Hey! It looks like you're new here. You might want to check out the introduction.

Here at the End of all Things. · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
The Crystal Uprising
A massive explosion rocked through the deepest pits of the diamond mines, far below the Crystal Empire. For the past seven days, the bloodiest war in the Empire’s history had been fought; a rebellion lead by Insurgent General Scarlet Quartz, uprising against their enslavement at the hooves of the evil King Sombra. Today, like many others, had consisted of nothing but Crystal Ponies galloping through the seemingly endless maze of tunnels, setting off countless explosives to destroy to control the movement of the enemy forces.
“Upper tunnel forty-five A has been breached, sir!” A blue-green coloured stallion with a buzzcut mane and a three-pronged joker hat for a cutie mark yelled between coarse, heavy breaths; skidding to a halt just short of his commander. “Squad Delta-Six has been completely over-run, no confirmed survivors.”
“Dammit!” Scarlet swore, bucking the tunnel wall in frustration, leaving a deep hoof print in the rock. Scarlet Quartz stood a full head taller than most ponies in his makeshift army, his grizzled features and messy mane reflecting his obsessive dedication to freedom fighting. Likewise, his dented, silver chest-plate had completely lost its shine to the ruthless underground warfare. The only thing about him that wasn’t weathered by combat was his cutie mark – a shield shaped quartz gem which represented his namesake. “There’s just no end to those bucking Black Crystal Guards! Teal Jester, what about squads Delta-Four and Delta-Eight? Do they have enough ponies alive to reform at the intersection of lower tunnel forty?”
“Yes, sir, I’ve already ordered them to do so, sir…” Teal replied, though the pause at the end of his sentence told Scarlet this was only half the story.
“And?” Scarlet replied with a harsh glare.
“And they’re doing their best, sir,” Jester reluctantly continued, though Scarlet couldn’t tell which made the teal pony’s voice quiver more – the black guards, or fear of his own authority. “But I can’t guarantee they’ll be successful. We’ve killed at least a hundred of Sombra’ soldiers, possibly more, and still we’re outnumbered! We’ve lost three full squads in battle over the past day alone. At this rate, we’ll have to give up our position if we’re to have any hope for survival.”
“You know as well as I do that we can’t surrender,” Scarlet spoke with a deep, serious tone. As much tactical sense as it made to abandon the area, he was aware that the Crystal Insurgency had lost most of the ground captured from when the revolution began. “If we give up now, then our entire rebellion will have been in vein. Or have you forgotten about the quantity of resources contained in the rocks surrounding us?”
“Of course, I’ve not forgotten! How could anypony forget?” Teal’s fear turned to anger as he slammed his pickaxe into the tunnel wall, ripping out a cluster of diamonds. “Why do you think King Sombra went mad in the first place? Anypony with half a brain can tell you it’s got buck all to do with the onyx amulet he wears around his neck!”
“Then you’re aware of why these pits have the highest working population of slaves,” Scarlet added, gritting his teeth to keep a lid on his building annoyance. “If we surrender our stronghold on the diamonds now, we may as well have never started the rebellion at all.”
“So, you keep insisting. But riddle me this, oh glorious and brave leader. How can we fight for the freedom of the Crystal Empire if there are no ponies left to defend them?!”
That last remark earned Teal a swift hoof to the face. “Don’t you dare take me for a bloody fool! I’ve known the risks from the beginning. Many a good pony has died before my eyes to get as far as we have. This is war! Everything we do is a bucking gamble.”
A brief silence was shared between the two ponies, their eyes locked as they both refused to back down. “Tell me, Scarlet,” Jester said following another explosion from above. “Do you experience love? Do you have a special somepony?”
“What relevance does this have-”
“You know damn well why this topic is relevant! We’re fighting for everypony who’s ever lived in the Crystal Empire! Ponies of every age and every gender, some of whom are my family. If I get myself killed because of your Celestia-be-damned hero complex, then who will be left to fight?” Tears of rage began to roll down Teal’s face. “So many ponies have died from this revolution, and what do we have to show for it? In the end, what’s the price of a mile to you? If I die, then there will be nothing left of my family. Sombra will wipe out my entire bloodline; centuries of family history, erased from existence. All because you don’t know when to give up. It’s time you got it through that thick skull of yours that nopony will remember you as a hero. In the end, you will be the one who drove the Crystal Pony race to extinction. If we surrender now, then maybe there will be a chance Sombra will consider being merciful to us.”
“Are you finished?” was all Scarlet said in response.
For a moment, Teal said nothing, flabbergasted at Scarlet’s brazen disregard for everything he just said. “Did you even hear what I-”
“I know what you said, Teal Jester! Now I’m asking you something. Are. You. Finished?”
“…Yes, sir.”.
“Good, because now it’s time for you to hear something important.” Scarlet didn’t raise his voice. He didn’t need to, the weight of his words carrying everything he needed to convey. “Everything you just said? Sombra has already achieved it. Countless moons ago, our Empire was banished from time. For generations, we have served as slaves, invisible to the outside world as our culture was obliterated. Now, for the first time since Sombra revealed his true nature, we have an opportunity to change that. We may fail, but we may also succeed. If we do nothing, then we continue to be nameless to all but each other. You speak of erasure? Teal, we already have been erased. And if you want to return from our nation’s banishment, not as tools for a tyrant, but as free ponies, then I suggest you follow my lead and fight.”
As if on cue, the walls behind Scarlet exploded, heralding waves of Sombra Guards falling to their deaths – crushed under the weight of the rocks collapsing on top of them. Dropping down from the newly connected levels above, squads Alpha-Three and Alpha-Seven formed into loose ranks behind Scarlet. Leading the insurgents, two ponies stood triumphantly over the enemy corpses; Midnight Star and Silver Stream, both of whom wore armour stolen from the Sombra Guards they had slain. The former—a navy-blue coated, transgender stallion with a flat, purple mane and a black, five-pointed star for a cutie mark—held his battle axe over his right shoulder, the blade freshly coated with corrupt Crystal Pony blood.
“Somepony call for backup?” Midnight quipped, looking over Scarlet’s shoulder to the startled Teal Jester. “Looks like you’re gonna need it.”
“Hey, let’s not demand too much of this poor stallion,” the pony next to Midnight, Silver Stream, replied with a wink and a nudge. She was a comparatively young mare, stout in stature and a short, spikey mane, with her cutie mark being the most violent looking of all the rebels; a shining, silver arrow. “Not everypony has the guts to stand up to the Sombra Guards. And if I recall correctly, you were quite the nervous wreck before joining the rebellion, weren’t ya, Midnight?”
“Oh, shut up!” Midnight thumped Silver back, smirking playfully. “Weren’t you the one crying for their mummy all the way through the first night of the rebellion?”
“That’s enough, both of you!” Scarlet commanded, silencing the bickering fighters with a stamp of his hoof. “Now, tell me, am I seeing things incorrectly, or have you succeeded in eliminating the Sombra Guard retaliation from the south-west tunnels?”
“If there are any left, I’ll personally crush their throats with my own two hooves.” Silver hooked her morning star-mace on a leather strap around her hip, voice dripping with sadistic joy at the mental image of the Sombra guards choking to death infront her eyes.
Scarlet had never seen her this fired up before, a perfect attitude which he hoped would carry on all the way to the defeat of Sombra himself. “How many ponies in your squads are left?”
“We haven’t had time for an accurate head count,” Midnight replied, his voice serious in its gruffness, yet still maintaining the underlying optimism which Scarlet always wanted to hear. “But I’d say the odds are still in our favour, so long as we strike back hard enough!”
“Good! That’s what I like to hear!” Scarlet saluted both squad leaders, holding his hoof out to make an additional request. “Now as you may have guessed, I seem to have lost my weapon after my last tactical retreat. Since your raid on the armoury was obviously successful, I trust you’ve brought me back an adequate gift?”
“Aww, boss,” Silver quipped with exaggerated sadness. “How could you say such a thing? Of course, I’d never forget about you!” Stepping aside, Silver revealed five ponies on the front rank, all of whom dropped saddle bags filled to the brim with stolen armaments. “Take your pick. I made sure to steal at last one of everything.”
There was only one prize Scarlet had his eye on. A combination of flanged mace and a shield which stretched down from his neck to his hooves. Despite the day’s setback, there was still a chance for everything to work out as intended. Scarlet had expected losses as well as gains.
What he didn’t expect was to see his words to inspire Teal Jester in such a dramatic fashion. The blue-green stallion shoved his way past Scarlet, abandoning his pickaxe in favour of a more suitable weapon. The armoury had once been the centre of the Empire’s defences against outside invaders. Teal remembered countless stories of battles against Trolls, Ogres, and a pantheon of other beasts in a never-ending quest to make the Empire sustainable for life. If only those same warriors had realized sooner that their biggest enemy was one from within. Now it was time to change all that. He knew who the real enemies were now. The only task left to complete was to defeat them.
“Well, well, it looks like the fool of the group has a backbone after all!” Midnight said with heavy sarcasm.
“Scarlet is right,” Teal replied, taking no notice of Midnight’s condescending tone. “If I don’t fight, then I may as well have never existed at all.”
“That’s what I like to hear,” Scarlet said, grinning from ear to ear. “Now that we’ve all got what we need, there is only one thing left for us to say. As much as I hate to admit it, Jester is right about one thing. If we lose this battle, then our rebellion is as good as finished. But if we win, then we still have a fighting chance to free everypony ever forced into slavery by Sombra! Either way, this will be a decisive battle which will either be the second coming of our rebellion, or the end of all things. Thus, I ask you all this: who will stand with me for the battle to come?”
The grandiose cheer that echoed through the tunnels came as music to Scarlet’s ears. “Jester, up front with me! Silver, Midnight, you two fill out as much space as you can with everypony else. Let’s show this pathetic excuse for a king what we Crystal ponies are really made of!”
“Yes, sir.” Jester’s response came through gritted teeth and a harsh glare, but Scarlet gave him no more attention. He had a job to do, and nothing was going to stand in his way. Charging down through the tunnel, Scarlet could feel his heart beating in his chest. After years of forced servitude, mindlessly hacking away at rocks below the empire, day in day out, he finally felt alive again. The adrenaline surging through his arteries, the smell of arcane residue from the makeshift explosions mixed in with the taste of blood in his mouth. It was everything he had ever dreamed of.
Moments later, Scarlet and his team reached the huge intersection where the battle took place. The chaotic brawl was a sight to behold, with Crystal Pony insurgents wildly smashing their weapons into the Sombra guards at every chance they got. There was no structure to their attacks, unlike the guards, who stood firmly in their ranks despite the freedom fighters trying to split them.
Scarlet leaped into battle, smashing his mace into the back of a Sombra Guard’s neck. The loud crunch of cracking bone added to his battle lust, unleashing a flurry of blows across the brainwashed servant’s body. There were only two factors which would result in his attack stopping: either the pony in question was unquestionably dead, or another enemy got in the way. In either case, Scarlet’s focus was always directed to his next enemy, never satisfied until ever one of the threats had been eliminated.
Silver and Midnight fought back to back, dodging and weaving through the comparatively sluggish swings of the Sombra Guards’ fist weapons. In such a tight space, there was always collateral damage. Often when the pair dodged an attack, the same swing would strike another pony instead. The results were rarely pretty, as a full force punch of a Sombra Guard was the primary cause of Crystal Pony brain matter being squashed under the hooves of the living.
Silver and Midnight’s attacks always worked in tandem with one another. When Silver sliced high, Midnight swung low, giving their foes little room to dodge – not that there was much room to begin with. The entire area was filled to the brim, with the allied forces slowly pushing their way outwards to surround the Sombra Guards.
Sliding away from each other to pin a Sombra Guard between them, Silver and Midnight slammed their weapons down, breaking the guard’s back in two places, leaving it lying broken on the ground to be trampled over in the frenzy. “Hey, look who it is!” Midnight said, gesturing towards Teal Jester a short distance away from them.
“Hey, Teal!” Silver called. “How’s ya kill streak comin’ along?”
“Not too bad,” Teal said, making no eye contact, instead stabbing a Sombra Guard through the throat with his spear, exploiting a gap in its armour. “Though give it a moment, and you’ll see it skyrocket!”
“Oh?” Silver asked, briefly looking back to Midnight as they broke a Sombra Guard’s legs. “How do you expect to achieve that?”
“Watch and learn.” A sadistic grin grew across Teal’s face. Holding his spear in his front-left hoof, he used the other to pull off the helm of a fallen Sombra Guard, turning towards his two allies and dropping it in front of them. Wrapping both front hooves around the pole of the spear, Teal pointed the weapon at the dark crystal on top of the magic helmet.
In that moment, Silver’s expression turned from one of amusement to one of shock. “Get down!”
“My legacy will be sustained! Glory to King Sombra!” With those final words, Teal thrusted his spear into the gem, releasing the black magic contained with an explosive force. The power of the blast ruptured the ground beneath Teal’s feet. Screams of allied ponies marked the turning point of the battle, with those closest to the epicentre being either burned to a crisp from the hot magic explosion, or crushed beneath the monumental collapse of earth on top of them.
Seconds later, the ponies who had survived the initial explosion came to their senses, only to view a horrific sight. Scarlet was one such survivor. He had been knocked into the wall by the blast, but otherwise suffered only minor injuries due to already being around the edge. His jaw hung open in awe at Teal’s traitorous actions. Most of his insurgence had been wiped out. From a room packed of five-hundred ponies before, now his initial guess was less than one-hundred remaining, if that.
His second in command was a prime example of the damage dealt. Midnight lay on the ground, face half burned from the explosion, cradling the smouldering body of Silver in his hooves. “Damn you, Teal, you bucking traitor!” He swore up to the heavens. “Damn your soul to Tartarus!”
Pulling himself to his hooves, Scarlet broke into a gallop around the area to get the full scope of the damage caused. He didn’t need to look for long. The footsteps of both the surviving Sombra Guards and a new swarm of dark soldiers echoed from every direction, galloping through the tunnels to corral the surviving rebels.
With a heavy sigh, Scarlet placed his hoof on Midnight’s shoulder. “I suppose this is as good a day to die as any. My friend, will you stand with me?”
Wordlessly, Midnight dropped Silver’s body and stood up, brandishing the morning star in one hoof and the battle axe in the other. No further orders needed to be given. As soon as the rebels caught sight of the backup Sombra Guards, they charged. “For the glory of the Crystal Empire!” every warrior cried in unison.
Though they knew the battle was lost, Scarlet and Midnight fought on with nothing left but the berserker rage to keep them going. Furiously hacking away at anything that moved, Midnight bathed himself in the blood of his enemies, cutting and smashing his way through a sea of blackened body parts. Yet for each pony he killed, there were at least five more that took their place, stabbing him with the sharp ends of their fist-weapons again and again. Midnight ignored the pain for as long as he was able, but even his incredible battle lust was not enough to save him. Eventually, enough blood had drained from his wounds that he no longer had the strength to stand up, finally dying to stab through his forehead.
For Scarlet, the remainder of the battle was a blur. The black sea of Sombra Guards seemed to go on forever. Swinging his mace around in circles, he hit whatever came into range, seeing nothing but a mix of splattered blood and pony-shaped figures falling in every direction. He had no idea how many times he had been hit, or how many remaining ponies he had killed. All he knew was that, at some point, he found himself laying on the floor, his breathing heavy and his limbs numb.
“The Crystal Heart…” Scarlet sputtered, spitting out blood. His final words before he lost consciousness were greeted by a bright light shining down from above, and in the centre of this beautiful aurora, Scarlet could’ve sworn he saw the distinctive silhouette of a pony talked about only through legend; an Alicorn.
« Prev   17   Next »
#1 · 1
· · >>The Power Wolf >>horizon >>Zaid Val'Roa >>TrumpetofDoom >>The Power Wolf
I think the biggest thing to focus on tweaking would be the characters.

Scarlet, despite being the main protagonist, is very inconsistent with his characterization. He hits Jester for the first disrespectful remark, then acts completely unaffected by the following (more serious) one. He's made to be obsessive about fighting for freedom, but then is suddenly cool and detached while giving a rallying speech about that same subject to Jester, then back to passionate when giving a similar speech to rest of the troops.

Silver and Midnight feel shoehorned in. They show up midway through, then are given the same level of importance as Jester and Scarlet despite having no prior relevance. We're given almost no information about them, but they still end up having more fleshed out personalities than Jester. Silver is given less "screen time" than anyone else, but is then played to be a tragic loss. I found it very difficult to empathize with that.

Jester's betrayal was completely out of left field and seemed illogical. If he was on Sombra's side the entire time, he would've done more to undermine the rebellion by remaining undercover and continuing to spread misinformation or relaying plans to Sombra's forces. At first he seems to place a lot of value on his own survival, but then he kills himself for... what? The dialogue implies the battle was already heavily in the favor of Sombra's forces, so killing himself didn't change the outcome, it just made it quicker.

The end is clearly intended to be tragic, but it relies on the audience empathizing with the characters. There's so little time to connect with anyone that it falls flat in my opinion. If the story were longer, there would be more time for the audience to develop an attachment.

The overall idea is good, but executing it with a limited number of words is very difficult, so don't let this discourage you.
Post by The Power Wolf , deleted
Post by Pascoite , deleted
#4 · 2
· · >>TrumpetofDoom >>The Power Wolf
The last stand of the Crystal Ponies. You've fought with honour. Except you, Teal Jester, go to Tartarus

>>2Merr captures some of my biggest complaints. I'd only add that the tonal shift from 'tense and serious pre-battle" moments to "Imma kill more Guards than you!" was too abrupt for me. Also, the lack of spacing threw me off. As much as I prefer indentation, double spacing is the standard for online publication.

Other than that, I'd just be repeating what 2Merr said. With a bit of work, this can be more enjoyable tale. For the time being, it's still a bit rough around the edges.
#5 · 4
· · >>The Power Wolf
Formatting note: When writing online, you usually want a blank line between each paragraph to make it more readable. My eyes glazed over a bit looking at that wall of text.

In addition to agreeing with most of >>2Merr and >>Zaid Val'Roa , I've got some notes of my own.

This story seems like it ends too early. We get the canon-imposed deus ex machina and then... nothing. Literally nothing. Since it seems Scarlet survives, a scene after he regains consciousness and can react to the victory would be good. (If you meant for him to die, that would be fine, but then say he dies, don't say he loses consciousness.)

Regarding characterization, I'll add that not only do your characters not feel consistent (and it throws me for a bit of a loop whenever I see ponies using real-world swears like "damn", especially when they're mixed with ponified swears like "buck"), many of the details we get about them feel like they're only present because you think they have to be but couldn't find a more organic way to integrate them into the narrative. The most obvious example is that Midnight is mentioned as being trans, but this has literally no bearing on the story — so why have it?

Appearance descriptions can be worked in more smoothly, too: something like "Scarlet recognized the navy-blue form of Midnight Star standing atop the pile of corpses" is not only cleaner integration, but suggests that Scarlet recognized Midnight because he saw the color of his coat, which gives the detail a reason to be there instead of just adding words.

There's certainly the potential for a good story here, but it'll take some work to draw it out.
#6 · 1
· · >>The Power Wolf
Genre: Bro Safari

Thoughts: This is almost certainly tangential to any possible substance in this review, but I felt a certain giddy, schlocky joy from reading the opening discussion/altercation while listening to Knife Party’s song, “Destroy Them With Lasers.” Or is it? I daresay that the “*punch* *DAMN!*” style of attempted seriousness here runs aground upon the fell shoals of camp. As such, I don’t feel it’s bad, though it may have proven entertaining for wholly unintended reasons. I’d say this is a good first area of focus for potential revisions; establishing a story’s intended tone early on is good whenever you can do it.

If you really want this to read like an 80s action movie, God knows I’m not going to tell you not to do that. But if that’s not your goal (as per the overall serious-seeming-ness of the rest of it), just be aware that your Schwarzenegger is currently showing. Here, let me highlight one passage that features what I’m talking about:
And if you want to return from our nation’s banishment, not as tools for a tyrant, but as free ponies, then I suggest you follow my lead and fight.”

As if on cue, the walls behind Scarlet exploded

That, dear Author, it magnificently badass as a moment of not-entirely-serious action-ness. However, it’s also not presented in a way that makes me think, “Aha! This is srss work, yss.” Make sense? Again, it’s not a bad thing to write action, or camp, or any of a number of other things. But I think you’re aiming for 300 here, and I regret to say that right now it isn’t getting there.

For more specific feedback, I would suggest having these guys show us more of the conflict’s impact rather than starting with a normal-ish status report that swiftly descends into tough-guy posturing about their relative levels of commitment to The Cause (TM), or to ponykind, etc. This could even make it more plausible (and less random/campy) when one of the 80s Tough Guys turns out to be le traitor.

Tier: Keep Developing
#7 · 1
· · >>The Power Wolf
There are a few things this story could use, paragraphing not the least of them.

I'm going to be very direct and opinionated, so your mileage may vary. Feel free to disagree or disregard what you don't like below.

The main issue of this story is I don't understand the point. I don't see a message beyond 'things are terrible' and the conflict between Teal and Scarlet (clever use of color, though). I'm not sure what you're trying to convey to the reader, and it's probably because I don't get the ending.

I don't understand the ending at all. The story positions itself as happening after the removal of the Kingdom from time, but when the Crystal Ponies returned there were no guards or battle because Sombra was still weak—the only enemy was the weather. Are you rewriting Sombra's return to make it bloody? If so, it isn't clear enough that this is taking place during the return. If this is an alternate timeline, it makes even less sense because the citizens would surely know that alicorns have been leading the battle against Sombra's forces. I think you need some clarity on where this takes place.

The first half of the story is remarkably dialog-heavy, with a lot of static dialogue (sic) between Captain Exposition and Lieutenant Plot Point. War is something we should see, not be told about. The argument over 'fight or surrender' is vital, but not the description of the war or the diamonds. You should try to show us those things without telling us directly.

If we give up now, then our entire rebellion will have been in vein

I'm going to assume this was a mistake and not an intentional pun. I don't think it's the appropriate level of pun for this piece.

Mentioning that somepony is transgender is a very strange thing during a life-or-death struggle, because ultimately it doesn't matter. I think it's best to leave it out.

He knew who the real enemies were now.

Don't tell us this, show us. Or at least give us an indication that this is the leader's perception we're getting this through, not the narrator telling us. I think you intended this to come across as the leader's POV but it isn't clear enough.
#8 · 4
· · >>CoffeeMinion
Thank you everyone for the critiques! The vast majority of the problems came down to the simple fact that it was rushed. I finished most of this on the final day, and had to heavily abridge most of what I had initially wanted to do.

>>Trick_Question The primary point to this fic was to be a heroic last stand, inspired by the real life Warsaw Uprising. There was never intended to be a deeper message, other than to entertain through a war story and empathize with the characters.

>>CoffeeMinion Power Metal is my biggest influence in writing big action set piece fics. So yeah, the movie version of 300 definitely had an influence on the tone of the story, as did several songs by the Power Metal band Sabaton. There is always an element of shlock to my stories, though I do intend for it to be serious enough for the drama to be real and impactful.

>>TrumpetofDoom The formatting issue was, again, due to it being rushed. I was at college at the time of publishing, with a few minutes on the clock left,and *bam*, Internet goes down. So I had to copy/paste ASAP an hope that the indentation worked. By the time I notice it didn't, it was too late to edit. I originally wanted this to be a middle chapter of three, but time constraints meant it was cut short.

>>Zaid Val'Roa I often have banter between characters in my stories for some levity, but I understand how the close proximity to the dramatic sudden ending made it more than a little jarring. That's something I'll change for the re-edit.

>>2Merr My intention was for Scarlet to be fed up with Jester and wanting to get on with the fight, so he ignores the annoying pony in favor of more important stuff. Silver and Midnight were supposed to get more screen time, but yet again, time constraints killed that. I wanted one of them to be trans because if gender is irrelevant in a war situation, then why not have more characters who *aren't* cisgender by default? As for Jester's betrayal, it was supposed to be sudden and unexpected, but oddly enough, when I showed my editor this fic, he enjoyed the subtlety of said betrayal. How would you change it to make it less of a face-heel-turn without being too obviously foreshadowed?

Thanks again to all who commented! I plan on making an expanded and properly edited version of this in the new year. Follow me on FimFiction under the username "Mystic Mind" to see what else I do. This story is intended to be a spiritual prequel to my fic, "Siege of the Crystal Empire", which I think you will all enjoy due to its longer and more polished nature than this one!
#9 ·
>>The Power Wolf
Ah man, I loves me some Sabaton as well. Notwithstanding my occasional forays into EDM, most of the time I listen to stuff on the Power or Thrash (or proto-Power/Thrash) sides of the fence when I'm writing. I definitely think there's great energy and inspiration to be drawn from the heavier metals when writing Pony!