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On Thin Ice · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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Ocellus' Office
“Do you know why I called you to my office?” Ocellus asked, looking up briefly from her paperwork. Although the etiquette that her hive had taught her tried hard to override her actions, she figured that this would get the attention of the pony across the desk.

Credit Chip glowered at her, keeping his head high and his forelegs folded. Just like his mother and father told him how to show respect or contempt, in this matter.

He was going to be a hard cookie to crack. Mostly, the colt had stayed silent during these school disciplinary sessions. All the other teachers had tried and failed to motivate him, including Professor Pie, and that was saying something.

She smelled the sharpness of his anger. Already now he wanted to be elsewhere more than here.

“So, I heard you had a fight with Mrs. Scootaloo,” Ocellus said to break the silence.

“Which is the reason why they sent me to you so you can interrogate me.” Chip scoffed. He eyed the bowl on her desk. “Can I have one?”

“No, these are only for the students with good hearts.” Ocellus pulled open a drawer and slid the bowl into the desk. “Look, this would go smoother if you tell me why you fought with miss Scootaloo.”

“Nah, I’ll think I’ll wait until Interrogation time is up.” he turned back to look at the clock.

Ocellus gauged the atmosphere. Still a strong spice of anger filled the air like somepony chopped open a Jalapeno. Still though, she detected something in the air― a slight tinge of something that didn’t completely fit.

Professor Scootaloo had told her about the parents of Chip; Diamond Tiara and Pipsqueak. She already had talked with them before, trying to ask them any questions that might help her counsel their son. Mostly, they showed concern for their troubled colt. He needed some friends. Good friends.

She figured that starting with the parents would be a good idea. “Your parents are worried about you.”

“I figured.” Chip replied. “Look, if you are going to play the card of ‘oh, your parents want you to succeed’, I’ve heard that one before.”

Ocellus listened closely. As per usual, just like Mrs. Scootaloo said, that trick didn’t work. However, she felt something different about his answer- a discrepancy between what he said and how he felt.

Suddenly, she asked, “Did your parent’s force you to come to this school?” She hoped that guess was close enough.

Something twisted, she tasted a thin layer of longing, before it was drowned back in the spicy burn of anger.

“Sorry! I didn’t mean to pry!” Ocellus cowered back in her chair, shifting her persona to make herself seem less threatening. “Have you talked to your mother about this?”



Chip shook his head and rolled his eyes.

“Why don’t you ask them for some of their time?” Ocellus said. “I’m sure that your mother would understand if you just told her how you feel.”

“What would she know?” Chip said. “She’s been pushing the bill for me to come to this school, like you said.”

Ocellus shook her head. “Has she told you about her past?”

“NONONO.” Chip waved his hooves frantically. “She told me that she will tell me when I’m old enough to understand.”

Ocellus couldn’t help but smile. “It’s not my place to reveal it, but I highly recommend that you ask your mother now. I’d would’ve expected that what she’d experienced way back would make her think twice about her methods of raising a colt.”

Chip squinted at Ocellus. The odd taste of confusion filled the air- like the aftertaste of a diet soda.

“I think it has to do with how she was raised though.” Ocellus put a hoof to her chin. “How Grandmother Rich treated her is probably why she’s inadvertently strong-forelegging you into going to Friendship School.”

Chip’s expression softened.

“I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but still, It couldn’t hurt to ask now.” Ocellus winked. She opened up the drawer, plucked out a candy, then threw it at him.

Chip caught the zot. “I thought these were for the students who are good.”

“No, I said they are for the students with good hearts.” She closed her drawer.

Chip’s Jaw hung open.

“You’re welcome.” Ocellus looked at the clock. “Now go! We went over the time limit! Your mother is probably waiting outside.”
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#1 · 1
· · >>PinoyPony
Ocellus felt alien to me--in a good way. Kinda terrifying. Nice take on the topic.
#2 · 1
· · >>PinoyPony
I like:

The idea of Ocellus as school counselor, tasting the emotions of the kids to help discover what their real problems are.

But a lot of the story's details didn't make sense to me. The 2nd paragraph, for instance, seems to pop us out of Ocellus's point of view and into Chip's head for one line. And the line itself--"Just like his mother and father told him how to show respect or contempt, in this matter." I'm not quite sure what that means. Are Diamond Tiara and Pipsqueak teaching their son how to show contempt for other ponies? From the rest of the story, it sounds like Tiara hasn't fallen back into her former nastiness. She's just busy and pushing her son to attend the Friendship School. And for all that the conflict seems to be resolved at the end, I don't really know what the conflict is: Chip doesn't want to be at the school, and taking with Tiara about her past will... Make him want to be there? Make her realize that he doesn't need to be there? I couldn't untangle it.

Also, when Chip sees the bowl on her desk and asks, "Can I have one?" I found myself wondering "One what?" We're not told till the end of the story that the bowl has candy in it. And Scootaloo is referred to as "Miss," "Mrs." and "Professor." She can't be Mrs. and Miss at the same time. :)

#3 · 2
· · >>PinoyPony
Who the hell names their kid Credit Chip?

Something I liked:

It takes a lot of leg work to make me relate to an OC in this short amount of time, which is why I gotta give this entry props. Sure, it's called "Ocellus' Office," but it's not really about her. We get a bit of changeling lore, but only enough to provide context for the real star of the show, Credit Chip. I like future timeline stories that use characters we're already familiar with to explore new people and places, and this does a pretty good job at that. Especially on a second reading, I found the ending to be just the right amount of sweet. Not a sugar high, despite the candy, but it makes for a refreshingly optimistic reading.

Something I didn't like:

Hard to expound on what didn't sit right with me, since Mike already thoroughly dissected the cracks in the armor. More specifically, author, I think you ought to give Chip a clearer backstory. Keep in mind that when detailing Chip's backstory you're also detailing Diamond Tiara's backstory. Never mind the fact that the show basically ditched her after her redemption episode, I want a better picture of what she is like in adulthood, and how her parenting affects her son. Did she revert back to her old ways? The story kind of implies this, but it doesn't give even the slightest explanation as to why. I want more.

Verdict: Very solid young six/future timeline story, but deserves expansion. I like it.
#4 · 2
· · >>PinoyPony
As little as I know about the Young 6, I do really like the idea of Ocellus being some kind of student counselor when she's all grown up. It's such a cozy idea, between her academic tendencies and being a changeling, and I have to admit I got a lot of mileage out of that alone.

In terms of areas that might need improvement, I do need to note that the central conflict here feels vague to me. It took me several readings before I felt like I had a handle on what was making Chip act out, despite it being fairly simple. I think what threw me off was actually really minor:

“Sorry! I didn’t mean to pry!” Ocellus cowered back in her chair, shifting her persona to make herself seem less threatening. “Have you talked to your mother about this?”

When I first read this sentence, I assumed Ocellus was redirecting the conversation to a new subject, instead of continuing on the old one. So I ended up not immediately making the connection between his parents forcing him to attend the school and the following bits of conflict description. It's a really small thing, but for some reason it was enough to throw off two or three of my readings before I realized it, so it might be worth considering as a data point.

I think I also want to mention that the resolution of the conflict itself felt a little out-of-the-blue to me. Our only indication that Chip has come to a change of heart is the single sentence "Chip's expression softened" before we are told that the conflict is resolved. It's a tad abrupt, and considering all of the attention the story paid to Ocellus during that same time, there's an implication that the conflict was resolved by something Ocellus did rather than something Chip did. Which, of course, undermines the payoff of portraying Chip has having grown more mature.

So basically, I think there's a little bit of dusting to do to clean up the conflict and its resolution and make them really clear to the reader. Right now, it takes just a little too much effort for me to internalize what was happening, which took me out of the story that little bit.

Thanks for writing!
#5 ·
The main backstory to this piece is how I like to recover from this disaster last year. I decided to give another take on Ocellus. That’s just about it― don’t want to go on a tangent.

Thank you for your kind remarks. This started the Writeoff on the right foot (or hoof― whichever you prefer)

>>Baal Bunny
I could see where that sentence lost it. In my head, it made sense, but it would require another reader to spot it. [I really should get an editor for these type of things]. My thought process was: Diamond Tiara unintentionally treats her son like her mother treated her (she is subconsciously doing this, not on purpose), only in a very separate way. Instead of forcing him to become a jerk (like Spoiled did to Diamond) she is forcing him to do the opposite (which isn’t going well for the kid). Either way, the concept of forcing someone to do or become something isn’t a healthy relationship. This is where Ocellus comes in to help. The kid isn’t saying anything because he is used to being silenced (mostly from him complaining or back-talking to his parents).

However, I see how this doesn’t work because Pipsqueak may reason with Diamond that she is being too harsh. Plothole! Other than that, most of the other problems are very easy fixes.

Thank you for your review!

Baal really spotted the Chinks in the Armor. I already covered the major chink of the type of mother Diamond Tiara is to Chip in Baal’s review. It’s a good thing that this is the only major problem, and thereby, sorta-easy fix.

It’s good to hear that this is a solid piece and it accomplishes what it is set out to do.

Thank you for your review!

Thank you for the elaboration. Not only I know where the problem is, but the origin of the confusion. You probably already spotted it, but since this is a 750, it hit the ceiling fairly quickly. I felt it was alright, but the resolve comes off as way too fast. There is only a few things you can do in 750. But, with expansion and elaboration, the problem will be taken care of.

Thank you for reviewing!

Final Thoughts

Ocellus really shines in this piece; it is the OC having trouble. Originally, the idea behind it was that Chip is suffering from neglect in a different way. Diamond Tiara probably had learned that the kid needs friends, but her decision to force him to make friends is not exactly the best (this is subliminal from how she was raised. As much as she doesn’t want to be her mother, she inadvertently does so).

This time, Moral of the Story: I need to have a editor to look over the piece for the fine-tuning.