"Excuses, excuses "
Well, here we are.
For those of you who made it here to the end of this story, thank you for sticking it out with me. I wanted to thank everypony who read my story, especially those who left me feedback on my DA and EqD pages. Without that feedback, I couldn't have continued to improve and write as I have been.
I would like to thank Corwyn and The_Mechanic, both of whom acted as pre-readers and editors in helping me track down plot holes, general mistakes, and editing failures. Without their help, this story wouldn't have been nearly as good as it was. Also thanks to my own mother who, while not understanding, encouraged my creative impulses every step of the way.
Finally I want to thank Lauren Faust and all of the "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic" team for making this jaded 38 year old fall in love with a bunch of brightly colored ponies.
The idea for "A New Breed" come from a casual conversation about the variety of genres that these little Ponies seem adaptable with. But the one genre I'd yet to see at the time was a classic: Super Hero Comics. Sure, we had the wonderfully drawn Madmax comics with "Pinkie Pool" and the like, but that isn't quite the same. I was a comic book fan before I joined the Navy, and it struck me that this idea might be worth giving a shot. But I didn't want to do a straight crossover with Marvel or DC characters, and instead decided to create my own.
With this goal in mind, I started out by picking my hero. At the time it was going to focus on the War Machine-like Warpony. Initially Warpony was going to be piloted by Clockwork Key, who I adapted from another aborted project (yeah, I've got a few of those. Ideas that either didn't pan out, or another author managed to do something similar far better than I could have). As I started to hammer around the concept, the idea of making it a team, and the inheritors of the Elements of Harmony, came to mind.
Now more than a few readers objected to the fact I made the Elements of Harmony a female exclusive team, but it was in these initial concept stages that the idea for exactly that germinated. It simply struck me as appropriate that the Elements were an almost exclusively feminine power. Early ideas for the team came down to Clockwork, Flourish, and Steelwing. Yes, Steelwing was in my initial notes. I threw in Ultrapony and Trixie/Tome later on to add some snark and "meanness" directed at the main character, Clockwork Key. Basically, I wanted a dynamic that prevented Clockwork from seeming like some sort of Mary Sue, thus there needed to be ponies that simply didn't get along with her, at least initially.
The story slowly developed from there, but amusingly it took many MANY turns from the original outline I had prepared. Examples of which include Spectrum, who I originally planned to infuse with an air of mystery, keeping her relationship to/with Ultrapony secret all the way through the ending of this "book". Dragonfly was originally going use a clone of her brother's armour, but inspiration struck me much the same way it struck the character in the story (much to the improvement of the story). I didn't originally plan to kill off Mai either, and the idea of Mai being the ghost of Clockwork's mother came several chapters into writing. Neither did I plan to kill off Pyre or Ion Storm. Barricade was strongly considered for the final team. Ironjaw's "post team" position as guide and friend to the mares was never planned out, nor was his relationship with Flourish. Flourish's ENTIRE BACKGROUND came out of nowhere, appearing as I wrote instead of having any sort of pre-planning There are plenty of other things, but these are good examples. Honestly, I think the story is stronger for the changes/additions. I knew the characters were the right choices when they started telling me their stories, and not the other way around.
Of course some things changed due to comments from the readers too. Professor Burner, for example, was going to be a one shot character until I got a storm of comments from readers about the way he was treated by Clockwork and Mai (I really would have given him an easier accent to write if I had intended for him to be long-term character). Pyre, who I never intended to be on the final team, was originally going to be very lightly touched on. But with so many readers asking for insights to her character, I felt compelled to flesh her out (and let me tell you, that made her death in the final chapter incredibly hard to write!).
Of course there are things you readers let me know your displeasure with, as well. Clockwork being tossed from the team due to her brawl with Ultrapony for one, which I took the perspective that I ran afoul of many times in my life: that all participants of a fight are at fault. I got suspended (almost expelled) many times in school thanks to that very rule, regardless that I was the kid the bullies liked to pick on (and having a hair trigger temper didn't help either). This rule is also used in the Military, and regardless of who starts a fight, BOTH fighters will end up in the brig (Thankfully I matured enough to avoid that, but I knew a few sailors, and even one Marine, who ran afoul of that rule). So the act made sense to me, even if it's not fair (after all, "life ain't fair", as my Mother always told me). Despite this, many readers cried foul. I went in and tweaked some of Luna's lines to reflect some of this feedback, adding some sense political expediency about protecting Ultrapony due to these complaints. Interestingly this let me give Luna's "I'm sorry" speech to Clockwork in the final chapter some additional weight.
Another unpopular choice was how I depicted Rainbow Dash's death on the monuments. I was prompted to do some late chapter expansion of it, but honestly I felt it wasn't nearly as bad as some of my detractors did. I think a lot of the anger was based purely on the realization that their favorite characters were dead in this future. Amusingly, I gave MY favorite pony what I considered the worst death of the bunch to try and alleviate this sort of back-lash Twilight Sparkle, after all, died very passively and helplessly in a trap. Still, I didn't expect the anger I got from some of Dashie's fans.
Finally there's my decision to make Equestria "flat". More, I took the perspective that "Equestria" was the WORLD, not a country. Basically I envisioned a world where the idea of countries and borders were pretty much non-existent. I think the alien nature of that idea was missed, and in retrospect I should have spent some more time on the world building to make such things clearer. I hopefully I can clarify things, or at least partially explain them. Sure there are territories; I outlined the Unregistered territories as being up north for instance. Of course, being a flat world doesn't mean it's SMALL. I really envision the world kind of like the wild-west, with everything widely spread out. This is probably thanks to the "Over a Barrel" episode, or perhaps it's the influence from Fallout: Equestria and my memories playing Fallout 3, that makes the towns and cities spread out and well out of easy reach of each other. Honestly the show doesn't reflect this. After all, Canterlot, Ponyville, and Cloudsdale are all within an easy trot of each other. Manehatten is obviously a short trot away, else a child Applejack never would have been able to make the trip as a filly, OR see the rainbow trail from Cloudsdale (which is assumed where the flyer's school was). So the world got spread out a little more than was strictly true in the cannon, and I apologize for that, but not so much that I plan to change it.
Now I'm sure many of you readers realized I ended my epilogue with the words "The End: Book I: A New Breed". Yes this means the mares will be back, but only when they're ready to start telling me the next part of their tale. I have no idea how many "books" will make up this series. I suspect it will be a trilogy or a 4-some, but I have no way of knowing at this point. I've seen some glimpses of potential situations, including another hero team, a future team of villains (including Prof. Burner and the unnamed zebra as members), Nightmare Moon's new "plans" and thoughts on going Stallion, Steelwing having to face her clan as a "pony" and free gryphon, and even potentially a second group of Element bearers. Yes you heard that last bit right, and no I'm not prepared to tell you more about it. I may also spend some time in the world doing a few short stories to flesh out things a bit more, or just cleanse the palette.
But for now this story has been 23 chapters (Including prologue and epilogue), and it's high time I took a break. Don't worry; I'll be back, and so will the team. For now, thank you for enjoying this ride with me.
For those readers who have been following this story, you may take some interest in knowing that every word you have read prior to this addendum was written before the release of Season 2. That means the only information I had came exclusively from Season 1. As such, the season premier of Season 2 (episodes 1 and 2) shed new light and conflict (and amusingly validated) on some of what I have done. I'll quickly go over these points:
1 - The conversation between Luna and Celestia on the nature of the Elements of Harmony would have unfolded much differently. Many of us writers had improperly assumed that the Princesses have been ruling in perpetuity, which Celestia's own words at the beginning of Season 2 seemingly invalidated. Celestia's statements indicated that she and Luna deposed the cruel Discord, and have been ruling ever since. This indicates the possibility that they did not rule, or even exist, prior to Discord's reign.
2 - Celestia further revealed that she and Luna found the Elements of Harmony. While the conjecture in my story from Celestia about the Elements creating Equestria could still stand, the idea that the Elements "created" the Princesses to act as stewards over their creation falls on its face without making the assumption that they were deposed by Discord for an extended period (which doesn't strike me as plausible). Celestia and Luna both had to have lived under the cruel rule of Discord for a time before they were able to find the Elements (be the find intentional or accidental) and seal him in stone. This makes me wonder if they were born Alicorns, or if the Elements Ascended them? I personally lean towards the later (which would explain their preference for being known as Princesses instead of Goddesses), which means I would have to change the shock and surprise in Celestia and Luna about how the Elements were giving Trixie an Apotheosis, since they would already KNOW the Elements are capable of doing that. Their surprise would instead have been directed at the fact it was FORCED on Trixie, which they wouldn't know was possible, even if it was suspected. However it does give more credibility to Celestia's offer to Trixie in the Epilogue.
3 - An interesting confirmation from Celestia in that Discord ruled Equestria, which was used alternately with "The World" several times. This indicates, to me, that Equestria is not the name of a country but the name of the entirety of the world! After all, an entity of that power wouldn't be happy with just one country of a world, he'd take the WHOLE THING! It's an odd bit of validation, and I could potentially be reading too much into it, but I'll take what I can get.
4 - The Elements of Harmony themselves do not "bond" to their bearers as I inferred in the story. The fact that Celestia had them locked in a vault, and the Mane 6 were required to reclaim them after Discord stole them, indicates that the Elements do not become a part of the mare who wields them as I had written into the story. However, it seems that the Elements do "link" with their bearer in a way. This means there is a connection, but not the same level of connection I attempted to infer. For my story, that changes little (thankfully), but I felt it notable enough to mention.
5 - A discussion came about from chapter 19 about horns and magic due to Trixie forcibly removing her own horn. The fact that neither Rarity or Twilight Sparkle (the latter being arguably the most mystically powerful mare in Equestria, short of the Princesses) could perform even the most basic of magic when Discord stole their horns tells me that indeed magic is an extension of the horn. That is what makes Galaxi so special in my story, as the only Earth Pony ever blessed with magic, and incredibly powerful magic at that (which she mistakenly believed was Psychic in nature).
To wrap this all up, I should probably state outright that Season 2, and future seasons, may invalidate things I have done in this story. This was written in the space between Season 1 and Season 2, and while I am ecstatic to have further information of the world, it does pain me to find some of my conclusions and theories disproven. And we've only seen the BEGINNING of Season 2!! I can only imagine what new things will be sprung on us as we move forward!
Anyway, I loathe the idea of going back and alter my already released chapters (I'm lookin' at you "Past Sins"!) and would rather let them stand in all their flawed glory. So take heart, I won't be going back and altering what I've already written.
Anyway, that's all I have to add here. Again, thank you for reading!
Yup, just my author's comments here. Enjoy 'em, or don't. Hopefully it'll give some of you a look into some of my thought processes on this story.
For Want of a Dawn - Chapter 15
Sunset - Chapter 2: Twilight
Equestrian Knights Chapter 3
My view on Equestria? Well, it's both really, kinda like Azeroth in its universe. Equestria is the country ruled by Celestia and Luna, the twin princesses of the Sun and the Moon respectively, for ponykind to live in and flourish under their protection and love. Outside of its borders lies other lands, such as the Badlands of the Changelings, the Deserts of the Buffalo (who along with their lands are becoming more and more part of Equestrian Diarchy, with frontier towns like Appleooza and Dodge Junction popping up here, there and everywhere by adventure-seekers, young lovers, and just ponies (and others) who want to escape and start anew), the Jungles (Savannah? Plains?) of the Zebras, and so forth. Some have their own mighty magic (the Zebran Witchdoctors are widely known, as are the Shamans of the Buffalo), while others are just mighty as a whole (Dragons, anyone?), but are still locked in their political map for one reason or another.
But at the same time, due to the ponies' expansive nature (so reflecting that of the 1500 European) and the fact that their rulers are more or less Demigods, if not more than that, they have quickly become the major political players of the world, and with them the Equestrian language came to become the common language in many parts of the world, similar to English in our own. Though Equestria is what the ponies call their country, it is also what they call the world. A trait that inherits from the time far past, beyond both the Diarchy and Discord, when ponies first came united as a whole people rather than bickering tribes, and barely knew and even less cared about the existence of the other races. Their knowledge of the world was Equestria, and thus Equestria was the world, something which've stuck even to this day. And since Celestia and Luna after all control the route of the Sun and the Moon across the skies, wouldn't it be fair to say that the world is under their protection?
So, yeah, that's what I think. May be more deep than most care to delve, but I like it down here! It's cozy!
Admittedly, the fact that the ponies are led by two demi-gods always made me wonder if other intelligent species didn't have their own demi-gods, and all those demi-gods formed a sort of pantheon. It's easy to see Celestia and Luna as Apollo and Athena respectively. We know of Tartarus and Cerebrus, so is it too far a reach to assume they have an individual who's charge is to oversee it? Could we eventually meet a god/goddess of the sea? Who knows, but the possibilities are endless....
Admittedly for my story, I kept it simpler... tho not all of it has been revealed yet.
Epic conclusion to an epic story, which managed to satisfy me regarding many plot threads I was afraid would be mishandled.
I'm really glad that you did flesh out Pyre. She would have been too much of a red shirt if you hadn't. As it was, it felt like her death had some kind of meaning, and that she got to accomplish something and make her life mean something despite her attitude. I got the sense that she was surprised that Celestia even recognized her efforts, and that she expected to burn out and be forgotten.
Reading this story got me back into the supers genre, it was that good. Frankly I'm amazed that you haven't gotten any fanart, and if I could draw things that weren't travesties against art, I would rectify the situation.
I like the chemistry between the characters, and want to see more of it, specifically more off-duty bits between characters we haven't seen it from yet, like Dragonfly and Spectrum. And I definitely want to see more of Filigree's special brand of awkwardness.
I do wonder if Barricade's expression during the award ceremony was foreshadowing for something... she kindof did get the short end of the stick in all of this.
And now I really want a chance to read one of Trixie's friendship reports...
Aye, I didn't want Pyre to feel like a red-shirt, but fleshing her out took some work. She was a difficult character to envision, especially knowing she wouldn't be a main player in the end. But yes, she was a bit surprised to be recognized at the end... she viewed herself as a red-shirt.
*LOL* Lead back to comics that inspired me, thankya. As for art... I might try my own hand at it eventually, but I make no promises.
The chemistry was surprisingly natural, tho the group broke down into smaller groups. Filigree & Rainbow Star naturally clicked. And Tome/Galaxi/Clockwork formed a trio. Flourish was the only one that didn't seem to "fit" anywhere, which is partly where the relationship she has with Skillet came into play methinks....
When I do the next part, Filigree's awkwardness will be back. She was just SO much fun to write! (I actually caught myself slipping into 1st person writing a few times with her, she was that fun).
Barricade is technically the last survivor of a trio of friends, so yeah... she did kinda get the short end of the stick. I may, down the line, flesh her out more. Probably conversation with her new working partner: Skillet (he's just too damned good at drawing out info like that )
Trixie will get a few reports when she comes back. I actually have the occasional one in mind for chapter intermissions.
I'm glad you enjoyed the story. The mares will return in time, I just have to let the creative juices refill a bit. As for the pictures, I'm sorry to see them go, but understand if you wish to take them down.
Idea just popped up: The C.S.S Agency. Celestia's Satellite Six, Six groups of Six ponies, which are place into a team named after the "mane 6" in accordance to their ability (Team Twilight: Heavy magic users, Team Applejack: Heavy hitters/melee combat, Team Rainbow Dash: Air Superiority, etc...), and support the new Mane 6 as well as run their own missions. Still mashing out an enemy... leftover imps maybe?
While interesting, I'd think that might be a little over-specialized for the groups, ya? What if "Team Applejack" run into psychics? Or Team RD run into an anti-air specialist? An interesting idea, but I am not sure on the practicalities of it...
Glad you really enjoyed this story.
GOD, I can only hope that across the world there are brave men and women who while ready at a moments notice to jump into battle...are even more excited to take over the nearest tv in order to watch MLP: FiM. LOL /)*3*/)
I hope you consider it in the future,since I tend to pay very little attention to dA the past years. And I can't wait for Book II
That said, I like the level of feedback I can get from DA.