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A New Breed: Book 2: Chapter 14

By TCPolecat7
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And here we are, chapter 14. To you going into it, it doesn't seem like a big deal. To those coming out, you might understand why I wasn't so sure about posting this one. This is, hooves down, the darkest chapter of book 2. Some of the content is, and will be, hard to read. Perhaps harder so, given the tragedy up north in the US here. I do ask that you read through to the end before making a conclusion or writing me a nasty e-mail tho, and please trust that there is a method to my madness.

That said, this was a tough chapter to write, but it laid a lot of my groundwork going forward.

As always, comments, feedback, and critiques are welcome and encouraged.

- Polecat

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© 2012 - 2020 TCPolecat7
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anonymous's avatar
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fotland42's avatar
I stop and ask myself, "clearly it doesn't make sense for there to be a filly living in an old ghost town, so what was Kaos's motive for planting the body?" And I come up with some vague theories. And then I read on, and find that they're all wrong, since it didn't even occur to me that Kaos's motive might be that he knows Verdigris needs rescuing, but does not want to reveal that he knew about her. And I have no idea whether this means he knows about Eclipse, or why it was important that Verdigris's discovery appear purely serendipitous. He's certainly an enigmatic one. I've even been considering the possibility that he's Quagga, and the mysterious Prince is Professor Relic (or maybe Tia?), and they are up to some complex scheme related to the Elements of Justice. But I think I'm just grasping at straws. Even if Tia does have quite the affinity for Batman gambits.
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You're actually wrong about Verdigris. Kaos was as surprised as everypony else that the gryphoness was there. This means there's still a few possibilities for what Kaos did, tho I don't really reveal them until much later in the book.

I'll let you read further, since I know the answer you your questions, but think you'll have more fun finding them out yourself. ;)

- Polecat
fotland42's avatar
Well then I guess I can't read Kaos at all. I could have sworn he was expecting them to find Verdigris and was just surprised at how quick they were.
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Kaos is, intentionally, as unreadable and inscrutable as possible. ;)

- Polecat
Eenor5000's avatar
Talking, winking armor? It could all be in Clockworks head but there are a few hints that imply otherwise. First, Clockwork didn't bat an eye when Widget was talking to her, but when her armor started talking it caught her by surprise. Secondly, Trixie say the armor wink as well. Now, I might just be contributing more significance to the "wink" as it could very well be just damage from the flight, but personally, I don't believe that is the case. I think that either Clockworks mother is still around, somehow, or she left something behind. The problem with that theory is that Princess Celestia escorted Clockworks mother to the Summerlands, didn't she? I guess it doesn't say anywhere, that I can find, that she was actually escorted, it was only said that it must happen and it is overdue. I am definitely curious as to how this will play out.

Cloudchaser might be pining for Alto, but from their conversion, I think she is dropping hints to an oblivious Chase. I think Chase and Cloudchaser, or any normal griffin for that matter, would be a better couple than Filigree and Chase. Don't get me wrong, Chase seems like a good guy, and Filigree is great, but despite growing up in the Ponylands, Chase is still too griffin to accept Filigree. Then again, he probably is the best out there, unless Filigree develops a thing for ponies.

After reading about how this was your darkest chapter so far, I was really worries during the scene with Verdigris and Eclipse but, it actually turned out better than expected.

I knew that whole "it's a spell" thing was going to come back to haunt them.

Kaos' team is still a complete enigma. Anyone who would be so affected by the accidental death of an innocent bystander can't be evil, can they?

Random question: is Keys Clockwork's surname or part of her first name? Is her brother Widget Keys?

Once again, an excellent chapter. It is always a battle, for me, between wanting to read every update immediately and taking it slow, one page break at a time, to limit the time I must go without.

Sorry if this is a little disjointed, I tend to write these things in the middle of the night.
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
In this case, I played it as if it were in Clockwork's head, but with cues that would add a bit of a mystical element to it, like perhaps the armour was more "alive" than anyone would suspect. In short, I thought it was a cute addition, rather than the need to dig for a deeper meaning for it. ;)

The Chase/Filigree thing develops a bit over the next few chapters. As for Cloudchaser, she is in synch with Chase, but on a different level. More on that in future chapters as well...

I got that a lot about the "darkest chapter" warning, but I felt it was darker than the norm, so I wanted to err on the side of caution.

Aye, in due time...

Kaos' team is an enigma, but an enigma that gets fleshed out over the next few chapters as well (I'm saying that a lot, aren't I? Hazard of starting the second "half" of the book, and seeding the plot arcs for it I fear...)

Clockwork Key is her full name. I went under the assumption that ponies didn't have surnames as such.

*LOL* I'm flattered. Unfortunately this next chapter might be a touch long in coming due to the holiday break and the usual distractions...

- Polecat
SandBlaster3000's avatar
SandBlaster3000Hobbyist Digital Artist
Dark, huh? I read the author's comment before reading the chapter, but the darkest moment for me was when Eclipse said "You must suffer". The implications of torture here are pretty awful, especially considering all the terrible things that Filigree had to deal with under the king griffon, and all that happened at Tome's Apotheosis (and we have the same entity to blame for this one too!). Aaaannnnd... then he chucks her out the window...

Really?

I would've thought that after a humiliating defeat at the elements of harmony and a realization of Verdigris' potential threat level he would have at least gone with a more practical method.... I guess it could be Ultrapony's influence making him stupid? There doesn't seem to be many other reasons why he would do something so foolhardy. Ah well, apparently this wasn't meant to be the darkest point anyway. (I did think we were going to get a Darth Verdigris there for a moment though.)


So, onto the dark point. My first thought was: why would there be a child in an abandoned town far from civilization? Ah well, the plot demands it, does it? Meant as a poignant parallel to Bottle's death. Fair enough, at least she went quickly... Oh. OH, it's all Kaos' fault. That makes more sense! Huh. So Kaos is... INTENTIONALLY giving Bunsen PTSD? That... uh..umm... hmmmm.... I guess this was meant to serve as an object lesson on the danger of losing one's temper? Or was this to test Bunsen's resolve... Either way, this will probably bother him for quite a while.

And wow, I guess that makes another parallel to team Luna: both mechanical geniuses have been lied to by the friendly local magical powerhouses- Trixie, that Clockwork might rest her thoughts. Kaos, that Bunsen might open his eyes.

As for darkness? Accidental death of a child? This is a candle compared to the horrors Trixie went through for weeks. As far as literature goes, I always hold torture as darker than death. Then again, your comment specifies Book 2... Still, what about when Clockwork was in the middle of murdering her punk attackers, or when one of the characters was being choked by Zilch, and none of the others noticed, or how about Filigree vs the champion, with all the resulting aftermath?

On the other hand looking over the chapter again, I see that the scene almost has a pall settling over it, so it would be a suitably dark, shadowed, or otherwise hushed moment.

Only thing I'm a bit disappointed about is that Verdigris' time in the desert was all but omitted. I guess you've had enough of her suffering about in the dragons den, but having her thrown cliffhanger-like into a hostile environment only to have her time-skip rescued 20 minutes (reading-time) later makes it feel like she wasn't really in too much danger at all.

Love that ending though. Where they leave, only the dead live. And it's nice that the desert group will get a chance to catch up on recent events. Simultaneous revelations ahoy!
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
The warning was probably me being concerned for nothing, but I'd rather toss a warning up and have it unnecessary, than to not and find out people were in a rage because they felt it was too dark...

As for Eclipse's action about tossing Verdi, he actually makes a note of that himself a chapter or two down the road. I won't ruin that moment, but even he admits it was a dumb move, so you're correct.

As for Kaos and Burner, think of it a bit as an object lesson. PTSD is more about the violence of war, not about one death. It was more Kaos' way to... well, I think it's pretty obvious he was hoping for the reaction he got: remorse.

Interesting parallel of Kaos and Trixie, one I hadn't thought of but works in nicely. Thank you. I like that.

Let me put it simply. When I first discussed doing what I did with Burner there with my editors, one of them flat out threatened to quit because it was too Grimdark for him. Only when I explained the full idea was he behind it (Not only that, approved it whole-heartedly). So yeah, I'm a little gun-shy about depicting the death of a child, more-so given the shootings a few weeks ago.

I considered adding more of Verdi in the desert, but I felt it would be very slow and bring the pace of the proceedings to a dry and and grinding halt (pun not intended). So I opted to omit it rather than lose the narrative I wanted to convey.

Oh yes, the desert group will get some info that even Luna's team doesn't have next chapter. ;)

- Polecat
pcdeltalink036's avatar
Very good chapter. I'm so glad to see Clockwork has finally snapped out of it...sort of. Though I must say I didn't expect her armor to be the one to convince her to stop. Yay Verdigris escaped and she's a special...and dang she was found by the wrong team. Ah well at least they're gonna try to help her.

Also, did not expect to see Burner get so torn up over killing a filly even if it was a fake. Dang it I'm supposed to hate him and now you're making me feel sorry for him and wonder if he can still be redeemed. Good work.

While I understand your warning and appreciate it, in light of recent events, I wouldn't worry too much. I didn't even know it was supposed to be dark until after I finished reading it. Of course it probably helps I'm used to stuff like Fallout Equestria and the plethora of side stories that it spawned and I see something like Rainbow Factory or Cupcakes to be something that I personally consider dark. I know there are others I would consider dark but those are the first two that come to my mind.
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Clockwork hit bottom, yes. Now she has to start climbing back up. Tho technically it was her own mind that convinced her, she just personified that side of it with her armour (Think of Pinkie in "Party of One" pantomiming all her "friends" at the table). Yup, Verdi is safe, sort of. ;)

Then I did my job. Burner was a complete scumbag last book, and now he's getting a look at things beyond the "Comic book villain" angle he took. Real truth can hit hard, especially on a personal level.

Well, that's just it. This is NOT a Grimdark fic, thus I felt a warning was necessary. If you didn't see the fact the kid was fake, that would be solidly over the line IMHO (and I read Fallout: Equestria myself, and follow Heroes and Project Horizons still).

- Polecat
pcdeltalink036's avatar
Yes! Someone else who reads Project Horizons and Heroes. Only other fallout fic I'm following at the moment is Fallout Equestria: Memories. I think it is the only fallout fic I've read so far that has a lot of good humor in it but still has the Fallout atmosphere that I love about the series.
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I've just found I don't have the time and motivation to read as many as I used to now that I'm writing my own...

Of course, Project Horizons is just fantastic, and chatting with Somber from time to time (I give feedback, I'm not one of his editors) is great too.

- Polecat
ParticalMass's avatar
ParticalMassHobbyist Photographer
Oh to have been a fly on the wall through Clockwork's conversation with her armor...

and Clockwork Key is best crazy micro pony!
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Heh. Well from the outside it'd be like witnessing Pinkamena and her antics... she didn't see it, but she was technically playing both roles.

- Polecat
Iks83's avatar
age 9: First sentence: Sure, she always rather direct about showing it in the[...]
A word seems to be missing here.

Page 11:
Somewhere in the middle: Verdigris’ green eyes followed the guards as the<y> moved past,[...]
2nd last sentence: She looked long >at< hard at the illusion, then swallowed nervously.

Page 16: 2nd sentence: Clockwork opened her mouth, then closed it again, scuffing her hoof a little on the carpet before
screwing up her face and courage.
"screwing up her face and courage"... dunno if its wrong or not but I dont get it.
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Blarg. I thought I caught all those.

Page 9: Shoulda been "Sure, she was always..."

Page 11: You got the they. And at shoulda been and.

Page 16: Actually that one is alright. It's a little awkward, but it says what I wanted it too. Screwing up your face generally means you really look like you're focusing hard for a moment (Clenched teeth/mouth, brow furrowed, etc). "Screwing up your courage" simply means you're forcing yourself to gather it together. I combined the two sayings, and when drawn out of context, it does seem slightly more awkward than I thought, it still is okay.

- Polecat
Levia-the-Dragon's avatar
A harsh wakeup call for Clockwork, but a necessary one, here's hoping this can put her on the path to healing at last... clever move using her armour.

And the punishment Luna is giving Clockwork thankfully seems reasonable, looks like Clockwork's epiphany is at least preventing her from being beaten down by that.

Huh, incredible coincidence that Verdigris ended up in that bit of desert... here's hoping this doesn't go from frying pan to fire for her.
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Aye, a very harsh wake-up call, but Clockwork had to hit bottom somewhere... now there's only one way to go.

Luna learned her lesson too...

Sometimes coincidences happen... or maybe fate.

- Polecat
Levia-the-Dragon's avatar
Hmm...

Anyway, I am curious whether recent episodes have affected your sense of the world's continuity at all and whether there's anything you'll need to retconn in, ignore or work around?
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Not entirely. It did alter something and add a bit of a twist even I didn't see coming until I wrote it, but that's many chapters away (I write a few chapters ahead. ;) )

- Polecat
Levia-the-Dragon's avatar
Nice, I was expecting some of that stuff to play into things.
DarkonShadows's avatar
"I’m the Princesses have more important things to worry about than silly cub fantasies.”

"I'm 'sure' the Princesses have more important things to worry about than silly cub fantasies."

I'm sure griffon pony relations in the griffon village could lead to hippogriffs, but I'm not sure that they'll be called that though.

If there's one thing I know about the desert it's that there are plenty of places to get food if you don't subsist on vegetation. Eating Scorpions isn't hard, all you need is to remove the poison glands, snakes are also quite edible if you can catch them by they neck and finding water is the only difficult thing. Yet if you dig deep enough in one spot you can get plenty of water and not to mention finding a cactus to safely open. Eclipse made a huge mistake on that one, if you're smart enough survival is easy if physically draining and nothing is harsher to survive then a desert where one wrong move can kill you. Verdigris being found by a gang of mostly so far chaotic neutral to evil threats was an interesting play, it could have been equally interesting if buffalo's were involved and she probably won't be able to get the warning out about the dragons before it's too late. Kaos most certainly had the entire fake filly thing planned out if nothing else and had found out something unexpected interupting his best laid plans.

Last thoughts: Okay Burner definitely doesn't know he's been played and most importantly Clockwork might be on the road to recovery. Crosswinds seems to be voted the most likely to have no remorse now. Zilch seems to have a good understanding of the importance of life.

I wonder what would have happened if they called Clockwork Key's problem MonteLuna's Revenge? One thing was for sure, she has trust issues now and it makes sense that she does. So far you have a lot of people with a lot of different running motives and as such you have given me an idea of what Kaos's motive is in all this.

I wouldn't worry about my participation in readership Polecat, but to call this the darkest chapter? Really? I've read and probably have seen darker stuff and life is filled with strife, you just have to pick up the pieces and move on while holding onto what's important to you the best that you can.

So how are you enjoying Season 3? Every episode seems to be all about mirrors or reflecting upon something thus far. Sombra's mirror, Babs bullying others like she was bullied, Pinkie mirror cloning, Scootaloo reflecting upon what she truly fears and facing it, Rainbow Dash's look alike Lightning acting just like Dash's past self in a reckless and headstrong manner without the same lessons Rainbow personally learned first hoof.
TCPolecat7's avatar
TCPolecat7Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Gah, missed that one.

Heh, I joke about that in a chapter or two, so stop reading ahead. ;)

Aye, but this is also Verdigris we're talking about. She might have the intelligence, but she doesn't have the tools, to make it like that. You are correct that the Buffalo would have been an interesting idea, but I already am juggling so many plot elements, I didn't want to add another. And yes, Kaos had the filly thing planned out... tho never expected a real one to show up.

Burner don't know. Clockwork hit bottom, only one way to go. Crosswind is brash and arrogant... at the risk of offending some people, she's the Rainbow Dash of that group. More of Zilch next chapter.

MonteLuna's revenge? You should be shot for that pun... that was terrible. But yes, Clockwork has trust issues. Kaos motives have been hinted at slowly over time, but it's not Kaos you need to worry about, it's the "Prince" he works for.

I've seen darker stuff, but not in my stories. Doing the whole "dead filly" routine (at the risk of sounding like a Monty Python skit) was a worrisome spot for me, and I wanted to handle it right.

Season Three I've been enjoying. I thought Babs Seed ep was a bit off kilter (mostly the song felt too "pop" for me, but it's grown on me), but so far I think Trixie's return was the best of the season so far. It was nice seeing Zecora in the role she was originally meant to fill from the beginning. As for Lightning Dust, I commented to a friend that she was "Rainbow Dash before she met the Mane 6. THIS was the Rainbow Dash back when she was friends with Gilda."

- Polecat
DarkonShadows's avatar
Some people only need a knife or something sharp like one to survive harsh conditions. Plus Verdigris has claws, not to mention fur and feathers so the cold desert air at night wouldn't affect her nearly as much as it would a human exposed to the elements. At least she can't get sun burned skin, but the heat would be somewhat unbearable. Well that is if she didn't live in a mountainous arid region for a long while where she could have been naturally adapted to that as well. If she were declawed before being tossed away I wouldn't think much of her survival then, that would have been darker.

That filly is definitely deceased, she is bloody well no more, she has ceased to be, she is an ex filly. (I prefere the cycling tour and the tomato that jumps out the window or the worlds funniest joke that kills people or cripples them by just reading one word of it. Never will forget the ministry of silly walks.)

Trixie was brilliant when she said she didn't trust wheels while corrupted. She might also be what Twilight needed to face about her own abilities and limitations.

Can I be shot in leg away from a vital artery, I prefer the use of my arms thank you very much. (I still stand by the fact that it was humorous in audacity.)
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