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Just Like Old Times · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Starlight Glimmer was taking tea with Spike in her room, admiring the cherry blossoms visible in the orchards from her balcony, when Twilight Sparkle’s message arrived.

Starlight unrolled it while Spike finished hacking up the tea from his lungs. It was short enough to read at a glance, and she frowned.

“What’s wrong?” Spike asked. “What’s it say?”

I’m sorry, take care of this bear. It’s not his fault,” she read. She flipped the paper over, but the back was blank. “That’s it.”

“Huh.” Spike scratched his spines. “What bear does she—”

A flash of purple light left them both blinking away tears, followed by a loud, mournful roar. Starlight’s bed shifted alarmingly beneath her as some new weight came to rest upon it. An odd stink of dirt and sweat and unwashed fur assaulted her nose. The spots in her eyes cleared, and she found herself face-to-face with Twilight’s bear.

Spike made it to the door first. He was a gentledrake and didn’t slam it shut until she’d escaped too.

Starlight had built dozens of kites over her lifetime. Most were lost now, abandoned when she left her fillyhood home, incinerated by angry townsponies along with the rest of her belongings in Our Town, or stuck in trees across the breadth of Equestria. Kites were like butterflies; beautiful, but so mortal.

There were several kites in her room. The largest, an elaborate, multi-celled box kite, hung from the ceiling. The others – stunters and bat-wing deltas and traditional rhomboids – were mounted on the walls. At night their dark shapes seemed to float against the shifting crystal like they were flying. They helped soothe her to sleep.

Starlight listened from outside as the bear explored her room. Occasionally something would crash to the floor with a clatter. She heard the rattle of its claws against the crystal, accompanied by ominous ripping sounds.

Her poor kites. She glowered at the door.

The click of different claws on crystal caught her ear, and she turned to see Spike arriving with Fluttershy in tow.

She landed with a gentle flap of her wings and gave Starlight a nuzzle. “Spike said you had a bear in your room?”

“It’s a long story. Can you talk to it?”

“I can try.” Fluttershy opened the door and trotted inside. In the brief glimpse before the door closed, Starlight saw scraps of cloth and broken things scattered on the floor.

“Should, uh, we have gone in there with her?” Spike asked.

“Probably.” Starlight stared at the door. “Spike, I’m upset with Twilight right now.”

“Yeah. Her note sounded like she was in a rush, though. And she wouldn't have done this unless it was really important.”

Starlight took a long breath and exhaled it slowly. In with air, out with anger. The items in her room were just things, easily replaceable. Even her precious kites. “I know. But she better have a good reason for this.”

The door opened, and Fluttershy emerged. Her mane was mussed and her feathers afluff – signs of a tussle? Starlight stepped forward, concerned.

“I’m fine. He’s just a little afraid,” Fluttershy said. “He’s a Neighponese Lunar Bear and he says a purple pony sent him here. Would that be you or Twilight?”

“Twilight,” Starlight said. “Can we just set him loose?”

“Well,” Fluttershy said, “it’s a long walk to Neighpon, so I’d say no. Do you want me to get some food for him?”

The bear disappeared in another purple flash, hours later. Only its unwashed stink and the ruins of Starlight’s room remained to remind them of it.

Her mattress was in shreds. The dresser was overturned, its contents strewn about like nesting materials. The many-chambered box kite overhead was safe, but the ones on her walls were torn down and destroyed. She gathered their scraps into a little pile and stared at them.

“So, uh, can you fix them?” Spike asked.

She considered the broken spars and torn panels. “No.”

“Oh.” He frowned. “You know, she’ll be really upset when she sees all this. Think it’s her fault.”


He was silent in reply.

In with air, out with anger. How many times had she broken things? Broken ponies? And yet, here she was, forgiven for all those times. It was more than she deserved.

In with air, and… there was no anger left, she found. Just understanding.

“Have to remake them before she gets home, I guess,” Starlight said.

“Can I help?”

She smiled. “Yeah.”
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#1 ·
I liked how this ended, but the story didn’t feel like it had a whole lot of content. I wanted to like it – the idea of the kites being destroyed, being important to her, being so fleeting, as well as how Starlight had progressed as a person – all actually was an interesting idea, and I think you could tie it all together into an interesting story.

I’m not sure that this was that story, though. It seems to be kind of focused on the immediate problem of the bear, and then it drifts away to the kites, making it feel unfocused, when the real point seems to be to illustrate how Starlight has changed. I wonder if it might be more effective if it was just a story about the aftermath of whatever Twilight did, and Starlight and Spike were together, going through Starlight’s room and picking up the pieces and sort of showing how Starlight had changed and what the kites meant in terms of that. I think that the actual act of destruction part is a distraction from the emotional content you’re going for here - it doesn't really matter what the problem was, just that it was Twilight's fault, but that she didn't mean to, so I don't think you're probably going to want to put too much focus on that.
#2 · 1
Part 1 is very funny. Part 3 goes into serious mode, turning this scenario into a friendship lesson.

This may sound like the part where I say it's tonally dissonant, but nah. I think those two ideas could meld together very well.

I'd say the problem is actually Part 2. It doesn't develop the opening's humor into something crazier, and it doesn't plant the seeds of the moral lesson that should sprout at the end. I think doing both at once is possible, even in a minific prototype form. As it currently is, the entire middle section feels like a total waste of text to me -- it only tells us the significance of the kites instead of using them for something, Fluttershy mostly shows up to explain a little of the Twilight backstory, and Starlight discusses her feelings with Spike in a dull way instead of having an interesting physical reaction (e.g. the bottle thing from that S7 ep).

This is a major flaw that breaks my enjoyment of this story, but I still think this has the brightest potential of any entry this round. Reworked properly, it could become a hilarious escalating comedy, with some character development, leading to a feel-good friendship lesson..... in other words, 100% within the spirit of the show. I so badly want to read that.

(Even if the teleporting bear is relatively random and wouldn't work in an actual episode, but I said spirit not canon. Fanfiction has the license to get away with that.)
#3 ·
Okay, that opening scene is so perfectly non-sequitur that I just have to applaud. Now, can the rest of this story live up to that opening?

Crap... I think it did.

Very few stories can make me go from an outright laugh to liquid pride in 750 words. You pulled it off. Not that the story is flawless (there's a lot of symbolism in kites that could be better utilized, and never mind why Twilight sent the bear to Starlight instead of, you know, Fluttershy, who literally has an entire sanctuary for animals!) But... In 750 words, a funny opening, and an emotional lesson/moral at the ending. Nicely done!
#4 ·
Why's Spike hacking when he doesn't know the message yet? Are you implying he coughs up messages from ponies other than Celestia now, or is there just some unexplained source of surprise here?

And the remark about incinerating stuff in Our Town... They were very forgiving of her, and she never reacted as if anything bad has happened. Not that you can't come up with a way to make it work, but you have to give me that explanation, not just ask me to buy the end state.

Okay, you had me until that last scene. I don't get the ending at all. So if you've done bad things in your life, you're not allowed to get mad at other people for doing bad things? I can't imagine what Twilight thought would happen. Why does the bear need to go there specifically? And Starlight didn't actually take care of it as asked. It even appears she teleported it away, and I don't know whether that solved the bear's problem or swept it under the rug. How'd she know where to send it? Fluttershy couldn't even tell her what its problem is. If Twilight has a good explanation, sure, then Starlight can decide to forgive her. Twilight wouldn't necessarily see her room at all, so she might not know, if Starlight just doesn't let her see it. If that's her decision, of course. But this one's just made me feel like Starlight's been cowed into letting Twilight be an asshole.

I think making the motive for all this so specific and concrete was a mistake. Now I'm all focused on what's happening with the bear, and the story spends so much time on that, so of course I'm going to. Having Fluttershy there barely changed anything. I think you'd do far better to leave Twilight's infraction completely vague, just that she's done something that inadvertently affected Starlight in a bad way, and now Starlight has to deal with the aftermath. Unless, of course, you want to expand this quite a bit and flesh out what the bear's deal is.

But even then, I think vaguer is the better choice, because that frames Starlight's dilemma better. If she's a victim of assholery, then she's just continuing to be a victim. And, y'know, that might be a valid point for a story to make, but I don't think it's the one you want. It's enough that she feels slighted, and then decides not to make an issue of it for the sake of her friend, particularly in a case where Twilight didn't intend any harm and indeed might not have realized any harm was done, furthermore in a way that's not likely to happen again so that Starlight doesn't need to worry about heading off a repeat performance. To me, at least, that's a far more powerful statement. You do lose the humor that way, and some readers wouldn't like that. So, different strokes for different folks, but there are still ways to inject humor into a vaguer treatment of the situation while delivering a more heartfelt and consistent message.

Well done, though. I like the sentiment, even if some of the implications felt creepy to me.
#5 ·
Argh s:yay:t I'm doing terrible at getting reviews out this time. I swear, every time I say something up front about my intentions to review X number of stories I end up jinxing myself, versus if I just make like Shee-ya La-Beef and Just Do It (TM).

Genre: Big-In-JapanNeighpon Rockstar Trashing Their Hotel Room

Thoughts: This sets a very high bar in terms of writing quality, but I feel like it's somewhat ephemeral from a storytelling perspective. That is, it clearly shows us how Starlight has come to terms with her Past Sins (TM) and is now able to demonstrate all of her Personal Growth (TM). But like... that's kinda it. A random bear appears, Starlight suffers a minor loss but keeps it together... cool. But the overriding question I'm left with is why did Twilight do this?

I'm guessing that the Author has banked on that not mattering. I would wager that the thought is that it shouldn't matter, because this is meant to be much more Glimmer-focused, and we don't actually need T-Money to appear to be able to see that. But IMO, doing it this way leaves a huge dangling thread in terms of how Starlight would react when facing Twilight again. I mean it's one thing to get a glimpse into her thought process when coping with the loss, but I feel like it would make for a much stronger and more satisfying ending to actually see their conversation. Twilight must have a reason, but we don't get to see what Starlight makes of that reason. And the thing is, the high-bar writing here makes me feel like the Author would easily be able to deliver a stronger/more-satisfying ending out of that, which just makes me want it more.

Tier: Almost There