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by O. Hinds on Sat Apr 05, 2014 12:03 am

Icy Shake wrote:
RoboRed wrote:Tangentially related: look at whose tumblr got featured on EQD: http://www.equestriadaily.com/2014/04/tumblr-spotlight-requiem-docs-stuck-in.html
The blurb:
While we're very accustomed to the bright and happy world our ponies live in, we do know that their world is quite perilous outside the cities and that old age and death are indeed a part of their lives. And when all is said and done it's up to one pony to take care of it all. Meet Requiem, a somber pony in charge of the dead along with related services who is answering questions from the living about her life and her world. If you've been looking to explore the sadder parts of Equestria this is certainly the tumblr for you.

I have to assume it was intentional.
Aye, I noticed that. :)
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Meleagridis on Sat Apr 05, 2014 11:28 am

SilentCarto wrote:
But that's exactly what Discord did! They made the point that having half his soul severed removed his morality, but Discord snagged the other half of his soul out of the Tokomare and put it back in him -- and then flashed him away before Cogs could catch on to what he just did or Snips could blow his cover.

Exactly- he handled this Standard Fantasy Situation in an all too characteristically Blackjack manner, one that kind of highlights her unconventional (and chaotic) methods. He gave the monster a second chance to Do Better rather than just putting them down. All while throwing himself in harms way to protect others- not as literally as Blackjack taking a hailstorm of bullets, but turning those shells into bouquets seems to have taken as much juice as weathering them. He was dying, pretending to be strong, in a gambit to help others. I think his final scene was the perfect culmination of Blackjack's positive influence on him. I really, really like that scene.

On a vaguely related note, is Snips's blue fire due to soul mumbo jumbo or the fact that his bones were exposed to the Hightower dirty bomb? Is he going to need a radsuit in order to interact with others?
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by swicked on Sat Apr 05, 2014 12:19 pm

Meleagridis wrote:On a vaguely related note, is Snips's blue fire due to soul mumbo jumbo or the fact that his bones were exposed to the Hightower dirty bomb? Is he going to need a radsuit in order to interact with others?
The jar descended, and within was… it reminded me of the glowing skeletal ponies I’d seen walking around the Hoofington Megaspell complex.  The unicorn skeleton was incomplete, an intact skull, mostly intact torso, floating vertebrae, and broken off limbs all connected by faintly glowing gas like the soul motes.  Swirls of the mist filled the eye sockets like stars.  “Hello, Blackjack,” the skeleton said quietly, his eyeglow brightening as he saw me.  “Did you get Snails out?”
How do you mean, sir? Where is this mumbo jumbo?
I think it would have been very interesting if his bones had been irradiated, though.

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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Meleagridis on Sat Apr 05, 2014 1:49 pm

Woops, I misremembered. I thought he had a blue fire like the Hightower superghouls, but it's just soul glow.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by O. Hinds on Sat Apr 05, 2014 6:00 pm

Meleagridis wrote:Exactly- he handled this Standard Fantasy Situation in an all too characteristically Blackjack manner, one that kind of highlights her unconventional (and chaotic) methods. He gave the monster a second chance to Do Better rather than just putting them down. All while throwing himself in harms way to protect others- not as literally as Blackjack taking a hailstorm of bullets, but turning those shells into bouquets seems to have taken as much juice as weathering them. He was dying, pretending to be strong, in a gambit to help others. I think his final scene was the perfect culmination of Blackjack's positive influence on him. I really, really like that scene.
Hm. I hadn't looked at it like that. Nice insight.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by SilentCarto on Sat Apr 05, 2014 8:38 pm

O. Hinds wrote:
Meleagridis wrote:Exactly- he handled this Standard Fantasy Situation in an all too characteristically Blackjack manner, one that kind of highlights her unconventional (and chaotic) methods. He gave the monster a second chance to Do Better rather than just putting them down. All while throwing himself in harms way to protect others- not as literally as Blackjack taking a hailstorm of bullets, but turning those shells into bouquets seems to have taken as much juice as weathering them. He was dying, pretending to be strong, in a gambit to help others. I think his final scene was the perfect culmination of Blackjack's positive influence on him. I really, really like that scene.
Hm.  I hadn't looked at it like that.  Nice insight.
This! That is very interesting.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by RoboRed on Sat Apr 05, 2014 11:56 pm

Meleagridis wrote:
I wish I could say I'm not sorry but I can't:
Nothing. I couldn’t feel anything. Except for hurt and panic, but I tried to supress those by focusing on an all-encompassing numbness. Worse than having all of my organs and limbs and even my face swapped for metal replicas, I didn’t even have those precious few bits of flesh that helped me stay sane. In the complete dark, I started to miss mechanical whirring and nagging fuel bars as much as I had missed my heart. Is this what Deus felt like, trapped inside that tank?

I tried to move, to walk without walking. But this wasn’t about having legs that were smarter than me- I just didn’t have legs. I thought up and down, and tried anything that might take me in some sort of direction. What else could I do?

“Help!” I cried out into the dark. I expected an echo, but I’m not sure I could even hear my cry since I technically had no ears. Or mouth, for that matter. Maybe I was just thinking it. But I yelled nonetheless. “Echo? Spike? P-21? Glory?”

I knew plenty of ponies who knew their way around a computer system. But did they know it better than an insane program that was actually a computer, ensouled or not? “Anyone! Get me out of here!”

“You again!”

At first I was afraid Cognitum had returned to throw me in a dungeon in the place she had banished me to. But that was not her voice. I couldn’t see her disguising it as something so brash, male, and vaguely familiar. “Who is-” I began to ask.

“For the last time, I don’t care if you think you are Queen of the Goddessdamn Mole Rats! I take my orders from a superior officer, not some wet-behind-the-ears copycat with Pygmalion issues! You can stop calling this number because I have had it up to here with your bullshit! Loyal servant of her true majesty, signing off!”

“Wait!” I shouted, “Don’t go! I need your help!”

I was greeted with silence, which slowly began to fill with the doubt and fear I had been holding in check until now. My last chance had just hung up on-

“Who the hell is this?” replied the voice, “You’re coming through on the same channel as that frustrating Princess Wannabe, but you sound more like Corporal Whines. Name, rank, and serial number!”

No wonder he had been so hostile. I would be to, if I thought I was speaking to Cognitum. “My name is Blackjack! I’ve been trapped in some kind of system computer thingy, and I need to get-”

“Jack? Jack?! Good old Jack the Wrecker! I knew you wouldn’t let yourself get scrapped by a little megaspell!”

Vision returned to me, but it wasn’t the same scene as before. Instead of that terrifyingly massive chamber and the dessicated skeleton of the Tokomare, I was presented with a small room of unmatched quaintness. There was a workbench in the corner, strewn with metal tools. The walls were plastered with posters of pre-war singing sensations such as Sweetie Belle and Flank Sinatra. And in the center of the room, illuminated by a single artificial lamp hanging from the ceiling, was a three-armed hovering robot with a pinstripe paintjob.

“Robotic gutsy-class guard Cerberus ready for duty, sir!”

My nonexistent mouth hung open. “Cerberus? How did-”

“I knew it from the start, but when we got reports of heavy artillery coming from the Core I told them all: It’s good old Jack!” Cerberus cheered, lining up his plasma weapon as if tracking an invisible foe. “Still taking down pre-war prisons, or are you moving up in the ranks? Come on, commander, what’d you blow up? A sea serpent? A dragon? Was it another one of those bloated superghouls? By Her Majesty’s Sun, I wish I could have been there to see it!”

“No,” I whispered, “No, it wasn’t anything like that. Listen, Cerberus-”

“I was still fit for duty, you know! Gutsy-class units can work through anything! I’ll have you know I still had one fully functional arm!” He began to pace the length of his cramped room. “Sending me, a bona-fide military badass, out on a delivery run like some common messenger bot? Disgraceful!”

I was starting to wonder where the mute button was. I didn’t know it was possible to get a headache without having a head. It was better than the endless silence, but I still wished I could put a hoof over his mouth- er, speaker. “Okay, okay, I’m sorry. But I really need you to-”

“It’s because of Graves, isn’t it? Goddess dammit, I did my best! I tried! Why won’t anypony believe me?” Cerberus hovered up towards the camera. My view shook as he grabbed it with a clamp. “Commander, if you give me just one more chance I promise I won’t let you down! I swear on my honor as a soldier! I can still be a contender! I’ll do better!”

“Cerberus!” I snapped. He backed up from the camera, withdrawing his clamp like a wounded paw. I sighed, and as I did I could feel something strange in the void. Like a high pitched sound that reverberated right through me. “I’m sorry, but I really don’t know how much time I have to talk to you. I really need you to get a message to Glory.”

“Delivery service again? Do you not need a warbot now that you have giant laser beams? Put me back in the ring, Jack, I can still fight!” He resumed pacing, and the sound ramped up to a buzz. Something was happening to my vision- the room was slowly growing distorted and staticky.

“Cerberus, something’s happening!” The robot stopped his muttering and pacing, though it was hard to tell through the interference. “I can barely see you!”

“That’s probably Queen Bossypants,” Cerberus stated matter-of-factly. “I don’t imagine you’ve got very much time left at all. Goddess damn, and I never got an affirmative on that field assignment!”

The words started to get lost in a hiss of static, and Cerberus’ pinstripe body became impossible to make out. I could only hope that he could still hear me. “You need to tell Glory that I’ve been replaced by an imposter! It’s not me, it’s Cognitum, and she’s going to try some crazy plan with a missile from the moon! And if she messes up, all of Equestria will be-”

“Destroyed!” shouted a strange voice. “Um… hello? Do rey fah so… oh crap.”

It was my voice. But it sounded strange, like it was being spoken through a tin. It reminded me of Watcher’s voice when he spoke on his spritebots.

“There!” boomed Cerberus’s voice. “Now we can talk a little more about that promotion without being interrupted!”

I would have looked for the source of the voice had I not been a little preoccupied staring straight ahead. This was the same room I had been peering into, but something was wrong with the camera. Instead of a haze of static, I was looking through some kind of fishbowl lens. And instead of the date and time tucked into the corner, I had the familiar vital readouts of an EFS. More interestingly, I found I could actually move the camera. I tilted up and down, seeing a door I couldn’t catch the first time and a pile of old records.

“Did you do something to the camera? The static’s gone, but now everything looks weird. And why do I have an Eyes Forward-”

I stopped as I noticed a darting blue bar in my EFS, moving to the door and throwing it open. In the doorframe stood an emaciated pegasus with worry etched on his familiar, ghoulish features. “There you are!” Windclop said sternly, glaring straight at… me? “You’re supposed to be in Afterlife! We need you now more than ever, ponies are starting to seriously consider evacuating to the tunnels, and I honestly can’t say I disagree with them! We need you there to help calm them down!”

“M-me?” I stammered. “Why? What happened? Has Meatlocker been targeted? Is everypony alright?”

Windclop snorted. “Glad to see you’ve finally dropped that ridiculous theory about Blackjack shooting lasers from the Core.” Huh? “No, we haven’t been targeted yet. But ponies are starting to worry about what the actual targets for those lasers were. We don’t have any concrete information to go on, but if things are bad we might not have time to confirm our worst fears. That’s why I need you to make everything seem normal until we figure out a solid plan of action.”

“Windclop, you sniveling jackass!” sneered Cerberus. I looked all around but I just couldn’t see him. “Take your tail out from between your nethers and stand tall! Jack is back, and she is ready to make up for a major backlog of ass to kick!”

“Enough, Cerberus! Blackjack is dead!” snapped Windclop, immediately looking even more tired. “She can’t save us anymore. We’ve got to rely on ourselves… and each other.”

“Windclop!” I shouted, “I don’t know how well you can hear me, but I’m not dead! Well, mostly, I think. I might- nevermind, it’s not important. What is important is that I get to Glory and P-21 and the others before my evil robot twin does!”

Windclop clearly heard me, because he gave the camera a funny look. Maybe Cerberus hooked it up to some speakers in the room? “Who did this?” asked Windclop, “Did you get Boing to mess around with your speech processor? Cerberus, I don’t have the patience for these games right now. Get to Afterlife, on the double. I’ve got too much to do to deal with this.”

“Wait!” I called out, but Windclop had already turned and galloped back out into the hall. I waited in the silence for a few gears to turn in my head. Literally, for all I knew.

“Cerberus,” I said to the seemingly empty room.

“Yes, Commander?” he answered.

“Did you download my brain into you?”

“Fortunately the file was incredibly compact!” he chirped blaringly. “I still had to delete one of my favourite Filly Holiday albums to make room, so this had better be worth it!”

By comparison I knew that I had been through weirder things. But it was still hard to process. Did this count as a step up or down from being a helpless consciousness in a computer network? “I… okay, um. This… doesn’t change anything. I still need to get to Glory, warn her that Cognitum is coming. After all, someone will have to believe that I’m not only still alive after three months in the deadliest place in the wasteland, but that my mind has been transferred to an overly patriotic guard robot after being sucked out of my body which has been taken by a copy of Princess Luna’s mind in a giant underground machine. Right?”

“Sir, yes sir!” shouted Cerberus. I flinched when his flamer flew towards the camera in salute. “Well, maybe not in Meatlocker. Ever since Hightower, the only rotting pukes that give me the time of day are Windclop and Pvt. Pretzel.”

Well, Windclop seemed convinced that I was some kind of prank on Cerberus’ part. “Can we talk to this other friend of yours, then? They might have some way to send a message before Cognitum reaches my friends.”

“Affirmative, Commander!” Cerberus tore out of the room and flew down the halls, causing ghouls to yelp and dive for cover to avoid him. “Permission to speak freely? I’ve been telling Pvt Pretzel all about the Hightower mission- on repeat -for the past three months, but the ungrateful cripple never seems properly impressed. I can’t wait for a chance to tell the story side by inside with Jack the Wrecker in the flesh- er, well, in the mind at least. Just try not to get all uppity when she calls you a scumbag. She’s just still sore about you trying to kill her.”
You can't do anything to disprove this theory until the new chapter comes out, and you probably won't be able to convince me otherwise until some time afterwards.
I like this.

------------------
Aonee wrote:
jacky2734 wrote:((Aonee, don't make me invent a way to punch you over the internet.))
((If you do, I will invent a Korean technique to block it with someone else's face. And, construct more pylons.))

CamoBadger wrote:((Wow, zebra incest is powerful shit))

Mister Frost's friend, "Darren" wrote:"I'm scared to break up with her, though. Her dad's an ex-marine; if I make her cry he'll club me over the head with a pillowcase full of doorknobs and Tom Clancy novels."

Sindri wrote:This is a thread for fans of a fanfiction of a fanfiction about murderous miniature pastel equines in a grimdark post-apocalyptic future.
If you wanted to stay anywhere near socially acceptable, you should have taken a left turn about three layers of WTF back.

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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Icy Shake on Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:39 pm

Travel, a busy week, and a new chapter really delayed me getting through this: I started last Sunday. On the plus side, chapter 65 kind of explains some things that bothered me about the dealer in 42.

Chapter Forty Two Running Thoughts:
The life of a caravaner must be one not that different from that of a security mare: long periods of boredom, tedious but preferred, punctuated by moments of intense excitement that you’d really rather didn’t happen.

"Hurry up and wait" is ever a classic, and not just for the martial professions.


I landed, slid to a halt, and spotted the one who was in charge.  At least, I thought he was in charge.  He had the hat of a pony in charge.

I suppose there are worse ways of making that call. And it's almost a foolproof way in some cases, like the jaegerkin in "Girl Genius."


“Hi!  Are you the pony in charge, ‘cause I need to buy some gems.  Yes sirree, any and all gems you have on your person.  And cans of Cram!  Yes sir, I crave me some Cram.  Come on, you are a trader, right?  I need to trade.  I need to trade right now now now!”

"You can probably tell I don't need cocaine. I have plenty. Or maybe I used to. I forget."


“Holes?  Holes!  Ha ha ha!” I laughed as I turned to the side to show where a few lucky armor piercing AM rounds had caught me since I’d started my run.  He gaped at the punctures punching straight through my metal hindlegs.

So for a little while, Blackjack was also a changeling.


Then he saw me frantically ingesting the can without even eating the contents first, and from the worried look on his face, I was fairly sure he wasn’t going to be telling anypony about this meeting, period.  Who’d believe him?

Give it a few days, couple weeks tops. By then acting like it's surprising will be passe.


“P-21 answered to me when his problem became too much for him to deal with.  Homage must answer to somepony in Tenpony or the Twilight Society.  And if Homage is right and LittlePip has gone completely nuts, somepony will put her down or stop her.  Her friends…  I’ll do it myself if I have to… and I’m still around.”  That was easy to say, though.  Just words…
“Really.  How generous of you.  And here I thought you weren’t an executioner,” he said, showing the image of the Harbinger in the gravel pit with half her face blown off.

Hey! Those were taken out of context!


“Tell me, Blackjack, who did the Ministry Mares answer to?”
“Luna, of course,” I said, but I frowned.  Something about that felt… lacking.
“Really?  You’ve dug through the O.I.A.’s dirty laundry.  You know what was going on, and trust me, there was even more happening that wasn’t secret.  So where was Luna saying ‘Sorry, time out, not doing that’?  When did the Princess put on the brakes?

You know, just because the person you answer to doesn't reign you in doesn't mean you don't answer to them; they could just agree with you. Now, if you want to push it one step further to "whom did Luna answer to?," then of course the answer is "herself"; that's sovereignty for you. Dealer is fortunate he's not dealing with someone who can really reason right now.


Everypony you want to hold responsible was punished two centuries ago.  They’re dead and gone.  Everything is.”  But he looked at me for a long moment, then simply turned and looked out at the valley and the black towers of the Core.
“Not everything, Blackjack.  The corpse remains.  And if it remains, it can be held responsible,” he said.  

Wut? Is he talking Cognitum or something, or does he have it out for inanimate objects?


I don’t think she realized that she should stop shooting when her guns were pointed at her allies... friends... heck, did Harbingers even like each other?  

Maybe they needed more team-building seminars.


“Damn, and here I was hoping I could convince you to leave me be though my goody good goodness,” I said as I shoved her away.

Well, it's hard to demonstrate that when you're shooting at them. In fairness, that's more their fault than yours.


I made it about three miles before I had to stop and take cover, choosing some kind of large, two- or three-story industrial building that had all the aesthetics of a cinder block

Ah, modernist architecture. You won't be missed. Granted, not everything that followed was much of an improvement.


I thought of what Sanguine had told me, some defense computer going crazy in the Core.  That didn’t quite fit, though.  I couldn’t see a computer, no matter how advanced, inspiring a cult to hunt me down.  Everything pointed to a pony behind this.

Why can't it be both? And come on, Blackjack has already met Applebot. But then, she could think that was a one-off creation, and I don't believe she's heard about the uploading function of Crusaders yet.


Time for an interrogation.  Blackjack has ways of making you talk…  Of course, mostly they involved me crying and begging, but still… ways.

Batman she is not.


“Fuckin’ Reapers are finished, boyo.  They’re down to, what, fifteen fighters tops?  Ain’t seen none o’ the top ten save Brutus in days.  Rampage, Psycho, Deus, Gorgie… they’re all gone.”

Converted, converted-ish, killed-ish, killed. She did a number on them, considering we're talking the top tier.


“What the fuck are you smiling at?”
The ghoul with the flamer leaned over and stared at the filly that Lacunae had painted on my flank.  “She’s got a Crusader’s mark… and that tiny horn… oh shit…”

Not sure calling out the horn size was smart.


There was one other disadvantage, too: Bluebelle was a biter!  She snapped at my neck, trying to grab my ear as we danced about on our hind legs.
She might be stronger, but I had one trick she didn’t.  I popped out my fingers and grabbed her mane as tight as I could.

Great, a biter and a hair-puller. Nobody takes clean wrestling seriously anymore, do they?

And while one sucker punch hadn’t made much of an impression, four perfect shots to her face brought Bluebelle up short.  I didn’t waste the opportunity, standing like a zebra and continued to power blows to her face.

And now we're boxing? Just full MMA now?


“I can understand that,” I said as I closed my eyes.  “Well, I don’t know what else I can say.  These Harbinger ponies, though… if they get their hooves on the Core and ‘save’ the Wasteland, do you think they’ll leave you alone?”
“Why wouldn’t they?  We don’t want nothing to do with the Core,” she said with a snort.  “They got one of them there priests out saying that, so long as we give them yer head, they’ll leave us be.”

Weird change of topic, considering nobody had been talking about the Harbingers yet. Though I guess they could at least be acquainted, considering the Harbingers like to evangelize.


Candlewick chuckled and put his hoof on my rump.  “Heh, somepony should’a told him your other end is more fun.”  A shock ran up my spine from the simple contact, my nerves thrumming like a charged wire.
For one moment, I had limbs of flesh and blood.  I had a heart that thundered in my ears.  Lungs that gasped for breath as my throat was choked.  My nethers strained and burned and ached from the force of what had occurred just a week ago.  It took every ounce of restraint left in me not to kill Candlewick right there.  “Don’t...,” I said in a voice so strained it thrummed.  Even when he did remove his hoof, I was still there on the Seahorse.  Still hurting.  A little souvenir I’d carry forever.

And we have the full-on PTSD prompting Stygius. Granted, the remark probably didn't help, either.


The flamer cut off and I released it as well, the wall and ceiling above us still burning from the sticky flamer fuel.  My fingers were blackened, the tips glowing cherry red.  I hadn’t even noticed… for once, I didn’t feel anything at all.

And there, right after the explosive, frightening side, comes the side that's perhaps a bit more tempting.


He wasn’t a ghoul… just a pony who’d somehow been burned badly enough to look like one.

"I'm not dead! Just . . . very badly burned!"
. . .
Sorry.


Candlewick clicked something on the flamer several times.  Then there was a soft ‘pwuuuu’ as a tiny blue flame reignited over the muzzle.  He picked up his soggy cigar and sighed before he tossed it over his shoulder.  “Well, my cigar’s toast, so I need to smoke something.”

Well, I guess somebody had to be established as the cool one. With those actions and that line, he didn't need to be coming off of the receiving end of a PTSD-induced choking for it to happen, but it sure doesn't hurt.


The dirty brown unicorn mare met my gaze and tossed her gun away.  A few seconds later, the rest did as well.  Instantly, a whole knot of bars went from red to blue.  And funny, why were there a whole lot of red bars behind a section of solid wall?

Good strategy, sort of a "sand people always travel single file to hide their numbers" deal. Not too often, at least so far, that anyone's played around the PipBuck.


Then a column of burning flamer fuel gave them something else to worry about.  I’d never really heard a pony scream quite like that as they scattered and some tried to put themselves out in the water covering the floor.  The chemicals floating on top ignited in eerie pools of blue and green flame.  I didn’t hesitate to fire now; a bullet was a greater mercy than burning to death.

Interesting she can do it now, but not last chapter with the Seeker with half her face and throat blown off. Notably, I suppose, in this case she still has active threats around and isn't in a situation where if they recover she can necessarily handle them. But it's still unusual.


Then the blade arched and stabbed deep into his chest, and I thought I could almost feel it hum as he died and slid off the tip.

There it is again, and I think more pronounced than in the past. It seems like there are options: it could be because of the state Blackjack is in, or simply cumulative, or perhaps because of her return from death.

I pressed my head against the cool metal rail, letting a stream of water patter down on my it.  It felt nice.  My head was aching and I felt… wrong.  Not pain so much as something else.  I felt a hoof on my shoulder, and I looked up at Glory… no.  Not Glory.  I blinked my eyes and looked at the lavender unicorn.

The real sense that something is missing is already starting to show.


“Why do people keep spreading those stupid sex slave stories?  Honestly!” Dazzle huffed.  “We don’t.  We keep a few males around that we know won’t hurt us.  A few others we take for a fling and let them go.  A few years back we had a stomp with the Long Saddles.  Absorbed most of their mares, and, as a joke, enslaved their stallions for a few weeks.”
“And then gelded some of them afterwards.”  Busted Heart kept his eyes on the holes in the roof, but Dazzle flushed.  “Sold the rest to the Society.”
“Yeah, well, some of them deserved it.  Anyway, we got rid of most of the males.  Lot of them joined the Burners, and there’s been bad blood ever since.”  Dazzle looked at the Halfheart.

Somehow, Dazzle's protests just don't seem all that convincing when there's someone to give the truth behind the accusations.

“Anyway, I wouldn’t say Flashers would never ride a buck, but we don’t plough ‘em like they did us.  We’re the best chance for a mare on her own.”  True, Turnip hadn’t exactly been a bloody and bruised mess when we’d saved him... but the rest of what I’d seen and heard at Flash Industries made me think that Dazzle’s description might be a bit more rosy than the truth.

Not encouraging considering her version isn't all that rosy.


Two weeks ago, the Fillies had been trying to kill me.  Now she was laughing about the time I attacked her base.  It seemed a touch surreal.

Note also that you're doing it in a lull in a battle while you are potentially surrounded in an old building. That's a little surreal, too.


For a moment, I rested the crosshairs on the head of an unaware mare.  I could kill her right now; take out one of my enemies.  I shuddered and pointed the gun away.  No, I’d never be a sniper.

Strengthening the contrast with Psalm, and the irony of the Goddess's takeover. Carried over until at least chapter 64.


I charged towards her as she brought the AM rifle tip up.  Busted Heart had been right: this wasn’t a weapon for fighting ponies.  It was slow and heavy.
And right now I moved at the speed of death.

These are four great sentences. The basic, literal nature of the first three contrasts very nicely with the metaphor in the third.


My ears crackled, and the music disappeared.  I could hear the groan of steel and the chatter of bullets and the fwooosh of a flamer somewhere.  “I give up…” the unicorn murmured in my ear.  I turned to her, watching the blood flowing out her mouth.  I could feel the blade humming in my magical grasp as I slowly pulled it free.  I could hear a screaming, distant and constant and unmistakable as I looked down at the bloody blade and saw glowing white wisps of mist slipping off the metal.
Just like the starmetal rod.
I stared at it a moment, listening to its tiny little metallic hum.  It seemed to be asking me, wasn’t I happy?  Hadn’t this been what I wanted?
I dropped it into the muddy water, the little unicorn on the hilt barely poking up above the surface.  That was then… this is ten seconds later...

Such a fast change of tone, and integrated in with building the character of the sword. And isn't the last line pure Blackjack?


“Damn.  You really are a Reaper,” I heard Bluebelle cough, trying to lift herself to her hooves.  I ducked under her foreleg and supported her as we hobbled to the corner.  “You could have killed all four of us if you’d wanted to, couldn’t you?”
“I have no wish to fight you,” I replied.

Even with Blackjack shellshocked, her line doesn't really sit right with me; when it was first said, I kind of went along with it since it was something she was more deliberately trying to construct in order not to spark a confrontation. Here it comes across as a failure of conversational contemporary English and/or character voicing—people don't talk like that, and Blackjack less than most; she's no longer talking to a potentially volatile stranger, but a comrade, if not a friend. It reads like something taken from an anime sub, or relatively archaic, at least overly formal, English (and the present tense answer to a question about the past doesn't help). Maybe it was meant as Blackjack calling back to her own line, but the flat speech tag doesn't really give it the character for it to take much meaning that way and most of the ways that would work seem off in the context of being something Blackjack would say to someone she respects and maybe kind of likes as she's worried they are about to bleed out.


Wow, I bet Busted Heart's lost loved one was like Blackjack, given the name "Gamble."


Slowly, finally, I reached where the pipes bridged the gap to the next factory over and looked back.
Nothing remained but a gold broken-heart charm flickering in the fire’s fading glow.

Nice visual to fade out on.


He’d also pass Lemongrass’s final act along to the Halfhearts.  Something as epic as that needed to be remembered, and I’d buck anypony who said that Security had done it alone.

Especially since Blackjack's role in it was literally nothing but getting him a second gun after his first one was busted. For all that that was the case, of course, we all know DJ-Pon3 would absolutely spin it as all her, perhaps even omitting the others entirely.


Still, there was a little hesitation.  For a while, we’d fought together.  Maybe not as friends, but at least as comrades.

I swear I wrote the thing above before I got to this, and I haven't read this chapter probably since it was originally released. It just serves as a reminder that I should be wearing a tinfoil hat while reading so past-Somber (maybe present- and future-Sombers, too) can't control my mind.


Radiation and taint and worse… the Quickening.”
Of course.  Something worse.  Wouldn’t be the Wasteland without something worse.  “Quickening?”
“Some sort of zebra curse or talisman or… something.  Went off a during a battle a week before the bombs fell.  Turned the ground to soup.  There’s no solid land in that bog, and you can be trotting along thinking you’re on firm ground when suddenly you’ll be sucked down and turned into a radigator snack.”

Crossing the references, I see. Lightning sand does work better in the setting than the whole Highlander thing.


And then there was the mountain.
Funny, you’d think a pony would notice a great, big, black plug of stone.

What mountain? I see no mountain.


“It’s never just a rock with you, is it?” P-21 said behind me.
Wait, P-21?  I whirled, starting to smile.  How had he gotten here?  Was he really over the Med-X?  Maybe the Goddess had magicked…
Nothing.  I stared at the empty yellow grass behind me

Actual hallucinations are a bad sign. But who knows? Maybe P-21 suddenly is able to astrally project himself. Would it really surprise anyone?


“You sure are some funny colors o’ stupid,” Bluebelle replied with a snort. “Of course Equestria had some coal.  Little bit.  Enough to run old trains and the like.  What kind of idjit invents a coal-fired power plant when the coal’s half way around the world?  Be like inventing a chocolate milk rain bottling plant when there ain’t no chocolate milk rain.”

Point taken and all that, but that's an oddly specific simile. And I can't argue with the point about Blackjack being stupid.


“And your people let it happen?” I asked, aghast.
“Fer a time.  And when we tried ta stop it, they dug out that map, told us we were subjects, pulled out fancy lawyerin’ words and contracts folks signed with some mighty fine print, and kicked us off our own land.  Celestia gave us food so we didn’t starve or freeze, but that just made us feel like bums in our own homes.

Seems like a pretty dick move real early on. Wonder just how much the princesses were involved.


“Like we did before the war.  ‘Course, the highlands ain’t the same.  We got whole lakes o’ black water bunched up in choked valleys, and most of the rest up there is yellow with sulfur and lead.  The ridges are flat, chewed stone nothin’ll grow on.

Well, heavy metal poisoning might still be better than lingering magical radiation.


“Dealin’ with the Hoof is bad.  Dealin’ with anypony other than kin is bad.  You can trust kin.  Can’t trust nopony else.”

Tell that to the survivors of any given failed stable.


Yer…  You don’t owe me Dozer’s gun.  Y’all had it fair, I reckon.”
“Maybe.  But he was your family.  You should have something of his.  That gun was never really mine anyway.  I never even knew its name,” I said as I looked down at the camp.  “I was just carrying it a while till it could get home.”

Speech check: passed.


Someone had cut a hole in the gate’s chainlink, but I suspected that this was recent.  Most of the rest of the fences were still intact despite all the rain, though everything metal was almost a uniform reddish color, and everything else except the hut by the entrance was mud-colored.
Everything else except the bones.
They lay everywhere.  In heaps and piles and stacks around the half-drum buildings.  There were curved ribs and knobby leg bones and chunky vertebrae, though very few skulls.  Bones hung on the razor wire surrounding the buildings.  Others looked like they’d been perforated by the turrets for trying to escape.  Somepony, maybe the prisoners, had painted strange masks and skull-like glyphs on the doors and walls of the buildings with the sticky yellow dirt that lay everywhere.  Strips of hide dangled from the razor wire.  I felt an ache growing in my chest; Enervation was stronger than usual here.

Mmm. That hot, steamy scenery porn.
Also, if Blackjack can feel it then at the least I bet wounds here will be problematic at the least.


I scampered inside as another bullet pinged off my helmet.

Now I want the aquatic equivalent of "scampered" to be "scampied." And for it to show up in a scene involving seaponies, preferably Aquarius and Pices.


Most of the corpses either wore collars and had bullet holes in the temple or back of the head or were missing necks and head entirely.  The bodies looked... chewed.

The missing heads showed up before, but this is where things get decidedly raidery.


Bluebelle at least had the decency to lose her lunch at the contents we stood upon.

Well, I suppose there are some advantages to being able to do that normally.


Then I blinked and spat the half-dissolved gem into my hoof.  I looked at the metal wire mesh and the splintered glass and then down at the little red oblong.  “Hey… is glass a gem?”
“Uh… I don’t think so,” she said skeptically.  She wasn’t looking too good.  That injury and the exertion were taking a lot out of her.  I remembered the sporting goods store; we’d activated the emergency power when we came inside.  As strong as the Enervation was, it was only going to get stronger unless I found that stupid ring and disabled it.
I munched down on the remains of the ruby and a sapphire.  “Let’s find out.”  I stood on my hind legs and carefully moved my mouth to the hole. “Come on…” I said as the glass cut my cheeks and ground on my teeth.

Just one of the best escape strategies ever. With payoff later, too.


“…wing.  Bad news.  It was some sort of infection.  We found two more in the morgue who were trying to get into the lockers.  Good news.  Rain Squall doesn’t seem infected herself.  We’ve notified Enclave intelligence.  They’re sending somepony to investigate.  I’m going to check back through the processing area while we wait.  Maybe we’ll find something useful.”

And now we're seeing the genesis of Lighthooves's raider project.


Bluebelle approached with a frown.  “What?” I asked.  She didn’t have any right to frown at me.  She volunteered!
“Do y’all like getting shot up?” she asked as she pointed at the holes that had penetrated my armor.  

. . . "No! Well, also yes. That's not the point! I'm not on trial, here!"

“I… I… um… I…”  I felt myself going bright red as I sat and lifted my forehooves and held them an inch apart.  “Maybe just a tiny bit?” I said with a sheepish grin.

I wasn't too far off.


I’dve been happy if they just stopped appearing and disappearing, though.

Whoa there. Too many of those and we'll be in Calamity territory, and nobody needs that.


There were red bars, but I couldn’t tell if they were above or below or hiding right out of sight.
I’dve been happy if they just stopped appearing and disappearing, though.

Ah, that key point, making her both more vulnerable to real threats and to making mistakes.


My behavior was drawing more and more concerned looks from Bluebelle as we moved through the offices.  I could hear my friends talking more and more, but their words became harder and harder to understand.  I could hear fear and alarm in their voices.  Shouts of distress and calls for help...  I knew it was in my head, but… but what if it wasn’t?  What if it Lacunae had done some kind of magic to me?

Getting worse, and having Bluebell, a relative stranger, around helps highlight it. And you have to appreciate the irony of how Lacunae had done magic on her, and that was sort of contributing indirectly to Blackjack's hallucinations, but in a way she didn't suspect at all.


Now that Goldenblood’s gone, all those surprise inspections and little impromptu investigations are a thing of the past.

Interesting. How long was Goldenblood out of the O.I.A.? The talisman would still have had to go through at least Shujaa and Twist before the bombs fell.

Morale couldn’t find their own asshole with a case of diarrhea these days.

Seems like an upgrade from the classic "with two hands and a flashlight."


Oh!  And I might have found my retirement: some stripe was ‘accidentally’ shipped here.  Rumor is she’s got some kind of super talisman inside her.  

Now the talisman is starting to show up ahead of the Hightower arc, and it looks like either something was leaked or it was already pretty powerful, even if it wouldn't yet let you recover from anything.


I’ll have you know we’ve got a major outbreak of some kind of disease here at Yellow River; I’ve got stripes eating each other.  I have to make sure there’s no chance of infection.  I’ve had to dismiss all my non-pegasus staff to prevent it spreading.

Pegasus immunity, of course. Still wonder why, but sometimes things just work out weird.


“You are not going to just leave them!”  Then there was a pause.  “Is that money?  You’re taking bags of money with you?”  There was a sound of bags being cinched tightly down
“Of course, you idiot.  I’m not going home to be broke!  This is my retirement.  The savages are eating each other already.  They can take care of it.  There were reports of rioting in every prison across Equestria.  Hightower’s in lockdown.  Shattered Hoof let their prisoners free!  Not me.  Fuck no.  Let them rot.”

What a pleasant man and diligent civil servant. Anyway, somehow I doubt that the Enclave would really keep the old currency, the currency of the government they had been planning to secede from even before it got blown up. But I guess it could work out well for some interests, and if there's no more Equestria, you don't need to feel bad about using its money.


“Why?  Why the fuck did the good ponies have to die and fuckers like him live?!” I screamed, seething as I followed it up with kicking the desk over.  Then I wanted to knock over the file cabnets.  Light the whole floor on fire!  No, I wanted the blow the whole camp to the moon.  The city!  The entire fucking Wasteland!  I wanted it all destroyed!  “It’s not fair!   It’s not fucking right!”  I was sounding like a petulant filly, but at the moment I didn’t care. I was just so damned angry, and sick, and tired.  I fired Vigilance over and over again at a crawling corner as the Highlander shrank back.

"Sounding like"?
Joking aside, this is really an unusually pronounced reaction to the unpleasant revelation of the past, fitting in with the return of the hair-trigger anger that's been growing more prominent for a while.


My magic caught it, and since I didn’t have a clue what it might do, I tossed it into the far corner by the door.  Three seconds later it exploded, and white sticky webbing went everywhere.

Those zebras and their white liquids.


“I don’t want to hurt you,” I said as I lowered my voice.  “Do you understand me?”  I glanced at her flank where her stripes seemed to make an image of two crossed wrenches.  Or bones, but at the moment I was being optimistic.  I stared, and her bar went from blue to red to blue again, but I had no idea if that was her hostility or my eyes.
She nodded, then said in slow, trembling words, "Please don't kill me.  I am a technician.  Not a hunter, not a fighter."  If she was acting, she deserved an award; the mare had wet herself in fear.  Even Bluebelle seemed disinclined to fight anyone who would do that.

Xanthe! Yet another adorably cute character brought to you by the shitsack world of Hoofington. And now you know: the way to Blackjack's heart is through your bladder. Or, at any rate, it's easier to recover from than blood loss, which tends to work as well.


“You are the Star Maiden…” she said as she took a few hesitant steps back till her rump met the wall.
“Star what?”  I blinked in my own confusion.
“The Star Maiden of the fallen city.  The one who brings death, chaos and destruction,” she said with a gulp.  “The reaper of the lost land.”

Hey, it's that prophesy. Which didn't apply to her, or to anyone. Unless it did. Oh, and check that middle element of the list. Worth noting, too, that given the right context and perspective, those can all be good things.


“I don’t mean to hurt anyone if I can help it.  I’m Blackjack.  What’s your name?”
She looked from me to Bluebelle and back again.  “Xanthe,” she said as she slowly moved onto her hooves.  “Please…  Kill me quickly…”

"Why does everyone always say that?"


“Please… do not toy with me.  Whatever curse you are to bestow, please do so quickly,” she said as she rubbed the tears from her eyes.  “I… I do no fear your worst, Star Maiden!”

Lies. Transparent lies.


sI just stared at her for a long moment and then sighed, slowly shaking my head.  “I don’t have time for this,” I said as I turned and started for the door.
“What?”  The zebra asked in confusion.  “What kind of curse is this?”
“The ‘I got better things to do’ kind,” I replied as I stepped out into the hallway.

The worst of all curses! Diabolical!


“I have no idea who this Star Maiden is or why you seem to think I am her.”  I expected that to be it, but then she started following us!

So, remember that time Psychoshy theorized that following Blackjack around was a contagious mental disease? I do.


“The Star Maiden is she who is born from the cursed soil of the damned city.  She will be flesh and steel, touched by the stars and chosen as their champion.  Where she travels, chaos and strife will follow,” Xanthe said as she trotted in our wake.  Why, I couldn’t imagine.  “It is she that shall bear evil from the ground, usher in the final days of the world, snuff out the sun forever and call down the moon.  She shall summon storms, unleash plague, command unholy fire, destroy all in her path and all who follow in her wake.  Female shall desire female, male shall desire male, and unholy coupling between the species will commence where she travels.”

I swear I love this prophesy. Sure, it's pretty vague and all that, and the sexual stuff at the end predated not only Blackjack but the fall of Hoofington, but it's just so vivid! And it now looks like bringing down the moon, or at least a chunk of it, is in store.


“Damn…” Bluebelle snickered and leered at the zebra.  “I’m getting moist right now just hearing all this.”  Xanthe gasped as she cringed away and I looked back to see her eyes wide and popping.

Ah, Bluebelle likes it too. Also, was Xanthe modeled a little after Littlepip, but without the guns and violence?


“No.  Do not fight her.  We are all doomed!  She has cursed us all!” Xanthe wailed from the stairs, then started jabbering in zebra.

"Doomed! Dooooommmmmed!"


Now, I have no idea just how stomach-like my stomach was, but when you’ve overeaten, getting kicked like that is no good at all.  I gripped her shoulders with my fingers and felt everything working in reverse.  There was nothing I could do as I puked liquefied glass and metal in her face.  The clear fluid solidified seconds after it left my throat, freezing to her horrified face in a mask.  She fell back, flopping and flailing wildly as I spat aside gobs of glass, struggling to keep upright.  That blow had done some major damage to my internals, and every bit of watery glass was brought up.
Xanthe stared at me, her eyes even wider if it were possible.  Even Bluebelle was starting to look more uneasy about this.  Beatdowns with metal hooves were one thing, but clearly vomiting liquid glass was a whole realm of fucked-upness that only cyberponies could obtain.  I wanted to try and break the dying zebra’s mouth and nose free, but at the moment I was dealing with some internal damage.

This might be one of my favorite accidental deaths in fiction.


I sighed and tried to pull off her stealth cloak, but to my amazement it dissolved in my hooves!  The blue gemstone clasp immediately cracked and went dark.  No fair sabotaging the loot!  I gave the nervous zebra a glare, and she gulped.
“Mistcloaks are woven of shadow spider silk and disappear like morning dew in summer if taken from their owner,” she said as she hugged her own to her form.

So, just volunteering that? What would Blackjack even do that's worse than the curse she supposedly laid upon you?


“You wish me whole and healthy to suffer ever more, do you not, Maiden?” Xanthe said as she took it and drank it reluctantly before giving it to Bluebelle who, seeing the graze heal, lost her reluctance to drink for her injured shoulder.
“I wish you’d go back to your own people,” I retorted, feeling my insides pulling themselves back into place after that blow.

"Jeez, lady, what part of 'I don't care' is so hard for you to get?"


Lancer: “You don’t realize it, Security, but you have cursed her,” he said from the shadows... but his voice sounded odd to me.  “You have cursed her with kindness.  You have infected her with your mercy.  And like everything that you touch, she will be destroyed.”

You worked with her, earlier. How is it you aren't cursed? Oh, it's because the curse is bullshit functionally delivered entirely by the Remnant? Could have said that from the get-go.


“You bloody… murdering… bastard!” I shouted into the shadows.  I saw the darkness moving, forming eyes and mouths on the dim and dingy walls.  I fired Vigilance again and again into every shadowy corner.  My horn threw a storm of papers and rubbish around me, looking to see it bounce off some invisible assailant.  When I ran out of bullets, I drew my sword, swinging wildly as I raced around.  “You won’t hurt her!  You won’t!”  Shadowy ponies parted with each slice, reforming… laughing at my futile efforts.  Darkness spattered my vision as I attacked things that weren’t there.
I was grasping at shadows.
Bluebelle and Xanthe both stared at me in alarm and horror.  “What?” I shouted, exasperated as I swished the sword in the air and spattered blood across both of them.
Wait…?
Slowly I looked at the blood on the hilt of my sword.  Felt the blood that was dripping down my face.  I looked down at the decapitated zebra in front of me.  Saw another torn open along her side.  A sniper lay there with her face a concave hole.  Another was dying from three meaty chunks taken out of his chest.  I’d killed them and I hadn’t even realized it.  Hadn’t even realized that they were there.  Wounds from more than just Lancer’s round throbbed and burned, yet I hadn’t felt them.  The pain was so familiar I hadn’t even recognized it.  I staggered and grabbed a kicked-over desk.  When had I kicked it over?  Had I, or had somepony else?

Moving up to the level of blackouts, included within a bout of semi-directed rage.


“Don’t look at me like that…” I asked in a low rush.  They kept staring.  If it had been my friends looking at me that way, I don’t know what I would have done.  “Don’t look at me!” I screamed at them.
I liked it better when I was missing half my face.  It was easier than missing half my sanity.

And now shame and fear come to the forefront again, but from a different source than earlier when the cause was Candlewick touching her. I'm not sure the last line was needed, though, as I think it's sort of restating the obvious. On the other hand, from a mechanical standpoint, it does give a bit of a buffer, where ending the scene on " 'Don’t look at me!' I screamed at them." would have been kind of abrupt.


“There was a mighty warrior during the war who could not be felled.  A magical artifact preserved her on the battlefield.  Somehow she was laid low in a battle in the badlands outside the city.  Her body was brought here.  We learned from a ghoul who had been alive back then that the talisman had never been removed from the body.  So we came here to get it for Legate Vitiosus.”

One more link in the chain, which it wasn't clear was being forged yet.


“No bullet could slay her.  She would fall, and then rise again.”
“Sounds like somepony I know,” Bluebelle said as she looked over at me.  “Seriously.  He just shot you and you treated it like it was nothing!”

And here I thought she was thinking of Rampage. But then, that's the point, isn't it?


“Look.  This sucks for both of you.  Neither of you asked to be put in this mess… and that’s all that happens around me.  I can run into a total stranger and completely fuck their life up just by standing there.  But I can’t do this all on my own anymore.  If you two can help each other… please… help.”

You could almost say you're a curse on their existence. But then, not making that connection is part of her charm.


“Blackjack… is that…”  She took in my appearance in one long horrified look.  “What in tarnation happened to you, girl?  T’aint no decent reason fer any mare anywhere ta have that much iron in their body!”
“Hoofington happened,” I replied with a wan smile.  “I saw the shooting.  Wanted to see what’s up.”
The stallion with the missiles growled, “You think we’re stupid ‘nuff ta think yer stupid ‘nuff ta just trot down here ‘cause yer curious?  Ain’t nopony that dumb anywhere!”

You'd be surprised. And I'm not so sure it's dumb per se so much as having shockingly little regard for her own life or safety.


“What ya’ll doin with that stripe?  She looks like one o’ them that pinned us in here!”
“She met me and her life got ruined as a result,” I said as I stepped a little between Twister and Xanthe.  Boomer and Sunset--at least, I thought that was her name--looked at each other immediately.  “Oh… I suspect you can relate?”  The zebra gave me a look that seemed to say ‘see?’.

Hey, two or three . . . dozen . . . data points don't imply a trend!


“A horrible disease that breaks out during terrible famines.  When there is no food, a zebra becomes desperate enough to eat their own kind!  Then the hunger takes effect.  When they are killed, the starving eat their flesh and are infected themselves.  No amount of cooking can kill the disease.”No amount of cooking can kill the disease.”  And nor could stable digesters.
“Is… is there a cure?”  Could I have done something to save my home?  As messed up as it had been…
But Xanthe just shook her head.  “In my home, any village afflicted with the plague would be quarantined and burned.  The disease is not like others.  It must be ingested.  Only in the stomach does it start to spread.  But if some of the disease gets on your hoof and transferred to your meal, you can infect yourself or others.  One strip of contaminated flesh in a cookpot, and an entire village can be lost.”

And that's a little better cleared up. Note, too, it probably needs to be flesh specifically, not inclusive of blood, or Blackjack probably would have been infected.


“Pegasi are ponies the most different from zebra.  The disease has a harder time getting established in us.  But…”  She trotted over to one of the metal doors in the wall.  I joined her as she carefully opened the door with her hoof.  There was a long metal table.  Carefully, the rust colored mare tugged the table out.
There were four dead pegasi on it.  All of them had the chewed appearance of a raider making a meal of their limbs.  “These are all Neighvarro ponies who’ve gone missing in the last two weeks.  Maybe deserters like us… maybe not.”  Two weeks was long enough for the disease to run its course.  Even more disturbing, the ponies had been carved.  Great chunks of flesh had been removed, not wildly, but with care.

And the fact that there's at least been experimentation on/with pegasus infection is established to the Enclave. That they are all from Neighvarro is already suggestive given the proximity to Thunderhead.


“It’s her,” Xanthe said quietly.  “The warrior…”
I looked at the door and then at the clipboard.  Only one thing caught my eye.  The name: Shujaa.
Shit.  The talisman he was after was inside one of my best friends.

Well, the good news is your group was already a target. And apparently they never had any idea.


O.I.A. Image liaison Glass has requested the body and any and all objects on or within the body to be turned over to the O.I.A. for transfer to the Ministry of Image.  Said transfer is being delayed by order of Camp Director Mephitis.  Colonel Cupcake has formally requested all remains to be sent to Miramare Air Station for funeral services.

That is one popular corpse.


I think there's a reason Blackjack's Reaper rampage against the Enclave pegasi at Yellow River is pretty frequently brought up as one of the most intense action scenes of the story.


I left them, picking the dropped revolvers from the mud on my way.  Thousands of eyes watched me.  Even the dead were silent as I passed into the thunder and night.  At the gate, I paused.  I turned and stared up at one of the sentry towers.  It was as if a force drew my eyes upwards.  There, atop the spire, was the sixth Enclave pony, lit by the flickering flames of the burning processing center rubble.  I knew him.  It could only be him.

Nice paragraph, and I can't believe how few Google results there are for "even the dead were (are) silent,"; it seems too good to have been used only two or three times, at least without a negation.
Chapter Forty Two Overall Thoughts:
One of the really notable things about "Reaper" is its tone, and especially the narration. At the start, the narration is nuts. The narrator is easily hitting points of obvious craziness, but isn't herself aware of this, at least not consistently. Especially early on, there may also be a degree of conscious denial. In any case, this is thoroughly gone by the end. Yet through this, there are certain moments of clarity as Blackjack is able to see how screwed up she is, and how much that's impacting her and her friends. Along the way we also see Blackjack's uncontrolled, violent, and strikingly persistent response to flirting and casual contact from Firebrand. Interestingly, the four companions for that part of the chapter took this pretty well in stride, chalking it up to merely a reaction to being reminded of the Seahorse. I can't be sure, but by the end of the chapter I suspect Bluebell may have reevaluated this after having seen what Blackjack did first to a number of zebras and ultimately to a handful of Neighvarro Enclave. Importantly, Blackjack has increasingly frequent and vivid auditory and visual hallucinations, at least one blackout, and has reached the point where she can't trust E.F.S. anymore, and only partly due to being in a target-rich environment. This, in expanding Blackjack's unreliability from the basic lack of perception and more recent emotional and logical problems to complete inability to know what's going on around her doesn't merely justify "Lucidity," but also enables the transition to it.

Dealer makes a fairly prolonged appearance, doing one of his schticks to dissuade Blackjack from continuing on her path of tracking EC-1101 and general heroism. Until the release of chapter sixty-five (after I had read this portion of the chapter, mind), I really never understood why his arguments fell so flat to me. Now I believe I do. He's frightfully ambivalent about whether he wants her to continue, playing into Cognitum's hand. The indications seem to point to him caring about her . . . yet he wants to live, and that means delivering her to Cognitum. So to alleviate his guilt he, perhaps not fully aware of all of it, tries to convince her to retire, and does so in a way that makes her responsible for the destruction around her. It also illuminated why he seemed so disdainful of authority structures so often: he's been stuck with an actively vicious superior, in addition to having seen good people fail in their attempts to remake and preserve Equestria during the war.

There are two strong fights in "Reaper." Oddly, both were fairly one-sided, yet this did not detract substantially from them. The first is Blackjack and the gangers against the Harbingers, featuring the tank. Yes, they needed to retreat and lost Busted Heart, but they were able to save some of the Harbingers' cannon fodder and took out many times their own number (including temporarily the tank). It worked, I think, despite the fact that no individual action until the tank seemed too threatening, on the one hand because like a zombie movie, it seemed that there would always be more and no matter how well they acquitted themselves they couldn't keep it up forever, and on the other because there was a real contrast between the competence and—importantly—spontaneous coordination between Blackjack's group and the waves of atomistic Harbingers. Two deaths in this battle stood out: the first was a Harbinger who gave up after being mortally wounded, stabbed through the chest with the starmetal sword. What followed, "I stared at it a moment, listening to its tiny little metallic hum.  It seemed to be asking me, wasn’t I happy?  Hadn’t this been what I wanted?
I dropped it into the muddy water, the little unicorn on the hilt barely poking up above the surface.  That was then… this is ten seconds later...", was, I believe, an excellent example of Blackjack's character at odds with itself, particularly her willingness to do anything to survive or protect her friends contrasted to her (often frustrating) instant, instinctive forgiveness and mercy—even when it can't do anything but make her suffer and hate herself. The second memorable death in this fight was Busted Heart's. The former directly showcased Blackjack, where this one did so via him. He's doomed, trapped under the broken building, but goes down running interference to allow the rest to escape. Before that, though, he tells the story of how he lost his loved one, Gamble, in a similar situation, which is what drove him to become a Halfheart and long for death himself. One of the best parts of the sequence, though, was the beautiful closing of the scene: "Slowly, finally, I reached where the pipes bridged the gap to the next factory over and looked back.
Nothing remained but a gold broken-heart charm flickering in the fire’s fading glow."

The second fight was much shorter, arguably starting when Lancer left Blackjack and she started lashing out at shadows, likely blacking out, and killed a bunch of zebras. But the real center of this one was against the Enclave, from the time she was ordered to get on the ground until she was stunned, brought to a halt by the vision of Glory in Dusk's face, during which time she brutally massacred a handful of pegasi she displaced her hatred of Lighthooves onto, while in a constant agony and rage that precluded her from responding to all the magical bolts striking her. And additionally, it makes explicit that Blackjack wants not only to kill and destroy what surrounds her, but herself as well.

Overall, this chapter holds up very well, and it's not hard to see why some have mentioned it among their favorite chapters, and in addition to the rest I've said, does some very nice character work, particularly with Bluebelle and Busted Heart, and expands a bit on the Flashers, Burner Boys, Halfhearts, and Highlanders.
Chapter Forty Two Editing:
I knew from the maps of Hoofington I’d seen that the Sunset Highway went from the Princess bridge in the far south all the way around the city to the Zenith bridge in the north and then turned into the Sunrise Highway all the way around the city till it met the Princess bridge again.
The highway was approaching the Zenith bridge,

"bridge" should probably be capitalized in each case, since it sounds like part of their names.


I dove onto my side, sliding on the waterlogged asphalt with my metal legs folded in front of me, and crashed into him with a snapping of bone.

Can asphalt really be "waterlogged"?


The mare wrapped her forelegs around my neck and powered forward with a shriek of glee shouting, “Lets wrassle!”

"Let's"


it boomed like a gong. The fact was that she was stronger than me

only one space after period


all, she’s hangin round Bullfrog Springs.

apostrope for "hangin"


and caught it in his teeth,  swiveling the cigar

should only have one space after comma


I looked at Dazzle, jumped into S.A.T.S. and targeted three magic bullets

final serial comma after "S.A.T.S."?


As I backed away, he collapsed in a heap and just concentrating on breathing. He wasn’t

should be "heap and just concentrated" or "heap, just concentrating"
also, only one space after period


he said as he adjusted the knob. “But if I can face it with this,

only one space after period


A second later,  there was another cluster

should have only one space after comma


According to my E.F.S. the answer was ‘lots.’

period ot outside of quotation marks, comma after "E.F.S."?


The Harbingers had have no lack of recruits.

"had to have," "had had," just "had" might be best--but something along those lines


Or would [Roses] have reverted to slavery soon as I left her behind?

I'm not sure, but this might be clearer as "slaving."


My magic’s strength wasn’t sufficient to swing Taurus’ rifle around,

"Taurus's"


I struggled to stand, looking back over my shoulder as pieces of the building were annihilated bite by explosive bite; the shrapnel flying through the clouds of smoke and dust drew lines that lingered in the air.

semicolon -> comma


I could only listen to the contrabass’ soft, mournful melody as hell exploded around me.

"contrabass's"


Saw the flare of light reflecting of the watery sheen.

second "of" -> "off"


turret pointing twin heavy cannon barrels. Two smaller machine guns were

only one space after period


“No…”  I murmured, and then paid for my hesitation.

should have only one space after quotation


on introduction: The third was a green earth pony buck with a black mane and using a sniper rifle that had a weird gold charm of a stylized broken heart hanging from the butt by a chain.
now: His left forehoof was a bloody mess, blood darkening his yellow mane and hiding his left eye as he kept his discipline and focus on the tank.

given his name (Lemongrass), I assume the first instance should have his mane be yellow, not black, rather than the reverse change?


Slowly, finally, I reached where the pipes bridged the gap to the next factory over and looked back.

"that bridged" or "bridging"


“What about that?”  I asked,

should have only one space after quotation


Ya’ll know bout Iron-”

second hyphen for dash


‘Course there were a mite bit o confusion on the best way to do that.

apostrophe for "o"?


buildings that looked like giant metal drums laying on their sides,

"lying"


‘Yellow River Detainment Camp,’ read the concrete slab outside front gate.

comma to outside of quotation marks


“Well, piss on my leg and tell me its raining.

"it's"


I lifted Taurus’ hunting rifle and viewed the spectacle.

"Taurus's"


I stepped in, and a little voice said something in zebra, then crackled,
I looked at the signs, but these were written entirely in zebra.
“Please remain still,” the calm synthetic voice said, then repeated it in zebra.

As the name of a language, should "zebra" be capitalized?


freshly preserved, minus his head. I appeared to be in a room

only one space after period


landing on me with a crash. “Oooh… that was

only one space after period


We might not have a choice, though... But I still really didn’t like the idea of futzing with a great big box of boom

second space after ellipsis or don't capitalize "But"


moved my mouth to the hole. “Come on…” I said

only one space after period


could squeeze though! The room on the far side

should have second space after exclamation point


“So do ya like it or something? Cause I can’t figger why

only one space after question mark, apostrophe for "Cause"


“No… No she doesn’t,” I murmured as I trotted to the door.

second space after ellipsis or don't capitalize second "No"


and they were wide open in terror. Her mane was

only one space after period


The one who brings death, chaos and destruction,

final serial comma after "chaos"


She might have looked momentarily fierce save for her eyes, but her shaking knees definitely betrayed her.

Suggest replacing "She" with "Her face" (or somthing along those lines) since "save for" implies only one thing is keeping her from looking fierce in that moment, but her knees make two.


“It is she that shall bear evil from the ground, usher in the final days of the world, snuff out the sun forever and call down the moon.

This is purely a style issue, but to match the earlier part of the prophesy and bearing in mind that the whole thing is done in hightly formal language, "she who" might better fit the tone than "she that."


It saved me from getting my skull crushed. The zebra came out

only one space after period


Laying on my back, I was able to

"Lying"


“No.  Do not fight her.  We are all doomed!  She has cursed us all!” Xanthe wailed from the stairs, then started jabbering in zebra.

Should "zebra," as a language, be capitalized?


I sighed and tried to pull off her stealth cloak, but to my amazement it dissolved in my hooves!

comma after "amazement"?


“The last maiden?” I asked with a smirk over my shoulder.

"maiden" should be capitalized


Better that then not trying,”

"that than"


After what he did to Cirrius in that recording...

"Cirrus"


I happier to have a really big bomb to give Shujaa the send off she deserved.

"send-off"


“Get down, on the ground n-“ bellowed the pegasus in the sleeker,

second hyphen for dash


and the mare inside screamed. With all the

only one space after period


The pegasus’ wings went limp,

"pegasus's"


I ignored the flashing lights; the warnings that I was crippled and needed to stay down.

semicolon -> comma?


Bones, hide and rags snapped and tore as dust filled the air.

comma after "hide"


Even blasted, battered and beaten, my body just needed recharging.

comma after "battered"


Carefully I stepped away, shook out several gems and ate them, followed by cans of Cram.

comma after "gems"


Wow… an entire gang of P-21’s… or at least what P-21 would have become without Scotch Tape.

is that the right pluralization of "P-21"?


“What ya’ll doin with that stripe?

apostrophe for "doin"


Then I wanted to knock over the file cabnets.

"cabinets"
Other Editing:
45:
Most prominent was a emaciated-looking griffin

"an emaciated-looking"


Maybe tell old uncle Ahuizotl all about it?

"Uncle Ahuizotl"


54:
“I usually just call it my turbine,” Scotch said as she rubbed her chin thoughtfully, then looked at me, “cause it makes me hum.”

apastrophe for "cause"


I’m taking her with me!”  Sunset shouted at me.

should have only one space after the quotation
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Icy Shake
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by O. Hinds on Sun Apr 06, 2014 9:31 pm

Icy Shake wrote:Travel, a busy week, and a new chapter really delayed me getting through this: I started last Sunday. On the plus side, chapter 65 kind of explains some things that bothered me about the dealer in 42.

Chapter Forty Two Running Thoughts:
The life of a caravaner must be one not that different from that of a security mare: long periods of boredom, tedious but preferred, punctuated by moments of intense excitement that you’d really rather didn’t happen.

"Hurry up and wait" is ever a classic, and not just for the martial professions.


I landed, slid to a halt, and spotted the one who was in charge.  At least, I thought he was in charge.  He had the hat of a pony in charge.

I suppose there are worse ways of making that call. And it's almost a foolproof way in some cases, like the jaegerkin in "Girl Genius."


“Hi!  Are you the pony in charge, ‘cause I need to buy some gems.  Yes sirree, any and all gems you have on your person.  And cans of Cram!  Yes sir, I crave me some Cram.  Come on, you are a trader, right?  I need to trade.  I need to trade right now now now!”

"You can probably tell I don't need cocaine. I have plenty. Or maybe I used to. I forget."


“Holes?  Holes!  Ha ha ha!” I laughed as I turned to the side to show where a few lucky armor piercing AM rounds had caught me since I’d started my run.  He gaped at the punctures punching straight through my metal hindlegs.

So for a little while, Blackjack was also a changeling.


Then he saw me frantically ingesting the can without even eating the contents first, and from the worried look on his face, I was fairly sure he wasn’t going to be telling anypony about this meeting, period.  Who’d believe him?

Give it a few days, couple weeks tops. By then acting like it's surprising will be passe.


“P-21 answered to me when his problem became too much for him to deal with.  Homage must answer to somepony in Tenpony or the Twilight Society.  And if Homage is right and LittlePip has gone completely nuts, somepony will put her down or stop her.  Her friends…  I’ll do it myself if I have to… and I’m still around.”  That was easy to say, though.  Just words…
“Really.  How generous of you.  And here I thought you weren’t an executioner,” he said, showing the image of the Harbinger in the gravel pit with half her face blown off.

Hey! Those were taken out of context!


“Tell me, Blackjack, who did the Ministry Mares answer to?”
“Luna, of course,” I said, but I frowned.  Something about that felt… lacking.
“Really?  You’ve dug through the O.I.A.’s dirty laundry.  You know what was going on, and trust me, there was even more happening that wasn’t secret.  So where was Luna saying ‘Sorry, time out, not doing that’?  When did the Princess put on the brakes?

You know, just because the person you answer to doesn't reign you in doesn't mean you don't answer to them; they could just agree with you. Now, if you want to push it one step further to "whom did Luna answer to?," then of course the answer is "herself"; that's sovereignty for you. Dealer is fortunate he's not dealing with someone who can really reason right now.


Everypony you want to hold responsible was punished two centuries ago.  They’re dead and gone.  Everything is.”  But he looked at me for a long moment, then simply turned and looked out at the valley and the black towers of the Core.
“Not everything, Blackjack.  The corpse remains.  And if it remains, it can be held responsible,” he said.  

Wut? Is he talking Cognitum or something, or does he have it out for inanimate objects?


I don’t think she realized that she should stop shooting when her guns were pointed at her allies... friends... heck, did Harbingers even like each other?  

Maybe they needed more team-building seminars.


“Damn, and here I was hoping I could convince you to leave me be though my goody good goodness,” I said as I shoved her away.

Well, it's hard to demonstrate that when you're shooting at them. In fairness, that's more their fault than yours.


I made it about three miles before I had to stop and take cover, choosing some kind of large, two- or three-story industrial building that had all the aesthetics of a cinder block

Ah, modernist architecture. You won't be missed. Granted, not everything that followed was much of an improvement.


I thought of what Sanguine had told me, some defense computer going crazy in the Core.  That didn’t quite fit, though.  I couldn’t see a computer, no matter how advanced, inspiring a cult to hunt me down.  Everything pointed to a pony behind this.

Why can't it be both? And come on, Blackjack has already met Applebot. But then, she could think that was a one-off creation, and I don't believe she's heard about the uploading function of Crusaders yet.


Time for an interrogation.  Blackjack has ways of making you talk…  Of course, mostly they involved me crying and begging, but still… ways.

Batman she is not.


“Fuckin’ Reapers are finished, boyo.  They’re down to, what, fifteen fighters tops?  Ain’t seen none o’ the top ten save Brutus in days.  Rampage, Psycho, Deus, Gorgie… they’re all gone.”

Converted, converted-ish, killed-ish, killed. She did a number on them, considering we're talking the top tier.


“What the fuck are you smiling at?”
The ghoul with the flamer leaned over and stared at the filly that Lacunae had painted on my flank.  “She’s got a Crusader’s mark… and that tiny horn… oh shit…”

Not sure calling out the horn size was smart.


There was one other disadvantage, too: Bluebelle was a biter!  She snapped at my neck, trying to grab my ear as we danced about on our hind legs.
She might be stronger, but I had one trick she didn’t.  I popped out my fingers and grabbed her mane as tight as I could.

Great, a biter and a hair-puller. Nobody takes clean wrestling seriously anymore, do they?

And while one sucker punch hadn’t made much of an impression, four perfect shots to her face brought Bluebelle up short.  I didn’t waste the opportunity, standing like a zebra and continued to power blows to her face.

And now we're boxing? Just full MMA now?


“I can understand that,” I said as I closed my eyes.  “Well, I don’t know what else I can say.  These Harbinger ponies, though… if they get their hooves on the Core and ‘save’ the Wasteland, do you think they’ll leave you alone?”
“Why wouldn’t they?  We don’t want nothing to do with the Core,” she said with a snort.  “They got one of them there priests out saying that, so long as we give them yer head, they’ll leave us be.”

Weird change of topic, considering nobody had been talking about the Harbingers yet. Though I guess they could at least be acquainted, considering the Harbingers like to evangelize.


Candlewick chuckled and put his hoof on my rump.  “Heh, somepony should’a told him your other end is more fun.”  A shock ran up my spine from the simple contact, my nerves thrumming like a charged wire.
For one moment, I had limbs of flesh and blood.  I had a heart that thundered in my ears.  Lungs that gasped for breath as my throat was choked.  My nethers strained and burned and ached from the force of what had occurred just a week ago.  It took every ounce of restraint left in me not to kill Candlewick right there.  “Don’t...,” I said in a voice so strained it thrummed.  Even when he did remove his hoof, I was still there on the Seahorse.  Still hurting.  A little souvenir I’d carry forever.

And we have the full-on PTSD prompting Stygius. Granted, the remark probably didn't help, either.


The flamer cut off and I released it as well, the wall and ceiling above us still burning from the sticky flamer fuel.  My fingers were blackened, the tips glowing cherry red.  I hadn’t even noticed… for once, I didn’t feel anything at all.

And there, right after the explosive, frightening side, comes the side that's perhaps a bit more tempting.


He wasn’t a ghoul… just a pony who’d somehow been burned badly enough to look like one.

"I'm not dead! Just . . . very badly burned!"
. . .
Sorry.


Candlewick clicked something on the flamer several times.  Then there was a soft ‘pwuuuu’ as a tiny blue flame reignited over the muzzle.  He picked up his soggy cigar and sighed before he tossed it over his shoulder.  “Well, my cigar’s toast, so I need to smoke something.”

Well, I guess somebody had to be established as the cool one. With those actions and that line, he didn't need to be coming off of the receiving end of a PTSD-induced choking for it to happen, but it sure doesn't hurt.


The dirty brown unicorn mare met my gaze and tossed her gun away.  A few seconds later, the rest did as well.  Instantly, a whole knot of bars went from red to blue.  And funny, why were there a whole lot of red bars behind a section of solid wall?

Good strategy, sort of a "sand people always travel single file to hide their numbers" deal. Not too often, at least so far, that anyone's played around the PipBuck.


Then a column of burning flamer fuel gave them something else to worry about.  I’d never really heard a pony scream quite like that as they scattered and some tried to put themselves out in the water covering the floor.  The chemicals floating on top ignited in eerie pools of blue and green flame.  I didn’t hesitate to fire now; a bullet was a greater mercy than burning to death.

Interesting she can do it now, but not last chapter with the Seeker with half her face and throat blown off. Notably, I suppose, in this case she still has active threats around and isn't in a situation where if they recover she can necessarily handle them. But it's still unusual.


Then the blade arched and stabbed deep into his chest, and I thought I could almost feel it hum as he died and slid off the tip.

There it is again, and I think more pronounced than in the past. It seems like there are options: it could be because of the state Blackjack is in, or simply cumulative, or perhaps because of her return from death.

I pressed my head against the cool metal rail, letting a stream of water patter down on my it.  It felt nice.  My head was aching and I felt… wrong.  Not pain so much as something else.  I felt a hoof on my shoulder, and I looked up at Glory… no.  Not Glory.  I blinked my eyes and looked at the lavender unicorn.

The real sense that something is missing is already starting to show.


“Why do people keep spreading those stupid sex slave stories?  Honestly!” Dazzle huffed.  “We don’t.  We keep a few males around that we know won’t hurt us.  A few others we take for a fling and let them go.  A few years back we had a stomp with the Long Saddles.  Absorbed most of their mares, and, as a joke, enslaved their stallions for a few weeks.”
“And then gelded some of them afterwards.”  Busted Heart kept his eyes on the holes in the roof, but Dazzle flushed.  “Sold the rest to the Society.”
“Yeah, well, some of them deserved it.  Anyway, we got rid of most of the males.  Lot of them joined the Burners, and there’s been bad blood ever since.”  Dazzle looked at the Halfheart.

Somehow, Dazzle's protests just don't seem all that convincing when there's someone to give the truth behind the accusations.

“Anyway, I wouldn’t say Flashers would never ride a buck, but we don’t plough ‘em like they did us.  We’re the best chance for a mare on her own.”  True, Turnip hadn’t exactly been a bloody and bruised mess when we’d saved him... but the rest of what I’d seen and heard at Flash Industries made me think that Dazzle’s description might be a bit more rosy than the truth.

Not encouraging considering her version isn't all that rosy.


Two weeks ago, the Fillies had been trying to kill me.  Now she was laughing about the time I attacked her base.  It seemed a touch surreal.

Note also that you're doing it in a lull in a battle while you are potentially surrounded in an old building. That's a little surreal, too.


For a moment, I rested the crosshairs on the head of an unaware mare.  I could kill her right now; take out one of my enemies.  I shuddered and pointed the gun away.  No, I’d never be a sniper.

Strengthening the contrast with Psalm, and the irony of the Goddess's takeover. Carried over until at least chapter 64.


I charged towards her as she brought the AM rifle tip up.  Busted Heart had been right: this wasn’t a weapon for fighting ponies.  It was slow and heavy.
And right now I moved at the speed of death.

These are four great sentences. The basic, literal nature of the first three contrasts very nicely with the metaphor in the third.


My ears crackled, and the music disappeared.  I could hear the groan of steel and the chatter of bullets and the fwooosh of a flamer somewhere.  “I give up…” the unicorn murmured in my ear.  I turned to her, watching the blood flowing out her mouth.  I could feel the blade humming in my magical grasp as I slowly pulled it free.  I could hear a screaming, distant and constant and unmistakable as I looked down at the bloody blade and saw glowing white wisps of mist slipping off the metal.
Just like the starmetal rod.
I stared at it a moment, listening to its tiny little metallic hum.  It seemed to be asking me, wasn’t I happy?  Hadn’t this been what I wanted?
I dropped it into the muddy water, the little unicorn on the hilt barely poking up above the surface.  That was then… this is ten seconds later...

Such a fast change of tone, and integrated in with building the character of the sword. And isn't the last line pure Blackjack?


“Damn.  You really are a Reaper,” I heard Bluebelle cough, trying to lift herself to her hooves.  I ducked under her foreleg and supported her as we hobbled to the corner.  “You could have killed all four of us if you’d wanted to, couldn’t you?”
“I have no wish to fight you,” I replied.

Even with Blackjack shellshocked, her line doesn't really sit right with me; when it was first said, I kind of went along with it since it was something she was more deliberately trying to construct in order not to spark a confrontation. Here it comes across as a failure of conversational contemporary English and/or character voicing—people don't talk like that, and Blackjack less than most; she's no longer talking to a potentially volatile stranger, but a comrade, if not a friend. It reads like something taken from an anime sub, or relatively archaic, at least overly formal, English (and the present tense answer to a question about the past doesn't help). Maybe it was meant as Blackjack calling back to her own line, but the flat speech tag doesn't really give it the character for it to take much meaning that way and most of the ways that would work seem off in the context of being something Blackjack would say to someone she respects and maybe kind of likes as she's worried they are about to bleed out.


Wow, I bet Busted Heart's lost loved one was like Blackjack, given the name "Gamble."


Slowly, finally, I reached where the pipes bridged the gap to the next factory over and looked back.
Nothing remained but a gold broken-heart charm flickering in the fire’s fading glow.

Nice visual to fade out on.


He’d also pass Lemongrass’s final act along to the Halfhearts.  Something as epic as that needed to be remembered, and I’d buck anypony who said that Security had done it alone.

Especially since Blackjack's role in it was literally nothing but getting him a second gun after his first one was busted. For all that that was the case, of course, we all know DJ-Pon3 would absolutely spin it as all her, perhaps even omitting the others entirely.


Still, there was a little hesitation.  For a while, we’d fought together.  Maybe not as friends, but at least as comrades.

I swear I wrote the thing above before I got to this, and I haven't read this chapter probably since it was originally released. It just serves as a reminder that I should be wearing a tinfoil hat while reading so past-Somber (maybe present- and future-Sombers, too) can't control my mind.


Radiation and taint and worse… the Quickening.”
Of course.  Something worse.  Wouldn’t be the Wasteland without something worse.  “Quickening?”
“Some sort of zebra curse or talisman or… something.  Went off a during a battle a week before the bombs fell.  Turned the ground to soup.  There’s no solid land in that bog, and you can be trotting along thinking you’re on firm ground when suddenly you’ll be sucked down and turned into a radigator snack.”

Crossing the references, I see. Lightning sand does work better in the setting than the whole Highlander thing.


And then there was the mountain.
Funny, you’d think a pony would notice a great, big, black plug of stone.

What mountain? I see no mountain.


“It’s never just a rock with you, is it?” P-21 said behind me.
Wait, P-21?  I whirled, starting to smile.  How had he gotten here?  Was he really over the Med-X?  Maybe the Goddess had magicked…
Nothing.  I stared at the empty yellow grass behind me

Actual hallucinations are a bad sign. But who knows? Maybe P-21 suddenly is able to astrally project himself. Would it really surprise anyone?


“You sure are some funny colors o’ stupid,” Bluebelle replied with a snort. “Of course Equestria had some coal.  Little bit.  Enough to run old trains and the like.  What kind of idjit invents a coal-fired power plant when the coal’s half way around the world?  Be like inventing a chocolate milk rain bottling plant when there ain’t no chocolate milk rain.”

Point taken and all that, but that's an oddly specific simile. And I can't argue with the point about Blackjack being stupid.


“And your people let it happen?” I asked, aghast.
“Fer a time.  And when we tried ta stop it, they dug out that map, told us we were subjects, pulled out fancy lawyerin’ words and contracts folks signed with some mighty fine print, and kicked us off our own land.  Celestia gave us food so we didn’t starve or freeze, but that just made us feel like bums in our own homes.

Seems like a pretty dick move real early on. Wonder just how much the princesses were involved.


“Like we did before the war.  ‘Course, the highlands ain’t the same.  We got whole lakes o’ black water bunched up in choked valleys, and most of the rest up there is yellow with sulfur and lead.  The ridges are flat, chewed stone nothin’ll grow on.

Well, heavy metal poisoning might still be better than lingering magical radiation.


“Dealin’ with the Hoof is bad.  Dealin’ with anypony other than kin is bad.  You can trust kin.  Can’t trust nopony else.”

Tell that to the survivors of any given failed stable.


Yer…  You don’t owe me Dozer’s gun.  Y’all had it fair, I reckon.”
“Maybe.  But he was your family.  You should have something of his.  That gun was never really mine anyway.  I never even knew its name,” I said as I looked down at the camp.  “I was just carrying it a while till it could get home.”

Speech check: passed.


Someone had cut a hole in the gate’s chainlink, but I suspected that this was recent.  Most of the rest of the fences were still intact despite all the rain, though everything metal was almost a uniform reddish color, and everything else except the hut by the entrance was mud-colored.
Everything else except the bones.
They lay everywhere.  In heaps and piles and stacks around the half-drum buildings.  There were curved ribs and knobby leg bones and chunky vertebrae, though very few skulls.  Bones hung on the razor wire surrounding the buildings.  Others looked like they’d been perforated by the turrets for trying to escape.  Somepony, maybe the prisoners, had painted strange masks and skull-like glyphs on the doors and walls of the buildings with the sticky yellow dirt that lay everywhere.  Strips of hide dangled from the razor wire.  I felt an ache growing in my chest; Enervation was stronger than usual here.

Mmm. That hot, steamy scenery porn.
Also, if Blackjack can feel it then at the least I bet wounds here will be problematic at the least.


I scampered inside as another bullet pinged off my helmet.

Now I want the aquatic equivalent of "scampered" to be "scampied." And for it to show up in a scene involving seaponies, preferably Aquarius and Pices.


Most of the corpses either wore collars and had bullet holes in the temple or back of the head or were missing necks and head entirely.  The bodies looked... chewed.

The missing heads showed up before, but this is where things get decidedly raidery.


Bluebelle at least had the decency to lose her lunch at the contents we stood upon.

Well, I suppose there are some advantages to being able to do that normally.


Then I blinked and spat the half-dissolved gem into my hoof.  I looked at the metal wire mesh and the splintered glass and then down at the little red oblong.  “Hey… is glass a gem?”
“Uh… I don’t think so,” she said skeptically.  She wasn’t looking too good.  That injury and the exertion were taking a lot out of her.  I remembered the sporting goods store; we’d activated the emergency power when we came inside.  As strong as the Enervation was, it was only going to get stronger unless I found that stupid ring and disabled it.
I munched down on the remains of the ruby and a sapphire.  “Let’s find out.”  I stood on my hind legs and carefully moved my mouth to the hole. “Come on…” I said as the glass cut my cheeks and ground on my teeth.

Just one of the best escape strategies ever. With payoff later, too.


“…wing.  Bad news.  It was some sort of infection.  We found two more in the morgue who were trying to get into the lockers.  Good news.  Rain Squall doesn’t seem infected herself.  We’ve notified Enclave intelligence.  They’re sending somepony to investigate.  I’m going to check back through the processing area while we wait.  Maybe we’ll find something useful.”

And now we're seeing the genesis of Lighthooves's raider project.


Bluebelle approached with a frown.  “What?” I asked.  She didn’t have any right to frown at me.  She volunteered!
“Do y’all like getting shot up?” she asked as she pointed at the holes that had penetrated my armor.  

. . . "No! Well, also yes. That's not the point! I'm not on trial, here!"

“I… I… um… I…”  I felt myself going bright red as I sat and lifted my forehooves and held them an inch apart.  “Maybe just a tiny bit?” I said with a sheepish grin.

I wasn't too far off.


I’dve been happy if they just stopped appearing and disappearing, though.

Whoa there. Too many of those and we'll be in Calamity territory, and nobody needs that.


There were red bars, but I couldn’t tell if they were above or below or hiding right out of sight.
I’dve been happy if they just stopped appearing and disappearing, though.

Ah, that key point, making her both more vulnerable to real threats and to making mistakes.


My behavior was drawing more and more concerned looks from Bluebelle as we moved through the offices.  I could hear my friends talking more and more, but their words became harder and harder to understand.  I could hear fear and alarm in their voices.  Shouts of distress and calls for help...  I knew it was in my head, but… but what if it wasn’t?  What if it Lacunae had done some kind of magic to me?

Getting worse, and having Bluebell, a relative stranger, around helps highlight it. And you have to appreciate the irony of how Lacunae had done magic on her, and that was sort of contributing indirectly to Blackjack's hallucinations, but in a way she didn't suspect at all.


Now that Goldenblood’s gone, all those surprise inspections and little impromptu investigations are a thing of the past.

Interesting. How long was Goldenblood out of the O.I.A.? The talisman would still have had to go through at least Shujaa and Twist before the bombs fell.

Morale couldn’t find their own asshole with a case of diarrhea these days.

Seems like an upgrade from the classic "with two hands and a flashlight."


Oh!  And I might have found my retirement: some stripe was ‘accidentally’ shipped here.  Rumor is she’s got some kind of super talisman inside her.  

Now the talisman is starting to show up ahead of the Hightower arc, and it looks like either something was leaked or it was already pretty powerful, even if it wouldn't yet let you recover from anything.


I’ll have you know we’ve got a major outbreak of some kind of disease here at Yellow River; I’ve got stripes eating each other.  I have to make sure there’s no chance of infection.  I’ve had to dismiss all my non-pegasus staff to prevent it spreading.

Pegasus immunity, of course. Still wonder why, but sometimes things just work out weird.


“You are not going to just leave them!”  Then there was a pause.  “Is that money?  You’re taking bags of money with you?”  There was a sound of bags being cinched tightly down
“Of course, you idiot.  I’m not going home to be broke!  This is my retirement.  The savages are eating each other already.  They can take care of it.  There were reports of rioting in every prison across Equestria.  Hightower’s in lockdown.  Shattered Hoof let their prisoners free!  Not me.  Fuck no.  Let them rot.”

What a pleasant man and diligent civil servant. Anyway, somehow I doubt that the Enclave would really keep the old currency, the currency of the government they had been planning to secede from even before it got blown up. But I guess it could work out well for some interests, and if there's no more Equestria, you don't need to feel bad about using its money.


“Why?  Why the fuck did the good ponies have to die and fuckers like him live?!” I screamed, seething as I followed it up with kicking the desk over.  Then I wanted to knock over the file cabnets.  Light the whole floor on fire!  No, I wanted the blow the whole camp to the moon.  The city!  The entire fucking Wasteland!  I wanted it all destroyed!  “It’s not fair!   It’s not fucking right!”  I was sounding like a petulant filly, but at the moment I didn’t care. I was just so damned angry, and sick, and tired.  I fired Vigilance over and over again at a crawling corner as the Highlander shrank back.

"Sounding like"?
Joking aside, this is really an unusually pronounced reaction to the unpleasant revelation of the past, fitting in with the return of the hair-trigger anger that's been growing more prominent for a while.


My magic caught it, and since I didn’t have a clue what it might do, I tossed it into the far corner by the door.  Three seconds later it exploded, and white sticky webbing went everywhere.

Those zebras and their white liquids.


“I don’t want to hurt you,” I said as I lowered my voice.  “Do you understand me?”  I glanced at her flank where her stripes seemed to make an image of two crossed wrenches.  Or bones, but at the moment I was being optimistic.  I stared, and her bar went from blue to red to blue again, but I had no idea if that was her hostility or my eyes.
She nodded, then said in slow, trembling words, "Please don't kill me.  I am a technician.  Not a hunter, not a fighter."  If she was acting, she deserved an award; the mare had wet herself in fear.  Even Bluebelle seemed disinclined to fight anyone who would do that.

Xanthe! Yet another adorably cute character brought to you by the shitsack world of Hoofington. And now you know: the way to Blackjack's heart is through your bladder. Or, at any rate, it's easier to recover from than blood loss, which tends to work as well.


“You are the Star Maiden…” she said as she took a few hesitant steps back till her rump met the wall.
“Star what?”  I blinked in my own confusion.
“The Star Maiden of the fallen city.  The one who brings death, chaos and destruction,” she said with a gulp.  “The reaper of the lost land.”

Hey, it's that prophesy. Which didn't apply to her, or to anyone. Unless it did. Oh, and check that middle element of the list. Worth noting, too, that given the right context and perspective, those can all be good things.


“I don’t mean to hurt anyone if I can help it.  I’m Blackjack.  What’s your name?”
She looked from me to Bluebelle and back again.  “Xanthe,” she said as she slowly moved onto her hooves.  “Please…  Kill me quickly…”

"Why does everyone always say that?"


“Please… do not toy with me.  Whatever curse you are to bestow, please do so quickly,” she said as she rubbed the tears from her eyes.  “I… I do no fear your worst, Star Maiden!”

Lies. Transparent lies.


sI just stared at her for a long moment and then sighed, slowly shaking my head.  “I don’t have time for this,” I said as I turned and started for the door.
“What?”  The zebra asked in confusion.  “What kind of curse is this?”
“The ‘I got better things to do’ kind,” I replied as I stepped out into the hallway.

The worst of all curses! Diabolical!


“I have no idea who this Star Maiden is or why you seem to think I am her.”  I expected that to be it, but then she started following us!

So, remember that time Psychoshy theorized that following Blackjack around was a contagious mental disease? I do.


“The Star Maiden is she who is born from the cursed soil of the damned city.  She will be flesh and steel, touched by the stars and chosen as their champion.  Where she travels, chaos and strife will follow,” Xanthe said as she trotted in our wake.  Why, I couldn’t imagine.  “It is she that shall bear evil from the ground, usher in the final days of the world, snuff out the sun forever and call down the moon.  She shall summon storms, unleash plague, command unholy fire, destroy all in her path and all who follow in her wake.  Female shall desire female, male shall desire male, and unholy coupling between the species will commence where she travels.”

I swear I love this prophesy. Sure, it's pretty vague and all that, and the sexual stuff at the end predated not only Blackjack but the fall of Hoofington, but it's just so vivid! And it now looks like bringing down the moon, or at least a chunk of it, is in store.


“Damn…” Bluebelle snickered and leered at the zebra.  “I’m getting moist right now just hearing all this.”  Xanthe gasped as she cringed away and I looked back to see her eyes wide and popping.

Ah, Bluebelle likes it too. Also, was Xanthe modeled a little after Littlepip, but without the guns and violence?


“No.  Do not fight her.  We are all doomed!  She has cursed us all!” Xanthe wailed from the stairs, then started jabbering in zebra.

"Doomed! Dooooommmmmed!"


Now, I have no idea just how stomach-like my stomach was, but when you’ve overeaten, getting kicked like that is no good at all.  I gripped her shoulders with my fingers and felt everything working in reverse.  There was nothing I could do as I puked liquefied glass and metal in her face.  The clear fluid solidified seconds after it left my throat, freezing to her horrified face in a mask.  She fell back, flopping and flailing wildly as I spat aside gobs of glass, struggling to keep upright.  That blow had done some major damage to my internals, and every bit of watery glass was brought up.
Xanthe stared at me, her eyes even wider if it were possible.  Even Bluebelle was starting to look more uneasy about this.  Beatdowns with metal hooves were one thing, but clearly vomiting liquid glass was a whole realm of fucked-upness that only cyberponies could obtain.  I wanted to try and break the dying zebra’s mouth and nose free, but at the moment I was dealing with some internal damage.

This might be one of my favorite accidental deaths in fiction.


I sighed and tried to pull off her stealth cloak, but to my amazement it dissolved in my hooves!  The blue gemstone clasp immediately cracked and went dark.  No fair sabotaging the loot!  I gave the nervous zebra a glare, and she gulped.
“Mistcloaks are woven of shadow spider silk and disappear like morning dew in summer if taken from their owner,” she said as she hugged her own to her form.

So, just volunteering that? What would Blackjack even do that's worse than the curse she supposedly laid upon you?


“You wish me whole and healthy to suffer ever more, do you not, Maiden?” Xanthe said as she took it and drank it reluctantly before giving it to Bluebelle who, seeing the graze heal, lost her reluctance to drink for her injured shoulder.
“I wish you’d go back to your own people,” I retorted, feeling my insides pulling themselves back into place after that blow.

"Jeez, lady, what part of 'I don't care' is so hard for you to get?"


Lancer: “You don’t realize it, Security, but you have cursed her,” he said from the shadows... but his voice sounded odd to me.  “You have cursed her with kindness.  You have infected her with your mercy.  And like everything that you touch, she will be destroyed.”

You worked with her, earlier. How is it you aren't cursed? Oh, it's because the curse is bullshit functionally delivered entirely by the Remnant? Could have said that from the get-go.


“You bloody… murdering… bastard!” I shouted into the shadows.  I saw the darkness moving, forming eyes and mouths on the dim and dingy walls.  I fired Vigilance again and again into every shadowy corner.  My horn threw a storm of papers and rubbish around me, looking to see it bounce off some invisible assailant.  When I ran out of bullets, I drew my sword, swinging wildly as I raced around.  “You won’t hurt her!  You won’t!”  Shadowy ponies parted with each slice, reforming… laughing at my futile efforts.  Darkness spattered my vision as I attacked things that weren’t there.
I was grasping at shadows.
Bluebelle and Xanthe both stared at me in alarm and horror.  “What?” I shouted, exasperated as I swished the sword in the air and spattered blood across both of them.
Wait…?
Slowly I looked at the blood on the hilt of my sword.  Felt the blood that was dripping down my face.  I looked down at the decapitated zebra in front of me.  Saw another torn open along her side.  A sniper lay there with her face a concave hole.  Another was dying from three meaty chunks taken out of his chest.  I’d killed them and I hadn’t even realized it.  Hadn’t even realized that they were there.  Wounds from more than just Lancer’s round throbbed and burned, yet I hadn’t felt them.  The pain was so familiar I hadn’t even recognized it.  I staggered and grabbed a kicked-over desk.  When had I kicked it over?  Had I, or had somepony else?

Moving up to the level of blackouts, included within a bout of semi-directed rage.


“Don’t look at me like that…” I asked in a low rush.  They kept staring.  If it had been my friends looking at me that way, I don’t know what I would have done.  “Don’t look at me!” I screamed at them.
I liked it better when I was missing half my face.  It was easier than missing half my sanity.

And now shame and fear come to the forefront again, but from a different source than earlier when the cause was Candlewick touching her. I'm not sure the last line was needed, though, as I think it's sort of restating the obvious. On the other hand, from a mechanical standpoint, it does give a bit of a buffer, where ending the scene on " 'Don’t look at me!' I screamed at them." would have been kind of abrupt.


“There was a mighty warrior during the war who could not be felled.  A magical artifact preserved her on the battlefield.  Somehow she was laid low in a battle in the badlands outside the city.  Her body was brought here.  We learned from a ghoul who had been alive back then that the talisman had never been removed from the body.  So we came here to get it for Legate Vitiosus.”

One more link in the chain, which it wasn't clear was being forged yet.


“No bullet could slay her.  She would fall, and then rise again.”
“Sounds like somepony I know,” Bluebelle said as she looked over at me.  “Seriously.  He just shot you and you treated it like it was nothing!”

And here I thought she was thinking of Rampage. But then, that's the point, isn't it?


“Look.  This sucks for both of you.  Neither of you asked to be put in this mess… and that’s all that happens around me.  I can run into a total stranger and completely fuck their life up just by standing there.  But I can’t do this all on my own anymore.  If you two can help each other… please… help.”

You could almost say you're a curse on their existence. But then, not making that connection is part of her charm.


“Blackjack… is that…”  She took in my appearance in one long horrified look.  “What in tarnation happened to you, girl?  T’aint no decent reason fer any mare anywhere ta have that much iron in their body!”
“Hoofington happened,” I replied with a wan smile.  “I saw the shooting.  Wanted to see what’s up.”
The stallion with the missiles growled, “You think we’re stupid ‘nuff ta think yer stupid ‘nuff ta just trot down here ‘cause yer curious?  Ain’t nopony that dumb anywhere!”

You'd be surprised. And I'm not so sure it's dumb per se so much as having shockingly little regard for her own life or safety.


“What ya’ll doin with that stripe?  She looks like one o’ them that pinned us in here!”
“She met me and her life got ruined as a result,” I said as I stepped a little between Twister and Xanthe.  Boomer and Sunset--at least, I thought that was her name--looked at each other immediately.  “Oh… I suspect you can relate?”  The zebra gave me a look that seemed to say ‘see?’.

Hey, two or three . . . dozen . . . data points don't imply a trend!


“A horrible disease that breaks out during terrible famines.  When there is no food, a zebra becomes desperate enough to eat their own kind!  Then the hunger takes effect.  When they are killed, the starving eat their flesh and are infected themselves.  No amount of cooking can kill the disease.”No amount of cooking can kill the disease.”  And nor could stable digesters.
“Is… is there a cure?”  Could I have done something to save my home?  As messed up as it had been…
But Xanthe just shook her head.  “In my home, any village afflicted with the plague would be quarantined and burned.  The disease is not like others.  It must be ingested.  Only in the stomach does it start to spread.  But if some of the disease gets on your hoof and transferred to your meal, you can infect yourself or others.  One strip of contaminated flesh in a cookpot, and an entire village can be lost.”

And that's a little better cleared up. Note, too, it probably needs to be flesh specifically, not inclusive of blood, or Blackjack probably would have been infected.


“Pegasi are ponies the most different from zebra.  The disease has a harder time getting established in us.  But…”  She trotted over to one of the metal doors in the wall.  I joined her as she carefully opened the door with her hoof.  There was a long metal table.  Carefully, the rust colored mare tugged the table out.
There were four dead pegasi on it.  All of them had the chewed appearance of a raider making a meal of their limbs.  “These are all Neighvarro ponies who’ve gone missing in the last two weeks.  Maybe deserters like us… maybe not.”  Two weeks was long enough for the disease to run its course.  Even more disturbing, the ponies had been carved.  Great chunks of flesh had been removed, not wildly, but with care.

And the fact that there's at least been experimentation on/with pegasus infection is established to the Enclave. That they are all from Neighvarro is already suggestive given the proximity to Thunderhead.


“It’s her,” Xanthe said quietly.  “The warrior…”
I looked at the door and then at the clipboard.  Only one thing caught my eye.  The name: Shujaa.
Shit.  The talisman he was after was inside one of my best friends.

Well, the good news is your group was already a target. And apparently they never had any idea.


O.I.A. Image liaison Glass has requested the body and any and all objects on or within the body to be turned over to the O.I.A. for transfer to the Ministry of Image.  Said transfer is being delayed by order of Camp Director Mephitis.  Colonel Cupcake has formally requested all remains to be sent to Miramare Air Station for funeral services.

That is one popular corpse.


I think there's a reason Blackjack's Reaper rampage against the Enclave pegasi at Yellow River is pretty frequently brought up as one of the most intense action scenes of the story.


I left them, picking the dropped revolvers from the mud on my way.  Thousands of eyes watched me.  Even the dead were silent as I passed into the thunder and night.  At the gate, I paused.  I turned and stared up at one of the sentry towers.  It was as if a force drew my eyes upwards.  There, atop the spire, was the sixth Enclave pony, lit by the flickering flames of the burning processing center rubble.  I knew him.  It could only be him.

Nice paragraph, and I can't believe how few Google results there are for "even the dead were (are) silent,"; it seems too good to have been used only two or three times, at least without a negation.
Chapter Forty Two Overall Thoughts:
One of the really notable things about "Reaper" is its tone, and especially the narration. At the start, the narration is nuts. The narrator is easily hitting points of obvious craziness, but isn't herself aware of this, at least not consistently. Especially early on, there may also be a degree of conscious denial. In any case, this is thoroughly gone by the end. Yet through this, there are certain moments of clarity as Blackjack is able to see how screwed up she is, and how much that's impacting her and her friends. Along the way we also see Blackjack's uncontrolled, violent, and strikingly persistent response to flirting and casual contact from Firebrand. Interestingly, the four companions for that part of the chapter took this pretty well in stride, chalking it up to merely a reaction to being reminded of the Seahorse. I can't be sure, but by the end of the chapter I suspect Bluebell may have reevaluated this after having seen what Blackjack did first to a number of zebras and ultimately to a handful of Neighvarro Enclave. Importantly, Blackjack has increasingly frequent and vivid auditory and visual hallucinations, at least one blackout, and has reached the point where she can't trust E.F.S. anymore, and only partly due to being in a target-rich environment. This, in expanding Blackjack's unreliability from the basic lack of perception and more recent emotional and logical problems to complete inability to know what's going on around her doesn't merely justify "Lucidity," but also enables the transition to it.

Dealer makes a fairly prolonged appearance, doing one of his schticks to dissuade Blackjack from continuing on her path of tracking EC-1101 and general heroism. Until the release of chapter sixty-five (after I had read this portion of the chapter, mind), I really never understood why his arguments fell so flat to me. Now I believe I do. He's frightfully ambivalent about whether he wants her to continue, playing into Cognitum's hand. The indications seem to point to him caring about her . . . yet he wants to live, and that means delivering her to Cognitum. So to alleviate his guilt he, perhaps not fully aware of all of it, tries to convince her to retire, and does so in a way that makes her responsible for the destruction around her. It also illuminated why he seemed so disdainful of authority structures so often: he's been stuck with an actively vicious superior, in addition to having seen good people fail in their attempts to remake and preserve Equestria during the war.

There are two strong fights in "Reaper." Oddly, both were fairly one-sided, yet this did not detract substantially from them. The first is Blackjack and the gangers against the Harbingers, featuring the tank. Yes, they needed to retreat and lost Busted Heart, but they were able to save some of the Harbingers' cannon fodder and took out many times their own number (including temporarily the tank). It worked, I think, despite the fact that no individual action until the tank seemed too threatening, on the one hand because like a zombie movie, it seemed that there would always be more and no matter how well they acquitted themselves they couldn't keep it up forever, and on the other because there was a real contrast between the competence and—importantly—spontaneous coordination between Blackjack's group and the waves of atomistic Harbingers. Two deaths in this battle stood out: the first was a Harbinger who gave up after being mortally wounded, stabbed through the chest with the starmetal sword. What followed, "I stared at it a moment, listening to its tiny little metallic hum.  It seemed to be asking me, wasn’t I happy?  Hadn’t this been what I wanted?
I dropped it into the muddy water, the little unicorn on the hilt barely poking up above the surface.  That was then… this is ten seconds later...", was, I believe, an excellent example of Blackjack's character at odds with itself, particularly her willingness to do anything to survive or protect her friends contrasted to her (often frustrating) instant, instinctive forgiveness and mercy—even when it can't do anything but make her suffer and hate herself. The second memorable death in this fight was Busted Heart's. The former directly showcased Blackjack, where this one did so via him. He's doomed, trapped under the broken building, but goes down running interference to allow the rest to escape. Before that, though, he tells the story of how he lost his loved one, Gamble, in a similar situation, which is what drove him to become a Halfheart and long for death himself. One of the best parts of the sequence, though, was the beautiful closing of the scene: "Slowly, finally, I reached where the pipes bridged the gap to the next factory over and looked back.
Nothing remained but a gold broken-heart charm flickering in the fire’s fading glow."

The second fight was much shorter, arguably starting when Lancer left Blackjack and she started lashing out at shadows, likely blacking out, and killed a bunch of zebras. But the real center of this one was against the Enclave, from the time she was ordered to get on the ground until she was stunned, brought to a halt by the vision of Glory in Dusk's face, during which time she brutally massacred a handful of pegasi she displaced her hatred of Lighthooves onto, while in a constant agony and rage that precluded her from responding to all the magical bolts striking her. And additionally, it makes explicit that Blackjack wants not only to kill and destroy what surrounds her, but herself as well.

Overall, this chapter holds up very well, and it's not hard to see why some have mentioned it among their favorite chapters, and in addition to the rest I've said, does some very nice character work, particularly with Bluebelle and Busted Heart, and expands a bit on the Flashers, Burner Boys, Halfhearts, and Highlanders.
Chapter Forty Two Editing:
I knew from the maps of Hoofington I’d seen that the Sunset Highway went from the Princess bridge in the far south all the way around the city to the Zenith bridge in the north and then turned into the Sunrise Highway all the way around the city till it met the Princess bridge again.
The highway was approaching the Zenith bridge,

"bridge" should probably be capitalized in each case, since it sounds like part of their names.


I dove onto my side, sliding on the waterlogged asphalt with my metal legs folded in front of me, and crashed into him with a snapping of bone.

Can asphalt really be "waterlogged"?


The mare wrapped her forelegs around my neck and powered forward with a shriek of glee shouting, “Lets wrassle!”

"Let's"


it boomed like a gong. The fact was that she was stronger than me

only one space after period


all, she’s hangin round Bullfrog Springs.

apostrope for "hangin"


and caught it in his teeth,  swiveling the cigar

should only have one space after comma


I looked at Dazzle, jumped into S.A.T.S. and targeted three magic bullets

final serial comma after "S.A.T.S."?


As I backed away, he collapsed in a heap and just concentrating on breathing. He wasn’t

should be "heap and just concentrated" or "heap, just concentrating"
also, only one space after period


he said as he adjusted the knob. “But if I can face it with this,

only one space after period


A second later,  there was another cluster

should have only one space after comma


According to my E.F.S. the answer was ‘lots.’

period ot outside of quotation marks, comma after "E.F.S."?


The Harbingers had have no lack of recruits.

"had to have," "had had," just "had" might be best--but something along those lines


Or would [Roses] have reverted to slavery soon as I left her behind?

I'm not sure, but this might be clearer as "slaving."


My magic’s strength wasn’t sufficient to swing Taurus’ rifle around,

"Taurus's"


I struggled to stand, looking back over my shoulder as pieces of the building were annihilated bite by explosive bite; the shrapnel flying through the clouds of smoke and dust drew lines that lingered in the air.

semicolon -> comma


I could only listen to the contrabass’ soft, mournful melody as hell exploded around me.

"contrabass's"


Saw the flare of light reflecting of the watery sheen.

second "of" -> "off"


turret pointing twin heavy cannon barrels. Two smaller machine guns were

only one space after period


“No…”  I murmured, and then paid for my hesitation.

should have only one space after quotation


on introduction: The third was a green earth pony buck with a black mane and using a sniper rifle that had a weird gold charm of a stylized broken heart hanging from the butt by a chain.
now: His left forehoof was a bloody mess, blood darkening his yellow mane and hiding his left eye as he kept his discipline and focus on the tank.

given his name (Lemongrass), I assume the first instance should have his mane be yellow, not black, rather than the reverse change?


Slowly, finally, I reached where the pipes bridged the gap to the next factory over and looked back.

"that bridged" or "bridging"


“What about that?”  I asked,

should have only one space after quotation


Ya’ll know bout Iron-”

second hyphen for dash


‘Course there were a mite bit o confusion on the best way to do that.

apostrophe for "o"?


buildings that looked like giant metal drums laying on their sides,

"lying"


‘Yellow River Detainment Camp,’ read the concrete slab outside front gate.

comma to outside of quotation marks


“Well, piss on my leg and tell me its raining.

"it's"


I lifted Taurus’ hunting rifle and viewed the spectacle.

"Taurus's"


I stepped in, and a little voice said something in zebra, then crackled,
I looked at the signs, but these were written entirely in zebra.
“Please remain still,” the calm synthetic voice said, then repeated it in zebra.

As the name of a language, should "zebra" be capitalized?


freshly preserved, minus his head. I appeared to be in a room

only one space after period


landing on me with a crash. “Oooh… that was

only one space after period


We might not have a choice, though... But I still really didn’t like the idea of futzing with a great big box of boom

second space after ellipsis or don't capitalize "But"


moved my mouth to the hole. “Come on…” I said

only one space after period


could squeeze though! The room on the far side

should have second space after exclamation point


“So do ya like it or something? Cause I can’t figger why

only one space after question mark, apostrophe for "Cause"


“No… No she doesn’t,” I murmured as I trotted to the door.

second space after ellipsis or don't capitalize second "No"


and they were wide open in terror. Her mane was

only one space after period


The one who brings death, chaos and destruction,

final serial comma after "chaos"


She might have looked momentarily fierce save for her eyes, but her shaking knees definitely betrayed her.

Suggest replacing "She" with "Her face" (or somthing along those lines) since "save for" implies only one thing is keeping her from looking fierce in that moment, but her knees make two.


“It is she that shall bear evil from the ground, usher in the final days of the world, snuff out the sun forever and call down the moon.

This is purely a style issue, but to match the earlier part of the prophesy and bearing in mind that the whole thing is done in hightly formal language, "she who" might better fit the tone than "she that."


It saved me from getting my skull crushed. The zebra came out

only one space after period


Laying on my back, I was able to

"Lying"


“No.  Do not fight her.  We are all doomed!  She has cursed us all!” Xanthe wailed from the stairs, then started jabbering in zebra.

Should "zebra," as a language, be capitalized?


I sighed and tried to pull off her stealth cloak, but to my amazement it dissolved in my hooves!

comma after "amazement"?


“The last maiden?” I asked with a smirk over my shoulder.

"maiden" should be capitalized


Better that then not trying,”

"that than"


After what he did to Cirrius in that recording...

"Cirrus"


I happier to have a really big bomb to give Shujaa the send off she deserved.

"send-off"


“Get down, on the ground n-“ bellowed the pegasus in the sleeker,

second hyphen for dash


and the mare inside screamed. With all the

only one space after period


The pegasus’ wings went limp,

"pegasus's"


I ignored the flashing lights; the warnings that I was crippled and needed to stay down.

semicolon -> comma?


Bones, hide and rags snapped and tore as dust filled the air.

comma after "hide"


Even blasted, battered and beaten, my body just needed recharging.

comma after "battered"


Carefully I stepped away, shook out several gems and ate them, followed by cans of Cram.

comma after "gems"


Wow… an entire gang of P-21’s… or at least what P-21 would have become without Scotch Tape.

is that the right pluralization of "P-21"?


“What ya’ll doin with that stripe?

apostrophe for "doin"


Then I wanted to knock over the file cabnets.

"cabinets"
Other Editing:
45:
Most prominent was a emaciated-looking griffin

"an emaciated-looking"


Maybe tell old uncle Ahuizotl all about it?

"Uncle Ahuizotl"


54:
“I usually just call it my turbine,” Scotch said as she rubbed her chin thoughtfully, then looked at me, “cause it makes me hum.”

apastrophe for "cause"


I’m taking her with me!”  Sunset shouted at me.

should have only one space after the quotation
Ah, thank you very much as always.

"cause it makes me hum"
I still think that we should have used "transformer" there instead of "turbine", but apparently most people don't quickly think of transformer hum, or even electrical transformers, when they encounter the word. I still just do not get giant humanoid robots…

"semicolon -> comma"
I also had to change "drew" to "drawing", but I do think that it works better now.

""that bridged" or "bridging""
…Why? I'm sorry, but that looks wrong.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Icy Shake on Sun Apr 06, 2014 11:42 pm

O. Hinds wrote:"cause it makes me hum"
I still think that we should have used "transformer" there instead of "turbine", but apparently most people don't quickly think of transformer hum, or even electrical transformers, when they encounter the word.  I still just do not get giant humanoid robots…

"semicolon -> comma"
I also had to change "drew" to "drawing", but I do think that it works better now.

""that bridged" or "bridging""
…Why?  I'm sorry, but that looks wrong.
Transformer certainly works, but sometimes you need to make allowances. Personally, though, I always associated Scotch more with mechanical works than electrical.
As for that last one, based on the text of the sentence . . . I'm stumped. I have no idea how I got to the suggestion I did.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by O. Hinds on Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:01 am

Icy Shake wrote:Transformer certainly works, but sometimes you need to make allowances. Personally, though, I always associated Scotch more with mechanical works than electrical.
Aye, but I associate turbines with whining, not humming.

Icy Shake wrote:As for that last one, based on the text of the sentence . . . I'm stumped. I have no idea how I got to the suggestion I did.
That happens to me sometimes.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by OneMoreDaySK on Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:28 am

Re: Virtues
Blackjack might have one assigned to her from the fans, but as of yet she has to realize it. (and do the rainbow eye thing)

Re: Discord
Sad that he's gone. But I'm still having a tiny glimmer of hope that he's pulling a Loki and is going to show up again.

Also, no comment on my Xehanort parallel?
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Evilgidgit on Mon Apr 07, 2014 1:31 pm

Maybe Discord can be resurrected through Flux since its his blood.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Silver136 on Mon Apr 07, 2014 1:33 pm

Evilgidgit wrote:Maybe Discord can be resurrected through Flux since its his blood.
I'm betting his whole show was an illusion and he's still manifested in something. Maybe not Boo anymore but something.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by FeatherDust on Mon Apr 07, 2014 2:23 pm

OneMoreDaySK wrote:Re: Discord
Sad that he's gone. But I'm still having a tiny glimmer of hope that he's pulling a Loki and is going to show up again.
Eh... I'm split on that.  While it would be nice to have him back and quite in character, I feel it would ruin the narrative impact of his death scene.  If he did show up later, he'd need to do so as a tiny, nearly powerless fragment of his former self -- otherwise it would feel like he allowed the others to leave with BJ's hijacked body instead of fighting to his utmost to put a stop to this.

No, I feel strongly that putting Luna's soul into the body was a devious master-stroke that will prove to be her downfall.  Not an instant kill, but an incurable poisoning.

Also, side note, when Loki pulled the death gambit, it was just too bloody obvious.  It was all I could do not to jump up and start yelling at Thor "He's obviously faking, you idiot!"  I don't think I'm so super-insightful that I just picked up on that when nobody else did, it was frankly an eye-rollingly obvious ploy.

This, not so much.  This really did seem like Discord threw everything he had into that one last trick.  And I think it would weaken that to have him come back later.

Also, no comment on my Xehanort parallel?
Sorry, I played KH1 and 2, and I'm pretty strongly of the opinion that they are fun from a gameplay perspective and have some good cutscenes, but overall the plot is a horrendous mish-mashed tangle that keeps going back to retcon itself on critical plot revelations like what Kingdom Hearts even is.

I'm fine with a big plot twist where the heroes find out that something they had accepted as fact is actually wrong, but you can only really do that once in a while, and only once per fact, before it just seems like the author ran out of ideas and is flailing around wildly.  Add to that the fact that they seem to have put some of those critical plot points in half a dozen games across three or four platforms and it's just too much work to keep up with, for no real payoff.  KH lives on the gimmick of putting your hero into different Disney-owned properties, and there's nothing wrong with that; it's a good gimmick.  But that means the plots should be pretty straightforward with a minimum amount of exposition needed to make sense of them, like the movies on which the game is based.  Just get out of the way so we can enjoy playing with Tron or Simba or whatever.  Instead, we get a big plate of plot-spaghetti, and half the cutscenes are long, rambling discussions that don't manage to actually explain what's going on and who's benefiting from it, which I expect (but don't really enjoy) from Metal Gear but not from a game based on children's movies... okay I need to stop ranting now.

So all of which is to say even though I played both of the main games, I'm not entirely sure what the parallel you're drawing is trying to say, or even which version of Xehanort you're talking about, because each game seems to redefine who he really is and what he really wants.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Evilgidgit on Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:39 pm

FeatherDust wrote:
OneMoreDaySK wrote:Re: Discord
Sad that he's gone. But I'm still having a tiny glimmer of hope that he's pulling a Loki and is going to show up again.
Eh... I'm split on that.  While it would be nice to have him back and quite in character, I feel it would ruin the narrative impact of his death scene.  If he did show up later, he'd need to do so as a tiny, nearly powerless fragment of his former self -- otherwise it would feel like he allowed the others to leave with BJ's hijacked body instead of fighting to his utmost to put a stop to this.

No, I feel strongly that putting Luna's soul into the body was a devious master-stroke that will prove to be her downfall.  Not an instant kill, but an incurable poisoning.

Also, side note, when Loki pulled the death gambit, it was just too bloody obvious.  It was all I could do not to jump up and start yelling at Thor "He's obviously faking, you idiot!"  I don't think I'm so super-insightful that I just picked up on that when nobody else did, it was frankly an eye-rollingly obvious ploy.

This, not so much.  This really did seem like Discord threw everything he had into that one last trick.  And I think it would weaken that to have him come back later.

Also, no comment on my Xehanort parallel?
Sorry, I played KH1 and 2, and I'm pretty strongly of the opinion that they are fun from a gameplay perspective and have some good cutscenes, but overall the plot is a horrendous mish-mashed tangle that keeps going back to retcon itself on critical plot revelations like what Kingdom Hearts even is.

I'm fine with a big plot twist where the heroes find out that something they had accepted as fact is actually wrong, but you can only really do that once in a while, and only once per fact, before it just seems like the author ran out of ideas and is flailing around wildly.  Add to that the fact that they seem to have put some of those critical plot points in half a dozen games across three or four platforms and it's just too much work to keep up with, for no real payoff.  KH lives on the gimmick of putting your hero into different Disney-owned properties, and there's nothing wrong with that; it's a good gimmick.  But that means the plots should be pretty straightforward with a minimum amount of exposition needed to make sense of them, like the movies on which the game is based.  Just get out of the way so we can enjoy playing with Tron or Simba or whatever.  Instead, we get a big plate of plot-spaghetti, and half the cutscenes are long, rambling discussions that don't manage to actually explain what's going on and who's benefiting from it, which I expect (but don't really enjoy) from Metal Gear but not from a game based on children's movies... okay I need to stop ranting now.

So all of which is to say even though I played both of the main games, I'm not entirely sure what the parallel you're drawing is trying to say, or even which version of Xehanort you're talking about, because each game seems to redefine who he really is and what he really wants.
I love the Kingdom Hearts series, but the overcomplicatedness of the story and Xehanort coming back in more ridiculous ways gets a bit annoying (time travel via really complicated means!)

But I would like to say that perhaps Discord is pulling a Loki on everyone.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by OneMoreDaySK on Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:58 pm

Haven't had the time to personally get through all the games (KH 1 & 2, CoM), but hearing the rest described by my brothers and sisters pretty much saying that everything plotwise was a result of Xehanort having a hand in it. What I'm trying to draw is that practically everything that happens in Blackjack's incredibly messed up life was somehow attributed to Cogitum. Her original escape and part 1 was Sanguine working under Cogs, Steel Rain works for Cogs, <strike>DBZebra</strike> the legate seemingly works for Cogs, and now two companions who know how hard it is to have a messed up existance backstab her to work for Cogs. Didn't they learn anything from the "Solve Everything with a Messiah/Single Solution" promises made in the past that backfired? Or are they just too desperate at this point to not care that Blackjack's been trying the entire time to disprove that point by having ponies, diamond dogs, and others work together without the need of a goddess/RedEye lording over them?
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by Scienza on Mon Apr 07, 2014 5:27 pm

Just finished that last chapter.

OH MY GOD WHAT MIND = BLOWN
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by FeatherDust on Mon Apr 07, 2014 6:55 pm

OneMoreDaySK wrote:Haven't had the time to personally get through all the games (KH 1 & 2, CoM), but hearing the rest described by my brothers and sisters pretty much saying that everything plotwise was a result of Xehanort having a hand in it....
What I'm trying to draw is that practically everything that happens in Blackjack's incredibly messed up life was somehow attributed to Cogitum.

That's not wrong, but it gets more and more ridiculous as you go along in terms of how convoluted things have to be to justify Xehanort being behind it all -- both in terms of the bizarre amounts of virtually precognitive knowledge of how people he doesn't know will react to things, and in terms of the lengths they have to go to for him to show up after being killed over and over.

I don't think the comparison is very apt. It doesn't take much to see, in retrospect, how Cogs was manipulating Blackjack with those tracking tags, where Xehanort seems to be virtually omniscient to pull this stuff off.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

Post by SilentCarto on Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:19 pm

Evilgidgit wrote:Maybe Discord can be resurrected through Flux since its his blood.
I was just wondering today if BJ could safely fire Folly with her Flux-derived body.
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Re: [GRIMDARK] Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons Discussion

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