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Alone Together · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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Taste of Cherry
"Fluttershy, I'm sorry I have to do this," said Tempest Shadow, "but I must ask something of you."

Fluttershy was gathering some food for the animals, as well as something for herself, when she said, "Um... yes?"

Tempest took a breath, then said, "I must ask for a favor—the biggest favor I will ever ask for."

Upon hearing the last part, Fluttershy stopped organizing the plates. She acted like she was trying not to blush. "I-is it that serious?"

"I'm afraid so." Tempest's stoic expression didn't change. "I think we'll have to sit down for this. Come," she semi-ordered.

So the two sat, with Angel watching them. Tempest could tell that some critters outside were peeking through the windows, but she didn't care for their gazes. "Fluttershy, you know that I'm a soldier. Or was."

"You don't have to be a soldier, though," said Fluttershy, quietly. "You can do other things that make you happy."

"That's true." Tempest's features softened. "Or so I thought. The truth is that I'm not cut out for much else. Fighting. Tactics. Organizing warriors. I've been thinking about it ever since we defeated the Storm King. And the truth is—I wasn't made for peacetime."

"I-I mean, we did defeat the Storm King," Fluttershy protested gently. "And you've been a great friend to all of us, i-if you don't mind me saying that."

Tempest's lips curled for a second. "You're right. We are good friends. We've done a lot for each other. And now I must ask you to do something for me." Her throat tightened, although she fought against it. "One last thing for me."

The air chilled around them, and Tempest could see the realization dawn gradually, hideously, on Fluttershy's face.

"W-wait, you don't mean...!" cried the smaller mare.

"Yes and no," said Tempest plainly. "You see, having failed to die a soldier's death on the battlefield, I've been... at a loss, about myself. For a long time I imagined how my death would play out, but since that dream seems to no longer be an option, I've considered alternatives."

Fluttershy nearly punctured the wood of the table with her hooves. "But you can't do that!" she said. "I-I mean, it's not fair to do that to yourself. It isn't right." Her gaze appeared as fierce to Tempest as it probably ever would, and the bigger mare had to admire it.

"You're right, I don't plan on doing it to myself," said Tempest. "I was hoping you could assist me, Fluttershy."

The smaller mare didn't say anything. She simply looked dazed.

"Fluttershy," Tempest continued, "you're a very brave mare. You're also very kind. Perhaps the kindest I've ever known. I'm sure you try your best to take care of your animals. But, sometimes, there is an animal that cannot be healed."

"No..." whispered Fluttershy.

"Despite your best efforts to save it, you know it is better to assist the animal into as painless a death as you can than to try to heal it. There is no other option. And, my friend, I believe that I have no other option. I cannot end my own life. My pride won't allow it. But I feel that I can put my life in your hooves."

Upon hearing Tempest's words, Fluttershy stood still. Except for the tears.

Eventually she said, "I c-can't do that, Tempest. I can't do that to you."

"To relieve me of my unhappiness? Of my terrible uncertainty?" asked Tempest. "No, I believe you would be helping me."

"But... a-are you really that unhappy?"

"Me? I haven't known true happiness since—" Tempest eyed some of the fruits Fluttershy had gathered. Grapes, raspberries, and cherries. "Not since I was on my family's farm, near Vanhoover," she said ponderously. "We sold a lot of cherries. Some milk. I ate cherries a lot when I was a filly. Haven't had one in years."

Fluttershy wiped her tears away. "I c-could get some cherries for you, if that would help," she said.

Tempest thought back to her foalhood, when she knew happiness. She vaguely remembered the succulent flavor of cherry juice, of how such a small thing made her smile as a filly. She wondered if she could die without once again knowing that taste. "You could get me a bowl of those, yes," she said. "Please."

Was being given such an insignificant thing by a friend enough to dissuade her from her plan?

Was she willing to give up such a mundane pleasure for all eternity?

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#1 · 1
Wait what? Suicide?

Wait wait... baiting us with suicide? Sure hope I'm wrong.

No, it was played seriously, but averted.

Hokay, so... Lots to say on this. Mostly, it's clumsy. The IDEA here is strong, really strong. But suicide, depression, and a warrior's death... Those don't work in fast forward. I'm sorry, maybe the headcanon for Tempest has moved far enough along that this might make sense for another reader, but I'm still reading the mare who finally smiled and admitted her name was "Fizzlepop Berrytwist." That mare was just coming OUT of depression and learning to smile, so this just... doesn't work for me.

Now, in fairness, this concept could work, especially in a longer form, but the story would need to slow down a lot, and show us the full journey. Most importantly, it would need to make sure the action and events don't outpace the emotions of the audience.
#2 ·
Premise: "Fluttershy, I'm depressed. Gonna need you to off me."

"Uhh... how about some cherries instead?"

"Oh, yeah. Okay."

...That's flippant, I know. Sorry. But that's a pretty honest reflection of how the story strikes me, I regret to say. It's just sort of how these things come off when the space available isn't conducive to conveying the whole heft of the concept. That's the fatal flaw of this one, at least as it is within the constraints of the minific format. I think Xepher has that covered in his review above.

Unlike Xepher, though, I'm not convinced that this story works in a longer form, because I'm also truthfully a little (maybe a lot) uncomfortable with cliched tropes of the "warrior" longing for a "soldier's death" and other such pretensions about there being something honorable in a mentality of disregarding one's own life. That's a subjective personal thing, though, so maybe I'm just not the audience this story is for and my finding it disagreeable can be safely ignored if characters in that mold are your thing. Maybe there's something there for people to explore, in a story format with more space.
#3 ·
In which suicide prevention hotlines now come in cherry flavor.

I think I get what you were trying to go for: with a soldier in peacetime not facing any deaths in the battlefield anytime soon, there's the search for death since there is no purpose in life... but a childhood memory and passion is able to save her from the brink of (assisted) suicide. While this sort of thing has and does happen in real life (maybe not so much with ex-soldiers but that's my gut feeling; don't quote me on that), the execution of it here doesn't do too well because it comes off as ham-fisted. I can imagine the memory of cherries being the start of the path to not killing herself, but with how the story ends so open-endedly and with the memory of cherries being so fresh on the reader's mind, it's not hard to imagine that cherries alone saved Tempest from certain death. Which, to be honest, sounds a bit absurd.

If I may, I think it also suffers from showing too much and not telling enough. I believe that the story could benefit from more focus on the tension between the childhood memories and the present-day desire to kill herself, but it cannot do that because the first half or so of the story is spent going around the bush about suicide which is the main subject of the story anyway. Perhaps starting the story at least a bit later into the conversation would help bring more balance and/or emphasis concerning the real conflict/tension of the story.

On the bright side, I am intrigued by Tempest's choice of going to Fluttershy of all ponies. Not to fellow Storm King fellow Grubber or her savior Twilight Sparkle, but Fluttershy. It's an unusual match-up and I am pleased that you were able to give them some good characterization and chemistry between each other especially since most of it comes through dialogue and appropriate word choices (especially for Tempest).

Overall, an okay story held back by an absurd but understandable conclusion. Could see it as middle of the pack as best.
#4 ·
The Taste of Cherries
Well, it's not a Rockhoof and a Hard Place
I rather like the conclusion that Flutteryshy would be a logical choice to ask for euthanization, and of course she would never do it (see above.)
I have no qualms with the technical aspects of this story, and found the pacing to be appropriate too.

I agree with everyone else that the solution was too simple, but I would also like to say that it felt like the solution was just handed to Fluttershy. All she had to do was ask what would make her happy and Tempest just tells her.
Tempest is a soldier who wants to die an honorable death. She does not consider suicide to be honorable. From there I ask why is being euthanized considered an honorable death to her? It's not like Fluttershy is going to run at her with a sword or something, so I imagine to an uptight warrior type it would be equally as disgraceful.
#5 ·
Genre: Tripping the Light Kevorkian

Thoughts: Hoo boy, rough premise on this one, not gonna lie. I will do my best to set that aside, or at least come at it from an angle that isn’t punitive. Because honestly, once I get past my initial surprise at the concept of Tempest asking Fluttershy to kill her on an otherwise pleasant day, I find a lot to like here.

No, seriously. I can buy a somewhat Klingon-ish interpretation of Tempest. She’s definitely an anomaly among canon ponies, and this is one way to dig into her mindset. I think this Tempest frames her argument in a way that’s at least internally consistent: she has a stringent set of values related to how a warrior should live and die, she has an overriding sense of honor that prevents her from taking an “easy” our while not forbidding other loopholes, and she doesn’t feel she can adapt those values to a peacetime existence. I swear I’ve seen this as an episode of TNG, and maybe I’m being a bit partial, but that curries some favor with me. I even like it that, I’m the end, Tempest finds a relatively small thing to get her through the day—that feels like an organic step in de-escalating her internal conflict between what she sees as an honorable path, and what must be an earnest desire to find her right place while living in the universe. Those two things needn’t be in conflict, but the story grounds its premise in letting them be.

I think the main thing I want here is a more gradual or fleshed-out intro. It’s clear that Tempest feels a strong sense of connection and trust with Fluttershy to make this request. Right now we’re not given much to establish the substance of that, though. It’s an easy leap to think that Tempest has befriended the M6, but why ask this if Fluttershy? I mean, the thing about putting down sick animals makes sense, but it becomes more of a leap when you think about what it might take for Fluttershy to physically kill Tempest. Someone like AJ or Dash would have more of a plausible physicality to deliver a killing blow or whatnot; it’s a comparatively bigger ask of someone meeker & (presumably) weaker like Fluttershy. I can still see it working but I’d get there more easily with a deeper development of their bond first.

Tier: Almost There