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Through Fire · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
Hidden Masks:Through the Proverbal Fire and Flames
Midnight Comet was enjoying the night breeze that swept through Canterlot. He felt the cool air rush pass his horn, and pass through his yellow mane and tail. He saw that his cream coat seemed to glow in the moonlight, and he wondered what his red eyes would look like as well. It was an odd feeling, but Comet was usually too busy to notice the small things in life. Especially after Sombra’s second return. He was busy for weeks… No, he didn’t get many nights off, so he didn’t want to waste it by thinking about work.

“Wow, tonight seems so peaceful! I hope it stays-” he started, only to be interrupted by a scream.

It was a loud shrill scream, probably from a mare. He was still surprised that some stallions could scream that loud, but that was beside the point! Somepony needed help! He only hoped he could reach them in time…

Midnight Comet sighed, he really wanted a night off. But, duty calls. He stepped off the balcony of his two story apartment and headed toward his bedroom. He grabbed his saddle bags, his trench coat and his old, dusty Fedora. He now was ready to go to work.

As he walked out of his apartment, he saw a group of ponies begin to form.

Well at least I don’t have to look around anymore.” he thought.

Upon reaching the gathering, he saw somepony lying in the middle of the street. He pushed his way through the crowd while shouting “Excuse Me!” along the way. Finally, he made it to the center of the crowd.

He saw an unconscious mare with two bite marks in her neck. He blinked, and checked again. Yep. She had bite marks on her neck, but most of the bleeding had stopped thankfully.

He asked, “Has anyone checked her pulse?”

He saw that many had shook their heads, and others just looked at him and just gave a confused look. “Does no one ever check for a pulse nowadays?” he asked, while shaking his head.

He put his hoof on her neck checking for a pulse, and he found it. She was alive! It was weaker that it should have been, but he was pretty sure she would live. But she would have to be taken to a hospital, just in case things went south.

“She’s alive! Somepony help me get her to a hospital!” Midnight Comet yelled at the crowd. Hoping somepony would be kind enough to lend a helping hoof. However, given that he was in Canterlot, he wasn’t holding his breath.

To his surprise, a white unicorn stallion sporting a monocle came up to help him. His blue mane and tail was styled and sleek, along with with his suit. So there was no mistaking that this stallion was a noble, but he sure didn’t act like one.

The noble saw Midnight Comet stare at him. But if he was unnerved at all, he never showed it. Surprisingly, it was the noble who broke the silence first.
“The name is Fancy Pants by the way.” Fancy Pants said, introducing himself.

Midnight Comet started to laugh, but it came out more like a choked cough. Fancy Pants just looked at Midnight Comet while Midnight Comet was clearing his throat.
“Sorry. I had something in my throat.” Midnight Comet explained. “Oh, and I’m Midnight Comet. Please to meet you.”

They walked a little farther, but was stopped by the Royal Guard.

“We heard there was a disturbance, what happened?” one of the guards asked.

“This mare was found in the middle of the street with two punctures in her neck.” Midnight Comet explained.

The guard nodded, and the others that was with him began to moved toward Midnight Comet and Fancy Pants. They took hold of the mare and began to carry her
toward Canterlot Hospital. However, the Captain of the guard ushered Midnight Comet over to him.

Fancy Pants merely raised an eyebrow at this, but said nothing. However, he wondered why the captain only wished to speak with Midnight Comet. However, he was sure that the captain was needing to write a report and needed somepony who knew what they was doing to fill him in. He felt he didn’t need to stick around anymore.

“It seems that you have everything covered, so I’ll see you around Midnight Comet. I wish you the best of luck. And next time, I hope you won’t think that all noble are snobs.”

Midnight Comet flinched, “I was that easy to read, huh?” He saw Fancy Pants nod, and he sighed. “All right, I will. See you later Fancy Pants.”
Fancy Pants turned and walked away, “Oh and I’m quite aware of the irony of my name! I just hope you get your head out of the stars, it’s quite the fall!”
Midnight Comet went slack-jawed for a moment, unsure of what he just heard. He then closed his mouth and shook his head. “Good night Fancy Pants!” he said,
with some agitation in his voice.

Midnight Comet walked over towards the captain, wondering what could have caused the two puncture marks in the mare's neck. Vampires seemed to be the obvious answer, but in his line of work the obvious answer was almost never the right answer. Eh, he would have to deal with that later.

"Greetings, sir.", the captain said, formally.

"Has it been a good night so far?" Midnight Comet asked, much to the captain's surprise.

"Um, it has been quite so far, but why does that have to do with anything?" the captain asked., unsure of what direction the conversation was heading.

"Truthfully, I'd been hoping for a night off. But given what just happened, it looks like I won't get the chance." Midnight Comet said with a huff. "I mean I knew that went out the window as soon as I heard the scream, but I feel I'm entitled to at least one night to myself!"

"Um, sir? I-" the captain started, before he was interrupted.

"Oh, I rambling again aren't I? I'm sorry captain."

The captain sighed, "Call me Captain Stormy Spear. And you are?"

"Oh! How rude of me! I'm Midnight Comet, private investigator."

"Do you have a license or any sort of a document that can support that claim?"

"Yeah, give me a moment to pull it out,"

Midnight Comet shifted around for a bit, trying to find his license. He find stopped, and pulled a piece of paper out of his trench coat's pocket.

"Aha! Here it- oh. Never mind, it's my Baltimare license." Midnight Comet said, more annoyed that anything else.

Captain Stormy Spear facehoofed. "That will do sir."

"I normally, carry the correct license and never get them mixed up! Captain Stormy Spear, I swear I'm not-"

" That will do sir. " Captain Stormy Spear repeated with a growl. He was glad that Midnight Comet knew that his Canterlot license would have been preferred, but he needed to verify his claim first.

Midnight Comet silently passed the license over, hoping to not anger Captain Stormy Spear any farther. With a heavy sigh, Captain Stormy Spear examined the license. Upon first inspection, this verified the claim alright; but after reading it thoroughly, it left him with more questions that answers. However, it mostly made him mad.

Captain Stormy Spear walked over toward an empty alley with Midnight Comet on his heels. As soon as he felt they was far away from everypony, he turned to face Midnight Comet.

"What is this?" he hissed.

"It's my license, like you asked." Midnight Comet answer, unsure of what was going on.

"Then why does it say you hold equal authority to a member of the Royal Guard?!"

Midnight Comet seemed to pale at that statement. "What are you talking about?"

"Midnight Comet shall hold the same duties and responsibilities to a member of the-"

Upon hearing this, Midnight Comet began to cast a spell. Captain Stormy Spear wasn't able to react fast enough to counter the spell, so he braced himself. However, much to his surprise, Midnight Comet didn't attack him.

"You cast the soundproofing spell."

It wasn't a question, it was a statement of fact. He knew this spell. He should, given how many times it had been used in his presence. However, it was usually followed by some big secret or revelation that the public wasn't meant to know.

"You can not-" Midnight Comet started, before he was interrupted by Captain Stormy Spear.

"Tell anypony about what you here in hear because this knowledge would shake the very foundation of Equestria to its core. Yeah, I heard this a million times. Get to the point already."

Midnight Comet's jaw was clenched shut. After a moment, his jaw began to relax and he let out a sigh.

"Alright, I'll explain, but I want to do something first."

"And what would that be?"

"I would like to apologize for my behaviour earlier. I know I sounded real bratty, but I have a lot of emotional baggage to deal with. I could have handled that a lot better."

"Alright, that explains why you was acting funny, but it doesn't explain your license. You know, why we're having this discussion to begin with!"

Midnight Comet sighed, "Alright, I get your point. So, what do your you know about 'monsters', Captain?"

"Monsters, you mean like the Hydras and Chimeras? What about them?"

Midnight Comet merely laughed at this response, which angered the Captain.

"What is so funny?" Captain Stormy Spear growled.

"Not the 'Monsters', Captain. No I meant the 'monsters'. You know, the things that go bump in the night, and can cause a grown stallion to die from from fright!"

"You mean the creatures from those old legends? Like the Vampires? You know they were based off the threstals, right?"

"Remember Captain, Nightmare Moon and Discord were thought to be mere legends as well."

Captain Stormy Spear didn't have a response to that, well not at first.

"Well, still. There is some true behind the legends, you just have to look hard enough."

"Those are wise words Captain. However, if I was to capture one of these monsters for you, would you be at least willing to hear me out?"

"Sure! But I really doubt that will happen!"


Captain Stormy Spear dropped to thground as he saw Midnight Comet pull some sort of small cannon looking thing out of his trench coat. He heard a loud "BANG!" and the loud screening of, something. It sounded like a pony, but it also sounded like a threstal. He wasn't quite sure.

He turned to see a pale stallion dressed in a nice suit, and with a clean light green mane and tail. However, what drew his attention the most was the long fangs and the red glowing eyes that stared up at him with hate.

"What in Celestia's name is that?"

"That ," Midnight Comet started, " is a vampire. The same creature you claimed to be nothing but a legend."

Midnight Comet began to cast a spell on the vampire, preventing any chance at escape.

"You just acted like nothing just happened! And we was just attack by a vampire! "

"Why hasn't it worked yet!?" the vampire growled. "I should have been able to get away by now."

Midnight Comet saw that the Captain began to tense up. "Don't worry, he won't be able to hypnotize us."

"How are you so sure?"

"Well this isn't my first time through the proverbial fire and flames."

The vampire began to struggle, but couldn't break the bonds that held him down.

"Half-Breed! What have you done! I demand that you tell me!"

Captain Stormy Spear saw Midnight Comet's eyes start to glow red. At first, he thought it was a trick of the light, but he saw that two of Midnight's teeth had sharpened into fangs. There was no denying it. Midnight Comet was a vampire.

Midnight Comet walked over toward the other vampire, glaring at him the entire time. "I may be a half-bteed, but I am a 4th Gen."

Stormy Spear didn't know what was worse, the look of horror on the vampire's faxe after Midnight Comet's answer. Or the grin that Midnight Comet gave as a response.

Captain Stormy Spear hoped he would be able to put tonight behind him, but as fate would have it, it was not meant to be.
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#1 ·
I have mixed feelings about this. The story was good, but it could have been executed better. I noticed there was some pacing issues, but I did like the overall concept. With that being said, you may to work on the tone of the story as well. At times it seems serious; but at others, it seems comedic. I recommend you lean toward the "Dark Comedy" genre, I feel you might be able to work with that genre.
#2 · 1
· · >>Posh
Okay, so: there are a lot of editing problems. Given that they get progressively more common and more noticeable as the story progresses, I'm going to guess that this is a "Oh nuts, I'm out of time to edit!" issue, and not a "help me, I don't understand how punctuation works!" issue, so I won't comment any more on that aspect of the fic. But there are some things you could do to polish your writing that I don't think can be attributed merely to time constraints, so let's talk about those.

First off, repetition. There are a lot of places in this story where you tell us the same thing, or use the same phrase, two or three times in close succession. When done deliberately for comedic effect that's all fine and dandy, but otherwise it just slows your story down, and makes it feel boring even if the actual content should be exciting.

Second, useless information. In the narration, I kept finding random tidbits that didn't seem to serve any purpose; they didn't help me visualize the characters or setting, they didn't seem relevant to the plot, etc. These kinds of asides are prime candidates for deletion whenever they crop up in your writing (which, if you're at all like me, is about every third sentence ;_;)

Third, your characters spend a lot of time starting to or beginning to do things. When you're specifically trying to tell us that this remains an in-progress action, that's fine. When your next sentence takes place after the thing they "began to" do is already done, it becomes ungainly, if not exactly incomprehensible.

Anyway, those are three things to look at when you edit, along with the usual spacing/punctuation/tense stuff. And if you need specific examples to see what I'm getting at, just poke me once you're no longer anonymous. But enough about construction, let's talk plot!

To me, this feels like a great start to a story, content-wise. However, I'm not sure I see a lot of stand-alone potential in it as currently constructed. Basically, you've spent a couple thousand words introducing us to Comet, and at the end we have the reveal of what he really is, that's all fine... but that's not really a story. There's no real arc here; you could maybe make a case for "solving the murder mystery," but given that our protagonist never seems to not know that it's vampires and doesn't seem to have to put any effort into any of this, that's not much. At the end of this story, I as a reader have learned a little bit about your setting and main character, but what I'm still missing is a reason to have read this story in the first place. That sounds harsh, but what I mean is this: after I finish this fic, author, what do you want me to take away from it? How should it make me feel, and what should it make me think? The answers don't need to be deep (Terrus suggested this is/should be a comedy; if that's where you, too, see this going, "I want you to have found the dialogue and situation absurdly humorous" is a perfectly good goal!), but right now, I'm just not taking much of anything away from it. Instead, I feel like all of this is building up to a chapter two where our now-introduced protagonist encounters the plot... and that chapter doesn't exist.

So... my advice is "go write it!" Or adjust what you already have so that it does have that kind of overarching purpose. Either way, I think you'll find you've got a lot of the first pieces here already; now all you have to do is give me that purpose I'm looking for, and I think you'll find you've not just a nice piece of writing on your hands, but a nice story.
#3 ·
Given the abrupt conclusion to this piece, the rough editing, and the lack of a complete arc, as >>Chris noted, I feel pretty secure in assuming that this story isn't fully realized, that the author may not have had the time to complete it before submission, and that the author decided to submit what they did manage to complete, regardless.

I think most of the people who participate in these rounds would sympathize with that situation, myself included. You kinda have to take the lack of a conclusive ending into account when reviewing, but at the same time, what is there matters more than what isn't. You feel?

So, leaving out the obvious lack of an ending here, what we're left with is a story that's... well, I refer you again to Chris's review, which was a pretty good overview of the kinds of flaws most people would find in here. I want to use one of his points as a springboard for my own commentary, though: the exclusive focus on your protagonist.

Basically, you've spent a couple thousand words introducing us to Comet, and at the end we have the reveal of what he really is, that's all fine... but that's not really a story. There's no real arc here; you could maybe make a case for "solving the murder mystery," but given that our protagonist never seems to not know that it's vampires and doesn't seem to have to put any effort into any of this, that's not much. At the end of this story, I as a reader have learned a little bit about your setting and main character, but what I'm still missing is a reason to have read this story in the first place.

Part of the challenge with writing compelling original characters is making them feel like living, breathing parts of the universe they inhabit; it's legitimately difficult to write a person who fits into the preexisting universe, canon, and character dynamics organically. Their role in the world has to feel believable.

A lot of people (novice writers in particular) try to characterize their OCs by trying so hard to sell people on the idea of them that they neglect that simple rule of making them feel natural. One common mistake: Emphasizing how cool or aloof their character is, having them make cutting remarks or wry observations about canon concepts or characters. Or, alternatively, giving them a role in the universe that violates preestablished rules without really justifying why they should be able to violate those rules.

I see both going on here with Comet. Comet's establishing character moment is being the only person in the entire city willing to respond to a murder, because apparently, there aren't even any concerned citizens in Equestria (how bad is Canterlot's bystander syndrome, that he should find himself in this position?). He browbeats the nobles, criticizes the population, and generally acts like he's above the world he inhabits, rather than being a part of it.

This ties in with another issue with the character that comes up in the final scene. You spend a great deal of time establishing that he, a private detective, has security clearance that is equal to that of ranking members of the Royal Guard. This ultimately goes nowhere; the story doesn't get an opportunity to explain why he's so privileged in this regard, so the reader's left scratching their heads, wondering.

If Comet's central gimmick isn't developed and explained, then all that's left is Comet, himself, as a person. And from what we see of Comet, from his interactions with the other characters, and his place in the world, there isn't enough to make people (or, at least, myself) want to stick around and read more about his anti-vampire adventures.

Which is a death sentence for a story that focuses on an OC, I'm sorry to say.

I appreciate your participation in this round. Chris is right; don't give up on this story, but don't be afraid of retooling and revising to get it working.
#4 ·
I'm going to preface all of my comments with the fact that I don't know that much about writing as of yet. Neither have I looked through others' reviews. With that in mind:

The descriptions in the beginning were nice enough — they got me immersed in the story quickly. I liked the lighthearted undertone as well, of which I wished there'd been more (it's, of course, your decision, author, whether you want to make the story more dark or funny, as it goes along...maybe even both, like a dark comedy?)

The story could use a quick run through a spell-checker, though, (I tried not to focus on the typos). What I found a little more jarring, however, were some of the seeming switches in character perspective, like from Comet to Fancy, or to the Captain. The omniscient narrative was a little confusing on the first read-through and personally, I think you could improve this story by focusing on just one of the characters and showing how the story unfolds from their point of view.

It might also have been purposeful, but this story reads more like the first chapter (or possibly a prologue) to a longer story than a short story. That's not a bad thing per se, though; I really wouldn't mind getting to know more about what's going on and what happens next, because there's potential for plot development, but for the writeoff, I kind of wish it had been a little more self-contained.

Thank you for writing.
#5 · 2
· · >>Chris
I don't have any advice to add to what's been said above. But I still wanted to stop by and emphasize that you did a good thing by submitting, Author. Pumping out a short story from scratch in three measly days is not easy, and anyone who says it is a liar. So thanks for writing and submitting! I hope the experience was worthwhile.

See you around!
#6 · 3
So, I'm leaving for a weekend at the cabin in an hour, and I won't be back until around the time scores are final, but I wanted to come back to this story and talk to the author directly.

Author, I'm making the assumption that you're relatively new here. With that in mind, I want to talk about scoring. Specifically, I want to tell you that I've finished putting my ballot together, and I have your story in dead last.

Why am I telling you this?

Because you shouldn't care.

>>Miller Minus said something important about how just submitting something is an achievement in and of itself. And it's true! Just writing a few thousand coherent words in 72 hours is more than most people can do! But more than that, you should look at the context into which you're submitting this story: it's being compared against a very small sample of other writings, all by people who've decided they have a vested interest in seeking out criticism and working to improve their writing. In other words, the people you're competing against aren't a random sample of people, or even a random sample of fanfic writers.

And that's important because if this story scores low on other peoples' ballots as well as on mine, then in a few days you're going to log on and see that rating, and the natural first thing to think is "oh, well, they hated my story." This is not true. People are reacting to a first draft of your story, which they are comparing against a small sampling of other stories by folks, many of whom have done a bunch of writeoffs before and learned a lot of tricks, not just about writing in general, but about writing to this particular audience and timeframe. Heck, some of the stories here are written by professionally published authors!

It's with that context in mind that I want to make sure you (and anyone else who might end up near the bottom of the voting results!) realize that a low score does not mean you did something bad, or shouldn't have submitted your story, or that you should be embarrassed. A quick look at the other comments shows that nobody hated your story, and none of us were anything but happy to read and critique it; we like stories, and we like trying to be helpful! Even if you do end up at or near the bottom of scoring, you shouldn't care. You wrote a story, you've hopefully gotten some useful critique out of the deal... everything's roses.

I suppose, having said all of that, that if my story ends up being the one at the bottom of the voting, I'm going to have a lot of egg on my face. But on the bright side, I'll be able to re-read this pep talk, and it will all be just as true about me and the story I submitted as it would've been about you and yours. We're all in the same boat, here.

So, that said, I hope you enjoy the next few days as much as I'm about to enjoy my cabin weekend, and remember: no matter what the score says, everyone's happy to see you here, and we're eager to see what you do next!
#7 ·
Okay, so there's a lot of moving pieces when it comes to this entry, so I'm going to break from my usual review format of likes-dislikes-suggestions and just go through this one from the top.

Now, a good hook is really important when it comes to short story type fiction, and it's doubly so with a Writeoff entry. We're going into this story absolutely blind, with no cover art or summary to tell us which characters, settings, or genres/themes we're going to be seeing. So it's difficult to overstate how important it is that your first 300 or so words immediately gives us a sense of what's going on and something to care about.

The first paragraph kind of stumbles it that regard. We get a place and a time of day, and then a checklist of what our OC POV character looks like. Is this important information? Yes! But is it vital to the reader making an immediate emotional investment in the story? Maybe not.

From my personal reading experience, there was also a bit of a tone clash. When I see a character in the middle of a "Oh, what a wonderful day!" line getting interrupted by an off-screen noise, I tend to automatically think 'comedy.' This was kind of reinforced by the whole "check for a pulse" bit. Now, in hindsight, I realize that all this is probably to establish the character as the kind of snarky, hard-boiled sort, but back when I had absolutely no idea what this story was going to be about, I took what I saw as an indication that I was reading a comedy. By the time we're halfway through Fancy's scene, I figured out that this was supposed to be more of a noir piece, but I think a bit of harm was already done to my general reading experience.

Now, I do like what you're going for with Fancy Pants' scene, with trying to subvert our main character's expectations. But to be honest, I'm not sure that it worked well for me. Part of the reason is that I'm just not all that familiar with the Comet yet at this point of the story, so him having to reconsider his "nobles are fools" belief doesn't quite feel meaningful yet. It's also a tough sell, because between introduction and his departure, Fancy Pants is only in this story for about 350 words. That's an awfully short amount of time to make somebody rethink the beliefs that they hold.

Now, the next scene does a great job of immediately setting up contrast between Midnight Comet and Stormy Spear. I like that you're doing this, because it's a great way to set the stage for some character interaction between them. Unfortunately, the scene (and the story itself) ends before they can really start bouncing off of each other. Like the other reviewers said, it really does feel like you ran out of time, which is really unfortunate.

I'm under the impression that you're trying to set up a kind of buddy-cop dynamic between Comet and Spear, and I think that would be an excellent way to move this story forward. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that both parties really need to be contributing to the dynamic between them. Right now, I really only see Comet as bringing things to the table. He's the competent one, he's the one with the know-how, and he's got the outsider dynamic. Spear, on the other hand, only really has the chance to be reactive and flighty, so he just doesn't end up seeming very interesting. Given a bit more spotlight, though, I'm sure he'll have a chance to shine.

Overall, I can tell that this story was written with passion and inspiration, and I'm very glad to have read it! But I will have to agree with our other reviewers in that there probably needs to be some work done to make the payoff everything it could be. Thank you for submitting, and hope we see you next time too!
#8 ·
Took me a while to get around to reading these, been a hectic week, but here I am! Not looking at results (or comments) either, I don't want any preconceptions going in.

Anyway, this story definitely needs some work. You've got a cool little concept, but I get a strong impression that you got the deadline without having done everything you wanted to, or really gone back over it. Lots of little editing mistakes, and a lot of the character dialogue and descriptions are a bit "he was this and said this"--nothing necessarily wrong with that, but the prose does feel like it could use a little polish.

Still, as I said you have a cool little concept, and you've clearly put some love into these OC's. Keep at it!