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Here at the End of all Things. · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
Dawn patrol, Dash always called it even though it hardly ever happened at dawn. After all, dragging herself out of bed at the crack of noon or sharing a long, laughter-filled brunch with the girls or spending the morning drilling with the Bolts, she would usually look up to see that it was two or three o'clock by the time she was ready to go.

But dawn patrol sounded way cooler than midday stroll. And she was pretty sure she'd done the actual crack of dawn thing once or twice during the ten years she'd been living in Ponyville.

Still, whatever the season and whatever the weather, every other day or so, Dash would take an hour out of her busy schedule to cruise the Everfree Forest looking for trouble.

Mostly this turned out to be rogue weather, but with manticores, hydras, timberwolves, cragodiles and other assorted monsters wandering around out there even after the Tree of Harmony had regained its full strength, Dash always figured better safe than sorry. Kick a stormy cloud or a toothy snout, make sure the place remembered who was boss and who was keeping an eye on it, and she could maybe stop Ponyville from crashing and burning as often as it would otherwise.

A net, though, springing up from the tree canopy to tangle itself around her wings, forelegs, and barrel definitely was not the sort of thing she was expecting. Blue balloons sprouted from the woven webbing so at least she didn't fall, but something started tugging her downward: a rope attached to the net and pulling her toward the silent green leaves below.

By the time she shook off her shock and started struggling, her rear hoofs were already brushing through the branches. The strands of the net proved too well-woven to stretch or bite through, and craning her head around to see where she was going just got her poked in the face with twigs.

"Ow!" she shouted. "Pinkie! If this is a joke, yeah, okay, it's a pretty good one, sure! But shooting nets at pegasi when they're flying? Anypony less awesome than me might've gotten hurt or something!"

The leaves beneath her opened to reveal something big, flat, and dark: a roof, Dash realized as she was hauled through a square hole in it. A solid surface smacked up underneath her, shadows all around, and the hole above her slammed shut, plunging the whole place into complete darkness.

"Who's out there?" Dash yelled, straining at the net some more. The dusty, earthy scent that filled her nose didn't hold a trace of Pinkie's usual cotton-candy-and-marshmallow aroma, so the whole prank idea was starting to seem less and less likely. "What's the big idea? You can't just—"

Fireflies sparked to life a few paces ahead of her, and she gaped to see Scootaloo standing under the lantern and glaring at her. The downward angle of the light accented the filly's physique, muscular from all the running around she did since, even on the cusp of marehood, she still couldn't fly. Tendons stood out along her neck, her wings flared as much as she could flare them, her hooves spread and planted like she was expecting a squall.

Dash swallowed. "Squirt? What— I mean—"

"No." Scootaloo's voice was always raspy, but Dash had never heard anything like the stone cold rumble coming out of her now. "We're done with all that. No more baby nicknames, no more 'big sister/little sister' crap, no more waiting for you to notice me." She took a step forward, everything about her making Dash try to wriggle back and maintain the distance between them. "'Cause I'm all grown up now, Dash. And that means you're finally going to fall in love with me."

Ice shot through Dash's whole body, and she did some more backward wriggling. "Look, Scoots, I don't know what—"

"Exactly!" At the stomp of Scootaloo's hoof, the whole place shook: a little treehouse, Dash realized with a start, the firefly light showing her nothing but a mattress in a corner and the walls completely plastered with photos and drawings and posters of her own face and figure waving and smiling, posing and winking.

"You don't know!" Scootaloo was going on. "Ever since I was five years old, I've been in love with you! Been yearning for you!" Her fiery eyes lost focus. "I've dreamed of it for so long, just you scooping me up in the moonlight, settling me down on a cloud, and snuggling with me. Lately when I dream it, we do more than snuggle, and I just— I want— I can't— I can't wait for you anymore!" She was pretty much shouting by this time. "So it's over, see? I'm done hinting and flirting and dancing at the edges of it like a kid! Done with it!"

The air around Dash seemed to have frozen solid; she could barely pull a breath into her lungs. "Scootaloo," she more squeaked than said, "maybe you don't think you're a kid, but—"

"But what?" Spinning, Scootaloo thrust her flank into Dash's face, practically rubbed her cutie mark against her. "D'you know what I've been doing ever since me and Bloom and Sweetie got these? I've been showing ponies what they're meant to do with their lives, showing adult ponies what they're meant to do, I mean! More than twice my age sometimes, coming to me for advice, and you tell me I'm not grown up?"

Sliding back half a step, she waved a hoof and rolled her eyes. "I mean, yeah, sure, legally I'm still a minor." Her gaze fixed on Dash's, Dash unable to look away from the feverish glassiness there. "But laws don't apply to ponies like us: you taught me that." She reached out and touched Dash's jaw. "When you're awesome enough, you do what you want."

Dash tried to flinch away, but her head bashed into the wall behind her.

Giving a low chuckle, Scootaloo moved her hoof to caress Dash's cheek. "It'll be all right, Dash," she murmured, her eyes half closing and a smile drfting over her lips. "I'll make you feel better than all right."

No choice, then. "Yeah, right!" Dash shoved herself forward so she could shout it directly into Scootaloo's face. "Is this the advice you give out? 'If you wanna make friends with somepony, tie them up out in the middle of the Everfree Forest'? Is that what Twilight taught you?" She couldn't keep her voice from catching. "Is that what I taught you?"

Scootaloo jumped back like she'd been stung, her smile vanishing and her eyes going wide. "What? Dash, no! I—"

"Is this how you got to be friends with Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom? Ropes and nets and—"

"I don't wanna be friends with you!" When Scootaloo stomped this time, it seemed more petulant than scary. "I love you! I wanna—"

"Your mom and dad! Your aunts! Mr. and Mrs. Cake! Cranky and Matilda!" Dash knew there were more happily married ponies in town, but she hoped they'd forgive her for not being able to think of them right then. "You're saying none of them are friends?"

"What?" Everything menacing about Scootaloo was melting as quickly as ice cream in the noonday sun. "No! I'm not saying anything like that!"

"So they're friends but more than friends!" Dash shimmied the net that firmly bound her forelegs and wings. "So if this isn't what you do when you want to become friends, how much more is it not what you do when you want to become more than friends?"

Now it was Scootaloo who seemed frozen, and for all that Dash's heart was rattling as jagged as a chunk of granite against her ribs, she couldn't afford to let up despite how little sense her last sentence had made. "I know your blood's pounding inside you," she said, trying to pitch each word quietly but precisely, "and I know how your body's screaming at you for relief. But you've got to use your head, Scootaloo, got to think about what you're trying to do and what you want to do and how's the best way to do it. 'Cause if you let your blood take over, it'll drive you to places you don't ever wanna go..."

Scootaloo's whimper shattered the rock in Dash's chest; the filly's eyes pulled shut, and she slumped forward onto the floorboards. "I've ruined it," she whispered, the words coming out all cracked and awful. "All of it, always, forever, ruined..."

"No!" Bracing herself, Dash stretched and pitched forward to crash down with her head turned and her snout maybe a hoof's span away from Scootaloo's. "Not ruined, Scootaloo! Never ruined! You untie me, we'll go back into town, and we'll get you some help."

"What?" The sour stink of panic burst from Scootaloo, and she jumped to her hooves, her eyes wide and her ears folded. "You can't tell Twilight! Please! And Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom, if they ever found out I did this, I... I'll die! Tear my own throat out and—"

"Not Twilight!" Dash tried to roll over so she could see Scootaloo more easily, but in the wavering light, she couldn't focus any higher than those orange knees. "Not any of our friends! A real pro! Dr. Pineal! She's got her office on the town square across from City Hall!"

"A...doctor?" That Scootaloo wasn't running away screaming gave Dash the first glimmer of hope she'd had since this whole thing had started.

"She's good." Sprawled there, of course, Dash couldn't think of the actual word and didn't want to use any of the slang terms. "Sometimes, you need to talk to somepony about things going on in your head and your heart and your life that you can't talk to anypony about—and what I mean is that sometimes I need to talk to somepony about that stuff. But Dr. Pineal's job is to be the one pony you can talk to about anything."

The silence went on for longer than Dash liked, but at least Scootaloo still wasn't running. "You," Scootaloo said after a couple seconds or minutes or hours—Dash wasn't sure which it was. "You see a psychiatrist?"

That was the word. "She helps me a lot. It's not that she knows the answers or anything like that. But she knows how to help me find the answers myself." Bunching up a hind leg, Dash managed to flop over sideways so she could see Scootaloo's white-rimmed eyes. "Please, Scoots?"

"Oh, my gosh!" Scootaloo jumped forward with a flurry of wings, her hooves digging into Dash's back and the net loosening. "I'm so, so sorry, Rainbow Dash! I didn't— I mean, I wasn't— I don't—"

"It's okay," Dash said though she was sure both of them knew it was a lie. Unfolding her front legs for the first time in what seemed like days, she stood and shook out her wings.

With a squeak, Scootaloo scrambled away to bunch herself into the nearest corner, the stale, salty odor of fear wafting off her hide. It took every ounce of the control Dash had learned during her training not to run over and wrap the filly in a hug; the last thing either of them needed right now was mixed messages. She gritted her teeth against the pins-and-needles sensation of the circulation returning to her wings, then she blew out a breath. "Okay," she said again. "You ready to go?"

"I can't." Scootaloo had buried her face under her forelegs. "I can't ever look at you again, can't ever look at anypony again..."

"Stop it!" Clenching her teeth kept Dash from shouting it, but she did stomp a hoof, Scootaloo's head snapping up, her face wet with tears. "You made a mistake, Scoots, yeah, but you stopped before things got completely out of hoof. And now you're coming with me so we can make sure it never goes this far ever again. You got it?"

Nodding, Scootaloo rose shakily to her hooves.

Sitting with her eyes closed in the waiting room outside Dr. Pineal's office, Dash concentrated on just breathing. The trip back to Ponyville had been nothing less than a nightmare, but at least Scootaloo had that big scooter she used these days to keep their pace from becoming completely glacial. Still, watching in every direction for some random basilisk or other monster to leap out at them had made the tension in the air even tenser.

The meeting with Dr. Pineal had almost been worse, the silver-gray unicorn not saying a word while Dash mechanically and Scootaloo weepily recounted what had happened. "Very well," she'd said when they'd finished. "I'll need to speak to your parents and care-givers, Scootaloo, before we can go any further."

Which had meant more tears and even some shouting: Dash had stayed right in this same seat while Scootaloo's mom and dad and both her aunts had filed into the office with Dr. Pineal and Scootaloo, but the sounds that had leaked out even with the door closed had made Dash wish she'd brought some ear plugs.

In the end, Dr. Pineal had gotten in touch with a colleague of hers in Canterlot, and Dr. Callosum had agreed to come to Ponyville tomorrow to meet with Scootaloo and her family. Dash had somehow scraped up a smile for the five of them, had waved off the older ponies' attempts to apologize for Scootaloo, had even nodded to Scootaloo when the filly's shaky gaze had met hers just as the whole group had left.

She'd fallen back into the chair and done her best not to think about anything for she didn't know how long. Then a voice, Dr. Pineal's oh so familiar voice as cool as a glass of lemonade on a summer day. "And how are you, Rainbow Dash?"

"How the fuck do you think I am?" Dash shot back without thinking, then started up, her eyes snapping open and glancing around the waiting room.

Thankfully, it was empty, even the nurse gone from her little desk. Dr. Pineal stood beside the open door to her office and gestured to it with a hoof. Dash swallowed, pushed herself up, and stumped in, Dr. Pineal closing the door behind her.

The office always looked the same—bookshelves lining the walls, a couple potted ferns scattered among them, the place dim and cozy no matter what the time or temperature was outside. Dash crossed straight to the window and looked out through the gauzy curtains at the town square under the blue of a late afternoon, Applejack across the way at her cart, Fluttershy a couple rows over nosing through some carrots.

A normal day in Ponyville.

Dr. Pineal's gentle voice spoke behind her. "Would you like to talk about what happened today, Rainbow Dash?"

"What's to talk about?" Dash had to turn away from the window, Dr. Pineal in her big chair with her notebook and pencil floating in front of her and her little glasses perched on her snout. "Scootaloo snatched me outta the sky, tied me up in her treehouse, and told me she wanted to rape me." A tremor rattled Dash's right front knee, and she stomped her hoof. "And it was perfect! Absolutely perfect! My every fantasy right there in front of me, all real and absolutely fucking perfect!"

Springing into the air, Dash slammed herself down onto the couch beside Dr. Pineal's chair. "All I hadta do was lay back and let it happen! I mean, how many fucking years have I dreamed about Scootaloo forcing herself on me, huh? 'Cause if she did that, I wouldn't be a foal molester, would I? I'd be innocent, a victim, helpless to stop that gorgeous little filly from having her fucking way with me!" Bunching a hoof, Dash almost pounded it into the table on her right, but the memory of how many repairs she'd had to pay for over the years stopped her. "Perfect," she whispered again.

Silence settled in, and even though Dash was sure she'd been grinding her teeth all afternoon, now she started in even harder. "But I didn't do that," she said. "'Cause if I had, I mean, that woulda been it: the end of everything. Both our twisted fucking minds wrapping around each other so tight, we woulda strangled ourselves to death."

She took a breath, blew it out, took another. "Right now, though, the way things actually happened, it might not completely ruin Scootaloo's life. She went a little crazy, nopony got hurt, she gets some treatment, and—" Dash's voice wanted to choke off, but she pushed through it. "And she gets over me."

The thought squeezed her eyes closed. "Three years," she whispered, "eight months and twenty-two days from now, her and me together woulda been legal in every part of Equestria, and I coulda started courting her. I already know her folks, her aunts show that her family doesn't have a problem with two mares in a relationship, we already both, y'know, worship each other. I coulda started hanging out at her aunts' place more often, coulda let Scoots know how special I think she is, coulda set out to get her unfolding like a flower at dawn under my touch until—"

Her throat tightened, but the words just wouldn't stop. "For so long," she more coughed than said, "I've been so careful around her, done what's right, done what's good. All the times I almost cracked, almost let her know, almost gave in to her obvious little tries to seduce me, and it didn't even enter my mind that she'd break first! I mean, I just figured her and Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom would take care of each other when they started feeling the itch, y'know?" It was her second favorite fantasy, after all, imagining the Cutie Mark Crusaders experimenting in that clubhouse of theirs...

She shook her head. "But that's all gone now. Maybe if I'd known how close to the edge she was—" She shook her head again. "Me doing anything would've screwed it up even more. She's an amazing kid and the love of my life, but she's still just a kid. She needs to make mistakes and learn from them without me rubbing up against her, and I'll do everything I can to help her even if...even if she never feels comfortable talking to me again..."

Dash snapped her head over to glare at Dr. Pineal. "And yes, I know: I don't get to feel sorry for myself, and they don't give out awards for not molesting a kid. Behaving decently is the rock-bottom minimum for everypony everywhere, and helping a friend get over a problem is just what friends do." She swallowed and flopped back on the couch. "Even if the problem is that the friend you're in love with shouldn't be in love with you."

Dr. Pineal's pencil scratched in the silence, then she actually spoke. "So you'll stop loving her?"

"What?" Again, Dash snapped her head over and glared. "I can't just turn it off! That's the whole problem! I feel the way I feel: my only choice is whether I act on the feeling and go to prison, or don't act on it and just dream about her! That's not gonna change!" She winced. "I was hoping it would change in four years or so, but..."

"But you expect her to stop loving you?"

A little spark tried to perk in Dash's chest, but she blew it out with a breath. "She's a kid. Her brain was still growing into the right shape till a couple years ago, and now it's, like, floating in an ocean of hormones. That's why there's those laws I've been trying so hard not to break for as long as I've been coming here." A headache wanted to start up between her eyes; Dash rubbed her forehead and flexed her shoulders. "Scoots is nowhere near responsible enough to be in this sort of love yet, and by the time she is, all this stuff today might mean she can't even think about me that way anymore."

"That's possible, of course," Dr. Pineal's quiet voice said. "Or maybe it's that she'll be too old for you then."

The headache vanished, and Dash found herself hovering in front of the doctor, her hoof drawn back to smash those stupid little glasses right back into her expressionless-as-usual face. Silver light wavered in the air between them, though, and Dash knew from experience that Dr. Pineal's shield spell packed quite the electrical punch.

She also knew after so long in therapy that she only reacted this strongly when she had a good reason. Backing off, Dash settled to the floor. "Sorry, doctor, but I...I don't think that's the case. I mean, yeah, after the Cutie Mark Crusaders started building their catapults and their bungee jumping courses and all that, I had a few fantasies where all three of them were tying me up and forcing me to do them. But for seven years now, regularly, it's always been centered on Scootaloo."

The realization fed that little spark she'd wanted to douse earlier, warmth tickling Dash's middle for the first time in hours. Reaching, then, she tried to find words in the jumble of her head to explain it. "She'll never be old is the thing, not if she lives as long as Granny Smith. She's...she's eternal, the perfect mix of fire and air like me, but...but she's earth and water, too, since she spends all her time on the ground." She had to wince. "Or maybe it's just as simple and awful as that. She'll always be a foal in my eyes 'cause she'll never fly."

The doctor said nothing, but Dash wasn't really expecting her to, another thought busily popping up. "But I...I don't fantasize at all about Dinky or Flurry Heart or the Cake twins, do I?"

Cocking her head, Dr. Pineal flipped back through her little notebook. "I don't find any mention of them here."

Dash could only blink, something as wispy as a summer morning's mist floating in her chest. "But...if I was a regular sort of pedophile, I...I would, wouldn't I? Isn't that how ponies like me work?"

Dr. Pineal sat forward. "As you said, Dash, it's your actions where you have a choice, and you made some definite and defining choices out in the forest today. You still need to be extremely careful and watch yourself every waking hour, but I don't mind saying that I'm very proud of the progress you've made."

It took a couple breaths before Dash could get enough air into her lungs to push words out. "Then...this might not be the end? For me and Scootaloo?"

The glow of her horn folded her notebook closed, and Dr. Pineal sat back. "Today's events have certainly changed your relationship, but only the two of you can decide how. As you said, being her friend is the most important thing right now, and if you can do that—and I mean really do that—that'll help both of you the most."

With a sigh, Dash shook her head. "What we need around here are more monster attacks: the other kind of monster, I mean, the kind that aren't like me. That's the kind I know how to deal with."

"Hmmm." Dr. Pineal's notebook came open again. "Even after what happened today, you still feel that you qualify as a monster?"

That made Dash snort. "More than ever."

Not looking away from her, Dr. Pineal scratched something on the pad with her pencil. "And why is that?"

Dash spread her forelegs. "For all these years, I could tell myself that I had to be extra careful around Scootaloo 'cause she was a sweet, innocent little kid. Now that I know she's a monster, too, well, why am I being extra careful around her again?"

The doctor got very still. "That's a good question, Dash. Why are you being extra careful around her?"

In the silence, Dash concentrated on the in and out of her breath. She knew the answer, of course, knew that, no matter what happened tomorrow or the day after that or the day after that, the answer to that question was always the same if she was going to have friends and call herself a pony and not turn into Tirek or Chrysalis or Sombra. "Because it's the right thing to do, doctor." She shrugged. "For the next three years, eight months, and twenty-two days, I mean. After that?" The warmth wanted to flicker brighter in her chest, but she made a little mental whirlwind to suck the air away and keep it guttering low. "Well, me and Scoots both gotta get there first, don't we?"

Standing, Dash nodded and started for the door. "Which means I'll see you like usual on Tuesday."
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#1 · 1
Oh, my God. I feel so horrible for laughing out loud when Scoots said she wanted to rape Dash, and even more so when it was revealed that Dash wanted it. I don't know why, it just felt so out of left field it caught me completely off guard.

Twisted sense of humour and debateable reveals aside, I actually enjoyed this quite a bit. I liked how you depicted Dash's inner struggle with her feelings, I found it really compelling and made me wish she manages to come to terms with her situation. I wish we could've had the same with Scootaloo, though, as not getting to see her side of things outside of her confrontation with Rainbow really limits her presence in the story, which sucks because she's the catalyst for the entire story. Also, it would've been nice to see some parallels between her situation and Dash's.

Liked the story, wished it did a bit more. Nevertheless, nicely done.
#2 · 2
Something about the way the first sentence is structured made me think that the story wasn't about Dash; that it was some other pony discussing Dash's perspective. It gets cleared up relatively quickly, but still started me off wrongfooted.

The getting caught bit was unsettling, as was the near rape - in real-unsexy way which is actually somewhat surprising to get from Dash's reactions, given what's revealed later.

I liked Dash's logic in extricating herself from the situation, which made it all the more surprising later on.

I started to think that Dash was monologuing to the Dr for an awfully long time without him making notes or commenting, only for that to be undermined when it was revealed that she was his regular patient, and the reasons behind it.

If nothing else, this story was unafraid to take risks. Both in terms of subject and the aggressive twists. Multiple times it took a direction that caught me off guard, though part of that was from me not seeing much foreshadowing. It also made it harder for me to empathize with the characters, as a twist would catch me cold and toss me out of alignment.

The ending worked reasonably well, as it finally settled down and started to delve into some deeper themes, but the start was rockier, as it felt a bit like a roller coaster and didn't really sell me on the relationship. I know it's hard to have a light touch when dropping bombshells, though, so this is by no means a bad result.
#3 · 2
· · >>Baal Bunny >>Cassius >>Baal Bunny
My synopsis:

Rainbow Dash's ongoing struggle with her inner daemons intensifies when Scootaloo tries to rape her

Overall thoughts:

I didn't like this. I also thought it had problems, as a story.
"Rainbow's" struggle seems to have something to it. I just didn't care.

Treats a delicate and scary subject matter with a surprising amount of respect, once it gets to the second scene. Just as in real life, there are no easy answers here.
I think there's a moral, and I think it's: "Don't touch kids. Seek medical help if you need it", and I think I approve.
The opening, pre-Scootarape, did engage me. I just didn't like where the story took me: I thought Scoots might have been possessed and I was down with that happening. The lurch was sudden and not unwelcome, but it went left instead of right. Finding out that she's just a deeply troubled kid isn't as fun or rewarding, especially since she's given no closure whatsoever.
The whole thing is uncomfortable reading, but not in the "sledgehammer to the face" way that I would have expected, given the subject.
Technically it's not badly written, on the whole: my problems are more deeply seated.

I thought the first scene floundered about at the end, failing to resolve the conflict convincingly. It doesn't add much to the rest of the story either, we never go back to "Scootaloo" and her problems. Cutting (or at least re-working) the entire opening would strengthen the work as a whole.
I think I want to see Dr. Pineal's medical license, I'm not convinced it's genuine.
This doesn't feel very true to the show. I don't mean "ooh, it's so dark": I mean it seems only tangentially related to the world of Equestria and the characters that live there.
The plot needs a rapist so it casts "Scootaloo" without bringing any of her character with it. And then it basically abandons her at the end of the first scene. I don't think it's Scoots, but I do feel bad for whoever this is.
Then it turns "Rainbow Dash" into a high-functioning self-restrained paedophile, when half of Dash's character is: "I have no real impulse control". I struggled to make anything fit. Her dialogue doesn't sound like the Rainbow I know.
It brings in a boring OC doctor, because really who else could you have "Rainbow" confess to? Twilight? Celestia? Luna? Cadance? Fluttershy? Iron Will?
Is this how Equestria deals with mental health? You just see a therapist? How is that special? It seems a bit flat and unfeeling.
There are a couple of technical problems where things are not right in a few spots: some over-long sentences and some tense mismatches etc.

"Scootaloo" is so crazed with lust that she literally ensnares "Rainbow Dash". With a snare. Or a net – same difference. But then simply lets her go, just because "Dash" says: "Hey, how's about you don't rape me, it's not nice". My suspension of disbelief did not survive. A shame: the second half of the piece is better than this. More interesting.


Take this elsewhere.

The characters felt too far removed from the show and setting, not much like the characters I know. I think this would stand better as a piece of original fiction, without having pony names stamped into it.
I'm not sure I'd rate this as "Teen" because the subject matter is so adult and heavy.
I think it strayed a long way from the prompt: it very much seems to be about "continuation" and "struggle" rather than having much to do with anything "ending". A mean criticism to make, perhaps.

I don't think this was terrible, although there are certainly things I thought were huge problems. I think the concept is interesting at the least, and given some thought and time this would make a creepy and unnerving little commentary piece on society, mental health and the assumptions you make about people. But I want no further part of it, thanks all the same!
#4 · 6
· · >>Lamplighter >>ToXikyogHurt >>Baal Bunny >>regidar >>Cassius
Rating: Take it elsewhere.

Automatic bottom of the slate.
#5 · 7
· · >>GaPJaxie
This wasn't even one of the stories on my set list, but after spotting >>GaPJaxie(An author I've read and respected for years now) give such a cold, two line reaction and instant rejection of this story, I just had to see what it could possibly be about, to garner such a reaction.

Having read it, I guess I can sort of understand the knee-jerkiness of the reaction. But I can't say that I agree with it. Not even a few months ago I had given a heated rebuttal to something of a similar reaction a fan had left on a story I was reading. Not the same kind of situation as here, simply similar in that the angry comenter was upset for what I thought of as a silly reason was all. Instead of judging a work of writing on its merits or style, they chose instead to get angry about the direction the narrative took. It didn't agree with their head canon you see. And so, they became vary rude about it.

Now I'm not saying that this is anything like the same thing here, it's just that it seemed similar to me. Instead of looking at the work as a piece of writing about a super heavy and uncomfortable subject, like pedophilia. GaP Jaxie, you seem to have looked at the idea the story set up (icky as it is) and judged the work on how you felt about that subject, instead of the skill of it as a work. If you find you can't judge this without letting those feelings cloud your opinion, perhaps you should take >>horizon's advice and simple abstain from voting on it.

And now I am going to go hide myself and hope you won't think too much less of me for disagreeing with you on a matter that you seem to feel so strongly on. As I said before, I really am a huge fan.
#6 ·
· · >>GaPJaxie
Interesting to see such a closely aligned opinion.

Perhaps sadly, second to bottom for me. This is a story I don't want to read, and it's not well told. Bottom went to a piece where the author didn't really get around to telling me a story at all. But I'd happily work with them on what they had, to help turn their outline into something. I just don't know what to do with this.
#7 · 6
· · >>GaPJaxie

And yet, just 4 Writeoffs ago, you explained to us all that the story you'd written had Rainbow Dash commit a rape and then feel no remorse for it. How then is a story where she doesn't commit a rape and has devoted herself to not committing it somehow worse?

And yes, this story has problems. >>ToXikyogHurt points out some, and I'll point out that the very existence of Cadance kind of calls the whole premise of the story into question. Couldn't the Princess of Love somehow magic Rainbow's brain so she doesn't feel sexual attraction for Scootaloo any more?

So that's my suggestion, author. If you want to do something with this, have Rainbow's session at the end be with Cadance after Cadance has had her first session magicking Scootaloo's brain. Maybe make it so they have to meet ever two months or something to renew the spell, but since she's there in the Pony universe, bring her into the whole thing.

#8 · 7
· · >>Lamplighter >>Baal Bunny
>>Baal Bunny

I should be fair -- it is entirely possible the author of this story was trying to do a serious, dramatic depiction of someone struggling with dark urges they can't control. That's an entirely legitimate genre of literature, which contains many compelling stories.

But if that was their goal, they failed. Entirely.

They failed for a lot of reasons. One is humor -- like the over the top balloon trap Scootaloo put together, or the farcical dialogue in the first scene. Or, hell, the entire premise of the story. That Scoots tries to rape RD only for it to turn out that RD secretly wants it! Humor does not belong in a story like this because the subject matter is not funny.

Second is context. Where is Cadence to un-break Rainbow Dash's brain? Where is her fear of the law? Why doesn't she more seriously consider leaving town, or having scoots sent away? Yes, as Baal Bunny pointed out, I wrote Familiar, which is meant to be interpreted as being about rape. But 2/3s of that goddam story is explaining why Rainbow was raised by her society to consider that acceptable in context, and when she realizes that it's not, she immediately has a crushing breakdown. The context matters.

Third, the story acts like this is somehow a happy ending? Having someone watching a child and going, "Only X more years until they're legal!" isn't good progress. Dash, at the end of this story, is still dangerously obsessed, and that psychiatrist is severely negligent by allowing her anywhere near a child.
#9 ·
Ok, I see better where you're coming from now. I agree completely about Dash's mindset in this story. It's written almost as an apologetic defense of her dark desires. Having read some of the things you point it out about the story's misuse of humor when trying to talk about deep subject matter, did bother me. I was just wasn't able to figure out why until seeing your comment.

When I saw the brevity of your previous comment, I simply didn't understand the context of your dislike, or where you're coming from. Thanks for the reply.
#10 · 6
· · >>Cassius
I will say this: not funny enough to be a comedy and not reverent enough to be a serious exploration. I’d recommend studying sexual psychology a bit more if you want to write this kind of story, because it comes off as “I’ve only ever seen depictions of pedophilia in muh nipponese cartoons”. I had a lot more problems with it, but until I can muster the energy to read it a second time, that’s my snap judgment on the fic.

I wish I could downvote comments.
#11 · 6
· · >>Cassius >>Trick_Question
I read this because I wondered what all the fuss was about. I'd been skipping most of the comments that were directly about stories except where one of them caught my interest. This title isn't an attention-grabber, and nothing in the comments stood out to me until today, when it got some pretty strong language from some.

I don't get how several people interpreted this as potentially trying to be funny. The part with the balloons could be a comic setup, but as nothing had taken a comic tone before that, I wasn't in the mind of a comedy at that point. Plus there aren't that many options with their technology for catching something that flies, though maybe some kind of launched net might work better. But I digress.

This is a very difficult subject to deal with, not only for portraying anyone in even the slightest sympathetic light, but also in giving it the gravity it requires to feel like it's done for more than shock value or pathos. And in my mind, Dash, does behave as if she's giving it the proper weight. She's not making light of the situation, and she treats it very seriously. However, she's not dealing with it in a healthy manner. Saying that this all goes away once Scootaloo is of age is dodging the problem, and she pretty much admits that. What floors me is that the doctor is content to sit back and do nothing but listen and occasionally ask a question leading Dash to more self-examination. And while it's valuable for a psychiatrist to avoid being too judgmental about things, this is different. She's being very irresponsible in failing to discourage behavior that's destructive to more than just Dash, and she's failing to discourage conduct that's very seriously illegal and immoral. For that matter, why would she spill the beans to Scootaloo's family? Shouldn't Scootaloo be able to seek treatment with complete confidentiality? Urging her to involve her family in her healing process is one thing, but forcing her to, and quite possibly without forewarning? If one thing makes the whole story fall flat to me, it's the doctor's completely unbelievable conduct. A story like this should be real, very starkly real, and she just kicked my suspension of disbelief out the window right when the story couldn't afford to do so.

I mean, I can't really say myself what a realistic portrayal of this problem would be. I only know what I've seen when my wife likes to watch Law and Order: SVU, and I don't doubt that has a lot of Hollywood embellishment, so Dash herself didn't come across as fake to me. I'll defer to those who know the subject better.

The secondary issue is how over the top Scootaloo is in the first scene. I never got a comic vibe from her, but going over the top is certainly one way to effect comedy, so maybe that's where some of the other readers are picking that up. But even if it didn't create genre dissonance for me, it still made this feel far less authentic than they should. Someone who's been dropping subtle hints she feels aren't being perceived would just go to more overt things, right? Like directly stating what she wants, not forcing the issue.

So on a type of story that requires the utmost adherence to realism and authenticity, you lost me on both counts. But I don't fault the writing itself. The word choice, sentence flow, etc., were well done, so I have no doubt you're an able author. You just picked a subject that you couldn't fit in the word count, give the gravity it needed, do the research for, and all that stuff.
#12 · 12
· · >>Monokeras >>ToXikyogHurt >>Trick_Question >>Baal Bunny
This review is dedicated to my dear friend AndrewRogue, who died attempting to review this story.

This story has been getting a lot of attention, and it is one of the few stories I have actually read, so I feel compelled to engage the ongoing debate. Despite being the writeoff's biggest cunt and ball-buster, I am inclined to say that everyone here is being a bit too harsh on this story and by extension the author. I am going to have to coldly rebuke >>ToXikyogHurt and >>GaPJaxie, despite the fact that >>ToXikyogHurt provides many useful observations and suggestions that I will later incorporate into my own review. I see no compelling reason to imply that this story cannot be altered to fit as a tonally dark re-imagining of the show's universe, and the suggestion that the author forego writing a story with that sort of purposeful inversion of the source material's tone to be mildly insulting to the author.

The word of the day for this story, and the one that nobody has mentioned specifically thus far but has often alluded to, is "tone." The closet point of critique someone has mentioned is >>ToXikyogHurt in reference to the inadequacy of the first scene, which, I believe, is probably the biggest issue with the story itself. As many have said previous, rape and pedophilia are hot button issues, and it belies a story to adopt a certain tone to establish the mood of the piece.

Why then, does the story open with an attempted rape in the form of a cartoon rope trap complete with nets? Why does a friendship lecture stop said rape? Why the hell give your psychiatrists (although they are really more psychologists as you use them) cutesy names based on brain parts? These ideas you're pulling from the show don't work tonally in context with the situation.

For this story to function, there needs to be a dichotomy: serious elements are to be portrayed seriously and close to reality in how they would realistically occur, and cartoon elements are to be employed illustrate that the story itself takes place in the familiar reality of the show. To write this story convincingly is to balance the tone on a knife's edge. You are essentially taking the character interpretation that Rainbow is still the family friendly, canonical Rainbow Dash, at least in the public eye and trying to re-contextualize her character as a anxious, ashamed pedophile. Not a insignificant undertaking, to say the least, but it certainly is possible.

Ideally, you want the cartoony, family friendly nature of Rainbow Dash to be demonstrably contrasted with her internal mechanics to create the impression that there is more to Rainbow Dash than the show presents, but also that she still is the Rainbow Dash from the show. You have to address the plausibility issue that immediately arises when trying to so drastically alter the reality of the character in the source material and explain how despite having x, y, z qualities in the source material (for example, as >>Pascoite mentions, Rainbow has poor impulse control as part of her character), Rainbow Dash can still be a secret pedo.

Character voices are indistinct here. Writing dialogue is tough, I understand, but if the characterization and voice isn't concrete, readers will reject it out of hand immediately. You're operating at a higher threshold of scrutiny. Other entries that write firmly within the tone of the show are given a benefit of the doubt that you simply don't have when writing a story based around pedophilia and rape. Rainbow's character is faintly present in the story, with some Rainbow-esque choices of phrase, but ultimately her voice is fairly neutral, and so is Scootaloo's. It becomes additionally jarring the difference in profanity use from Rainbow between the two scenes: in the scene she's about to be raped, she is very PG, but in the therapist's office, she's spewing profanity every sentence.

I get that the intention was for Rainbow to be putting up a false front for Scootaloo, but at some point there needed to be a breaking of character for something so extreme, or alternatively, have Rainbow speak in a consistent voice throughout. As it stands, the two scenes seem to be of two people, rather than two different faces of the same Rainbow.

Additionally, author you need to use more restraint in utilizing italics in dialogue. This is quickly becoming my biggest pet peeve in the competition these days. Use your italics wisely and sparingly, for words you really want to emphasize. Using an italicized word for every two lines of dialogue defeats the purpose of emphasis.

Additionally, I wish there was a more narrative. Most of this story is long-winded dialogue that could be easily cut down to be both more impactful and less turgid. The whole story is basically two long conversations, and that is boring to read. People have been giving you a pass on your construction because they'd rather talk about the topic it discusses, but you really need to work on a number of fundamentals. Pacing, sentence construction (particularly in regards to economy of words), and scene construction ordering all need significant work.

Also don't bury your dialogue. Break up your paragraphs more. Simple organization can make your story much easier and enjoyable to read.

Since >>Pascoite brought this up, I can finally get to use my Psychology degree: how accurately does this story convey the therapeutic environment and confidentiality?

To be honest, it doesn't get a whole lot wrong. But there are some issues.

The fuck is Scootaloo's extended family doing in her therapy? Certainly Scootaloo's parents would be present, as minors don't have HIPAA rights, but her aunts? What? I laughed at that line when I first read it. Is everyone and their grandmother invited to Scootaloo's rapist recovery counseling? What?

But that's not even really the biggest problem with that scenario.

You see, there are several circumstances in which the confidentiality between therapist and patient can be broken, and one of the most important ones is if the patient is considered a danger to those around them. As a health care professional, one does not admit a person who tells you they tried to rape someone the day prior to therapy and not alert the authorities. Additionally, one does not get to say they want to have sex with a specific child they see on a regular basis and not have the therapist report them to CPS. If Dash was a pedophile with non-specific attraction to Scootaloo, it would be more acceptable for the therapist to not break confidentiality, but because Dash is particularly fixated on Scootaloo as the object of her desire, there is a compelling reason for her to break it.

I didn't find this to be a huge issue, as I don't really expect people to know the limitations of confidentiality, and this is actually a bit of a gray area than anything else. I would not say that either situation explicitly requires the therapist to break confidentiality, but there are a million reasons why it would be in her best ethical interest for her to do so.

Bunch of people mentioned Cadance, so I'll be the rare voice that advocates against pulling her into this. The point of the therapist is that Dash DOESN'T WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW SHE'S A PEDOPHILE JESUS CHRIST. Even if Cadance could conceivably fix her, would Rainbow Dash seek out the help? Not as a established, no. And maybe Cadance could take the role of therapist, but it really to me seems outside her wheelhouse, and she's more of a matchmaker than a physician. Adding her in any other way than to make an offhand comment about why Rainbow Dash can't or won't seek out her help I think would hurt the story as much as it would help, so I can't really justify the change.


I’d recommend studying sexual psychology a bit more if you want to write this kind of story, because it comes off as “I’ve only ever seen depictions of pedophilia in muh nipponese cartoons”.

This I would also disagree. But maybe I'm just sore over how a criticism similar to this was leveled at me last round.

Ultimately I would say this is a fairly nuanced portrayal of pedophilic desires, something that absolutely NOBODY except academics and pedophiles will appreciate unless you're writing on the level of Lolita, which unfortunately, you are not. I can appreciate the level of ambition and thought that went into creating a story like this, and I would never do something as drastic as put it at the bottom of my slate (if I were voting) for content reasons, but it does not change the fact that the construction of the story itself is an atonal mess that occasionally feels like it's veering into comedic territory. Something like this ought to be more of a slow burn—starting with over-the-top Scootarape was a huge misstep that cost you the majority of your audience, myself included.
#13 · 1
I haven’t read the story and don’t intend to, but the whole commotion is (to me) highly redolent of an old (minific?) round in which a story depicting Dash encouraging pupils during sports to become Wonderbolts, while knowing they had no chance to, and puking discreetly at the end, had also unleashed the dogs of war.

Every now and then, something has to be rotten in Celestia’s kingdom, and people have to hurl skulls one at the other.

Much ado about nothing.
#14 ·
· · >>ToXikyogHurt >>Baal Bunny
I'm trying something experimental this round (and seeing if it makes reviewing at all easier for me) with rambling audio reviews. I don't normally do this, so apologies for roughness while I see if this works out for me.

I end up talking a bit about the story within context of the Writeoff, so if you are not interested in hearing about that author, please feel free to stop listening when I start rambling about. I end on a bit of a repetition of the beginning re: writing quality, so I'm pretty sure you will miss nothing new.

#15 · 1
I accept my rebuke. I would like to clarify, however:
...no compelling reason to imply that this story cannot be altered to fit as a tonally dark re-imagining of the show's universe..

I don't deny that this is possible. Merely that I think it would involve so many changes to the tone, structure and characterisation that I would start again entirely, rather than attempt to re-work this text. Take the premise and a blank page and try again.

...and the suggestion that the author forego writing a story...

Not my intention. Write it, but know how narrow your audience might be.
#16 · 1
· · >>ToXikyogHurt
I saw GAP's comment and the back-and-forth so I had to read this story next.

This is another story that could have been written by me, except for a few small details. I did not write this story, but I'm actually concerned whoever wrote this story had me in mind, and was aiming this story directly at me personally. I'm not sure how I feel about that, even though I think the story is a good one.

I'll start off by saying something: I don't understand the hate on this story at all, and I don't understand how anypony could see comedy in this. There's nothing comedic here. This is a serious story about a serious problem, and it's handled with a decent amount of tact. I don't get the hate, I really don't. It bothers me a lot because I don't understand it.

I mostly agree with >>Pascoite , except I have a more positive view of the story. I don't agree that the psychotherapist was inappropriate: Dash has been seeing her for years and we don't know what they've covered or haven't covered (and I personally have experience on both sides of the couch). I think a lot of things Pascoite might have expected the psychotherapist to say would have been things she and Dash have covered in great detail before. I don't agree the subject wasn't covered with realism, though I do agree more horse words would help it. I do agree that the focus on an arbitrary date is silly, but that focus serves a purpose here—I'd rather not say what it is, however, because I don't expect the author wants it to be made that overt. (Again, I promise I did not write this story.)

The reactions to this story are reflective of how much people who share Dash's problem are hated by society even when they do the right thing. The bitter irony here is that the readers this story is most likely aimed at are the same ones who will dismiss it outright out of prejudice. I don't think there's a solution for that. There are some things you just can't write about and have your words well-received by a target audience.
#17 ·
While I'm here, and somewhat unrelated, I quite like the short, audio review format. There are things that come across clearly in speech that maybe don't in text.

dismiss it outright out of prejudice

I also want to be clear here. I don't quite think this is what's happened. If that's what you think of me then I've failed to convey my feelings well.

My issue isn't with the raw subject. I don't hate "Dash" for having urges I don't understand – I do admire her control. But this "Dash" isn't my Rainbow Dash, the characterisation missed entirely. That's where the second scene failed for me. The author needs to either convince me this is Rainbow or put somebody else here, and give me a reason to care about them. I think the second option is – by far – the easier choice.
#18 · 10
· · >>Trick_Question >>regidar >>Baal Bunny
Hi. It's that time again. I'm going to put out some things here that I know a lot of this community doesn't agree with. I have mostly "retired" from actively posting commentary after being harassed to the point where engaging here was not good for my mental health, but eh, I'm feeling okay right now, and we have a lot of new faces who might benefit from hearing this perspective. (And a few commentors getting harassed, as I was, for posting honest but negative reactions to this piece. Stop doing that, people. Seriously. Cut it out.)

There are some things you just can't write about and have your words well-received by a target audience.

This is, by my reckoning, the truest statement in this thread.

Concepting is part of the skill of writing. A very important part, actually, and one that tends to be neglected and glossed over. Not hard to see why. People don't want to appear biased, they're taught that bias is bad and we should respect all forms of writing, and so we start to preach and believe that all concepts are equal and should be treated with equal "respect" by never criticizing them and placing "the author's intent/vision" as a thing of paramount importance.

However, consider: no.

That's wrong. Not what that means.

All story ideas are not created equal. Far from it. Writing exists not in a vacuum, but in contexts, and when looking at a certain context with certain goals of expression, there are going to be concepts that are better or worse at achieving those goals than others. Coming up with effective concepts and making good choices in your subject matter and story elements is part of the difficulty, and the skill, of effective fiction writing. "The direction the narrative takes" is not a thing separate from a piece's merits and style. It is part of those merits and style, inseperable.

It is also not the duty of readers here to respect the author's viewpoint and choices of subject matter, no matter what those may be. Nor to refrain from criticism on that basis. Nor to "consider the author's intent" and try to take a positive view based on it. The author's intent is unknown, unknowable, and often largely irrelevant. The text stands on its own. Once a story is delivered to readers, they are the ones whose interpretations matter. Particularly in a competition like this, where the readers are also the judges, it is not the judges' responsibility to be charitable or to twist their responses and try to look at all submissions in the most favorable lights. It is the authors' responsibility to write stories that the reader-judges will think highly of, not the other way around.

Perhaps if the prompt for the round had been "Pedophilia" then I might agree that readers have some obligation to respect this piece's concept. But it isn't. The prompt is "Here at the End of all Things." This piece being about pedophilia is a conscious decision that the author made, like any other decision in their process of composition.

Not only is it legitimate to consider the subject in judgment of the piece, I believe it is irresponsible judging not to do so. If this piece were to be published "in the wild," in a magazine or FIMfiction or etc, we can be sure it would draw a great deal of visceral negative response. Should that not be represented in the feedback it receives here? Are those reactions somehow less "fair" or less valid than more generous ones? If we accept that as somehow true, and apply it as a rule to critiques and/or votes, what happens to this site looking forward?

Responsible, fair critique is not "critique that seeks to eliminate all trace of personal bias and treat everything exactly the same." That is impossible, and pretending that it is possible is disingenuous. Rather, responsible, fair critique is critique that seeks to recognize one's own bias, to be aware of it, disclose it when appropriate and work with it in forming your framework for analysis, as part of a larger framework of personal development.

I don't know why the author thought it was a good idea to write and submit this piece to a T for Teen rated Friendship is Magic fanfiction competition/workshop/hootenanny. I bear them no particular ill will for having done so, and I hope they will return. But I also hope they will think carefully in the future about what the likely responses to controversial subjects are going to be, and how they often far overshadow "technical merits" in the minds of readers. Don't do edgy stuff in Writeoff. Thanks for writing, though!


That all having been said, I do have one other point of curiosity. What in the heck is up with this place and pony pedophilia? This piece, The Best Days Lie Ahead, Blueblood's Greatest Love, A Gem Beneath (arguably)... those are just the ones I remember from the last six months. I liked some of these, and none of them individually raise an eyebrow for me beyond ill-considered edgyness. But what's weird here is that it keeps happening.

Lest you believe me some shocked prude throwing a fit, let me open up a little. I'm no stranger to love, baby the subject of "lolicon" and underage relationships. Geek and anime culture and sexuality is one of my wheelhouses. I've (poorly) translated, written academic papers and taught a college course on erotic visual novels, including some with very controversial content. My personal beliefs align closely with Neil Gaiman and the CBLDF's excellent manifesto on the topic. By general societal standards I would think this puts me pretty dang far on the liberal side of the issue.

But I'm getting a little sketched out here, because never in my life, in all the venues I've been in and all the people I've known, never, ever, have I seen this subject come up this seriously, this often, with this sort of serious handwringing defensiveness. Not even with openly professed "lolicon fanatics," not even with Piers Anthony fans for god's sake. This doesn't happen anywhere else. Even Piers Anthony himself usually keeps a tighter lid on it than this. It really seems to be just this site, this community, especially the pony rounds, where I can count on some "let's take a serious sympathetic look at the subject of pedophilia - OH NO PEOPLE ARE SUPER HARSH ABOUT IT, what persecution, who could possibly have forseen this" popping up every couple of months.

So, open, honest question. Why is this? What is it with Pony Writeoff that makes this keep coming up as a subject, from multiple people over multiple rounds? Is there something going on here that I'm not aware of? And can we maybe consider making it stop?

Don't do edgy stuff in Writeoff.
#19 · 5
· · >>AndrewRogue
Don't do edgy stuff in Writeoff.

If that's the lesson you're imparting from this, I couldn't disagree more.

First off, the Writeoff is not like writing for a general audience. For one thing, it's writing for fans of MLP, which is already a young, male, and liberal-leaning set. But much more importantly, you're writing for other authors. I expect the writers here to be able to handle controversial content.

Edgy stuff isn't bad, far from it. Edgy stuff ups the degree of difficulty. If you take no risks at all, you aren't going to grow as an author, and it's irresponsible to suggest authors ought to 'play it safe' with content. We should all be taking risks, as long as those risks are measured and we enter into them with full knowledge of what we're getting into.

When I wrote Outmoded, I knew exactly what I was getting into. I failed with that fic because I didn't leave a strong enough impression of what the message was, and that's absolutely essential when doing something that takes the kind of brash risks Outmoded took. But that doesn't mean taking a risk was wrong, because I knew what I was doing. And even in failure, it helped me to grow.

People complaining about how horrible Monsters is seriously need to grow the buck up. This is not a story that should be making grown authors clutch their own pearls to read, and some of the critique sounds awfully pearl-clutching to me. If you're afraid of examining ideas that disturb you, I have no idea why you're an author.

(And once again, even though this fic reaches me on a personal level, it isn't mine.)
#20 · 4
The issue of breaking confidentiality is a legal matter I know quite a bit about. If y'all would like to know how it really works, here goes.

You can't break confidentiality unless you have 'duty to warn'. That means if somepony has specific plans regarding a specific pony and a means to execute them.

If I were this psychiatrist, as much as I would not want this to happen personally, I'd have no choice but to have Dash cease contact with Scootaloo immediately. If she's fantasizing about Scootaloo she shouldn't be acting as a pseudo-family member. Since she knows her well already I might need to consider this duty to warn and get legal involved.

If she's just having fantasies in general, I'd probably caution her against spending time with Scootaloo as a 'big sister', but that would not constitute duty to warn. Even if she keeps spending time with her against my advice. But if she fantasizes about her I'd probably have to get the law involved for protection.

Having to agonize over that decision is one reason I'm glad I'm not a psychiatrist.

Now let me explain how the existence of duty to warn can go very wrong.

The problem is interpretation. I'm going to offer some personal disclosure here. I once had a couple of psychologists (not my therapists) contact my place of work and show them my personal website which at the time revealed I was trans. They thought they had 'duty to warn' because I worked with children and I had disturbing artwork on the website, but this was in a time and place (the only time in American history and the only place, Cincinnati) where it was actually illegal to seek equal opportunity remediation if you were fired for being perceived to be gay. Oh, and I never discussed the website with them: they found it, and without talking to me or telling me they knew it existed, they called up my place of work and used the full weight of their credentials to suggest I was dangerously unfit to work there.

The place I worked was totally cool about it. They saw nothing wrong with the website. (And I only found out the bastards did it, because the place I work told me exactly what happened.) But there was no fucking way whatsoever that the psychologists in question had 'duty to warn' as defined by the APA. They felt they had it, and they didn't. I ended up almost getting fired for being trans because of their actions.

This is a serious problem for counseling people who are attracted to children. If I were attracted to kids, I would never bring it up with a psychotherapist, even if it was the primary cause of whatever problem brought me into the clinic. That makes it virtually impossible to treat the disorder. That impossibility puts children at a significantly higher risk of molestation.
#21 · 7
· · >>Trick_Question >>Trick_Question
Or instead of me "growing up," how about you realize that I am pretty reasonable well within my rights to feel that a story where a child nets an adult and threatens to rape them only for it to turn out that the adult is severely into it might, in fact, not be the best story to enter into a general entry, T-rated writing thing about pastel ponies from a kid's show. Or how about that, as someone who has invested a lot of time and effort into the writeoff over the last year and IS A NEW FATHER, that it is perfectly reasonable for me to be a little uncomfortable with this story as ANOTHER story on this particular theme that keeps coming up in this group lately.

And I say this with all the love in the world, but fuck off with your "If you're afraid of examining ideas that disturb you, I have no idea why you're an author" MFA Litfic superiority bullshit. I have put up with that attitude enough in my life. I am not putting up with it in an event that stems from a site for MLP fanfiction.

I'm an author because I want to write my schlocky action/adventure/romance genre nonsense, because I want to write things I have fun writing, and because I want to explore the ideas I want to explore. Don't imply that me or anyone else is ANY less of a writer because, hey, a story or theme makes me uncomfortable and I really do not in fact want to deal with it.
#22 · 3
(And a few commentors getting harassed, as I was, for posting honest but negative reactions to this piece. Stop doing that, people. Seriously. Cut it out.)

Except you know, when someone actively tells someone to fuck off and belittles them for trying something they don’t like. I’m thinking a harsh response to that kind of review is completely justified.
#23 · 4
Who would've thought a story about pedophilia, attempted rape, and questionable ethics would spark such a conversation, huh?
Author, I'm sure you were prepared for some backlash seeing your choice of topic, but probably didn't expect this. So, just to make sure you don't lose sight of what's important.

-Keep your work tonally consistent to avoid people getting blindsided by the story. If your story is more serious, make sure people get that impression from the opening.
-Be sure to properly research the topic you're writing about to be sure you're depicting a balanced view.
-Treat your subject matter with the seriousness it deserves. That doesn't mean every story about dark topics has to be a super serious drama, but even comedies about dark topics treat their subject matter with the appropriate seriousness.

I hope you don't get discouraged and keep improving in the future.
#24 · 3
Wow, this was a hell of a story. Can't wait to get into the discussion thread--


#25 · 2
I spoke a bit too harshly, and I'm not saying your feelings are invalid. You're naturally entitled to feel however you do, and you can't control that. You're also entitled to your opinion about what you think should or should not be allowed to compete here.

But yes, if you're an author in a competition that allows mature subject matter and you can't handle a serious submission like an adult, I think that's very disappointing. I think it's especially disappointing if this is the story that sets you off, because while Monsters has disturbing subject matter, it isn't gratuitous in how it is presented. You should be able to stop reading the story when it starts to bother you, say "I don't like the subject matter", and then move on like an adult. The reasons why you are an author, why you get angry, or what stories you like to write aren't relevant to what constitutes appropriate behavior.

It isn't an excuse to complain 'this isn't appropriate for My Little Pony' because this competition is not and has never been about writing G-rated fluff, and few of the submissions here are appropriate in that way. There are published authors who compete here and on occasion something produced by this competition is easily worthy of general publication (ponies notwithstanding). I don't think an author who wants to write on this topic should be discouraged from doing so just because it bothers you, and I am not personally discouraged. Most of us are not here for the fake prizes. We're here to become better writers.

All that said, I had no idea this topic had been written on a bunch recently, but I doubt it's a trend.
#26 ·
Also, we might be talking past each other by mistake. My initial comment you responded to was not aimed specifically at you. I don't know if you went off inappropriately or not, and there's nothing wrong with expressing your opinion in a polite way.
#27 · 4
· · >>Trick_Question >>ToXikyogHurt
Man, this is just blowing up more, isn't it. I'm not going to bother tagging specific comments for reply, because there are too many.

I talked about this story at length with Cassius last night, and I've learned a couple of things, but none of it changed my mind about the story. So I'll tackle a few and hopefully better explain what I thought of the story, plus some new issues that have come up.

A couple of people are bandying about the prospect that the write-off is a bad/good place to do experimental stories or things that might not be received well by a larger audience on FiMFiction. I've long been of the opinion (like, since before the group moved to FiMFiction) that the voters here don't reward things that are experimental. New angles on things, sure. Originality, definitely. But still in fairly tightly defined boxes. Then there are stories like this that, really, most readers will find distasteful. Does that mean it's okay to vote them down because of subject matter? Of course it is. That's the voter's prerogative. If someone wants to give low ranking to any story with Rainbow Dash in it, that's their business. I try to vote a story based on the strength of the writing and concept alone, not my moral judgment of what happens in it, as long as those events are plausible. I am perfectly willing to highly rate stories I hated. But people in general aren't required to do that, nor would it be productive to require them to. So while I'd love to see this be a place where experimentation is rewarded and stories challenge readers (within the T-rated threshold, of course), the reality is that won't usually be the case, and a writer has to go into this knowing that. It's not like this author had highly skewed ideas of readers loving and embracing this, so if they get useful feedback out of it, maybe that's all they really wanted. I will say it took some amount of courage to try tackling this subject.

One of my objections was how overtly Scootaloo tried to force the issue at the beginning. To me it didn't signal comedy, but I can see how it would to some. But this is a very exaggerated escalation. Think about this like a sad story. If a guy's wife dies, that's sad. If his son, dog, mailman, and childhood teacher's uncle also died, it gets ridiculous to the point it's hard to take it seriously anymore, unless there's a really compelling narrative reason to have it that way. It's also a lot harder to feel sympathetic to a character who's so exaggerated. Like sad stories, less is often more, and I think you would have made Scootaloo a lot more sympathetic character if she were played a lot more understated. Even having this obsessive love for Dash might be grounds for psychiatric help, and forcing the issue doesn't necessarily mean doing so violently. The more over the top you go with her, the less authentic the story can feel. That's not to say it's impossible to make it work, only that it's harder, and I felt so alienated from her position that I couldn't empathize with her.

Contrast that with Dash. She has a lot longer to explain her position, and she's under much tighter personal control. This makes her feel a whole lot more realistic as a character, and I could understand her much better. It didn't help that Scootaloo mostly gets dropped from the story at this point, because you had word count left to show more of what was going on with her.

Now, I'll be the first to say that if people do have immediate reactions based on faulty knowledge, that doesn't make them wrong. That's still an honest reaction. I had some assumptions that turned out to be wrong. I have little experience with therapy, but I found it odd that Scootaloo's family was involved. I would have figured that Scootaloo could seek help in complete privacy, but with her being a minor, it wouldn't surprise me to learn her parents would have to be notified, at least in that Scootaloo was in therapy in the first place, if not why. One of the best ways to keep a teenager from opening up is to ask them to in front of their parents, after all. Cassius knows a lot more about this stuff, and he says Scootaloo's parents would definitely be told she was there and probably why, but he did agree with me on two points: that's it's unrealistic to have her extended family there as well, unless she specifically requested them to be. And for the other one, I'll pull back in what at least one other commenter has said: that Dash has been in therapy for a while, so just because something doesn't come up explicitly doesn't mean they've never discussed it. Fair point. But you had the word count to cover more here, and hoping readers will assume things can backfire. I don't think it would have hurt believability to include some of that discussion here, and it would have only helped to solidify what obligations (moral, legal, or professional) the doctor has fulfilled. Yes, if the doctor gets antagonistic telling Dash she's a horrible person, Dash is going to stop paying her attending therapy, which is a bad outcome. So it's the doctor's job to gently steer Dash toward positive behaviors, and while I'll certainly allow she could have done so in previous sessions, she's not doing so here, and it would have helped a lot with her credibility if I got to see some of that. Dash's assertion that her problems will go away once Scootaloo is old enough just bounces off the doctor, and she doesn't do anything (unless I assume she's done so in the past and judges this a bad time to take another stab at it) to ease Dash away from that mode of thinking.

So I still come away with this feeling like the doctor's acted irresponsibly, but it's not as strong as before. And hey, author, you've got the luxury of disregarding what anyone says. Because Cassius can say I was wrong about thinking Scootaloo's parents shouldn't have even been there, and he'd know more about that than I would, then you can brush off that part of my reaction as irrelevant, and I wouldn't say you were making a mistake in doing so. Mind you, there's always going to be some disconnect in this regard. Say you write a story that requires a lot of technical knowledge, and you write it the way most people would assume something works, and later, an expert corrects you. Having it right might seem wrong to a lot of readers. That doesn't mean you should get it wrong to appease people, but just be aware that kind of thing can happen.

So in summary, I'll say that I'd never discount the story out of hand because of its subject matter. Something like this could absolutely happen in real life, and in my mind, that makes it fair game for treatment in fiction. It may mean I hated reading it, but in this case, I didn't, because I don't think it's advocating anything bad (both Dash and Scootaloo recognize their behavior is harmful and are taking steps to correct/mitigate it). Well, possibly except for Dash thinking that if she waits a few years her troubles are over, and nobody disabusing her of that notion. A lighter touch would have made Scootaloo seem much more realistic, and following up with her would have done better with her characterization's depth. Having the doctor more explicitly try redirecting Dash than letting the reader assume she must have at some point would have more firmly established the story's moral ground. And letting me see more of Dash's reaction in the final scene would sell her better. You're using a close limited narration, and while it does take a conversational feel, it still strikes a fairly neutral voice. You're focusing almost exclusively on her dialogue to carry her emotion, while the narration doesn't sound very emotional at all. That's the key place to convey her inner turmoil, but that part sounds almost stoic. She does have a jump in characterization where she suddenly uses lots of profanity with the doctor, and I understand why. Maybe she doesn't want to talk that way in front of Scootaloo, but maybe ease there instead of having it explode. I didn't have the character dissonance some did that this couldn't be canon Dash in any way. I mean, if you're going to confine characterization to show tone, sure, but then you can't have very serious romance, tragedy, etc., and people don't complain about those. Maybe you could draw some stronger ties between canon Dash and this one? It's hard to say; her characterization didn't bug me much, and it's well down the list of things I think need work. But that's just my opinion.
#28 ·
For the record, I agree with pretty much all of this.
#29 · 1
Disclosure: I apparently still haven't had enough of this. Sorry. And I'm totally jealous that this is where all the comments are.

I didn't have the character dissonance some did that this couldn't be canon Dash in any way.

I'm going to explicitly claim ownership of this sentiment, unless somebody else speaks up. And my problem is not so much that it couldn't be Dash, more that it isn't right now.

For reference, I think the line that finally killed my Rainbow was this:
...Her brain was still growing into the right shape till a couple years ago...

But in general I expect Rainbow to be deeply irresponsible. I find it hard to reconcile "I'll just stop winter!" with "I better wait until this specific date."

I mean, to be fair, this meant that I got the feeling she must actually love Scoots and not simply be interested in her sexually. But frankly I found that just as weird.
#30 · 8
Hoo boy, so this one finally shows up on muh slate. Hey Roger, it’d be awesome if the “add another” button selected a bit more for stories that weren’t at the top of the review count! I think it’s a safe assumption that the “add another” crowd are more actively interested in spreading the love than in dogpiling, and doling them out one at a time via the button seems unlikely to create inadvertent dogpiling.

Genre: Scroll of Jimmy Rustling +1

Thoughts: I didn’t go into this fresh. How could I have? It’s been at the center of one of the bigger firestorms I can remember during my time in the Writeoff. As such, I fear pissing off any one of many camps by so much as touching it.

...but here I am anyway, so lez do dis thang!!

The tl;dr is that I’m going to end up rating this highly. The subject matter is not really to my taste, and part of me wonders if this edges out of the contest’s T-territory and into some light M-territory. But IMO it does so in a way that’s clearly at least trying to have gravitas and seriousness rather than being exploitative. I’ve read at least one of the thematically similar stories that (person?) mentioned (somewhere?) above, and I think an important difference from a content-perspective is that this story is being clear and unambiguous about presenting the transgressive stuff as bad. I don’t think Dash could’ve been much clearer in her views on that (see also: THE TITLE). The doctor was fairly wooden and I can’t say how sound their procedure was or wasn’t, but I think the point with making them fairly bland was to keep the spotlight fixed on Dash and her struggles, pursuant to the theme of “monsters.” As such, despite brushing up against subject matter that could very easily be a hard “NO” for me (for reasons that Andrew more or less articulated), I actually felt moved to feel some measure of compassion for Dash. And yeah, I thought this was Dash; and though I’m usually no fan of it, I thought the story’s swearing worked. The story suspended my disbelief long enough to persuade me that this is a Dash who has to grapple with a lot of very dark things in order to be who we see in public, but who gets up and fights that battle every day because she wants to do what’s right, as best she understands it. Messed up or not, that desire has gotta count for something.

And from a purely technical perspective, this is clean and very Well Written (TM).

Tier: (God help me) Top Contender
#31 · 8
· · >>Trick_Question >>regidar >>Monokeras >>Pascoite
First of all:

I'll apologize. Among the many things I didn't think through while putting together this draft was the effect it might have on readers.

Which is a weird thing to say, now that I look at it typed there. But the Writeoff to me has always been about putting up a first draft for comments, not putting up a story for readers. In my mind, readers come later in the process after I've taken the comments from here, revised the story, and turned it into something closer to what I want it to be.

That was a mistaken belief on my part, especially for a story like this. If I'd been thinking, I would've put the thing into a Google Doc and asked for comments from readers after warning them that the piece was completely different from anything I've ever tried to write in the more than 25 years that I've been putting stories together.

Here's the background, if anyone's interested. I got a PM through Fimfiction in the middle of November asking if I did story commissions. I never have, so I asked what sort of story they had in mind. They asked if there were any subjects I would never write about, and I sent back that I'm no good at sex scenes--I've tried, and the things I write don't seem to be at all what other people call sex scenes--and I'm no good at villains--I keep trying to make them sympathetic, and that pretty much leaches the villainy out of 'em. So for stories involving either of those or the two combined--and here I mentioned rape or pedophilia--I probably wasn't the best choice.

My correspondent assured me that, in this particular ScootaDash shipfic, all the sex would happen off screen, and I declined to take part. "I believe" I wrote, "that pedophiliac urges must be resisted under any and all circumstances," so I wouldn't be able to realistically portray a Rainbow Dash who had entered into a sexual relationship with Scootaloo. My correspondent thanked me, and that was that.

Except that I started wondering what it would be like for Dash to live constantly resisting these urges. There could be a story there, but it would be way too dark for me to write. I regularly get words like "fun," "cute," "romp," and "meringue" applied to my stuff, and that's the way I like it.

Still, the idea wouldn't go away, and then I got the e-mail saying a Writeoff was coming up the next weekend. So I figured that if I could work the prompt into the mix, I'd see what I could put together, get some comments, and try to make a story out of it. I knew it'd be controversial, but I could write deep and serious on a deep and serious subject, I was sure. "Comfortably uncomfortable" is the phrase >>Trick_Question uses, and that's what I felt. I'd never written anything like this before, but I was certain I could do it.

Turns out I was wrong there, too. Turns out I have limitations as a writer because I have limitations as a person. I can write lightly serious adventures where the stakes are a broken heart or the destruction of the world, but something as real as this? Something I can't fake my way through or pin a happy ending onto? Turns out I can't do that. I'm fairly shallow, I've discovered over the years, and every time I try to get out of my depth, I end up nearly drowning.

There's still a story in this idea, I'm convinced, but I'm almost equally convinced that I'm too emotionally stunted and not skillful enough a writer to tell it in the way it would need to be told.

So again, I'll apologize. I acted without thinking, and I'll try not to do that next time.

#32 · 8
· · >>Baal Bunny
>>Baal Bunny
You have nothing to apologize for, and I am being 100% serious when I say that.

#33 · 6
· · >>Baal Bunny
>>Baal Bunny
I’ll go back on my original comment as I have been meaning to post a new one for a second now: you absolutely did not get a fair review in a lot of places though, to be honest. I’ll ape what I said in the writeoff chat, even as someone who only read the story twice: this is not a case of you not understanding the subject matter or not being reverent enough, as Cass and Trick both pointed out. This is a case of you not having enough time to properly construct the best supporting narrative for the type of story you wrote. I am honestly thrilled that we had such an interesting story shake things up and now I feel bad for abstaining, because overall the story is actually engaging and well-written. It just needs some proper thought and polishing so that it can’t be construed in any way as a mean-spirited, anti-humor comedy.
#34 · 5
>>Baal Bunny

I just read your story. In full this time.

Now I know my voice or opinion is not even remotely competent or relevant, but here it is just for the record:

While I won’t enter into the debate to know if it had or not its place in a competition like this, I’d say it was more than fine with me. I agree with Cassius that the tone of the first scene clashed a lot with the rest, but I found your story exceedingly interesting, sensible and realistic. Once again, I’m absolutely no reference to gauge any writing against, by I’m positive if I had I decided to tackle the same subject, I would’ve done zillions times worse than you did.

So thanks for that. And most of all, thank you for having me made forget that this was a pony fic.

Please keep writing and going out of your comfort zone.
#35 · 5
· · >>Baal Bunny >>Trick_Question
>>Baal Bunny
I don't think this requires a start-from-scratch reimagining. I just think it's a very difficult subject to deal with when you have a limited word count, limited time to research it, and (especially) very limited time to bounce it off people whose reaction you value or let it sit fallow for a while so you start to forget the particulars before you view it with your own fresh eyes. It's a pretty good stab at it already. The unfortunate thing is that stuff that's an outlier for whatever reason is just ripe for people to pick at, so the further out there you go, the less people will be forgiving in acknowledging that this is an early draft. I think you have a good basis here for something to expand upon. But it has to be a labor of love.

If you post this to FiMFic, two big segments of your audience are going to be folks who condemn you for writing it, no matter how good it is, and folks who, like both your characters, would love to see this scenario play out to the fullest. Neither one will be happy. If that's not going to bug you, then expand on this. If it is, then you gave it the biggest try you could.

And I know where you're coming from. I have a really hard time writing irredeemable characters, because I like to think nobody is, so while I can write sad or tragic endings, I can't do grimdark.
#36 · 5
· · >>Chinchillax >>GaPJaxie >>Cassius >>Trick_Question >>ToXikyogHurt
Doing anything more with it:

Is really the biggest issue for me right now, >>Pascoite. I mean, I appreciate more than I can say the time folks took to comment on the story, and the points you raised, the points >>GaPJaxie raised, the points >>Cassius and >>ToXikyogHurt and >>AndrewRogue and >>Ranmilia and >>regidar and >>Trick_Question and everyone else I forgot to link to raised, they really helped me clarify in my mind the ways in which the version here doesn't work and pointed me toward the many things I'd have to do if I wanted to try fixing it.

But, well, even if I suddenly became as adept as Jaxie or CiG or horizon at going to the deep, dark places this story needs to go, the best case scenario is that I end up with a piece about a Rainbow Dash who's a perpetually unhappy and frustrated pedophile. Is that a something anyone wants or needs? I can't imagine that it is.

So, yeah. Fallow at this point. I've got a Currycombs chapter and an entry in the big Jinglemas story exchange that need finishing as well as revisions on my djinn story from the last original fic round and my ever-expanding library of magical squirrel stories. Not to mention finishing up reading the stories here!

Thanks again, all,
#37 · 9
· · >>Cassius
>>Baal Bunny
the best case scenario is that I end up with a piece about a Rainbow Dash who's a perpetually unhappy and frustrated pedophile. Is that a something anyone wants or needs? I can't imagine that it is.

I need to answer this question by pointing to this radio story: This American Life Episode 522. Please listen to it before deciding not to ever release this.
Pedophiles—particularly the kind that are trying desperately hard not to act on their impulses—get very little help in modern society. No one wants to talk about them or give them the kind of psychiatric they need.

A story that explores a pedophile's worst fear and then showing them triumphing and safely getting through it without acting on that impulse? That's powerful stuff! Fictional examples of someone overcoming a trial like that could help people like this.

By all means, please put a "Warning: Rape, Pedophilia" on top of the story. You may need to spoil the story to give a proper warning for it. Probably put it under the M tag. Perhaps post it under a pseudonym. This is not a story you want everyone stumbling into. (It's not a story I would have read had it not appeared on my slate). Just don't think there isn't an audience for a story where a Pedophile doesn't act on their impulses, because there is.

With our modern world, people have so many mental health problems and everything in between, there's an audience for every story. Even if that audience is just a few people with a very specific trial in their lives.

And if you don't want to edit it and it's 80% there, just do like Hank Green does and get it out there.
#38 · 8
>>Baal Bunny

Hey man.

Thanks for taking the feedback well. I just wanted to let you know, while I stand by the substance of what I said (this subject matter is delicate, to say the least), the way I said it was... not great. I posted in anger. I tore into "the author" instead of giving calmer feedback. I really shouldn't have gone off on you like that.

Monster had issues, but it would be massively hypocritical of me to criticize someone for trying to cover exceptionally dark subject matter. You tried to swing for the fences, and learned something in the process. That's what the writeoff is about! So don't let me discourage you. Good luck!
#39 · 7
· · >>Trick_Question
>>Baal Bunny

I can understand where you're coming from, and I myself as an author have often felt that same sense of futility in writing things that aren't appealing to a general audience. Really, I hope you distance yourself from this experience, shake yourself off, and ask yourself do you want to write this story. There's no shame in either answer.

I will say that I feel that you got a raw deal here. I appreciate your work and the thought you put into the piece. I was honestly impressed by your ability deal to give a realistic nuance to a set of people widely considered across all societies to be the worst, most depraved type of people, as well as the care and thoughtfulness you put into that process.

I was considering writing a much longer post and essay on the importance of an honest and human portrayal of the pedophile in media, but >>Chinchillax covered a good amount of what I was going to say. I discussed this briefly in the discord chat, and I wanted to repost it here for you to see:

You may find it interesting that the chief objectors of this particular instance (of deeming a story inappropriate) are Trick and I, who both have an academic background in mental health. Part of that inevitably stems, at least for myself, I can't say for certain for Trick, from an understanding about what the condition of pedophilia entails, and the difference between the public perception of pedophilia and what we know.

The fact of the matter is that when you cut away brass tacks, pedophiles are ultimately still people, and particularly tortured people. There is no cure for pedophillia. We can barely even treat it. You can literally castrate them and it will not inhibit their sexual preference or desire for children. Pedophiles don't get to choose to be attracted to kids, they only get to choose not to act on those attractions.

I want you to imagine for a second how shitty your life would be if you could never have sex with someone you were attracted unless you were willing to do something amazingly evil in order to get it.

The prevailing societal opinion on pedophiles is that they are literally the worst people ever, an assessment that I can't say I exactly disagree with, but they are still people, and I find their stories, particularly stories of their successes in managing their condition to be very important and socially significant, both for the pedophiles themselves, but also for educating the public on how utterly miserable their condition is.
#40 ·
>>Baal Bunny
I replied to two responses here but the reply is only showing in the mane forum. Just so you know it exists.
#41 · 3
· · >>Baal Bunny
>>Baal Bunny
So again, I'll apologize

I don't think you have anything to apologise for in making an honest attempt. Don't be too harsh on yourself. I bear you no ill will.

I regularly get words like "fun," "cute," "romp," and "meringue" applied to my stuff, and that's the way I like it.

Particularly since this sort of thing is way outside your norm. I don't have the courage to tackle hard subjects at all. Also, "meringue"? I'm intrigued.

You tried something difficult and often the only way to improve is to try hard things. One won't always succeed, but the real value is in making the effort.

And, wow, I've tried for a half-hour forty-five minutes to write something more encouraging that won't come across as condescending or trite, neither of which I mean, and I still can't find the words.
#42 ·
· · >>ToXikyogHurt
Congrats to our winners:

And I'll look forward to upthumbing them on FimFiction soon!

Oh, and to answer >>ToXikyogHurt's question, my story "The Road Goes on Forever" is the one that got called "meringue"... :)

#43 ·
>>Baal Bunny
Purple link: already had my upvote.