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Glim Glam's Neverending Shim Sham - Better Late Than Never Edition
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Gentlemen, behold!

I have returned, and assuming that interest in these threads continues, I will henceforth be resuming my review series, though I am altering my approach slightly. I will explain below.

>What the hell is this?!?
These threads first began as a mostly humorous response to a certain obnoxious British poster who shall remain nameless. Way back in the bygone days of 2018, this individual attempted to shill a fanfiction he'd written by starting not one but two threads about it. The response to his opus was almost universally negative, and unfortunately he was not the sort of person who handled criticism well. The resultant shitflinging war would become known in the annals of /mlpol/ history as Glimmergate II.

This unnamed individual's intense autism eventually became so repellent that I took it upon myself to go through his work line by line and tell him, quite explicitly, everything that was wrong with it. This turned out to be a much larger project than I'd envisioned, and it ultimately took several months to complete. Due to the author's fixation with Starlight Glimmer, which formed the center of the controversy, I adopted Glim Glam as a moniker.

I started the project under the assumption that it was just a bit of funposting that would run its course and then end. As far as literary criticism went, I was mostly just blowing smoke out of my ass and having a giggle; I assumed that sooner or later the drama would die down and my tripfagging would get annoying. As such, the original plan was to finish what I had to say about Silver Star Apple and the Search for More Money, Love, The Meaning of Life, and Magical Cards, and then let "Glim Glam" drift quietly off into the sunset as long as I'm spilling my guts here I might as well come clean: I was also the guy who was tripfagging as King Battlebrit.

However, for whatever reason, people formed an impression that I actually had some idea of what the fuck I was talking about when it came to books, and so I received several requests from various Anons to review more fimfiction stories. After doing a couple of these, I realized I enjoyed reviewing stories, and also that as a writer I was learning a surprising amount from these authors mistakes, and thus Glim Glam's Infinite Ham-Slam was born.

My previous reviews are listed below, in reverse chronological order:

Neo-Equestrian Obstetrics
by Kassaz
>>>/mlpol/348497 →

I.D.: That Indestructible Something
by Chatoyance
>>>/mlpol/342944 →

Our Girl Scootaloo
By Cozy Mark IV
>>>/mlpol/331344 →

Rainmetall (included in the Our Girl Scootaloo thread, post # indicates start point)
By /mlpol/'s very own Mexican Anon
>>>/mlpol/338993 →

The Best Night Ever
By Capn_Chryssalid
>>>/mlpol/327793 →

Fallout: Equestria
By kkat
>>>/mlpol/284789 →

The Sun & The Rose
By soulpillar
>>>/mlpol/269307 →

Friendship is Optimal (included in the Past Sins thread, post # indicates start point)
By Iceman
>>>/mlpol/266598 →

Past Sins
By Pen Stroke
>>>/mlpol/248482 →

Would it Matter if I Was?
By GaPJaxie
>>>/mlpol/202151 →

The Original Silver Star Threads:
(these threads are pretty chaotic and I don't begin "reviewing" until midway through, but they're an entertaining read if you have the patience to comb through them)
>>>/mlpol/165646 →
>>>/mlpol/166716 →

>No, seriously, what the hell is this?!?
To my eternal surprise, these threads have not only continued to generate interest here, but I've also had a couple of odd people from outside the site wander in and ask me to review things. A couple of anons have said that my comments on a few stories might be of value to the MLP fan community at large, and have suggested that I reformat them to make them a little more...palatable.

Again, when I first began this project, I assumed these were mostly just shitposts being written on a site that few people bothered to visit, and as such I had no compunctions about peppering them with vulgarity and slurs because really, if you can't use the internet to anonymously hurl epithets at a complete stranger, then what is it even for?. With a couple of exceptions, most of the stories I've reviewed are well-known, well-loved stories written by horse-famous authors. As such, I feel like I've mostly been punching up, and I make absolutely no apology for any comments I've made about how god-awful most of this dreck actually is when you examine it closely.

However, in a slightly broader scope, asking someone from the more genteel quarters of the fandom to comb through page after page of me calling Pen Stroke a faggot may be a rather tall order, particularly if they are unfamiliar with the way imageboards work. So, I have decided to make the following changes to my approach:

1. These threads will still be done in the same read-and-react format to which you are all accustomed, and in general not much is going to change. However, I am going to make a conscious effort to make my commentary a smad less obscene no promises, but I do intend to try, and I am also going to try to get through individual stories more quickly (especially the long ones).

2. I will also be hosting an off-site blog (currently in development, link will be posted when it's ready) containing truncated reviews of select stories, reformatted to be more accessible to the broader MLP fandom and fanfiction community. Reviews posted to this blog will be formatted like normal articles, and will be a summation of my thoughts on the fics being discussed, rather than a long, meandering read-through, and will contain 20% fewer gay jokes and ethnic slurs. Updates will be posted as the project progresses.

Now then, with all of that out of the way...

Current Story:

by getmeouttahere


requested by that anon who keeps bugging me about it
116 replies and 99 files omitted.

So anyway, it seems as if Anon's victory may be short-lived. He only has enough gems to siphon magic for another 20 minutes or so, and since Twilight's powerlevel is over 9000, whatever he siphons off won't make any serious difference. He's basically trying to overload the city power grid by charging his phone. Plus, he still has to physically escape the city.

>“I don’t even have to do anything. You can try to run. You can even try to find more gems. But it’ll only be delaying the inevitable. The moment you stop the transfer, I’ll regain my power and break your will. I’ve had enough, Anon. The time for these games is over. You can’t stop destiny... you can’t deny it. The stars brought us together, the weaving of the world’s magic led us to one another... and it will happen, whether you like it or not...”

It also does not look as though Luna will be much help:

>You turn and accidentally meet Luna’s gaze as she sits alone, curled up upon one of the pews. Shit... you completely forgot about her. She hasn’t even made a move against you, but her expression says it all:
>’Either stop this foolishness, or we will stop it for you.’

So, in short, Anon now finds himself in a regular ol' dilly of a pickle. I have a suspicion about which direction the author is going to take this, but I'm not going to voice it for now; I'm just going to keep reading and see if I'm right.

Incidentally, Anon is still holding Sweetie Belle:

>“Anon...?” The filly in your arms looks up at you with concern. “Why are you so sad? Is it because you’re marrying the Princess even though you really don’t love her?”
Yes, yes, a child's perception; out of of the mouths of babes; all that good stuff. In any event, he might as well just go ahead and read her some of Twilight's autistic and probably revolting diary entries; he has literally no reason not to go for broke at this point.

However, it looks as though he may be too late:

>“It’s okay!” she giggles. “The Princess’ diary can’t be any more boring than the one Rarity hides in her dresser underneath her special back massager. It’s almost all about how much she likes wieners, what she wants to do to wieners, who has the best wiener, the wieners she wants to see the most...”

Anyway, the silly banter here goes back and forth for awhile. It's worth reading, but probably not worth summarizing. Eventually, the comic moment ends and Anon gets serious again. He waxes sentimental for a few paragraphs, watching the early morning stars.

>That the twilight won’t last forever, and the sun will rise again.
This right here, kids, is called a metaphor. It's a legit literary thing, look it up.

Anyway, here's the short version: with timing so implausibly perfect even Michael Bay would call bullshit on this scene, the cavalry suddenly arrives. The airship, presumably fixed by Big Mac, makes a dramatic landing and out step Big Mac and Apple Bloom, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, and Celestia. Celestia is all bandaged up from her Road-of-Trials-injuries, but still manages to look regal. She appears to be under strain due to the effects of the Geas; you may or may not remember that it was designed to repel her.

Twilight orders them apprehended, but the guards are understandably hesitant to obey. Even without her powers, Celestia is still Celestia: she was Princess for 1000 years, Twilight has been Princess for like three weeks. Plus, at this point it has to be obvious to just about everypony that she's completely off her nut.

There's a bit of a fight scene here, but the details aren't that important. Twilight's sidekicks attack, and are subdued by Anon's sidekicks. Meanwhile, Luna and Celestia face off, and seem to be having some kind of behind-the-scenes discussion. Anon puts Sweetie Belle down, and she and Scootaloo have a little crusader-reunion with Apple Bloom. Anon's situation with Twilight is about the same: he continues to siphon her power, but time is running out and there is still no clear path to victory. The chapter ends here.

19 - Epiphany

The author makes a weird stylistic choice here, and I'm not entirely certain I approve. I had assumed the fight scene was basically over, and the last item on the agenda would be Anon figuring out a way to finally break the Geas. However, it seems the author wants to draw things out a bit more. Just over half of this chapter is devoted to a detailed breakdown of the confrontation, divided into microscenes based on who is involved. Perspective appears to once again shift to omniscient. I'll go through them one at a time. Section labeling is the same as the author's.

Applejack and Rarity

This microscene mostly just rehashes a dynamic that comes up a lot in the show. AJ and Rarity, friends yet total opposites, misunderstand each other and butt heads. They are both loyal to Twilight in their own way, but they have radically different natures and thus interpret the situation differently. Rarity is upset with Applejack for having no sense of propriety and crashing Twilight's wedding. She is a natural romantic and takes Twilight's side in the conflict because true love and so forth. She considers AJ's siding with Anon to be a betrayal of her friendship to Twilight.

AJ, the pragmatist, sees it differently. She can clearly see that Twilight's autismo obsession with Anon's dick has caused her to completely lose her mind, and as her friend, it's AJ's responsibility to put an end to all this foolishness.

However, they find common ground when AJ explains that Anon and Celestia are now officially an item. At this point, Rarity drops all hostility and demands that AJ fill her in on the gossip.

The Crusaders
Nothing particularly noteworthy here; just the CMC being the CMC. They discuss the situation and decide to try and earn cutie marks as "love reuniters," by getting Anon and Celestia together. This may or may not be plot relevant, since I'm assuming they know nothing about the Geas.
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Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash

Once again, the author sticks with tried and true dynamics. Rainbow Dash, what with her whole "loyalty" thing, is exasperated that Pinkie would betray her friends and interfere with Twilight's love quest. Pinkie, meanwhile, shows once again that she is far more reasonable and perceptive than she appears. Initially, she was willing to help Twilight bag Anon, but as it became more and more apparent that Anon was genuinely not interested, she realized that helping Twilight would actually be hurting her in the long run. Moreover, when it became clear that Anon and Celestia were falling for each other, she realized that the best possible outcome would be for Twilight to give up on Anon and let him go.

She also apparently has some zany scheme in mind, as she grabs Rainbow at the end of the scene and runs off into the castle with her.

Celestia and Luna

While all of this wackiness is going on, the current Princess and the former Princess talk shop. Luna explains to Celestia that she has sensed some kind of mysterious dark force moving on the horizon, and she needs her to stop goofing off and start being a Princess again already. Celestia explains that, while she did not sense anything due to her diminished power, she did notice the Dark Star was acting a bit funny back when they were doing the Road of Trials, so she figures Luna is probably right about the whole approaching doom thing.

Luna tells Celestia to give her the orb she still has, so that she can give it back to her, so that she can swallow it and become an alicorn again. Since the end result of this would be exactly the same as if she gave it to Anon and he gave it back to her, which is what they were going to do anyway, this makes perfect sense. However, for some ridiculous reason that would only make sense to a woman, Celestia refuses. She wants Anon to give her the orb, not Luna, and she's not going to let something as trivial as the potential annihilation of Equestria interfere with the progression of her lovey-dovey storybook romance. Luna is appropriately disgusted by this display of complete and utter retardation, and vanishes in a huff.

Big Mac and Fluttershy

This scene is cute, but there's not a ton of substance or plot-relevance here, so I'm going to move through it quickly. It's revealed at this point that Fluttershy has had a crush on Big Mac for some time now, and a large batch of her erotic friend-fiction was inspired by him to some degree. She keeps trying to meekly push her way past him, and he keeps telling her no, and she's getting more and more flustered. Eventually, she tries being "assertive," which backfires as you might expect. However, it causes Big Mac whose initials I literally just now realized are "BM," which the schoolboy in me finds hilarious to finally make eye contact with her. Fluttershy uses Stare, and it's super effective. However, before she can get far, Apple Bloom unexpectedly clocks her over the back of the head with a chair.

Anon and Twilight

And now, finally, we have reached the crux of the biscuit. I'm anxious to see if this author is going to do what I suspect he's going to do, or if he will choke and miss the mark, and become a faggot just like all the rest. So far he's got a pretty hetero track record; I'd hate to see him blow it in the final quarter.

>Your mind is blank... you can’t think of anything that would help short of Twilight releasing the Geas willingly. But she’d never do that... the advantage she gains from it is way too massive for anyone in her position to realistically relinquish. But there has to be—
He's nipping at the edges, but can he seal the deal?

Anyway, Anon is just standing there siphoning magic, because that's pretty much all he can do. As he siphons, he watches everything going on around him and ponders his predicament.

>It doesn’t make sense. You know Cel wouldn’t be here if she didn’t have some sort of plan for dealing with Twilight. She has to have one, but the real question is: what’s your role in it? What are you supposed to do? Is there some sort of signal you’ve missed?
This is a crucial moment, not just for Anon, but for the story as a whole, as well as the author's sexual orientation.

Here's the deal: Anon has to solve this problem on his own. Up until now, he's relied heavily on Celestia and his friends, and that's fine because yada yada yada friendship is magic and all that. And as I mentioned earlier, the interdependence between the two of them does make the romance more interesting. During the early part of the story, Anon mostly relied on Celestia to bail him out of minor jams, and that was fine. The Road of Trials was a dual effort that they both contributed to and both benefitted from, and that was also appropriate. However, the Geas, as well as Twilight's obsession with Anon which is what the Geas symbolizes, is specifically Anon's problem, and Anon has to be the one to resolve it.

Earlier, when Anon met Discord in the Garden, there was a moment when I worried that the author was going to fuck this up. If Discord had somehow broken free of his prison, and used his all-powerful chaos magic to help Anon out of his jam, that would have completely ruined the story. However, he didn't; he gave Anon some helpful advice, but did not involve himself any further, so the author passed the test. The gods can give the hero a weapon to use, but the hero has to fight the battle himself.

Moreover, given what we know about the Geas and the particular trick Anon is using to fight it, there is literally only one action he can take here that will bring about a satisfying victory and make sense within the technical rules the author has established. If you can guess what it is, you win a cookie.

If the author does this right, he will earn himself a harem of comely mares. However, if he fucks this up, he shall be cast into the pit of Sodom for all eternity.
> However, for some ridiculous reason that would only make sense to a woman, Celestia refuses. She wants Anon to give her the orb, not Luna, and she's not going to let something as trivial as the potential annihilation of Equestria interfere with the progression of her lovey-dovey storybook romance. Luna is appropriately disgusted by this display of complete and utter retardation, and vanishes in a huff.
When I started reading your summary, I thought that Celestia was going to give the orb to Luna, Luba was going to say “ha! I tricked you! You and anon are fucked now!” Go back to her Plan A of forcing Anon to be married, and then either absorb the power herself, give it to twilight, or hold it “for safe keeping” until “things can be restored.”

I know many people in the fandom assume that this season 3 era Luna must be trustworthy because her design is pretty and she was cute in that one episode, and just conveniently forget that canonically, Luna tried to overthrow Celestia twice, but every single thing I have read about the Luna of this text screams that she is a Machiavellian figure who is for all purposes a villain. There is nothing about her that is trustworthy, and Celestia made the right call.

>for sone reason that makes sense only to a woman
That reason is that women have the ability to ignore how hot a woman is, and accurately judge the character of another woman.

Beyond that, I think we can be 90% sure that Celestia giving Anon the orb won’t be a simple hand over and hand back, but has some other effect that Celestia knows about but the reader doesn’t.
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Anyway, as if Anon didn't have enough on his plate, he now seems to be succumbing to something called "magic fatigue." Basically, even though he's only using his body as a conduit between himself and the gems, it's still putting a lot of strain on him. If he keeps this up much longer, there is a chance his body will give out.

However, it seems he's not quite at that point yet. He tries to reason things out with Twilight, pleading with her to just give up and release him voluntarily. Their conversation is briefly interrupted when the CMC try to clobber Twilight with a chair, but unfortunately the effort is thwarted.

And then...and then......and then.........


Alright, well, here's the deal. The good news is, the author doesn't go full-blown sperm-on-his-chin gay. However............his heterosexuality does not completely survive this battle. He comes out of it sort of bi-curious. At this point, I've come to grudgingly accept that bi-curious is about the best I can expect from FimFiction.

Here is what happens:

Anon and Twilight are facing off. Anon is sucking magic out of Twilight almost as hard as the author no doubt wishes he could suck an eggroll out of some gay pirate's pantaloons, but it's still not enough. He's running out of gems, and he's almost unconscious from magic fatigue. Twilight is now prematurely crowing about her victory, so we know that something is about to happen, but what could that something be?

Well, as it turns out, that something is Celestia. In spite of how horribly injured and magically deficient she still is, she begins approaching Twilight and Anon, Geas be damned. Twilight is all liek "oh noes u cant do that Pirncis Celeosi u will dieey" and Prancs Ceelests is all liek "no Twowilites i am do this thing" and twoiwlight is all liek "noooooooo" and purnses celery is all liek "yeeeeeeeess" and then cerlestria gits 2 clos 2 twoielight an then she dies and twolot is all liek "noooooooooooooooooooooo rPanaces Eleeceststia y u no stop dieing" an pramracesie cemelestiea am liek "twoiloit it is bcuz true luv," the end t. getmeouttahere. Translation for non-autists: Princess Celestia deliberately gets too close to the Geas, knowing that it will probably kill her, and sacrifices herself for Anon. Too late, Twilight Sparkle learns the meaning of true love, and realizes that her own selfish desire for Anon pales in comparison. She releases Anon from the Geas, understanding, finally, that her defeat is absolute, and Anon will never ravage her plot the way he does in Fluttershy's fanfiction.

And just so you don't die wondering, Celestia is fine; turns out Twilight shut the Geas off in time. Anon and Celestia now proceed to make out in front of God and everypony, and everypony cheers (except of course for Twilight, who is sobbing and rending her wedding dress, and Mistress Notfluutershai, who is busy penning her next opus with one hoof).

To the author's credit, this is actually close to what I was expecting, but unfortunately he sort of got it backwards.

Here is what I think should have happened:

Anon and Twilight are facing off. Anon is gobbling magic harder than the author would no doubt like to gobble down on Raoul the Cabana Boy, but it's still not enough. He's running out of gems, and he's almost unconscious from magic fatigue. Twilight is now prematurely crowing about her victory, so we know that something is about to happen, but what could that something be?

Meanwhile, Celestia is struggling back to her hooves. I'm not sure what knocked her down exactly; maybe Apple Bloom hit her with a chair. Point is, she struggles to her hooves and begins to stumble towards them. Anon realizes what she is going to do, and he knows that he can't let her do it.

It is at this point that Anon remembers something Discord told him:

>You can’t always think of things in absolutes, my dear boy. What you believe to be a boon could turn into a burden. And what you believe to be misfortune can open doors you never even imagined!
Think outside the box. Turn a setback into a victory. Anon now knows what he can do to defeat Twilight. He's not looking forward to it, but he knows how to do it.

Anon continues to siphon magic, but stops feeding it into the gems. Twilight is magically gifted enough to immediately sense what he's doing and understand what it means. She is all liek "nooooo annon what r u doing" and Anon is all liek "wat does it look liek im doing u dum pruprle hoers i am defeating u" and towoilight is all liek "nooo u cant do dat u will kerplode" and annon is aall liek "i would rather kerplode than marry u" and toilete sporkel is all liek "but y anon" and anaon is all liek "it is bcuz true luv + also u suk & r crazy."

Twilight realizes that Anon is serious; he would actually rather kerplode himself than marry her. She also realizes that the tables have been quite effectively turned: if she doesn't nix the Geas, Anon is going to kill himself in a very messy and unpleasant way. However, if she does nix it, it means she gives up her control over him. Her flawless victory has now turned into a complete and utter defeat.

Moreover, she realizes that Anon would not only rather kerplode himself than marry her, the deeper point is that he would rather kerplode than be without Celestia. She now understands that she has completely lost the battle for Anons heart and/or no-no-bits. She has the option to either kill him out of spite, or to prove that she loves him enough to set him free. She chooses the latter.

The Geas is gone, Twilight has relinquished her claim, and Anon and Celestia are now free to make out in front of God and everypony. The music swells, and everypony cheers, except for Twilight who is weeping and rending her wedding dress, and Mistress Notfluutershai, who is already writing her newest smutty fanfic. Curtain closes.
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lmao I'm Canadian now

Now, here's why this version of events is better than what the author did:

1. It's a Xanatos Gambit
A Xanatos Gambit is a plan in which all foreseeable outcomes result in victory for the creator of the plan. It not only hands Anon a flawless victory, but allows him to completely and utterly turn the tables on Twilight, who up until now has always had the upper hand reee idioms. It takes Twilight's "you will be assimilated into my vagina; resistance is futile" advantage and turns it into a completely hopeless position for her. She only has two options: kill Anon or let him go. Either way, she's been denied her prize.

2. It fulfills the "Anon must solve this problem himself" requirement
As I've said before, Twilight's fixation on Anon is Anon's problem, and Anon must be the one to solve it using his own resources. While Celestia and Twilight are technically rivals, the primary conflict here is not between them, it's between Anon and Twilight. Celestia defeating Twilight on Anon's behalf might technically solve Anon's problem, but it doesn't resolve anything and thus is not satisfying.

3. It validates Anon and Celestia's love for each other
Around the time of the Road of Trials arc, I mentioned that the love plot was beginning to feel stagnant and lose momentum, the reason being that Anon and Celestia's feelings for each other have not been put to any serious test. Well, this right here serves as exactly the sort of test they need. Anon and Twilight both have choices to make here that will define their respective character arcs. I'll get to Twilight's in just a second, but for Anon, the choice is essentially whether to give up his life or give up his love for Celestia.

The ideal outcome for Anon is a world where Twilight is either vanquished or gives up, and Anon is free to be with Celestia as he desires. However, it's clear at this point in the story that this outcome is impossible. Twilight can't be defeated by any means currently at Anon's disposal, and she is clearly determined to win him, even if it means mind-controlling him into being her love slave. She has backed him into a corner in which he has no choice but to submit and do as she pleases. However, he still has the option to simply end his own life.

If Anon truly loves Celestia, then there is no acceptable outcome other than the one where they end up together. If this outcome is not possible, then the only acceptable outcome is death. If he chooses to surrender to Twilight and marry her against his will, it proves that his love for Celestia was not genuine, and thus he does not deserve either Celestia or his role as the romantic hero. His punishment is to be metaphorically cast into Hades or Purgatory; he survives, but essentially spends the remainder of his days in a state of living death. This is punishment not only for his cowardice, but for failing to live up to the ideals he professed. However, if he chooses death, he has proven his worthiness, and at that point he can't possibly lose. Either he triumphs and wins his love, or he dies a hero's death. The beauty here is that the story doesn't necessarily have to end in tragedy; Anon doesn't need to actually die, he just needs to prove that he's willing to.

The author seems to have kind-of realized this, but again, he got it backwards. He had Celestia perform the act of self-sacrifice instead of Anon. This would have worked fine if Celestia were the main protagonist in this conflict, but she isn't, so her willingness to die doesn't carry the same meaning. This just comes across as Celestia helping Anon out of yet another jam; Anon still hasn't grown, and nothing is ultimately resolved, even though the outcome technically ends the conflict.

4. It proves that Twilight deserves redemption
Let's now look at the situation from Twilight's perspective. Twilight has a choice to make here too; in fact, her situation is actually a mirror of Anon's. She has the power to bend Anon to her will by force, but she can't force him to actually love her. The outcome she desires is one in which she and Anon are together, which can only come about through mutual choice. If she forces Anon to marry her against his will, or worse, makes him her slave using mind control, she technically wins, but she'll never be happy with her victory. She ends up in Hades/Purgatory as well if she makes this choice. However, if she lets him go, she still loses him, so that's not ideal either.

Unlike Anon, there are no potential happy endings for Twilight, at least not in this matter. Twilight is just one of those unfortunates who bears a cursed fate: she is condemned to love someone who will never love her back. However, she still has a choice to make that will test the strength of that love and prove her worthiness.

When Anon chooses to die rather than give up Celestia, he's proven that his love for her is true. At this point, there is nothing Twilight can do to break them apart or to compel Anon; she's already lost this fight. However, she can choose to either set Anon free, or allow him to kill himself. If she lets him die, she gains the petty satisfaction of knowing that even if she can't have Anon, at least Celestia won't be able to have him either. However, this will prove that possessing Anon is more important to her than Anon himself; in other words, her love isn't real love; it's just petty, selfish desire. She gets cast into Hades for this: she doesn't get Anon, and she also has to live with the guilt of his death. But, if she sacrifices her own happiness to let Anon have the life he wants, she's proven that her love was real, and thus she deserves another chance at happiness.

For these reasons, the only satisfying conclusion to this arc is one in which Anon calls Twilight's bluff and threatens to kill himself if she doesn't let him go.
I don't really believe in this kinda of love. Care for others (love) is different for me than sex. I can love a man but don't wanna have sex with him. So I have found myself disagreeing with the idea of mixing the two.

This is part why I don't really get a good grasp of Celestia's and Anon's love for each other. Feels more like they declare their love for each other than I feel it confirmed, then again I haven't read the actual story. Generally, I don't know who Anon and Celestia even are in this story so that can be on me though.
>So I have found myself disagreeing with the idea of mixing the two.
Actually that's fine. ^^
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Alrighty, I'm back.

So, it looks like the author basically fucked up the ending to the story's main arc, but since we've still got another 7 chapters + an epilogue, I'm assuming there's still more to it. Let's see how the rest of it goes.

Anyway, when we last left our intrepid heroes, Twilight had just been completely and utterly cucked by her former mentor. As Anon and Celestia tongue-wrestle on the altar, Twilight's friends including AJ attempt to console her. Twilight, for her part, continues to cry and bemoan that her meticulous plan has failed. Eventually, her butthurt reaches critical mass, and she flies off in a huff to some unknown location, leaving everypony behind.

Celestia, for her part, leaves us with this lesson on how to be a smug alicorn cunt:

>“Let her be, my little ponies. I believe what she’s learned here will eventually lead her back to all of us, and back to your friendship. All she needs is time.”
Step one: start a fire
Step two: dump gas on it
Step three: extinguish it somehow
Step four: act like the whole thing was just an elaborate friendship lesson, while still refusing to accept any responsibility for starting the original fire.

Anyway, Anon turns his attention to the recently-restored airship:

>She still looks pretty roughed up, but you can’t help but chuckle at the fact that you’ve never been so happy to see a piece of machinery again in all your life.
This sentence is bad and you should feel bad.

Anyway, since Celestanon is now a legit ship and Twilight's permavirgin status has been confirmed, there is no further need for the schism in the M6 to continue. The friends (minus Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash, who are still off somewhere doing something) all patch things up with each other. While this is going on, Celestia reveals to Anon that she managed to smuggle the ascension-thingie into the palace by hiding it in her tail. There might be a minor logic issue here: the Orb is a magical object, and I'm pretty sure Twilight can detect those. Also, it stands to reason Twilight would have anticipated Celestia would try to bring it with her. However, you could probably argue that Twilight was too preoccupied with the fight scene to be worrying about this, so she didn't notice. Either way, it's not a yuge deal.

ANYWAY, Anon and Celestia perform the perfunctory exchange of the orb that was outlined earlier, Celestia regains her power, and all is right with the world...is what I was expecting to happen. Instead, the author throws us the first legit curveball he's thrown in some time. Celestia gives the orb to Anon as expected, but when Anon attempts to give it back, she refuses. She explains that her power will eventually come back in a few centuries, and she doesn't feel any compelling need to rush things. The orb she just handed over idoms was intended for him alone.

The reasoning behind this is actually somewhat mundane: the author is just using a plot contrivance to solve a sticky little problem that was baked into his premise. Celestia is immortal, while Anon is not. So, a romance between them is problematic, since they will only get to spend a few decades together before Anon joins the choir invisible. If Anon consumes the orb, however, it will grant him immortality, thus allowing him to service Celestia's poon from now until the end of time.

As an aside, this same issue came up in the other Human x Celestia story we read, The Sun and the Rose. While in general I feel like Exchange is the better-executed story, I will note that I actually liked soulpillar's handling of this issue better than getmeouttahere's. In Sun & Rose, Celestia was a serial monogamist, who would periodically fall in love and marry, only to have her husband eventually run out his natural lifespan and die. It's less satisfying for readers who might want a happy storybook ending, but it's a more mature and realistic treatment of the issue. It emphasizes the importance of living in the moment and appreciating the things you have while you have them, and also shows that eternal life comes at a cost.

Anyway, the question of whether or not Anon even accepts the offer is left somewhat ambiguous. When he takes the orb, he feels an immense power flowing into his body. However, it's not clear if this is the result of the orb formally bestowing it's ascension power onto him, or if it's just something that happens whenever you touch one of these things, due to its being a supercharged magical artifact. I guess we will have to wait and see how this whole thing plays out.

In any event, Anon puts the orb in his pocket for safekeeping, and that's basically the end of the chapter.

20 - The Storm

The opening scene of this chapter is basically a coda to the previous scene, where all the friends were making out up. Applejack and Fluttershy apologize to each other, and the CMC apologize to Fluttershy for going all Steve Austin on her with a chair. Rarity and Fluttershy lament their role in fueling Twilight's hopeless fantasy about Anon, and resolve to make it up to her. The scene ends in a page break.

>You watch the three mares and three fillies head toward one of the still intact but abandoned buffet tables as you toss the last of the cauliflower from your plate into your mouth and grab Cel’s empty plate from where she set it aside.
Eew, cauliflower. Also, this long sentence needs to be broken up.

Anyway, Celestia fills Anon in on the details of their escape from the island, which it turns out wasn't all that eventful to begin with. Meanwhile, everyone decides that it would be a shame to waste the catered buffet that Twilight went to all the trouble of ordering, so they all sit down and stuff their boop-snoots with macaroni salad and whatever. Presumably the rest of the wedding guests are still milling around. Anon and Fluttershy make amends, and everything is just hunky-dory. Then, Anon suddenly notices something strange in the distance.
This post is good and you should feel good.^^
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It turns out that the thing in the distance is that ominous storm that's been ominously brewing in the ominous distance for the better part of three ominous chapters now. The perspective has once again jarringly shifted to third person. We join Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie in one of Canterlot Castle's many kitchens, where, for some reason, they are baking a cake. Suddenly, there is a flash of lightning at the window, which Dash notes as abnormally powerful. They take off at a gallop.

Page break. Still in third person, we join Princess Luna in the castle library. She goes into the Forbidden Archives, which it turns out has a hidden chamber underneath it. She opens the secret passage and enters the Even More Forbidden Archives, only to discover that her worst fears have been realized: Twilight appears to have absconded with some kind of super-sekrit magical tome that was being stored down there. She then teleports upstairs to her quarters.

>Two armored bat ponies rush into the room from the nearby door. “Your Highness!”
I'm a little confused by the sudden mention of bat ponies. I'm assuming the implication is that Luna has her own personal guard, and they're bat ponies because she's the night princess and so forth. However, it's odd that we haven't seen any of them or heard anything about them before now.

Anyway, she orders her guards to prepare for an attack on the city.

>She dearly wishes she’s merely overreacting.
This sentence is bad and you should feel bad.

Page break. We are once again back to second-person narration. Anon et al have also noticed the magical storm brewing, and they realize that Twilight is down there and might be in serious danger. So, they all board the airship and fly out to look for her.

The storm forces Anon to fly somewhat low, dangerously close to the city itself. Celestia thinks she knows where Twilight went, and directs him to the center of the vortex, which turns out to be that creepy Sex Thunderdome that Twilight was constructing.

The author's description of this thing will suffice:

>The last time you saw the building it was still under construction, but now it seems to be complete and even more imposing. The most striking feature is the great windowless dome, built from what appear to be precisely cut interlocking dark gray stones. It almost reminds you of some of the larger closed-roof sports stadiums back on Earth, but that’s where the similarities end. Large, oddly angled support structures are joined to the dome on each side, one of which is an extremely long corridor that gives the entire building an almost bird-like profile when viewed from the air. Strange teal lights can be seen shining from the windows of these support pieces, which causes a warning siren to go off in your head. There’s something oddly familiar about the whole thing that you can’t really place your finger on...

They find Twilight easily enough: she is standing on top of the dome at the absolute center, casting some sort of spell. She still seems to be in an agitated state, but when Anon calls out to her she brightens up, and starts babbling about how "the shard" was right. It's not yet clear exactly what's going on, but it seems that this storm is the by-product of Twilight casting some sort of elaborate spell. The Sex Thunderdome seems to be a part of that spell, and I'd wager dollars to ponuts that the malfunctioning magical crystal thingy that Anon and Celestia encountered during the Road of Trials is mixed up in all of this somehow too.

>All eyes move to the white alicorn. Her expression is a mixture of fear, sadness and remorse... and you can even see the hint of tears beginning to pool in the corner of her eyes. She steps away from the rail and lowers her head, her voice little more than a whisper.
>“...I’ve truly failed you in every respect, haven’t I?”
Congratulations on being the last horse to finally cross the finish line, Sunbutt. Finally, an appropriate idiom.

Anyway, while it's not yet clear what Twilight is up to, it's obvious she's activated some sort of high-level magic that has the potential to wreak serious havoc. It's also obvious that recent events have unraveled her already fragile sanity even further.

Twilight promises Anon that, even though he is fond of the airship Celestia built him, she has built him an even better and presumably rapier one. The Sex Thunderdome begins to rumble and levitate into the air. At this point, escape seems the most prudent course of action. Since they probably can't outrun Twilight's new and improved Rape Hovercraft, Anon decides to risk ascending above the clouds.

>“There’s no longer any doubt in my mind. It’s based around Progenitor technology and magic. I’d recognize those runes anywhere, and when she mentioned a ‘shard’ she more or less confirmed it. We don’t stand a chance as we are now, and I fear for the city’s safety...”
Celestia confirms that Twilight is messing with ancient, powerful magic that predates Equestria.

>Without thinking, your hand wanders to touch the pocket of your jacket, the great magic held within warming your fingertips.
>“Cel... what if I...?”
>Her sudden, adamant refusal takes you by surprise, and you turn to face her to find an odd look of fear in her expression.
>“Anon... that gift is infinitely precious. Don’t forget what was involved in claiming it. Don’t be so hasty to throw it away. There are still options... and there is still hope. Please, you must promise me...”
This seems to imply that Anon hasn't activated the immortality orb yet, however I'm not clear on what exactly he was about to use it for here.

Anyway, the chapter ends here.
Huh, I thought the story concluded: Okay. More is usually... more.

But we shall see.
<“...I’ve truly failed you in every respect, haven’t I?”
"I have failed you, Anakin. I have failed you."
"I should have known the jedi were plotting to take over!"
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21 - Harbinger

>After taking care of things on the flight deck, you bound up the stairwell to take your place at the ship’s alternative controls with Celestia not far behind.
I'm not entirely sure I understand why he's using the alternative controls instead of the regular controls.

Anyway, it looks like they've ascended into the clouds. Other than the occasional lightning flash, the storm doesn't seem to be affecting them much. As they ascend, they all speculate about what exactly Twilight built and what exactly she intends to do with it.

As luck would have it, Anon still has Twilight's diary that he got from...actually, I forget the specifics of how he wound up with it. He tells Celestia that he found it in the Forbidden Archives, and that sounds about right, so I guess we'll go with that. In any event, though, it sheds some light on the issue:

>May 22nd, 2132
>Spike caught me practicing my winking in front of my bedroom mirror today. It was so embarrassing I almost teleported away, but I think I managed to give him a decent enough excuse as to what I was doing! Hopefully he’ll believe I was checking for tangles in my tail. I need to be more careful about this type of thing in the future as I continue to practice. It makes me feel a bit uncomfortable, but Rarity says if I really want to attract my stallion I need to—

Oh, wait, sorry, wrong passage. Try this one:

>October 16th, 2132
>I knew I was missing something! By chance, I came across the faint signature of a strange warding spell within the Forbidden Archives while I was searching for more research materials. After a quick thaumotological reverse-engineering I was able to unlock the ward, which revealed a column with a stairwell leading to yet another chamber!
>What I found inside was absolutely amazing! Magical artifacts of all kinds, some seemingly erased from history, but vague mentions of which can still be found in several texts! As you can imagine, I was nearly beside myself! There wasn’t enough time to investigate everything, though I definitely will in the near future, but the thing that most caught my attention was a strange object ensconced in yet another protective ward. It appears to be a fragment of a much larger crystalline structure, but it’s unlike any crystal I’ve ever seen or read about before, both in appearance and with regards to its magical resonance. To put it bluntly, the magic it radiates is both vast and of a type I can’t identify! It’s not the magic of ponies, of the other races, of Discord, or even of the same type of dark magic I’ve encountered several times in the past. It’s completely new, completely unknown, and completely captivating.
>This will undoubtedly be the first object I study. Revelations discovered from a new type of magic could lead to a way to overcome traditional magical barriers such as Celestia’s Geas.

So, to summarize: Twilight stumbled across the extra-forbidden part of the forbidden archives, found a shard of the Dark Star that's what the crystal thingy from the Road of Trials was called, and began to investigate it.

The shard turns out to be something like a magical database, which reveals its knowledge to the user through visions. The short version is that Twilight learns about all sorts of extremely overpowered magic, the sort of magic that someone as autistic as she is should probably not have access to. She also learns that the shard can show her various possible futures, along with the steps she would need to take in order to ensure that a given future will occur.

>Despite how disparate the visions are, they all have a common thread near the end: In order to ultimately consummate our relationship, I build an Arcane Resonance Chamber on a scale never before seen by ponykind. This appears to be a critical step in order to have Anon overcome the last of his inhibitions and fall for me completely after we’re married.
Presumably the Resonance Chamber is the Sex Thunderdome. It's exact purpose is not yet known, but the pieces are coming together.

>There’s no longer any doubt. Regardless of what Celestia does, regardless of how much he tries to deny it... he’ll come to love me, and we’ll be together, me and my very special somehuman. Maybe then this odd emptiness I’ve felt ever since he arrived will finally be filled...
inb4 she decides to just get a cat or something.

Anyway, Celestia mentions an old sorcerer with whom she and Luna fought at some point. The guy's name is Balios, and apparently his behavior and plans from back then are quite similar to Twilight's now. There is a heavy implication that the shard has a will and goals of its own, and manipulates its users into doing its bidding by offering them apparent solutions to their personal problems.

While they are discussing all of this, Anon suddenly checks the ship's instruments and realizes that the storm outside has been steadily draining the magic in the ship's engines. At this point, though, they are basically committed to the course: either they make it out of the clouds, or the engines fail. I'm not entirely sure what happens when they do; logically, one would assume the ship would plummet and crash, but it sounds like they just lose forward momentum and become stuck in the air, like a conventional sailing ship being stuck in the doldrums.

Anyway, tl;dr they make it out of the clouds and head back towards Canterlot Castle.

>Just as the mountain comes into view across the bow, the nearby multichromatic pegasus coughs and flares her wings.
I'm no longer calling much attention to these, but I'm still keeping track of them, and this one is particularly egregious. Unless there is a canon pegasus whose mane, tail, coat and eyes are all the same color, "multichromatic pegasus" could technically describe any pegasus in the entire MLP universe. Even though this is obviously referring to Rainbow Dash, this is not just a LUS issue, this is just bad description in general. Protip: don't do shit like this.
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Anyway, they decide to send the multichromatic winged-horse creature consisting of four legs, a mane, a tail, wings and presumably genitals who is known to travel at above-average speed aka Rainbow Dash ahead to the castle with a message for Luna. However, before they can do so, Twilight's Rape Hovercraft emerges from the clouds with an ominous boom. Again, the author's description of this thing is probably sufficient:

> It’s easily ten times the size of the Dawn Star, constructed entirely from stone and awash in ancient magic. What was once the ‘dome’ of the structure on the ground is now revealed to be a perfect sphere located at the very center, slowly rotating and shining with arcane runes. The odd, angular buildings married to each side have unfolded as if they were webbed wings, with dark tendrils of storm cloud still clinging to their evenly spread digits. What was once thought to be a long entry hallway or promenade is now a combination bow / bridge, its slanted windows arrayed like menacing fangs. When taken together, the overall profile of the ship resembles that of a great tail-less dragon, and you can’t help but stand in awe at the sight.
tl;dr, Twilight has a big-ass magical airship now.

Twilight appears on the bridge or the deck or whatever this thing has exactly, and calls out to them. She tells Anon that this ship is called the Harbinger, and she's giving it to him as a wedding gift. At this point, Twilight is now so insane that it might actually make more sense for them to just carve a likeness of Anon out of mashed potatoes, give it to her, and tell her that the two of them are happily married now.

Anyway, Celestia informs Twilight that seriously, bitch, it's time to chill the fuck out. Also, she explains that the shard is evil, and that it tricked her into building some kind of unholy abomination that will probably destroy the world or something. Predictably, Twilight is not buying any of it.

>“BECAUSE YOU WERE AFRAID!!” the little alicorn shouts back, her Canterlot Voice rising above the volume of the swirling wind. “You were afraid of it! You were afraid of the secrets it held! But I’m not! With science, we can understand anything! If we’re willing to learn, and study, and experiment, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish! There’s no mystery that will remain unsolved! THAT’S WHAT YOU TAUGHT ME!”
Just trust the science, bro.

Anyway, Twilight and Celestia go back and forth for a bit, and then Anon starts making fun of Twilight's airship. He's clearly stalling or trying to distract her, and presumably has something up his sleeve.

>You hold your hands up. “Yeah, sorry, no deal. You’re a good salesmare, but I think I’ll keep the one I’ve got. Besides, it kind of has sentimental value to me, you know? And that’s something you just can’t compete with, even if your model has like a billion more cup holders than mine.”
>Pinkie and Dash snap out of their respective trances to stifle a giggle, and Twilight looks to each of them for a moment with curiosity.
>“Oh, you’re making a joke!” The purple alicorn rears up and clops her hooves together. “Ha ha, funny! But seriously, Anon, that’s enough. I’m done playing games.”
Protip: if you're going to make a joke, just make a joke. If it's funny, the reader will laugh. Adding extra text to clarify that it's a joke just kills the timing and makes the whole passage awkward and cringey.

Anyway, it turns out that Anon's efforts were wasted. While he was talking, he was slowly revving the engines, intending to throw it in reverse and then attempt a fast getaway. However, as soon as he punches the gas or whatever it has, he discovers that Twilight has their ship trapped in some kind of magical stasis field. Dang, I guess that plan's out.

>“Any time now, Dash!”
>In desperation, you call out to the pegasus in hopes of getting her to fly off and contact Luna like you had originally planned before Autismo showed up with her stupid doomsday ship thing. You can see the light bulb go off over her head before she turns and zooms from the deck, only to immediately smack against an invisible wall like a bird flying headfirst into a sliding glass door. She slides down and flops to the deck with a thump, completely dazed, and Pinkie hops over to tend to her.
Welp, I guess that plan's out now too. So, the question remains: how are Anon & Co. going to dig themselves out of this particular jam?

Well, if you've been following this story up until now, you may have noticed certain recurring patterns, one of which is that the author is not shy about using improbably-timed advantageous coincidences. At just the right moment, Luna suddenly shows up with Equestria's entire battleship armada the same armada that was chasing them earlier. Well, folks, it looks like we have an airship fight on our hands......if by airship fight you mean a tedious chiding lecture from Luna.

Twilight and Luna both project images of themselves onto the deck of Anon's ship. Luna is hopping mad, and she wants answers, goddammit. Answers to questions. Questions that she has.

The tl;dr is that Luna now knows about Twilight's theft of the Dark Star shard, which we actually already know because we saw her in the library earlier. As soon as she discovered it was gone, she took the entire Equestrian air force and/or navy out after Twilight, and just happened to catch up to her at a dramatic moment in the scene. She lectures Twilight about the dangers of using nefarious dark magic as an expedient to getting herself laid, and then orders her to stand down. Twilight of course refuses, Luna tells her she will regret the course she has chosen, and the projections disappear.

Now we get an airship fight.
>Now we get an airship fight.
>airship fight
You got to tell me which one you like the most, this one or the one I wrote in my collab with Norway.
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Twilight has momentarily turned her attention away from Anon to focus on dealing with Luna and the imperial armada. Instead of taking the opportunity to escape, Anon & Co. sit down on the deck of their own ship to watch the battle.

>“You’re absolutely right. I wouldn’t call Twilight’s creation a ship. It’s more like a Progenitor spellbook in the form of a building. The runes which cover it are proof enough... it has no need for engines or stabilizers; they’d simply be redundant. The series of spells inscribed across its surface are more than enough...”
This observation made by Celestia seems like it might be significant later.

Anyway, that's about it for this chapter.

22 - Concordia

We once again shift into third person perspective, and join Luna on the bridge of the Concordia (which is the name of the Equestrian flagship, not sure if I mentioned that detail or not).

>By its outward appearance, it’s easy to mistaken the ship for merely being one of the world’s largest luxury superliners.
I'm assuming this is just a typo, but still: this sentence is bad and you should feel bad.

Anyway, the text spends a bit of time describing the Concordia. Basically, this thing is an enormous airborne luxury yacht that also functions as a battleship. This ship is what the Equestrian government brings out when they want to impress foreign heads of state and/or blow them to bits. Think the Titanic but with frickin' laser beams, and also it can fly.

>A single torpedo hit is a guaranteed kill against a standard airship, and all ten find their mark on the Harbinger, painting the sky with a display of light so grand that for an instant some of the ponies still in Canterlot’s streets mistaken it for the risen sun.
This sentence has the same error in it, "mistaken" instead of "mistake."

Also, is it still pre-dawn? I haven't really brought it up, but the text keeps explicitly mentioning that it's close to sunrise, but the sun has not yet risen. Moreover, it's been that way since the wedding scene. I understand that sunrise works a little differently in this setting, but still, it's an odd detail to keep bringing up. Logically, enough time has passed that it ought to at least be early morning by now, so the only explanation is that Twilight, who as far as I can tell has inherited Celestia's sun-rising duties, is explicitly refusing to raise the sun.

The only thing I can think of is that Twilight wanted her wedding timed so that the kiss would occur at the precise moment the sun came up. Being the eternal autist that she is, and seeing as how she obviously still hasn't given up on marrying Anon, I could plausibly see her refusing to raise the sun until she gets to kiss Anon. However, I'm not sure if that's what's actually happening here or not. As I said, it's a strange detail to keep bringing up, so I can't imagine the author would continuously reinforce it like this if it weren't important.

Anyway, yeah; airship fight. Luna fires an immense volley at the Harbinger, and unsurprisingly it emerges unscathed. Twilight's projection appears on the bridge to gloat, but Luna is unperturbed. It seems that she was expecting this, and merely fired the initial volley to test the enemy ship's defenses.

Twilight's projection disappears, the scene ends in a page break, and the perspective returns to Anon.

>As always, Celestia is by your side, her magenta eyes following the action intently.
The author does quite a bit of this sort of thing as well. It isn't exactly LUS, but it's LUS-adjacent. It's already well-established what color Celestia's eyes are, and it's not an important enough detail to justify how often it's mentioned. In just the last scene we heard about Luna's "cyan" eyes, and Applejack's green ones came up a few times in the previous chapter.

Anyway, Luna's ships group into some kind of battle formation, and Twilight's vessel begins to advance. Anon observes that the vessel is extremely slow-moving, and Celestia explains that this is due to bad design on Twilight's part. Apparently, she didn't consider how much power would be required to move something this large and heavy. However, we soon learn that she built in a workaround: the ship has a short-range teleportation ability.

There is a page break, and we're back to Luna. I'm getting the impression that these perspective changes are going to be frequent in this chapter, and it's probably unnecessary to keep explicitly mentioning when they occur, so from here on out I'm just going to outline the broad strokes of what's going on, and will zero in on details where necessary.

Twilight teleports into the clouds, and utilizes some sort of magical weapon that drains the engines of Luna's fleet. Luna somehow disperses the clouds (the details are a little unclear here), and reveals the Harbinger's location. The Harbinger responds by firing frickin' laser beams and taking out like eight of Luna's ships in one fell swoop.

Luna, however, is still unperturbed, and clearly has something up her...hoof-sleeve reee idioms, etc. Twilight's image once again appears on the bridge of the Concordia; it seems she can't resist gloating and bragging about how bad-ass her ship is. Luna, proving herself adept at 12D chess, seems to have anticipated this. Through a somewhat unsubtle line of questioning, she manages to trick Twilight into explaining exactly how her ship works, and then immediately uses this information to disable it.

As it turns out, the Concordia has some kind of boss-level weapon installed that, when activated by an alicorn, amplifies its magic to some ridiculous degree. After getting Twilight to conveniently tell her exactly where to strike, Luna fires this weapon. It blasts through the Harbinger's defenses, and deals serious damage to the central sphere, where the magic-resonance-whatever-the-fuck thing that Twilight was autistically babbling about is located. She blasts it again, and it now looks like one more hit will finish the battle.
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Twilight manages to teleport the ship away before Luna can deal the final blow, but things are still not looking good. The ship has been dealt critical levels of damage, and will break apart within the next half hour. Twilight can't manage to teleport it far enough away to escape, and it isn't strong enough to either fight or to withstand another attack, so all she can really do here is keep dodging until the ship breaks apart. It appears she's been bested.

She is understandably upset that her latest seemingly-flawless plan to seduce Anon using a gigantic magical battleship has gone awry, and decides to sulk and mope about it for awhile. Sulk sulk sulk, mope mope mope. She eventually sulks and mopes her way into the Magical Arcana Resonance Whatever the Fuck Hoopajigger, and sees the Dark Star crystal, which apparently powers this behemoth, sitting on the pedestal at the center. She decides to lose herself in her weird fantasies one last time, and asks the crystal to once again show her a future where she ends up with Anon.

The crystal decides to do her one better: it shows her that future, along with yet another zany scheme she can use to try and bring it about. Even though she has had basically zero positive results doing anything this crystal has told her to do, she realizes she has very little to lose. So, like Charlie Brown charging the football or me reviewing Fallout: Equestria, she decides to try her luck just one more time.

Meanwhile, with the threat of the Harbinger more or less neutralized, Luna can shift her focus. She uses magic to break up the clouds, which serves the dual purpose of clearing the storm and decreasing the number of places where Twilight can hide. However, she is caught off guard when Twilight decides to suddenly teleport her ship directly in front of the Concordia.

Twilight fires her lazars at the Concordia, but her attack is easily repelled by Luna's shields. However, this was only a feint. When Luna begins charging her LOIC to finish the Harbinger for good, Twilight suddenly unleashes a new attack. A bunch of ghosts suddenly come flying out of the hole that Luna blasted into the Harbinger's dome, and hurl themselves at the Concordia. Luna is unable to do anything about it as she is concentrating on chargin' her lazorz.

One of the ghosts flies into the bridge and passes through Luna's chest. The diligent reader might recall that this same thing happened to Celestia and Anon during the Dark Star episode of the Road of Trials. A moment of intense pain causes Luna to lose control of her spell, and the super-charged blast of magic she was building backfires into her own ship.

Luna appears to lose consciousness; meanwhile, the Concordia is almost ripped in half by the intense magic blast. The ammunition stores explode, which causes additional damage. The Concordia is now basically toast, and to make matters worse, it's about to crash into the city of Canterlot.

Anon knows he needs to do something, but what? Oh right, he's still got an ascension orb in his pocket. I'm still not 100% clear on what he can do with it other than give it to Celestia, but I guess we'll find out momentarily.

>The alicorn’s gaze meets yours, and what you find within her beautiful magenta eyes nearly causes your heart to quake.
Yes, this sentence is ridiculous for several reasons and we would all be right to chuckle at it. However, that's not why I highlighted it. I just remembered that, per my previous comment [ >>366650 ], Celestia should technically still have an empty milk carton impaled on her horn. So yeah, enjoy that visual.

>The conflict within her expression is so deep it leaves you breathless.
This sentence is pretty awful too.

>At the same time, she pleads with you to both give her the Orb so that she can save her sister, and to never give her the Orb because she fears, from the depths of her heart, all that will come after.
Yes, I think we've all found ourselves in similar orb-related quandaries from time to time. Also, what is she afraid of exactly?

I'm assuming the issue is that if she uses this orb to get her powers back so she can save Luna, Anon won't be able to use it to become immortal, and thus Celestia will outlive him. I can understand why this might give her pause, but at the same time, it's not like this is the last one of these things in the entire world. If they really needed another orb, all they would have to do is go back to the Altar and do the Road of Trials again. It might be a giant pain in the ass, but it's certainly possible; both of them have been through the Trials twice ffs.

>Her indecision travels between you and roots your feet in place; your legs now unable to move even if you wanted them to.
Great googly moogly, this has to be the longest string of absolutely god-awful sentences I've yet encountered in this text. Getmeouttahere, I still basically like you, but if you don't get a handle on this shit pretty damn quick I'm going to have to start hucking peanut shells at you.

Anyway, whatever; Anon takes out the orb and gives it to Celestia, and for some reason this is presented as a momentous, difficult event for both of them. The scene ends on sort of an ambiguous cliffhanger. Meanwhile, Luna regains consciousness and realizes her ship's a' goin' down.

>The pain she feels is very nostalgic, but she ignores it for now, opting instead to reach a hoof out to the nearby intercom, which surprisingly still works.
Sweet sassy molassey, if sentences were icicles being jammed directly into my eyeballs, this one would be...well, pretty much that. Seriously, getmeouttahere, you were warned. *hucks peanut shell*

ANYWAY, whatever. Luna, realizing that her goose is pretty much cooked, orders her crew to evacuate the ship, and begins casting a spell. Whatever she is doing, it seems to be sucking huge quantities of magic out of her. Eventually, she fires it off, and the entire Concordia disappears.

The chapter ends here.
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I feel like this story makes more sense if some relationships are changed:
Luna: The mother.
Celestia: Her eldest daughter.
Twilight: Her youngest daughter.
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>The Mother
<Ackqually she's the whipping boi
I'd argue Luna as is fits. She's unappreciated, so takes it upon herself to go fix it herself. Just like when she turned to Nightmare Moon.
Luna is the overworked, underpaid and underappreciated work horse who has to make ends meet.
Celestia dumps everything on moon hores to go fuck around.
Moon hoers is a very unhappy moon hoeres, also has to deal with another jackass superior who just causes more shit to pile up.
Then premonitions of dooooom.
Moonbutt is 10000% done with everyone. She's the only one actively trying to unfuck dooooom and she'll stomp over and on anybody not helping.
Maximize firepower and HOERS power to defeat the big bad.
But everyone is still fucking around, sharting in her Equestrian Walmart. But now she also has a hernia from trying to lift her whole team.
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Yes, that's what I meant. Her kids starts shit and she wipes their bottoms. Ugh, what's wrong with me?

Didn't say it didn't make sense just that she's probably the most likable of the cast right now.
Well, I didn't mean Luna's character didn't make sense. The other two, specifically Celestia is up in the air, imo.
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>You look the beaming alicorn princess in the eyes, a sad smile on your face, and tell her, “Twilight... I can’t give you something I no longer own.”
>You hear hushed murmurs from the crowd as Twilight’s ears fold back and she hiccups.
>“I can’t marry you,” you continue. “And I can’t love you the way you want me to. I can’t give you my heart, because I’ve already given it to someone else; someone very special to me...”
I hate this. I hate this so much. Part of that is because it implies that Anon has to be with someone because being single is bad, which is a toxic mindset that causes so many men to be with people they absolutely should not be. But I hate it more so because it completely dodges the real issue, and much worse, is exactly what you should not say to someone as obsessive as Twilight in this moment. Anon doesn't want to be with Twilight because he doesn't love her, and because her actions in pursuing him show that she is batshit insane and not girlfriend material. Anon wouldn't want to be with Twilight regardless of whether Celestia were there or not. The lesson Twilight needs to learn is that 1. when someone doesn't reciprocate your affection, leave them be, and 2. Her behavior has been absolutely far beyond the pale of acceptibility. Instead, Anon is telling her that she might have won - and may still win - but for her former mentor betraying her and taking her man. This gives Twilight - who is dangerously abusive of power, obsessive, and irrational - a villain to focus her obsession over. This is actively putting Celestia in danger and avoiding addressing the actual issues.

>Twilight is all liek "oh noes u cant do that Pirncis Celeosi u will dieey" and Prancs Ceelests is all liek "no Twowilites i am do this thing" and twoiwlight is all liek "noooooooo" and purnses celery is all liek "yeeeeeeeess" and then cerlestria gits 2 clos 2 twoielight an then she dies and twolot is all liek "noooooooooooooooooooooo rPanaces Eleeceststia y u no stop dieing" an pramracesie cemelestiea am liek "twoiloit it is bcuz true luv," the end t. getmeouttahere.
This too, is terrible. This gambit, for Anon's victory, 100% relies on the villain of the story suddenly having a heart and wanting to do good towards the mare that Anon has just told her betrayed her relationship with her, and is the sole individual responsible for Twilight not getting everything she ever wanted. If Twilight just let Celestia die, then Twilight would win. Anon would be hers, hers alone, and he would come to love her. Anon has given her no reason to think he wouldn't love her, only that Celestia has outplayed her. There is nothing within the narrative itself that supports that Twilight would - or at least, that she should - chose her perfidious former mentor over the man of her dreams.

>I'm a little confused by the sudden mention of bat ponies. I'm assuming the implication is that Luna has her own personal guard, and they're bat ponies because she's the night princess and so forth. However, it's odd that we haven't seen any of them or heard anything about them before now.
This is perhaps the most accurate summation of bat ponies in the show I have ever read

>Celestia informs Twilight that seriously, bitch, it's time to chill the fuck out. Also, she explains that the shard is evil, and that it tricked her into building some kind of unholy abomination that will probably destroy the world or something.
Celestia has absolutely no credibility here. She has completely abrogated any of her responsibilities in teaching Twilight by cuckholding her, and even as she stands there and lectures Twilight on why she should give up and let her keep Anon, she's standing with Anon next to her side.

>At the same time, she pleads with you to both give her the Orb so that she can save her sister, and to never give her the Orb because she fears, from the depths of her heart, all that will come after.
This is pretty much the moment that it truly struck me how absolutely reprehensible Celestia's actions have been through out this story. Celestia has a duty to her nation to protect its people. She has a duty to, if she is going to step down or take a smaller role, ensure that her successor is up to the task. And she has a duty to her own student, who looks up to her as an almost mother figure. And what has she done? She's neglected the nation by leaving it in the hooves of somepony who is clearly not fit for the role. But far more than that, she's actively carried on a competition against her own student, her own daughter figure, over who gets fucked by a specific man. She's trying to cuck Twilight, and in the process, she's endangered all of Equestria. It's not just that Celestia could do something and has until this moment chosen to eschew the power that would allow her to do something, she's actively created a problem. She's done this in placing Twilight in that position, and more so by gleefully participating in a love triangle with her own damn surrogate daughter.

>The Harbinger responds by firing frickin' laser beams and taking out like eight of Luna's ships in one fell swoop.
Luna, however, is still unperturbed
Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but it looks like the story is saying that Twilight just killed likely a hundred or more Equestrian soldiers - her own soldiers that she is supposed to be leader over - and no one, not Celestia, not Luna, and obviously not Twilight, cares. I know the logical response is to say that the narrative focuses on the main characters, these ponies don't exactly "exist" for narrative purposes, don't think about them... But then why does the story later go on to state that Luna gave the order to evacuate the ship, if we are not supposed to think about these ships as being full of ponies whose lives matter?
>But far more than that, she's actively carried on a competition against her own student, her own daughter figure, over who gets fucked by a specific man.
Yh, that's what I think had me lose interest in this story in the past. I just couldn't root for our heroes. I feel like when that happens it's hard for me to muster up motivation to follow it. Can't put a finger on why at the moment but I have experienced this with stories before.
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Twilight's entire turn here at the end is one-winged angel, like she's come into a last, monstrous form that threatens the hero. I can't imagine how she could be redeemed now, except maybe to excuse the effect of the Dark Star shard as being like mind control. This whole turn shows how Celestia's gambit earlier was a false conclusion, because it failed to address the real issue. Something that fake-out resolution got right, however, is that Twilight needs to be the one to stop Twilight. Twilight needs to learn that her obligations towards others are more important than this obsessive pursuit of myopic self interest. She needs to be the one to put an end to her own madness, and I'm not sure how she's going to do it here.

Celestia does seem to be learning that she needs to stop thinking about her pussy for two minutes and start thinking about her ponies. It's a start, but I very seriously doubt that she will take responsibility in proportion to the harm she has caused.

The character who I have the least faith in coming to recognize her responsibility in this right now is Luna. Luna represents the opposite end of the spectrum from Twilight and Celestia. Whereas Celestia and Twilight gleefully harm or allow harm to come to others whom they owe obligations to as their masters, mentors, students, or alleged romantic partners, in pursuit of a self interested pursuit of dick, Luna completely eschews any concept of humanity in service to some "rational" understanding of duty.

Luna wants everyone who isn't her to sacrifice in the name of some greater good. She wants Anon to just agree to be a slave and suffer the injustice of being forced to a marriage he doesn't want. He wants Celestia to give up on her chance of immortality with her love. And she doesn't bat an eye when eight of the ships she came in with are destroyed because they didn't have the sheilds she did. These are all just sacrifices to the greater good. These are all just little injustices to be suffered (by others) as means to an end. Luna damn near recreates that philosophical thought experiment of "if we put a little girl in a box and tortured her, but it made everyone else happy, would that be justified?" which she answers with an emphatic "yes."

The thing is, Anon and Celestia are expected to sacrifice themselves for the greater good precisely because they are considered to be reasonable. They could be persuaded, while Twilight cannot. So Luna throws in her lot with Twilight, and Twilight gets everything she wants while no one else can. And by siding with irrational evil, Luna is actually directly aiding the great evil she says she is trying to stop. Luna fears the Dark Star shard, or at least, what it will create. Yet by aiding Twilight, she's aiding this Dark Star shard, because Twilight is in the thralls of the shard.

Luna's proposal to Anon is so lacking in any concern for justice or humanity that of course Anon would revolt from it. Anyone would. And so he does, and Luna's plans fail. Even if he had done what he asked and married Twilight, Twilight intended to unleash the Harbinger after marriage, and thus Luna's plans would have failed to prevent it anyways. If Luna had any concern for Anon or Celestia's interests, or in stopping the obvious injustices committed by Twilight rather than just condoning or even approving of all of it, she could have actually solved the problem before it went this far.

Luna actually created the problem, or at least
a, trying to force others to make sacrifices and let evil prevail in small instances instead of perhaps showing a little bit of humanity and standing up for what is right, allows a much greater evil into the world. There's also
That might be true. I will be honest that I haven't paid much attention to Luna in this story.
I didn't want to spoil anything.
Don't click the spoiler until the very very end of the review and story.
Luna is a Warhammer 40k farseer. Backstabs and betrayal and ineptitude at solving what is seen besides being a cunt. By having some moral fiber and priority directed backbone she could have stopped this madness from the start and throughout. Instead she made everything worse. Which means she fulfilled the vision of the ensuring shit hit the fan.
Celestia is cray cray. Sure seems like the most sane of the crazy house, but she's fucking bonkers. Not a tiny amount, but the full circus act. The set up is she is totally ignorant of what others actually want. She gets to fuck around, most of the time finding out is long and far enough away to not matter to her. It's played out fully till the enhanced romantic cucking of Twilight. A full royal reaming.
Twilight Sparkle is a psychotic mess. Her friends feed her delusions. Her mentor fucked around and is now finding out why mental health matters. Authority figures keep feeding the fucked fire. Her love interest ticks off every box for garbage bin romance smut.
Anon trying to wrangle the crazy house to sanity is a losing proposition. The adage of not sticking one's dick in crazy does apply. But psycho yandere kink master baiter will go through as many hoops as needed. The question is should Anon go into a loveless relationship to unfuckup Twilight, Celestia and Luna? Anon has no friends, no support network, no family, nothing but crazies and himself but I repeat myself.
Well no, because deep analysis of trope fueled romance is a nightnare.

As a non-thinky romance schlock it's better than most. Also has ponies so already we are almost topshelf. If how characters were the story would have to change a bit to accommodate that. Which is a lot more effort for this than the intent. Besides needing to use names of characters more.
It has grammar, pony, Anon and the story actually finished.
Reees Internally.jpg
I see my editing notes remained...

I will not be spoiled
Oh rad, looks like there was some discussion while I was away. Several points have been made that I'd like to respond to, however I have limited time tonight and I'd like to get through a bit more of the story first. I'll try to respond to some of the discussion points tomorrow sometime.


23 - Ascension

So, it looks like Anon didn't end up giving the orb to Celestia after all. In yet another conveniently timed coincidence, Luna seems to have pulled off her teleportation stunt at the last second before Anon handed the orb off.

>There’s a crackle of energy followed by a short burst of light. A rift opens nearby and to everyone’s amazement, out tumbles the Princess of the Night. She crashes into the deck and somersaults forward a few times before coming to a stop near your feet, her limbs splayed in all directions, mane and tail matted and wild as if she just rolled out of bed after getting only an hour of sleep. The rest of the ponies are frozen in place at the sight, save for Celestia who quickly trots over to stand at your side.

The short version of this is that Luna managed to teleport the Concordia out of the path of the city. However, it reappears just above the Dawn Star, so Anon has to quickly pull the ship back to avoid being hit by it. However, in the end it all works out: Anon gets his ship out of the way, and the wreckage of the Concordia crashes harmlessly into a nearby open field. Oh, also, it appears that expending so much magic temporarily drained Luna of her alicorn powers, so she is basically Woona now.

Celestia and Luna take this opportunity to get their feelings out in the open, and come to an understanding. Luna, of course, resents Celestia for blowing off her various responsibilities and dumping everything on her shoulders reee idioms? I'm actually not 100% sure if horses have shoulders or not, and I'm fairly certain I've referred to horse shoulders in my own writing so...idk, like half a 'ree' here. However, she also understands how Celestia feels, since they both had to assume this massive responsibility before either of them really had a chance to live their own lives. Celestia, for her part, acknowledges that it was selfish of her to just fuck off and leave Luna to run the kingdom alone, while also leaving her to deal with Twilight's crazy ass.

As has been pointed out, Celestia's actions didn't just affect Luna; she also treated Twilight quite poorly, and on top of that her actions had a significant macro effect on the entire realm of Equestria. As such, I would say she still has a long road to redemption ahead of her. However, this is at least a start.

Anyway, Celestia is sad that her vacation was cut short, and that she won't be able to spend the rest of eternity slowly revolving on Anon's dick like she was the lamb meat at a kebob restaurant. However, she understands that she has responsibilities, and that she needs to once again become the Sun Princess. She turns to Anon and delivers the following schmaltzy speech:

>“I know I told you this would be your choice, and I know I told you I would respect your decision. But Anon, I truly felt that given enough time to reflect, and given that I could properly express my love for you, you would eventually choose to join me. You likely don’t understand the fear I hold for the day you’ll be taken from me by time. There are many tragedies I’ve borne, but this... I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to recover...”
How will she ever recover?

Anyway, Anon responds with a schmaltzy speech of his own:

>“A wise mare once told me that since the past is the past and the future is unwritten, we should learn to focus on the present. You just said you enjoyed every minute of our time together, and I feel the same way. If that time really is limited, then let’s put fear aside and make the most of it. Remember our promise?”

It goes back and forth in this fashion for a few more lines, but the gist of it is that Anon has decided to give the orb to Celestia, and Celestia is going to accept it and become an alicorn again.

>“You told me to treasure this, and I do. But I treasure you more, and that’s why I offer it to you willingly. A treasure for a treasure... a decent exchange, don’t you think?”
Seriously though, I want to give the author some mild kudos here. The concept of exchange has factored into this story multiple times in many different ways. "Exchange" is both the title of the work and its most significant recurring theme. Whatever flaws this story might have, it's by a wide margin the most well-constructed thing I've reviewed so far.

Anyway, whatever; Celestia chokes down the orb. However, to everyone's surprise...nothing seems to happen at first.

>Celestia doesn’t answer. Instead, she curls up on the deck, her back presented to you and a pleading look in her eyes. You immediately recognize what she wants, and even though you don’t understand why, her expression compels you to go along with her request.
Seriously? Right now, in front of God and everypony?

>Once again, you walk over and straddle that broad white back and she rises to her hooves. You can feel her muscles move and stretch as she tests them and adjusts herself to your weight before trotting over to the ship’s rail where the Harbinger is looming far in the distance.
Oh, I get it. She wants Anon to ride her bareback, but in a normal G-rated kind of way.

>“Cast your fear aside and lean on me, Anon. I’m here with you, now and forever.”
Uh, as much as I hate to be that guy......for reasons we literally just discussed, only half of this statement is technically true.

ANYWAY, this goes on for a bit longer than it needs to, but the short version is that Anon climbs on Celestia's back, and they take off. As soon as she's airborne, the orb's magic kicks in, and Celestia does a full-blown magical girl transformation sequence.

I think I'm beginning to understand why the author dragged out the pre-dawn thing for so long:

>Her magic moves through you and into the distance.
>You can feel it now. The sun pulses with light and life. It mirrors her heartbeat, which in turn mirrors your own.
>She reaches out, and you feel it.
>Your own arm reaches too, imitating her magic, even if you’re not sure if you can grasp it.
>She takes hold of the great star, and through her you can feel its weight in your palm.
>With a grand beat of her wings, she soars into the sky, straight upward, and pulls.
>You feel the weight in your hand shift, and you pull as well.
>You want to help, even if you’re not sure you can.
>With one hand on her mane, and the other thrust downwards toward the horizon, you struggle against the unseen force as she climbs higher and higher.
inb4 they accidentally uproot the Tree of Harmony.

>And then it shifts...
>And the sun begins to rise.
oh wait, never mind.

Anyway, here's what I think the author was going for: Twilight had this whole perfect wedding planned out, where she would kiss Anon and raise the sun at that precise moment, and it would symbolize the dawn of their new love, and Twilight's new reign over Equestria, and the new shipping of Twilanon, and so forth and so on. However, her plans got completely dicked up by Anon & Co's actions. Since she's a complete autismo and can't just let it go, she's been deliberately holding off on raising the sun so that she can capture Anon, "marry" him, and raise the sun during the kiss like she originally planned, even if that means holding off on raising the sun for hours.

However, once Celestia consumes the orb and regains her powers, her first act is to raise the sun, signifying the end of Twilight's reign and the restoration of her own.

The symbolism here is pretty straightforward. Twilight is deliberately fucking with the natural order of things by extending the dawn and refusing to raise the sun until she gets what she wants, signifying that she puts her own selfish desires above her responsibilities as Sun Princess. Though Celestia is guilty of doing the exact same thing, and arguably to a much more serious degree, she has nonetheless repented of her faggotry and chosen to return to her post and set things right. She takes control of the sun back from Twilight and raises it to its proper position, signifying the return of the proper order.

It's basically well executed, though I have a couple of minor gripes. First is that, as I was complaining before, the author doesn't really make it clear whether or not Twilight is explicitly refusing to raise the sun, or if it just isn't quite time for it to rise yet. Second is that the symbolism is not entirely appropriate given these character's actions. Most of the havoc wreaked by Twilight was just a byproduct of Celestia's self-centered and childish behavior; she didn't ask to be the Sun Princess, Celestia just sort of dumped it on her so she could run off with Anon. On the one hand it's nice that Celestia has finally decided to put things right, but on the other hand it doesn't feel like she's entirely learned her lesson yet, so it's a little difficult to cheer her on.

>Through this great magic, you feel as if every pony in Equestria is watching the sky.
>They were waiting for this. They were yearning for the sun.
Yeah, no shit. I imagine most of the country has been freaking the fuck out because it's probably almost noon by now and the sun still isn't up yet. Plus, you have to assume the average pony in Manehattan or Fillydelphia or wherever would have absolutely zero context for understanding any of what's been going on.

Anyway, yeah; it just sort of goes on like this for awhile. Anon seems to be experiencing a telepathic connection to Celestia that allows him to feel her emotions. I'm not sure if this is a permanent thing, or just an effect of using the orb that will wear off once she's fully transformed. In any case, while Celestia still laments that she can't just abdicate and just ride Anon's cock all day long, she understands and accepts that she has responsibilities and she needs to stop running away from them.

>Your hand reaches out to pet the side of her neck and she laughs.
>“It was a beautiful dream while it lasted. Selfish, immature, unrealistic... but beautiful nonetheless.”
That probably sums it up adequately enough.

Aaaaand...that's the end of the chapter.

24 - Sunlight

Wow, we are just blazing through these chapters at warp speed; this is almost the end of the book. Even with the frequent, long hiatuses I've been taking, it still hasn't taken that much time to get through this.

Anywho, I think we're in third-person perspective again. The scene opens on the deck of the Dawn Star, where all of the main characters except for Anon and Celestia sit watching Celestia's transformation sequence. I'm starting to lose track of just who this group includes, but I'm pretty sure we've at least got AJ, the CMC, Pinkie, Rarity, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, Big Mac, and I think Luna.

>Apple Bloom in particular fights to suppress the feeling of awe that causes her usually talkative mouth to be at a loss for words.
This sentence is bad and you should feel bad.

Anyway, Apple Bloom remarks that she's gotten so used to interacting with Celestia like a normal pony, she's almost forgotten that she used to be a Princess. Luna finds this amusing, and tells her that Princesses are just ordinary ponies like anypony else; they just live for thousands of years and can manipulate heavenly bodies with their mind powers. There's a bit more banter, and then the conversation turns towards the task at hand, which is...uh, actually, I'm starting to lose track of just wtf that is, too. I think it's got something to do with getting Twilight some Midol.

After swearing them all to secrecy, Luna decides to fill them all in on the business with the Dark Star and the Crystal and what have you. The scene fades out and ends in a page break.
>Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but it looks like the story is saying that Twilight just killed likely a hundred or more Equestrian soldiers - her own soldiers that she is supposed to be leader over - and no one, not Celestia, not Luna, and obviously not Twilight, cares. I know the logical response is to say that the narrative focuses on the main characters, these ponies don't exactly "exist" for narrative purposes, don't think about them... But then why does the story later go on to state that Luna gave the order to evacuate the ship, if we are not supposed to think about these ships as being full of ponies whose lives matter?
This is actually a misunderstanding due to an omission on my part. What specifically happens is that Twilight's ship fires on the Equestrian fleet and irreparably damages eight ships so that they can't stay in the air. Luna's heretofore unmentioned army of batponies is a pretty well-oiled machine, and they are able to safely navigate the damaged ships to a nearby field and set them down before they crash and burn. Nobody dies to my knowledge, the ships are just put out of commission.

>Celestia and Luna

What I find interesting about Celestia and Luna in this story is that they're portrayed as common ponies who more or less had the rule of Equestria thrust on them, rather than immortal gods who just had it to begin with. Celestia in particular, in the early episodes of the show, is portrayed as sort of an all-knowing, all-powerful maternal presence that all the ponies look to for wisdom and guidance. What this author has tried to do here is humanize poninize, whatever her and show her as more of a normal mare, who has her own feelings and desires apart from being a Princess.

Her actions in the story are pretty irresponsible, and while a lot of it is presented in sort of a humorous context, she's still difficult to like for that reason. However, the other side of it is that, again, she had all of this responsibility sort of thrust upon her at a young age, and she never really got the chance to have her own life. You can't entirely blame her for wanting to experience that, even if only for a brief time. It doesn't excuse everything she does, in particular her poor treatment of Twilight, but her motivations are well thought out and make sense, and because of that she's sympathetic to a degree.

Luna in this is also interesting. She actually reminds me a little of a friend I had in high school. His mother had some kind of degenerative disease that meant she could only work part time, while the dad had basically split on them. His brother was in juvie or something, and his sister was like 12 and couldn't really do much to help the family, so my friend wound up having to work a lot and do a lot of things to help out. He was kind of a dour, serious person to begin with, and having all that responsibility thrust on him turned him into a cranky old man in a young man's body. He was an admirable guy in many ways, but the other side of him was that he could also be sort of a killjoy.

Luna seems to be in a similar position. She and her sister well, friend technically since in this story they're not biological sisters both had a ton of responsibility dumped on their backs at an age when you're supposed to be able to just goof off and have fun. Moreover, Celestia is the eldest, and if anything ought to be the more responsible of the two. In Luna's view, for Celestia to just abandon her post to fulfil some completely selfish and childish wish, while also leaving Luna behind to clean up the mess, is just about the worst thing she could possibly do.

At the same time, though, Luna probably wishes she could do something similar. On some level she likely resents anyone who is able to just cast off their cares and enjoy themselves, let alone her older sister, who is supposed to be the responsible one. So to compensate, she's developed this cold, emotionless robot persona that we've seen throughout much of the story. With Luna it's all work and no play. This leads to some of the things that this anon [ >>370997 ] is getting at:

>Luna wants everyone who isn't her to sacrifice in the name of some greater good. She wants Anon to just agree to be a slave and suffer the injustice of being forced to a marriage he doesn't want. He wants Celestia to give up on her chance of immortality with her love.
Basically, Luna's personality is the counterweight to Celestia's. Celestia adapted to her role as Princess by becoming this warmhearted, nurturing mother figure, while Luna became all-business-all-the-time. At its extreme, Celestia's personality causes her to just retire on a whim to go chase her idea of true love, while Luna's personality at its extreme causes her to become this ruthless, emotionless ice queen.

The key here is that they both fucked up in their own way. Celestia's fuckup is fairly obvious, while Luna's is a little more subtle. If Luna had been thinking purely rationally, she would have just teamed up with the others and helped to thwart Twilight's plan, since that would have been the most painless and expedient end to the problem. However, it wasn't enough for her to just fix Equestria; she wanted to fix Equestria and ruin Celestia's fun.

As an aside, this actually puts kind of an interesting spin on the whole Nightmare Moon thing. I'm a little curious about the origins of that conflict in this universe.

At any rate, I actually find this to be a much more mature and thought-out attempt at exploring the resentment/rivalry dynamic between Celestia and Luna than what the canon writers actually attempted in the later seasons of the show. In the show, it was just a couple of moments where the two Princesses got into minor arguments over silly things and then later made up. Here, the author attempts to give them a plausible backstory and extrapolate a serious conflict from that.
I think you made good points and your post made me realize who much I relate to Luna.

Tho, I still feel negatively towards this story. I think it stem from certain observations but before that: I agree that Celestia's motivation makes sense but I disagree with her methods, or they make her less likable in my eyes.

Here are these reasons that I have:
1. Celestia can date someone while still being Princess.
2. She can also take a vacation (only lift the sun in the morning or something).
3. She could talk to Twi about her behavior towards Anon.
3b. While she is at it, she can tell her that she's interested in him as well.

I mean this story have had a running gag about how rapey Twi is in her autism but at the same time, I guess this reflects poorly one me but I don't care, I feel she has the right idea. It's stupid that everything is sexual harassment in today's society, especially in a promicious one. I see a phat ass mamacita and if I'm going to court her I need to lie and say, "Oh, I love you for personality, miss cheeks."

Therefore I respect Twi, she got balls, and she's genuine and just gives Anon the straightforward confession. Compare that to Celestia, what does she do, well she pretends that she's some sort of neutral party and move Twi out of the way while ensuring her closeness with Anon. I see her as a schemer, who hides her true motives.

I'm also not a fan of Anon's character. I feel like he is a none-character. Maybe a bit harsh, maybe I haven't followed him enough. The idea that he is the woman in this drama is something that's been growing on me. Stuff just happen to him and he just reacts to it. Both Cel and Twi seem to love him more as an object than from anything else that I can tell. I feel like he has no agency. Like I don't believe he'd get out of bed in the morning even if he had a team of cheerleaders motivating him, he was tied to a rope that was also tied to four workhorses, and his bed was a giant bar of soap.

Does anybody believe that he actually did the trials of w/e in the first place like it was said in the first chapter. I doubt it hard, I also wonder how that scene came to be now in retrospect.
He went to Celestia for help with Twi, I assume because she's the ruler of Equestria or because he knows of their relationship, and instead of solving it, she sends him on a crazy, and deadly errand? Celestia, just fix it.

Anyway, those are just my thoughts. I'll admit that I haven't followed this super hard so I might missed stuff in my assessment.
To be fair I do like the story.
Anon could have made a business of collecting Alicorn orbs with a simple invention. The foal-in-a-sack-inator. The amount of orbs collected per run increases.
Or Celestia could have a conga line of guards going through it, engineering a walking simulator solution. To stockpile enough alicorn orbs to alicornify all of Equestria becoming the world super super power.
It would jar with the story and themes though.
>I'm also not a fan of Anon's character. I feel like he is a none-character.
Unfortunately this tends to be a problem with Anon stories in general. The whole point of Anon is that he's meant to be a generic self-insert for the average 4channer, which means that by design he won't have much in the way of character growth or development. The issue is similar to what you get with male protagonists in Japanese dating sims, where the male lead is usually just a generic, average high school student with no distinguishing characteristics other than being "basically a nice guy." This approach helps with immersion as it allows the reader to self-insert, but it also means that the other characters have to be dynamic and interesting enough to carry the entire story on their own.

One of this story's weak points is that Anon and Celestia, who form the center of the romance plot, are not entirely likable or sympathetic characters. Most of the conflict in the story is the direct consequence of Celestia's irresponsible behavior, so the reader can be forgiven for not wanting to root for her. Anon, as I explained, is intended to be a (You) character, so there's not a whole lot for him to do besides be the spindle that the rest of the story revolves around.

>The idea that he is the woman in this drama is something that's been growing on me. Stuff just happen to him and he just reacts to it. Both Cel and Twi seem to love him more as an object than from anything else that I can tell. I feel like he has no agency.
This is a valid point. Part of it relates to what I explained above, that due to the format of the story Anon can't really be much more than a center of gravity for the story to turn on. The other part of it is what I was getting at earlier, about Anon needing to assume more of a hero role in the story and sort some of these problems out on his own. In particular, what I went over here [ >>370594 >>370595 ] is relevant. The conflict between Anon and Twilight is arguably more engaging than the developing relationship between Anon and Celestia, and the fact that it has such an unsatisfying resolution contributes to making the overall story unsatisfying. It was supposed to be Anon's problem to solve, but Celestia solved it for him, so Anon, as the hero, comes across as effeminate and passive.

>Anon could have made a business of collecting Alicorn orbs with a simple invention. The foal-in-a-sack-inator. The amount of orbs collected per run increases.
>Or Celestia could have a conga line of guards going through it, engineering a walking simulator solution. To stockpile enough alicorn orbs to alicornify all of Equestria becoming the world super super power.
This is another area where the author made some mistakes, this time more technical. The way the orbs are created and operate creates some logic holes that dampen some of the story's dramatic punch. Essentially, any non-alicorn can undertake these trials any number of times, and anyone who completes them walks away with a fully-charged alicorn orb. The "trials" simply require the aspirant to physically pass through the leylines or gates or whatever while carrying the orb; as long as you do all 13 of them you walk away with an ascension orb.

There seems to be a one-orb limit per person per journey, but if I'm understanding it correctly you can undertake the journey as many times as you want. This creates all sorts of weird little hypothetical scenarios a person could potentially use to game the system, such as what you suggested: bringing some foals along in a sack to carry extra orbs, or just having a bunch of guards go through in a line. You could theoretically have an entire closet full of these things; in fact, in principle, anypony in Equestria (or 'anycreature' in the world for that matter, since if Anon can do the trials it's obviously not just limited to ponies) could become a literal living god just by going through this process.

The obvious solution would be to attach some reasonable conditions, like one orb per person, per lifetime. However, this creates a major continuity error: both Anon and Celestia need to be able to undergo the trials more than once, or else huge chunks of the plot won't work. Unfortunately, it's a rather sticky situation and I don't have a readily available solution to it; it's just something the author should have put a bit more thought into before he started writing.

Meanwhile, Anon and Celestia are flying towards the Harbinger, which is also surrounded by those black, stinging ghost things.

>“This happened once before with Balios. He was compelled to build a powerful arcane resonance chamber by the Shard. Once it was activated and charged with sufficient magic, the spirits began to appear. We managed to put a stop to his plans before things got any worse, but based on the sorcerer’s notes we later retrieved, the true purpose of the chamber was to summon the Dark Star itself to Equestria. He was attempting to use the resonance chamber as an anchor for the same type of Progenitor gateway spell that was cast upon the Wayshrines of the Trials. Though the amount of magical energy required to establish such a gateway is immense, the appearance of the spirits here is a sign that it’s near completion and beginning to open...”
Something has been bugging me for awhile now, and this seems like as good a place as any to mention it.

We've been hearing quite a bit about this Balios guy lately, yet we still don't know anything about who he is, where he came from, what the nature of Celestia and Luna's conflict with him was, or anything else really. There is zero mention of him in the text prior to Chapter 21. However, the author is attempting to draw this major parallel between Balios, this mysterious character who just appeared out of nowhere, and Twilight, the principal antagonist we've been dealing with since the beginning.

This is very bad form, and it surprises me because for the most part this author has been pretty good about not veering off into weird tangents or dropping extraneous characters into the story, like we saw in several other stories we've looked at. However, now we've suddenly got this Balios guy. The issue here is similar to what we saw in FoE, when that Autumn Leaf guy suddenly shows up, and the author tries to fast-track him into being a major antagonist.

Most of what we know about Celestia and Luna's past has focused on one specific time period, when they were friends with Clover the Clever and were going through the Road of Trials. The fight with Balios, as far as I can tell, came much later, but it doesn't seem like the time period in which the fight occurred is that important. We already know that Clover's ascension somehow went awry and he was transformed into Discord, and that this was the result of their dicking around with the ascension orbs. From what I can tell, the orbs and the Dark Star are all Progenitor magic, so would it have been that difficult to just merge Balios into Clover/Discord's character? It's odd for the author to gracelessly wedge a new character into the story at the last minute just to fill some perfunctory role in the world's backstory, when he already has a character that could just as easily fill that role.

Anyway, whatever. Celestia had a fight with a guy named Balios a long-ass time ago, and he was using the same kind of dark crystal magic that Twilight is using currently. The crystal apparently tricked Balios into building something that would bring some horrible nightmare entity into the world, and now it seems to be leading Twilight down the same path.

The two of them head towards the Harbinger. The ghosts see them coming and start charging them all at once. However, now that Celestia has her sun powers back, she is able to vaporize them all with a single horn blast.

>You briefly consider cutting back on your teasing of her in the future, but your memory kindly reminds you that avatar of righteous fury or not, she’s still your Cel. No matter how much power she wields, she’s still sometimes silly, she still can’t resist an unguarded cupcake, and she still does in fact have a sense of humor, and a good one at that.
Not only that, but she still has a milk carton on her horn.

Anyway, Celestia fires up that same overpowered beam spell that Luna used earlier (minus the added firepower of the airship), and fires it at the Harbinger. However, the Harbinger has its shields back up, so the beam deflects. It looks like they will need to find a way through the barrier.

Unfortunately for them, the Harbinger suddenly teleports itself in front of the Dawn Star and begins charging its death-cannons. Celestia quickly chain-teleports back to the ship and throws up a shield.

This alarms her:

>“Yes, something is wrong,” Celestia replies as she rests on her haunches and shakes the dizziness from casting so many powerful spells in rapid succession away. “That attack was far, far more vicious than anything I’d expect from Twilight. Even given all that’s happened I can’t imagine she’d try to directly harm her friends in such a way, no matter how far this obsession has taken her. I fear that the Dark Star’s influence is beginning to flow through the gate... she’s in danger, and we must act quickly!”
If I'm understanding this correctly, whatever dark spirit lives in the crystal is beginning to take over Twilight's mind and/or body. Most likely it is feeding off of her already-critical levels of autismo insanity + horniness + intense butthurt over her former sensei stealing her husbando this part is still 100% Celestia's fault btw.

This actually relates to something another anon alluded to:

>Twilight's entire turn here at the end is one-winged angel, like she's come into a last, monstrous form that threatens the hero. I can't imagine how she could be redeemed now, except maybe to excuse the effect of the Dark Star shard as being like mind control.
Unfortunately, this seems to be the direction things are going at present.

>A polite cough from Rarity interrupts the alicorn sisters’ conversation. Both turn their attention toward the fashionista and the rest of the ponies do the same.
LUS again. Not only is Rarity's being a fashionista a well-established fact, but it's not even remotely relevant to anything that's going on in this scene. Also, the entire second sentence is awkwardly written. Try this:
>Everyone turns their attention to her.

Anyway, Rarity suggests that they use gems to amplify the Princesses' magic in lieu of the airship. Luna initially shoots this down, as the OP spell they are trying to cast would require far stronger gems than anything they have on hand. Also, they would already need to be infused with high-level magic.

Well, in yet another improbable coincidence, Anon reminds them that they do, in fact, have several such gems: the gems he was using earlier to sap Twilight's magic are both high-quality and infused with high-level magic. Moreover, they have 25 of these, and only 7 are required to fire off a blast equal in magnitude to what the ship could produce. So, they can afford to hit the Harbinger at least three times, with two blasts being sufficient to disable it.

Anyway, the conversation goes on for a long, long while; honestly large chunks of this section could probably be cut. The basic gist of it is that they are planning to use the gems to amplify the magic somehow, when Twilight suddenly shows up again. She mocks them briefly, and then begins firing torpedoes at them. The torpedoes track the movement of the ship, and are designed to sap the remaining power from the engines, which you may or may not remember are only functioning at 50% power now. Twilight's target is now the Dawn Star itself, because apparently the Dark Star told her that if she destroys that ship, it will somehow convince Anon that he actually does want to sex her vagina.

Meanwhile, Luna apologizes to Anon for her earlier indifference to his situation:

> “We... we dearly apologize for what has happened in regards to our behavior. Our focus was on the safety and stability of Equestria, but that does not excuse what we’ve done. Truly, t’was no way for us to treat one who will become our future brother-in-law, and we shall need to make it up to the both of thee later.”
So, it looks like Luna is fully on their side now.

>The fashionista steps back, her nervousness visible in the motion.
This sentence is bad and you should feel bad.

>A blue hoof reaches out and taps your tuxedo jacket.
>“Try not to ruin this, as we are certain it will be needed again in time, Brother.”
Oh yeah, I forgot that Anon is still wearing his tuxedo from the wedding. In my defense, it's not quite as memorable a detail as the milk carton on Celestia's horn.

Anyway, the plan now is to something something whatever with the gems. For some reason they need Rarity's help, and Rainbow Dash takes off while carrying her. Rarity seems to be no less confused than I am about whatever they are planning to do, which doesn't exactly bode well. Meanwhile, Celestia flies off to go deal with the torpedoes I guess. I have to be honest, I'm beginning to lose track of exactly wtf is going on in this scene.

So...Big Mac and Anon argue for awhile about how much power the engines can take, or lose, or be charged to, or something. Then, Big Mac runs off to futz with the engines, and Anon goes back to dealing with the controls. Pinkie offers him some words of encouragement, which seem to buoy his spirits somewhat.

>Come to think of it... she’s right. With the other ponies gone, you’re down to the original crew you had when this crazy journey first started. Well, that plus an extra filly or two, but who’s counting, right?
Yeah, I have to be honest here as well: I have also lost track of where everyone is in physical space. I think Celestia is off blasting torpedoes, Rarity and Dash are off doing...something...Fluttershy is...somewhere....Luna is doing something with the gems I think, and the CMC I think are just standing around with Anon and Pinkie at the controls. I think. Fuck, this is getting a little confusing.

Anyway, Anon takes a moment to wax nostalgic about all of his fond memories of his time aboard this ship. Seems like kind of an inappropriate thing to be doing in the middle of a battle, but whatevs. The implication here seems to be that the ship is about to be destroyed.

>You look over to Celestia. She pants for breath during a lull between casting spells and your eyes meet hers.
Oh, wait. It seems I got it slightly wrong: Celestia is not flying around blasting torpedoes, she's just blasting at them while standing on the deck.

Protip: if you've got a lot of characters in a scene, try to keep their positions relatively simple, otherwise it starts to get confusing.

>You pick up the hyperactive Element of Laughter from where she’s leaning against your console and gently place her next to Applejack, who’s waiting near the entrance to the bridge. The farmpony shares an exasperated but sympathetic smile with you before you make your way back to Cel at the flight controls.
Case in point: between the LUS names the author keeps using and the fact that there are like 20 goddamn characters in this scene to keep track of, the author should really be trying to keep unnecessary position changes to a minimum. Also, this scene goes on way too long and contains a lot of extraneous banter and gags that, while amusing, just add to the confusion. If I were editing this, I'd probably suggest that this section be pared down considerably or rewritten.

Anyway, Big Mac overclocks the engines, but the ship holds together. They evade the torpedoes, and then the Harbinger appears in front of them and starts firing ghosts again. Anon decides it's now or never, and he yells for Celestia to do her whatever the fuck thing with the magic and gems. They take their shot, but tl;dr Twilight teleports away in time and they miss. The chapter ends here.

25 - White Wings

>The Princess of the Night paces about the deck of the ERA Salt Lick, formerly unit B-2 of the Concordia’s ill-fated escort fleet, and one of the two ships of said fleet still airborne. Under her orders, it hovers at a standstill a respectable distance away from the action unfolding in the vast skies above Canterlot Fields. The captain of the vessel nervously waits beside the Princess as he watches the battle between the Dawn Star and Harbinger unfold along with her.
Wait, why is Luna on this other ship all of a sudden? I thought she was helping to set up the gems so they could do that blast or whatever. See, this is exactly what I was just talking about: if my attention were not being constantly yanked around every which way by Fluttershy running off to cower in the cargo hold, or Rainbow Dash flying off with Rarity, or the CMC bouncing around while occasionally making pointless interjections like "wow" or "that's cool", or Pinkie and AJ playing musical chairs on deck and making small talk, important details like this would be much easier to keep track of.

Anyway, whatever; Luna's on some other ship now, I guess. Also, for some reason, Fluttershy is with her.

>“Nay,” she replies, not even bothering to turn to face him. “And also, effective immediately, this ship’s name is now the Nightshade. We shall need to have a talk with the pony responsible for naming these vessels during commissioning. Based on the examples seen so far, we are not impressed.”
Just what this story needed: more names for things.

ANYWAY, Flutters and Luna yak back and forth a bit. It seems that Luna is aware of "Mistress Notfluutershai's" real identity, which causes the margarine-yellow airborne miniature horse to have one of her trademark conniption fits. The rest of this is basically just the last scene of the previous chapter, except seen from Luna's point of view: Celestia fires on the ship, it teleports out of the way before the blast hits. Also, I forgot to mention this, but the errant blast hits Canterlot Castle and destroys Luna's observatory, much to her dismay.

There is a page break, and we return to Anon. He and Celestia are discussing their next move. Then, Luna's projection shows up and bitches them out about destroying her favorite observatory.

>“Hey! Is this thing on?!” A ghostly Rainbow Dash appears as well, twirling in the air with confidence. “Hey Anon, hey Princess! We made it and the SS Awesomeness is ready to go!”
>“That’s not the ship’s name...” you hear a voice mumble from somewhere behind her.
I guess that's what Dash and Rarity were up to in the previous chapter, I'm not sure if that was actually clarified or not. The last chapter was pretty much all over the place, and I had trouble keeping track of a lot of the details.

So, it looks like the plan is for Luna and (for some reason) Fluttershy to take command of one of the two remaining airships from Luna's fleet, while RD and Rarity take the other. I'm still not sure what exactly Anon has in mind, but I'm sure we'll find out shortly.

>“You ready?”
>She smiles softly. “Whether it be climbing a waterfall, or galloping across an endless snowfield, or flying through the sky, I trust and treasure you without hesitation and without fear. That, in itself, is a part of the joy I feel when we ride together, be it you upon my back or with the both of us here.”
A simple 'yes' would have sufficed, woman.

Anyway, Anon and Celestia have a tender moment, and then Anon orders Big Mac to fire up the engines and away they go. The Harbinger teleports in, and after some brief maneuvering Anon gets the ship in position and they fire as before. The Harbinger once again manages to teleport away before being hit, and this time Luna's airship is in the path of the beam.

However, it seems that this is all part of Anon's 10,000D chess game. Luna uses one of the leftover gems 25/7=3, with a remainder of 4; math is fun to catch the beam. When the Harbinger reappears, Luna destroys its shield by redirecting the spell.

The crowd on the deck of the Dawn Star even now, I don't think I 100% remember who exactly this includes erupts into a cheer, but this is premature as they still need to hit the Harbinger one more time. Twilight's voice crackles over the intercom, or whatever they have:

>“S-So... that was your plan...
>To redirect the attack using s-spare gems...
>Very clever, Anon. I should’ve... expected as much from you.
>But I know how many... you used to drain my magic at the wedding...
>And it won’t work... a second time...”
Never underestimate an autist's ability to count things.

Anyway, they pull the exact same stunt again, but this time Twilight is wise to their shenanigans and reacts accordingly. She teleports, Celestia fires, she teleports before it hits, Luna catches the beam, fires it at the place where Twilight reappears, but Twilight teleports again before it can hit. Before she does, however, she fires on Luna's ship and disables it. However, since this is their last shot anyway this hardly matters.

And in any case, Anon is now playing 10,000,000D chess. The beam rips through the place where Twilight teleported away the second time, but this time it goes hurtling toward the other ship, where Rarity is waiting with another gem. However, Rarity does not seem to have understood Anon's convoluted plan a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly sympathize, and she begins to pout and fret while the beam bears down on her. In the end, however, she manages to catch the beam with the gem.

Unfortunately, though, this is about as far as her luck goes. When Twilight's ship rematerializes in front of her, she immediately loses her shit again and the blast goes flying off in some random direction. Twilight, meanwhile, manages to blast the helium frame of her ship, and now Rarity is out of the game.

And so ends Anon's career as a 10,000,000,000D chessmaster, it would seem.

...or perhaps not.

Twilight predictably begins to crow her victory, but it seems that all along, Anon was actually playing chess in a number of dimensions that not even Twilight's autistic ass can count to. Here is a quick rundown:

The blast spell requires 7 gemstones to amplify it to the level it needs to be at in order to effectively damage the Harbinger. Anon has 25 gemstones. 25/7 is 3. This means he has 4 left over to redirect the spell. Twilight, being an autist, is fully aware of the exact number of gems that the Anon has in its pocketses. However, in this case, Anon managed to use her autism against her.

Since they have two ships to use for the redirect spells and only four gems, one would logically expect Anon to give two gems each to Rarity and Luna. Twilight, for whom logic is basically a religion, made this assumption without even considering any alternatives. However, essentially on a whim, Anon decided to keep one gem for himself, giving two to Luna and one to Rarity.

Now, with their last laser blast flying off into the wild blue yonder, Anon cranks the engines up as high as they will go and begins pursuit. He somehow manages to get the engines up to 130% power, and is able to dodge whatever crazy bullshit Twilight fires at him. Meanwhile, he orders everyone except Celestia to head for the lifeboat. I'm not sure what a lifeboat on an airship would be exactly; I'm assuming it's just a smaller airship.

Anyway, he is able to intercept the laser beam, which for some reason travels slower than the ship, and at this point Celestia uses the last remaining gem to capture it. She immediately redirects it at the Harbinger, which is directly behind them now, and it hits the magical dome thing dead on. And just like that, Twilight has been hoisted by her own petard with some generous assistance from the author's bullshit physics, of course.

Given the author's propensity for perfectly-timed coincidences, the airship's engines hold together until the blast hits the Harbinger, and not a second longer. With some kind of explosion or something imminent, the lifeboat now detaches, carrying AJ and Pinkie Pie and Big Mac and Scootaloo and Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle and Chef and Ms. Crabtree and the 1991 Denver Broncos away to safety. Also, if anyone is interested, it seems the lifeboat is some sort of glider.

Anyway, Anon climbs on Celestia's back, and the two of them fly away just in time to see their favorite airship crash and kerplode into the fields below. The moment is bittersweet for Anon, because Celestia and emotions and so forth, but at least they destroyed the Harbinger...right?

>Well, it’s still in a million pieces, but those pieces stubbornly refuse to fall. Instead, they slowly orbit around a small sphere of darkness that ominously hovers in the section of sky where it was torn apart. It’s like looking at a galaxy with stone fragments in place of stars and a massive, visible black hole forming its center. The shrieking pony spirits circle around it, their attention focused on nothing else.
Well, fuck.

So, just when everyone thought this ridiculously convoluted boss battle was finally over, Twilight's autism rears its ugly head yet again. The structural resonance magical hoopajigger thingy that opens a portal to the evil dimension of the Dark Star, which Celestia had assumed would be destroyed along with the Harbinger, is still going. It seems that Twilight is now keeping it alive by channeling her own personal magic into it. Or, it's feeding off of her; I'm not sure which. Actually, it looks like she might be unconscious or something.

At any rate, here's the short version: the Dark Star, which as it turns out was underneath Equus Island the entire time, was actually the source of the repulsion spell that prevents alicorns from setting foot on the island. As such, with a portal to the Dark Star now opened, Celestia can't get near enough for them to rescue Twilight. It feels like Twilight shouldn't logically be able to get close to it either, but we'll put a pin in that for now. I'm assuming it has something to do with her personal magic being used as a power source, but who knows.

Anon tells Celestia that he will go get her, since the spell won't affect him. There is some perfunctory back and forth, where Celestia is all like 'noooo aAnon u cant go iz too dnagerous' and Anon is all liek 'no prncess cleest i must go bcuz reasons.' And then, Anon jumps off, and uses the floating stones orbiting the crystal-portal-thing as stepping stones until he reaches Twilight.

Anyway, he picks up the near-unconscious Twilight and gets her away from the thing. Twilight, meanwhile, explains that she has been feeding her personal magic into the ship, and that is how she managed to do all those teleportation moves. She also apologizes, but seeing as how she's in a near-comatose state from having her magic drained, it's hard to gage how sincere she actually is.

With Twilight unconscious, the crystal is no longer able to draw power from her (I think), and the whole thing begins to lose altitude. Anon, in keeping with the rest of his behavior throughout this story, just assumes that Celestia will probably catch him when he falls, so he decides to just stay where he is.

At this point, he notices the crystal that was sitting next to Twilight. He is compelled to pick it up, and it immediately begins feeding him visions. It shows him a path home, back to Earth and his family and whatnot, but he manages to fend off the last temptation of the Broodwich, because:

A) he's been dealing with this thing long enough to know that everything it tells you is bullshit, and
B) he's now hopelessly addicted to horse poon, and has no desire to go home and see his family anymore.

So, he chucks the fragment through the portal, thus sealing it away in the Dark Star's cavern. The portal closes, the last pieces of the ship begin to fall, and Celestia swoops in to catch Anon and Twiggles.

26 - Reunion

The battle is over. On the ground, royal guards are busy cleaning up the debris from the airships and assessing damage to fields and so forth. Anon has some minor wounds and is being treated in a private medical tent.

Twilight is in the same tent, still unconscious. Celestia and Anon are in there yakking about Doritos™ brand corn chips, when she comes to and immediately starts apologizing:

>“You were right... you were right about everything all along... and I was too stupid to see it. I thought that maybe I’d found something, or learned something that you hadn’t... and I wanted to prove to you that... that... I could be an amazing princess just like you, just as much as I wanted to prove it to myself!”
"So, uh, yeah, remember that time I blew up Equestria's entire navy and tried to commit regicide against two Princesses because I was neurotic from not getting laid? Yeah, sorry about that; that whole thing was my bad."

However, she's not quite done yet:

>“But I was wrong about that, too. I... I thought I knew what love was. I read so much about it... talked to ponies about it... asked my parents and brother about it... but I never understood it until I saw the two of you at the wedding. When... when you fought through the pain of the Geas to reach him, even when you knew it would be impossible... I... I knew, right then, that I’d never have him. And it hurt so much, Princess... it hurt so much, and I didn’t know what to do!”
As I've said in other reviews, problems in stories tend to cascade and cause additional problems. In this case, the problem I mentioned during the wedding scene (Celestia attempts to sacrifice herself to stop Twilight when it ought to be Anon doing it) cascades downward and causes Twilight to learn the wrong lesson.

If the author had handled this segment correctly, here is how it would have gone:
>Twilight has Anon backed into a corner, where he either marries her or she enslaves him
>either way he has to marry her, either way he loses Celestia
>his only choice is submission or death
>Anon chooses death
>Twilight says "no stop doing that u wil die"
>Anon says "duh bitch that's the point"
>Anon has now turned the tables on Twilight and backed her into a corner
>either she lets him go or he dies
>either way she loses him
>if she kills him, she at least has the satisfaction of knowing that Celestia doesn't get to be with him either
>if she lets him go, she at gets the satisfaction knowing that Anon will be happy, even if it means sacrificing her own happiness and surrendering to her rival
>since this isn't a Greek tragedy, she makes the right choice and lets him go
>lesson learned: loving someone often means putting their happiness above your own

However, since the author fucked up bigly at a crucial juncture, here is how things actually turned out:
>Twilight has Anon backed into a corner, where he either marries her or she enslaves him
>either way he has to marry her, either way he loses Celestia
>he has no agency, he is just a helpless toy being fought over by two horny lunatics
>Celestia chooses to intervene by placing herself in mortal danger
>Twilight says "no stop doing that prnses u wil die"
>Celestia says "Toilght it is bcuz luv"
>Twilight now has a choice, but is not backed into a corner
>she can either kill her rival and take Anon as her prize, or back off and let Celestia have him
>Celestia fucked her over pretty royally, so she actually has very little incentive to do the first thing
>but since this isn't a grimdark fic she chooses the second thing and lets Celestia have Anon
>lesson learned: the green monkey dick belongs to whichever mare is more fanatically devoted to it

Anyway, whatever; Twilight apologizes and Celestia forgives her, because this is Equestria and that's just how things work around here. It seems like Celestia ought to have a few things to apologize for herself, but she unsurprisingly elects to just gloss over all of it:

>“Twilight... there’s no undoing it. The past is the past, and you must live with the consequences of the choices you’ve made, which is a lesson that I must remind myself of day after day. I understand that it was the Shard’s influence that directed you to do some of these things, but that does not absolve you of the responsibility. You’ve made many mistakes, and hurt many others as you’ve followed this path, and this is, and will remain, the truth.”
"So, uh, yeah, remember that time I shoved an ascension orb down your throat and then just bailed on the whole kingdom? Yeah, me neither."

Anyway, to cut a long story short, they decide to just blame the whole thing on the Dark Star and sweep the rest of it under the rug, so all's relatively well that ends relatively well, I guess. Also, Celestia informs Twilight that, although she is still technically an all-powerful alicorn, she used up most of her magic during the airship fight and is now demoted back to regular unicorn status, although it seems she gets to keep her wings. Her magic will eventually replenish itself, but it will take hundreds of years.

>“But... but... m-my... my magic is everything! It’s who I am! It’s my special talent! What... what am I going to do without it?! I... I can’t function without it! I’ve never eaten with my hooves, or written with my mouth, or—”
Wait a minute; scratch that. It actually looks like she's now at a level below where she was previously. If I'm reading this correctly, she now has no magic at all, and is basically just a mudpony with wings and a horn.

Naturally, she starts hyperventilating about all of this, because Twilight is basically an overachieving Asian girl, and nothing terrifies an overachieving Asian girl more than the prospect of being average. Eventually, Celestia decides she's heard enough and tells her to stfu.
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>“But I’ve lost everything! I’ve lost Anon! I’ve lost my friends! I’ve lost my magic! And I’ve lost you, Teacher! How am I supposed to go on like this?! It... it would be better if I just...”
>You cover your ears as Celestia unexpectedly uses the Canterlot Voice. Poor Twilight cowers under the sheets, wide-eyed and trembling, as if she’d never heard her raise her voice in such a way before.
>“You do many ponies a great disservice to say such a thing. Do you honestly believe that you’re the first to ever experience such hardship? Do you believe you’re the first to ever feel hopeless and abandoned? Do you believe you’re the first to ever wish that tomorrow’s sunrise would never come?!”
Yeah, you just keep on being a cunt there, Sunbutt. You're clearly 100% blameless in all of this.

Seriously though, to her credit, Celestia does eventually get around to making a real apology:

>“Twilight... this is all my fault. I was so selfish. I so much wanted to escape the burdens I bear, that I thrust you into not only a role I knew you weren’t prepared for, but into Eternity itself, without fully explaining what it meant and what the consequences would be. Even if I knew that it was what you thought you wanted, we should’ve discussed it together, and if you still felt that way, I should’ve stayed with you to guide you through it. I’m... I’m so sorry, my student... what I’ve done is inexcusable. I’ve failed you in nearly every way imaginable. I’ll fully understand if you don’t want to be my student any longer, and I can in no way blame you if that’s what you choose, or even if you wish to hate me for what I’ve done, but I sincerely hope that—”
>“I forgive you, Celestia.”
Welp, I guess that's that then.

>Twilight smiles. “I forgive you. Even if it wasn’t done for the right reasons, you... you let me live my dream, at least for a little while. You say I don’t understand what it means, and that’s probably true, but I’ve thought about it a lot and... and it’s what I want. I still want to be like you, and it’s not your fault that I botched it all up...”
Also worth noting is that Twilight and Celestia's teacher/student relationship hasn't actually been dealt with all that much in this story. This is another one of those situations I've pointed out before, where the author assumes he can take a shortcut and just rely on the reader's familiarity with the source material to fill in some gaps.

The main issue here is that the conflict the author established for the story wasn't between Celestia and Twilight, it was between Anon and Twilight. The conflict being presented here, ie Twilight wanting to impress or even outshine a pony she had looked up to as a mentor before being betrayed by her, could have worked well as a subplot. However, it only makes sense if you already know these characters and their background. If your knowledge of these two characters came solely from this text, this whole thing between Celestia and Twilight right now would feel a little tacked-on.

Anyway, they keep on yakking. Twilight is now confused by something else Celestia said: that she would understand if Twilight no longer wanted to be her student. However, since she no longer has magic, Twilight is no longer qualified to be her student anyway, right?

>Celestia shakes her head. “One of the many mistakes I’ve made was focusing your studies on only magic. There’s still so much I can teach you... so much I want to teach you. I want you to become the best pony you can possibly be. Trust me, should you so choose, there are many more lessons that await you. I can teach you to speak to the earth. I can teach you how to properly use those wings of yours, and... when I believe you’re prepared, I have a special assignment reserved for you at some point in the future.”
"So uh, yeah, you remember how I used to be teaching you advanced spells about, like, using the Elements of Harmony and moving the sun and moon, and shit like that? Uh yeah, that's all over now. Your new curriculum will consist of gardening classes and basic flight. Oh, and if you do a good job with that stuff, I've got a 'special' class that I can enroll you in later."

Lol. The only thing the overachieving Asian schoolgirl fears more than the prospect of being average: the prospect of being handed a consolation prize because your teacher feels sorry for you.

Anyway, whatevsky. Celestia is back on the throne, Twilight has her participation trophy, the status quo has been restored, and all is right with the world. The only loose end that still needs tying up is Twilight's fractured relationship with her friends.

Right on cue, the five of them enter the medical tent. Twilight is all liek "me sry," her friends are all liek "das ok we frgiv u." Then, they all have a tearful reunion, Pinkie Pie doles out cupcakes, and everyone hugs. Celestia stands at the edge of the scene, watching their friendshippy antics with a warm smile. Anon comes up and scritches her ears seductively, and the scene fades out.

There is a page break, and the scene fades in on Luna, who is not having anywhere near as much fun. She is going over all of the expense reports for all of the damages caused by this ridiculous debacle.

>Still, she nods with a satisfied smile at the night sky and the newly risen moon. Her mane and tail, restored to their former cosmic glory now that her magic has recovered, are nearly indistinguishable now from the sky itself as she trots back toward the field camp and the light of the great bonfire burning there.
Uh, I have a question. Luna depleted her magic enough to revert back to her pre-ascension form, as did Celestia when Twilight blasted her. Twilight has also depleted her alicorn magic and is now basically a magical cripple. It has been established that it takes hundreds of years for an alicorn to get back to full power once this stage of magic-depletion has been reached. Why was Luna able to recover in only a few hours?
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Anyway, poor, grumpy, long-suffering ol' Luna is seated at her desk in a makeshift tent-office, doing all of the Princess work that the other two Princesses are too busy apologizing to each other to help out with. Then, suddenly, Pinkie Pie.

Pinkie invites Luna to attend the bonfire party that everyone else is enjoying while she sits in her tent doing all of their work for them. Luna, however, seems cheered by her presence, and says she'll be there. As Pinkie is on her way out, she calls her back and offers this cryptic remark:

>“There will come a time, not now, but in the future, when the six of thee shall stand before the Grand Gate together. When that time comes, please remember that if thou needst guidance, thou need only dream, and we will be there.”
I can't quite tell what the author is getting at here, but it sounds like he's setting up a potential sequel. Maybe all six of them are going to end up becoming alicorns? Now there's a scary thought.

Anyway, Luna decides to lighten up and have some fun for a change; the kingdom can probably survive without her managing things for a few hours. Actually, from what I've seen it probably can't, but at this point I wouldn't blame her if she gave exactly zero fucks about it. So, she heads out to the party. Everyone is romping around the bonfire and having a gay ol' time, and Luna stands off to the side, watching them for a bit. Suddenly she hears a strange voice, and turns to see an astral-projected miniature Discord floating in the air near her shoulder.

For a moment she is concerned that he might have escaped, but he assures her that he is still safely entombed in stone back in the garden. They yak for a bit, and it is gradually revealed that Discord was the one who originally summoned Anon into Equestria:

>“I must say, though... I never expected Cotton Candy Head would end up falling head over hooves with that odd creature I pulled across dimensions during my last little romp across Equestria. Well, I guess the two of you always struck me as oddballs when it came to dating, but it certainly was a delightful little cream filling to round out this chaos-filled cake!”
As an aside, this is a perfect example of why you shouldn't use ambiguous descriptions or nicknames in place of your characters' proper names. "Cotton Candy Head" would suggest that he is talking about Pinkie Pie, but from context he seems to mean Celestia. However, it's been implied (though not explicitly stated) that Pinkie also likes Anon, so...this could be interpreted a number of different ways. What makes this even more confusing is that "Cotton Candy Head" might actually be a proper name in this setting, like Jim or Joe. Also, you could probably argue that just about any of these characters have manes that resemble cotton candy, so......yeah. Protip: there's nothing wrong with giving your characters nicknames or getting a little shitposty and silly with your writing (when appropriate), but you still want to avoid unnecessary ambiguity; make sure we know who you're talking about. If there's even the slightest doubt, it's better to just use the character's name.

Anyway, for a guy who is supposedly trapped in stone, Discord seems to have a surprising amount of autonomy. Being able to astral-project around the world in order to observe it, but not interact with it, seems reasonable enough, but bringing someone from another dimension to Equestria seems like a pretty high-level trick that a person whose magic is sealed ought not to be able to perform. This actually brings us to yet another bit of ambiguity:

>that odd creature I pulled across dimensions during my last little romp across Equestria
What I think this means is that the last time Discord was free, which for this story's timeline would be the S2 premiere, Discord managed to either pull Anon directly into Equestria, or at least set in motion some kind of spell that would accomplish that, before the M6 turned him back into stone.

This probably makes sense enough, but again: the author is relying heavily on the reader being familiar with events that took place outside the story he's telling. If you treat this story purely as its own self-contained universe, this explanation doesn't work, because to my recollection the text has never alluded to Discord ever getting free. From what the author has told us, we know that Discord was originally a pony named Clover, who used to be friends with Celosia and Lulu, but was transformed by an Ascension Orb into a twisted god of chaos. There was a fight, and his two former friends/siblings, now called Celestia and Luna, trapped him in stone. Thus, unless the reader fills in the blanks with S2-era lore, the natural assumption would be that Discord somehow managed to bring Anon into Equestria while he was imprisoned in stone with his magic sealed. This sounds like something he should not logically be able to do.

Remember: even though fanfiction is technically a derivative of a preexisting work, it's still a good idea to treat your story as its own self-contained, self-supporting universe. If an event that took place in S2 is an important part of your storyline, the essential details need to be in your story somewhere.

Anyway, while it's not entirely clear what Discord hoped to achieve by dragging some random dipshit into Equestria, it's a satisfactory enough explanation of Anon's origins. Discord is the God of Chaos, and he just does shit like this; far be it from me to imply that "for the lulz" isn't a perfectly valid justification for nearly any act.

Aaaaand...that's really about it. Luna is irritated by the havoc Discord has caused, but she seems accustomed to his antics. He jokingly asks her if she would like him to pick her up a green fuccboi of her own the next time he escapes. She says thanks but no thanks, and he makes his exit.

End of chapter, and end of story. All we have left is a brief epilogue, which I will cover in the next post.
>it sounds like he's setting up a potential sequel. Maybe all six of them are going to end up becoming alicorns? Now there's a scary thought.
Sounds like a valid theory that could have happened in official media.(I think, at least, as this is a sort of alternate timeline to the ending of S3) And the author may have wanted to make a sequel based on that idea.


So, it's now four years later, and it looks like Anon has risen to become Fuhrer, enslaver of all Equestria:

>The sounds of your boots on the metal walkway are unmistakable in and of themselves, but the additional sound of worried trotting that echoes just behind them leaves little doubt in the minds of the ponies working in the berths as to who just arrived. The newer workers set down their tools in preparation to bow, but their older coworkers just shake their heads, instead waving to you. You smile and wave back, knowing most of them by name at this point.

Wait, scratch that; it looks like Anon is just a regular old run-of-the-mill Prince. It appears that Pyre, the pegasus guard who was in charge of watching him when he was at the Castle briefly, is now the captain of his personal guard. Anon is making some last-minute inspections of his new airship, the Dawn Star III (Dawn Star II was apparently destroyed in an airship race with Big Mac).

He takes the controls and the ship departs. The scene ends in a page break.

Anon flies to the south of Equestria and waits, passing the time by reading a Daring Do novel. A short time later Twilight appears; they seem to be on good terms now. They yak back and forth a bit and get caught up. It seems that Twilight has been guiding her friends through the Trials of Equus; they all have Ascension Orbs now. This appears to be what Luna was alluding to in the previous chapter. However, so far none of them have made the decision to actually ascend; the whole thing seems to have been sort of an elaborate team-building exercise.

>“I’m happy for you, Twilight. I really am. And I guess you must be relieved to finally have your full magic back after everything that’s happened. I can’t imagine the feeling, but it must be something else.”
Also, for Twilight, the excursion had a practical purpose: she now has her full-blown alicorn magic back.

>Strangely, her ears fold back and she steps away from you, her eyes cast downward.
>“Actually, I... that’s... that’s one of the reasons I’m here. I haven’t restored my magic. I... I don’t think I ever really intended to from the start.”
Whoops, looks like I spoke too soon.

>Her horn glows with an unsteady aura. Over the years, she’s regained the use of a bit of her magic, but when you last saw her she could do no more than simple telekinesis to lift very small objects.
Okay, here we go. It seems that meditating upon her experiences as an insane, horny dictator has humbled her a bit. I guess she's content with being a magic retard now, like Rarity.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that all six of them underwent the trials, but after everything that happened, they're a little cautious about actually ascending to godhood, which is probably just as well. The canon version of Equestria has enough damned alicorns running around; no sense filling this one up with them, too. Twilight still has her Orb, and since she's decided not to use it, she offers it to Anon. Sort of a "sorry I almost brainwashed you and imprisoned you in my rape dungeon" day gift. Thoughtful of her, really.

So now, as the end result of a rather complicated chain of events, Anon once again has the option to become immortal. Anon sits back and contemplates eternity as he waits for Celestia's fat ass to arrive.

Page break. Celestia arrives, and the two of them have their date. They fly to a secluded place in the mountains, and Anon goes for a horsie-ride the regular kind, not the wakka-chicka wokka-chicka kind. As they are riding around having a beautiful romantic moment together, Anon makes the decision to swallow the alicorn orb. He becomes the Highlander, and together they ride off, towards a bright and eternal future of debauched horsefuckery.

Roll closing credits:


The story technically ends here, but it looks like the author added some supplemental bonus chapters. There is a five-part story called A Day in Winter, followed by another five-part series of one-off vignettes. I might check these out at some point, but I have a feeling they're just going to be short little slice-of-life type things that won't require much analysis. If there is anything worth commenting on, I will come back and add it to this thread. For our purposes, though, this feels like a pretty good stopping point.

I will be back shortly with some final thoughts on this piece.
I feel like Celestia apoligizing to Twi here indicates that either the author realized or knew that Celestia could have, mitigated some of the issues that occurred if she'd only talked to Twi about this.

While that is good, I think that if you deliberately have Celestia not talk to Twi about this, you should present a reason for why, at least implied.

If the reasoning for why Celestia didn't talk to Twilight about this was because she actually saw her as a rival and potential threat for Anon's no-nos, then I feel like a lot of my issues would be fixed.

But now it just feels like, she didn't do it either cause... idk at all actually, or that she was jealous but she later never reveal that in her apology.
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Final Thoughts

When gaging the overall quality of a story, I try to take several things into account: what was the author trying to accomplish, how well did he accomplish it, how well-executed is the story on a technical level? How well was it plotted? How well-rendered are the characters? Do we like the characters we're supposed to like? Do we hate the characters we're supposed to hate? Does it make sense, is it too long, is it too short? Does the author tend to veer off into unnecessary tangents and sideplots? Is the dialog natural? And so forth and so on. I use these metrics to assess the quality of the work on an objective level. I also try to take the author's skill level into account. In the case of immensely famous, popular stories, I will try to also assess the objective quality of the work relative to its popularity.

In addition to all of this, there is also a subjective dimension: how much did I, personally, enjoy reading the story? While I try not to let my personal tastes color my reviews too much, sometimes it's unavoidable. A person is naturally going to be more forgiving of a story's faults if it's at least entertaining to them, and far less forgiving if it isn't. However, you can still objectively assess the quality of something even if it isn't quite to your tastes. Stories about monster battles and flying skateboard races, for instance, are not really my personal cup of tea, but there is still a right way and a wrong way to go about writing one.

With all of that in mind, I think I can honestly say that Exchange is by a wide margin the best of the stories that I've reviewed so far. On an objective level, it has quite a bit going for it: it's well-plotted and reasonably well-paced. There are a few parts that drag, but for the most part the story moves at a reasonable clip. There aren't any deviations, unnecessary side-plots, unnecessary scenes, or extraneous characters like we've seen in most of the other stories we've looked at.

In terms of the author's skill level, I would say that getmeouttahere is a good greentext writer and a passable fiction writer, but also a talented storyteller. His actual prose is nothing to write home about: many passages in this story are awkwardly worded relative to its length, this one might actually contain the most instances of "this sentence is bad and you should feel bad" of all my reviews so far, the use of second-person narration was a bad idea, some of his dialogue is a little cringe though the cringe level is probably acceptable by brony standards, and the "romantic moments" tend to be overly sappy. However, these deficiencies in execution are counterbalanced by a considerably greater skill level in terms of design.

As far as planning a story goes, ie building a plot, determining which events should happen and when, which characters should be in the story, what should be left out, and so on, this guy is a grand master compared to some of the others we've looked at. Pen Stroke, for instance, probably writes better prose than this guy; however, Past Sins was about 50,000 words longer than it needed to be, and in terms of plot and pacing it was all over the fucking place. This work is leaner and far better constructed. I'm not sure if getmeouttahere accomplished this through planning or if he just happens to have a knack for it, but either way, it's a good skill to have and it earns him a lot of points in my book. I've said before that writing (ie mechanics, execution) and storytelling (ie, building a complete, satisfying, moving story) are two different skills, and if you're going to develop only one of them, storytelling is the better skill to have.

In terms of what the author set out to accomplish, I don't think he was particularly trying to make great art; he set out to make a fun, shitposty Anon story, and in that regard he delivered. This is a lighthearted action-adventure-fantasy-romance story, where a reader (and possibly author) self-insert character gets isekaied into Equestria because reasons, and ends up banging his waifu. It does not take itself especially seriously, nor should it have. Nevertheless, the author still managed to build a solid, believable world and populate it with convincing characters. In fact, he manages to do a far better job in this regard than other authors we've read who were attempting far more ambitious and serious projects.

For instance, one thing I think this author did exceptionally well, that I haven't gone into too deeply yet, is worldbuilding. Imo this story is a good example of what good fanfiction can do: it takes the existing canon and expands on its lore in a way that is both believable and consistent with the established universe. This author doesn't get super-elaborate with his mythology: most of what's in here is just built on top of lore that was already in the show. There isn't a massive bestiary of new creatures or detailed maps of far off continents (other than Equus island, I guess). However, what he comes up with is clever, interesting, and most importantly feels genuine. Combining the characters of Clover the Clever and Discord, and giving he, Celestia and Luna a prior relationship and a backstory that tied into the silly adventure story he was telling, I thought was a neat idea. I also liked his take on the origins of Equestria, as well as the pre-history period that is hinted at but not explained in detail, with the Progenitors and all that. If they wanted to, other authors could potentially take this lore and expand upon it in works of their own, and that's really the whole point of writing fanfiction: taking a fictional universe that already exists, and building on it in ways that inspire other people to do the same.
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The other area in which I felt this author was particularly strong was characterization. I've already gone over this pretty extensively so I won't dwell on it too much here, but the concept is much the same as what I was saying about worldbuilding: it takes the simple portrayals of these characters that exist already, and expands them into more complete personalities. One of the story's deficient points, which I and others have mentioned, is that Celestia behaves very irresponsibly in this story, and it's difficult to root for her. While this is a valid criticism, I will also say that, while I didn't always like Celestia in this story, I did like the author's interpretation of the character.

The all-powerful, wise and knowing Sun Princess suddenly deciding to abandon her duties and run off to pursue her crush seems like an implausible portrayal of Celestia's character. However, as her backstory is revealed, we see another dimension of her character, and it starts to make sense. Celestia began life as an ordinary pony, who out of a desire to bring peace between the warring pony tribes acquired god powers and took on the rule of Equestria. She takes her responsibilities seriously, and yet there's a whole side of her life that she never really got to explore. When Anon comes along and stirs a quivering in her nethers, she finally gives in to a childish, romantic impulse. It doesn't necessarily mean that her actions in the story are all justified or that the reader should agree with her choices, but it does humanize poninize, whatever her and make her sympathetic.

The same is true for the other characters; most of them, anyway. Twilight and Luna were both very well-rendered, and as far as side characters went, I enjoyed Fluttershy as the erotic fanfiction author and Pinkie Pie as the matchmaker with ADD. However, considering the wide palette of characters the author chose to include in the story, many of them were underutilized to the point where I question the decision to include them at all. Bringing AJ, Big Mac and Apple Bloom on board the Dawn Star was a good choice, as otherwise the story would have been too centered on Anon and Celestia. However, once these three were brought in, they didn't really do very much. Big Mac had a minor role as the airship's mechanic, but Apple Bloom did very little beyond occasionally making jokes or observations to lighten the mood. Applejack, as is unfortunately often the case, was basically relegated to a background pony role. And once the other M6 characters were on board the ship as well, it began to feel like there were far too many actors onstage.

With all that said, there are still some major issues I had with this story. The most prominent is the issue with the wedding scene, where Celestia offered her life in sacrifice rather than Anon. I've already gone over this in detail and I don't feel like typing it all out again, but I would like to stress that this greatly detracted from the quality of an otherwise solid story.

Some of my other gripes include:

This character came out of absolutely nowhere, and the minor role he played in the world's backstory could just as easily have been played by Discord/Clover the Clever. Balios did not need to exist.

>The Orbs
This is one area where the author needed to think things through a lot better than he did. The way things are set up, anyone willing to brave the Road of Trials can acquire one of these things and ascend to godhood, multiple times over if they so desire, without needing any other qualifications. Not only does this seem illogical, it actually detracts from the significance of alicornhood and immortality.

Case in point: Celestia is immortal, yet loves Anon, who is mortal. It is possible for Anon to use his orb to become immortal, yet at a crucial junction in the story he has to decide if he should give it away to Celestia in order to save the world. This ought to be a momentous choice for him, and the author tries to make it into one, but the reader understands that technically there's nothing at stake, so it becomes rather stupid. If Anon decides later that he still wants to be immortal, all he has to do is just go through the dumb Trials again.

Ditto for Twilight, actually: she chooses to give her orb to Anon rather than use it herself. Ideally, this should be a deeply symbolic gesture: she is choosing to atone for trying to separate Anon and Celestia by giving him the means to be with her forever. In doing so, she gives up her own chance at regaining her powers, indicating that she has finally learned the lesson about selfless love that she would have learned earlier, if the author hadn't fucked that part up as well. However, as it stands, this gesture has absolutely no punch. She's not really giving up anything; just like Anon or literally anyone else, if she ever decides she wants another Ascension Orb, she can just go get one, or have one of her friends give her theirs, or whatever.

>the Road of Trials
I've gone over this pretty extensively too; this whole part of the story just plain lacked zazz.

Anyway...I think that's about all I've got for this. If I think of anything else I'll come back and add it, but for now I think this covers everything I wanted to cover. Getmeouttahere: congratulations. You are the closest thing to a heterosexual author ever to have graced the pages of Glim Glam's Eternal Zazzmatazzmic Jim Jam, and for that, I salute you. Very nice work.

And that's all for now, kids. As ever, I will probably take a few weeks to decompress and work on some other oddball projects I have going, and then we will be back. Up next: something short that Sven wanted me to review; I will have to go back and see what it was exactly. Then, after that, join us for:

FoE: Project Horizons

Until next time.
Well done on finishing another one fren. Ur inspiring. ^^
Are you going to make a post here mentioning when you start the next story? Or will we have to comb through the catalogue to find the new thread?
A mostly non-homo fanfic author in GlimGlam's review?!
My how times are a changing.
Thanks for reviewing it's always a blast reading along and more importantly your reviews and quips.
Thanks frens, happy you enjoyed it.

Each review is generally done as its own separate thread, but I can make a post here when the new one is up.

when i firt saw that pic i thought it was ANON in DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE before using his arm and getting it muscular inside Celestia... LOL