I lay in bed, half dozing. I could feel a pony's warmth at my back and the softness of Grace nuzzling my mane. Even though she woke me like this several times a week (whenever mum wasn't in to wake me herself), it always surprised me when-
-she yanked off my covers. I rolled over and grabbed for her, instinctively seeking warmth, but, like every time before, she stepped off the bed and out of my reach.
"Time to get up, Song."
"Mnnermenn..." I said. I don't know what I meant to say.
"C'mon, my lil' pony. Let's get you dressed."
"Mnnr..." Again, probably no meaning.
Grace was getting frustrated. "Kiritsu!"
"Hai." My body and subconscious obeyed their training, rising to the Japoniese command even while my conscious still wanted sleep. I woke up. Actually woke, spoke in real words and everything.
Grace took my barding from the foot of my bed where I'd left it and lifted it onto my back. (It was a good suit. Textile padding and plastic plates; lightweight, good for blunt trauma, deflects glancing blades. Fit my style.) She shifted it with her hooves until it aligned perfectly with my limbs and neck.
"It's today, right?" she said. "Left foreleg."
"Huh?" I lifted the limb she'd indicated and she set about tightening the straps and fastening the overlapping padding. "Er, uh, oh, yeah. Yeah, today. My stuff's all packed an' everything."
"Mmm. Good filly. Hrrm. Everypony knows you're leaving? Right foreleg."
"I decided months ago. Everypony I care about's heard."
"Mmm. You're absolutely sure?"
"How could anypony not know?"
"Sorry, not what I meant. Right hind leg. I meant, 'Are you sure you want to leave?'."
"I haven't changed my mind since last week. Even if I had, it'd just be fear right? Doubt this late in the game? I wouldn't let that stop me."
"Left hind leg."
"Nothing's changed since I got my cutie. I mean, my Talent is hoof-to-hoof. My options are teaching, joining Stable Security as a grunt, or setting out and bucking ass."
"Now rear, please."
I balanced on my hind hooves while Grace saw to the chest straps. "I could do some thing out there. Make, you know, some kinda measurable contribution 'r something if I join up with a small band. Here I'm just one more musclehead."
Grace snorted at that.
"Hey! You got snot on me!"
"No I didn't. You can stand now."
Grace backed out from underneath my fore-hooves, so I dropped back to the ground.
"Thanks for the help. It never fits as well when I do it."
"Every knight needs a squire."
"Never mind. Anyway, back to the checklist."
"Hush and listen. You say your goodbyes?"
"Yeah, but," I shuffled my hooves, "Chocolate Truffle's swinging by."
"Yes? You like her, don't you?"
"Yeah, but... she likes me more. It's... kinda...."
"Me or her?"
Grace raised her fore-hooves in an exaggerated shrug. "Whichever."
"Funny. Um, any advice? I've never wanted to get a filly to not like me before."
I grimaced. "Not one a couldn't just tell to go fuck herself. I do like her, I care about her, but not quite the same way as she does me. And I uh, already said that..."
"Seems t' me your leaving should solve it, so you just need to sell her on that. You have the spiel down; just tell her what you told me ten minutes ago."
"... That's pretty good."
"Nah, but it's better than nothing, which is what I had. Yeah, this could work... Gentle hoof at the right point, nuzzle there... end with that neck thing that makes her laugh... Yeah, yeah! Hokay, I can do this. Thanks Grace. Hay, you know when Mum's coming back?"
"Should be soon. She was just spending the night with Evig. She wouldn't miss saying goodbye." Ever-Vigilant, or "Evig" to most ponies, was Mum's coltfriend. I was happy for them, honest, but me and Evig didn't have a lot in common. Or rather, despite our similarities, rarely managed conversations beyond awkward silence.
"No, I know. I wasn't worried. I just thought she was gonna be here."
"She probably just needed, you know, a little warmth."
There was a knock at the door.
I sighed in relief. "That Chocolate. Ah, no wait, that's more awkward! Wait," I frowned, "Which is worse, attempting to fend off an unwanted suitor while staying friends, or contemplating my mother's sex life?" My brows knitted as I fought the urge to puzzle it out on paper.
Grace lost it. "You're ridiculous! You should make a chart! No! A graph!"
"Shut up. I have to go tell to a pretty filly that I don't want to sleep with her."
I opened the door and found Chocolate leaning against the opposite wall, idly fiddling with her PipBuck. "Hay Cocoa," I inclined my head toward her wrist, "New note?"
The cream-brown mare shook her head, ochre mane bobbing above her eyes. "Nah, just planning, looking at records. Been having trouble with rats in the growing levels."
"Ah. That... Sounds really boring."
She shrugged. "It's important."
"I don't want to have this conversation in subtext."
"You started it."
"Point." Ah, fuck it, time to stop clopping around. I fed her the polished version of my rant like Grace said, switching from "disarmingly casual" to "persuasively eloquent" and supplementing words with "meaningful" eye contact, measured "hesitations", and "reassuring" physical contact. Mum would've been proud. Or horrified; I could never tell ahead. Probably proud.
Sufficiently persuaded, Cocoa wrapped her forelegs around my neck. "I'm gonna miss you, Sing-song. Stay safe, okay?"
"Of course." I leaned my neck against hers, applied a bit of force, and started walking her in circles.
"Hay! Stoppit!" She tried to plant her hooves, but with my leverage advantage, she just ended up stumbling. She laughed. "How do you do this? I'm stronger than you!"
"You should pay more attention in sparring."
"That's your thing, Song."
I stopped spinning her. "Yeah. It is my thing."
She frowned. "Yeah." She squeezed my neck. "Good luck."
"Fuck luck. I got skill."
"You 'got' ego."
I gave her a squeeze. "I'll be back to visit. You look after my mum for me, will ya?"
"Of course." She released my neck and stepped back. "See ya, Song."
"Later, Cocoa." I watched her walk down the hall and smiled reassuringly when she looked back.
Round complete. Game, set, and match. 100% social domination. Rank-S. New high score, please enter your initials.
"That was a good one," Grace said from behind me.
I turned to face her. "Thanks. You think I should give mum another hour, or head over now?"
Beep. Beep. The understated low-threat perimeter alarm sounded through the Stable. Unlike breach alarms and the like, the low-threat alert was low-tempo and barely louder than conversational speech. Beep. Beep. Nearby ponies double-checked their weapons then went back to their business. A mare in a security barding trotted calmly down the hall towards the security office. Beep. Beep.
When she disappeared around a corner, I looked back to Grace. "You have my-?"
"Right here." She held out my ponyshoes. They looked so small in her hoof. They'd been a gift from her, celebrating my cuteceañera. Late gifts, obviously; they were shaped like my cutie mark- bladed shoes. StableTec-level equipment: a layer of plastic fit snug against hoof, a layer of steel shaped to mirror the stylized thorns of my zebroid cutie mark, and layer of rubber for silence and grip. I'd built my style around them, practicing slashes, combos, modified breaks. I have a second pair for my hind hooves, same design, but without the blades.
Dressed and shod, I trotted after the security mare, Grace right on my tail.
---- Level up! Welcome to Level 2!
New Perk: Momma's Girl -- Just like dear old Mum, you've devoted your time to social investigation. You gain an additional 5 points to both the Speech and Barter skills.
New Companion: Gracious Adele Prize -- Farm pony and former militia mare, Grace is dedicated, loyal, and hardworking. She specializes in close combat and assault tactics. Capable of wearing powered armor and using heavy weapons.
Companion Perk, Gracious: Hard-to-Reach Straps -- Barding, Battle saddles, and combat shoes weight half as much while equipped, if Grace is there to help you put them on.
I included a few references to Hoofsong’s build, mostly her skill selection. It hasn’t been mentioned, but both Song and Grace are Earth Ponies. Neither have any lock-picking ability, and only a little Science. They’re also poor in Medicine, focusing on Survival and high HP instead. Grace is a rather poor strategic choice of a companion for Song, given the similarities of their combat function. They’ll walk all over roaches and rats, but neither has the build for long-to-mid-range combat.
I actually didn’t know what Song’s first real perk was going to be until like fifteen minutes ago. I typed everything up, was about to post it, and then was like, oh shit, I forgot the perks! It’s an obvious remake of the Daddy’s Girl Perk from Fallout 3, I stole the description from the wikia.
Not a lot to say this time. Maybe if people have questions.
Right, NOW the prologue and first chapter makes a tad bit more sense with closer inspection. My mind tends to skip details late at night. That is unfortunately my own problem with introduction chapters. There is either too much exposition or ham-handed exposition and because of that it makes for such a weak story hook. I have to apologize for not reading thoroughly.
So you intend for there to be a tunnel system community of ponies that did not get into a stable but somehow these ponies have managed to scrape by? Certainly interesting. I'm on the fence about reducing important bits like that into a few lines on the prologue. Your hook would probably have been significantly better if it focused on revealing the setting but that can be considered spilled milk if the next chapters make up for it.
I'd hate to stress my main point though, the chapters are too small. While you do not need Kkats 20 pages pr chapter id suggest stretching the next ones and try to reach for 10 pages of size 10 writing to give those who wait patiently something to read rather than some words to read. If I might add for a first pony perspective there is currently very little artistry going on with regards to explaining her surroundings. I wish you good luck and happy writings. ^^
RE: prolouge and intro I intended to introduce things in the opening and explain them later, but I've had a few comments of confusion, so I'll probably go rewrite some of it. I try to be very careful to make my action scenes readable, because I always get lost reading other people's. I'm good at catching other people's exposition though, so I tend to be less careful writing mine.
RE: scraping by I took cues from Metro 2033, which is about a bunch of people who survive an atomic bomb by hiding in the Moscow Metro system. (That's pretty much all that I took from that story though)
RE: too small Yeah, I do that. I'm trying to work on it; chapter 2 is already twice as long as chapter 1.
RE: 1st pony I'll go back and add stuff. I can probably bump chapter 1 up to 4 pages.
I think your story chapter wise comes short, just like I think 10 years of stable life before opening the door is way short.
Your just sorta skipping things as you go along and not writing anything worth mentioning. The intro might as well not have existed at this rate.
There comes a point when the stables where supposed to open. You could have made this point 100 years after and made her a second generation pony before opening it and had a whole growing up thing where they open the stables send out scouts and begin fortifying the outside of their stable and have her as one of the scouts etc. Though KKats fallout equestria is kinda cool and all the humble beginnings of stable ponies emerging from the vaults makes for some story that has yet to be told.
Also there is a distinct lack of experimentation going on (nods to fallout equestria where scootalo mentions many stables having built in social experiments).
Japonese is silly but an acceptable silly even if you could have just called it Pony fu (Rainbowdash has a karate? black belt in the season1 series).
Also Leaving the stable is a serious thing given their experiences with the outside world already. How exactly does what little exposition you have given on her translate into reason?
Didn't Song say she intended to leave everypony behind?
Thanks for the in-depth comments. Most of these characters have existed in my head for years, so I tend to forget that not everyone knows the characters like I do. I'll see about editing this to make it clearer.
RE: 10 years. The prolouge [link] talks about this. You could think of 144 as never closing in the first place. All the bombs dropped on the city exploded before the door closed, and it only stayed closed for a few weeks. No one in Stable 144 would have survived at all if the stable entrance had been on the surface instead of in the metro.
The 10 years is the time between the Stable opening and Song leaving.
RE: Skipping things I not sure what you mean by this. Hoofsong is giving [I am trying to give] the details she thinks are important. She's explaining her history more than that of the Stable or Metro. The Stable history is/will be (I've written it but not finished or posted it) given in chapter 2, while the Metro history will be in chapter 3.
RE: Time When I started this, I wanted to examine Pre-War-born, Wasteland-raised ponies. If I'd thought to write about the first Stables opening at the beginning, I probably would have done it, but at this point, I have too many backstories written to change something like that.
RE: Experimentation Stable 144 was intended to be an idealized version of the city above. The population mixed ponies, reindeer, and cows (~75% pony). They have farms for both food and gems. The psychological portion is shown in Chapter 2; strong feeling of community and the necessity of making personal sacrifices for the good of the whole. I don't know whether I'll explicitly state this at any point.
RE: Japoniese I didn't spend two years learning the language to pass up the opportunity to use painful, horse-related puns. I would have called the martial art "Karaguchi" reguardless of any other choice, but Japoniese (Nipponi-go to the natives) is important to the story as the Metro has pony populations from all over Equestria, including several languages.
RE: Leaving the Stable Hoofsong is obsessed with being noticed and taken seriously. Fortunately for everyone involved, her Stable conditioning means this drive for "importance" translates to doing as much good as possible, making a "measurable contribution'r something". I tried to get that across in her dialog (I actually thought I was being ham-handed). She feels like she can't do anything truely worthwhile in the Stable, so she wants to try her hoof outside.
RE: Significance of leaving the Stable I mentioned in the prolouge that the Stable has been open for about 10 years (9 and a few months), and that the Stable ponies had conquered a portion of the Metro. They engage in trade with the other major Metro factions, and a dozen or so ponies have left the Stable before Song, some of which have returned with mates. Some of the Stable ponies see it as a betrayal of the capital "c" Community, but most don't think there's anything wrong with it.
RE: Song leaving everypony behind That happens in Chapter 2. Chapter 1 was supposed to explain Hoofsong's reasons for leaving the Stable.
away time is back
:D! This time I've
got 1500pts to give
away c:The last
giveaway was really
well received so I'm
doing another! After
the way the last one
panned out, one
thing I would like
to remind you guys
of is to PLEASE
PLEASE follow the
guidelines so you
can be properly...
Guess what guys! I'm
reopening my stores
(Etsy and Storenvy)
and commissions, I
can finally announce
that I'm getting
married and I need
to save as much as
possible for the big
day, July 27th.
before anyone asks,
the wedding is not
been planning it for
a long time...
weeks theme of
Even though summer
is imminent, you
often find yourself
on your couch,
watching Honey Boo
Boo, thinking; "I'm
rather chilly o_o.
OMG I'M CHILLY." .
would rather blast
the air conditioning
and bundle up then
turn it down and
rely on the earth to
`anmari has been spreading her infectious positivity throughout our community for over 6 years. Throughout this time Ana has been at the core of all things devious, passionately developing an eclectic gallery, helping organise devmeets, participating in chat events and also recently completed dedicating her time as a Community Volunteer. We are absolutely delighted to bestow the Deviousness Award for May 2013 to `anmari, congratulations! Read More