Today’s story shows us what happens when the day meets the night.
Brothers and Sisters
[Slice of Life] • 64,160 words
When Princess Luna goes missing, Private Lucky Break knows there’s more at work than a simple breach of court protocol.
For most, Hearth’s Warming is an occasion to celebrate family and friends, a time for reflection and goodwill to all of Equestria’s residents. But for two ponies, their relationship with the holiday is much more complicated.
Lucky, batpony soldier of the Night Guard, is assigned to escort Princess Luna to the grand reopening of her Night Court mere months after her return to Equestria. Everything goes well at first, until a visitor inadvertently offends the princess. Incensed, she cancels court and sends everypony away. However, when Lucky goes to offer comfort to a distraught Luna, she storms out.
Spurred on by an old wound buried deep in his heart, Lucky strives to mend a bond between sisters that feels all too familiar, and find the missing diarch before her grief consumes her.
FROM THE CURATORS: “OC” isn’t a four-letter word, but you’d be forgiven for thinking so, the way some ponyfic aficionados use it. After all, most people reading fan fiction are looking for more quality time with their favorite characters from the show they love, not the random creations of their enthusiastic fellows. But today’s feature shows how that can be an unfair judgment, with an almost-entirely original cast that’s so well formed and integrated with Friendship Is Magic‘s canon world and characters, you can’t help but become invested in their lives. “It feels so grounded in the Equestria we know from the show that I didn’t really realize until after finishing that the only real canon characters are the princesses,” said RBDash47 in his nomination.
The strong character work was a big selling point all around: “This is a story that thrives on the power of its characters,” agreed Present Perfect. “I was drawn in by Celestia’s quiet angst and the furor bubbling just under Luna’s surface. Sticking it out, I was rewarded with a cast of memorable OCs gathered together in relationships in a way I’ve never seen depicted this strongly in fanfiction before.” AugieDog had the same reaction, “echoing the points about the terrific bunch of OCs we get here. Lucky Break could have easily slipped into ‘Marty Stu’ territory, but the author prevents this by using the mechanics of cutie marks in quite a deft fashion.”
The author’s deft handiwork with taking canon elements from the show and running with them extended beyond clever cutie marks. For all their fan love, “batponies” make only a brief appearance in a single episode pulling Luna’s chariot, and ever since there’s been speculation whether or not they represented a fourth tribe of ponies, some clever Nightmare Night costumes for standard-issue pegasi, or something else. “Something I’ve not seen elsewhere,” said RBDash47. “Batponies aren’t a fourth tribe in addition to earth ponies, unicorns, and pegasi, but instead are simply the nocturnal version of pegasi, and we meet the earth pony and unicorn equivalents as well. The overall population of these ‘nyctan’ ponies is small and largely segregated, only recently returned to Equestria and almost exclusively active at night, so I can roll with never seeing them in the show.” Present Perfect appreciated how the author played with the contrast between dayponies and nightponies. “I can’t say I’m in a position to really comment on the nature of racism, at its core, but I felt like the mistrust and fear directed at the nyctan in this story was at the very least true to the setting. For all that this Equestria is a bit more like our world than like the show, this also fit, because there are so many real-world issues tackled head-on throughout it.”
From top to bottom, this is a thoughtful, well-crafted novel, from the big picture—”the story’s structure is ambitious,” pointed out RBDash47, “with half of each chapter taking place in the present and half taking place in the past, allowing us to make inferences about past Lucky from future Lucky and vice-versa”—to the small—”the author even manages to handle the whole ‘new kid gains an instant foe at school’ thing in a way” that didn’t make AugieDog want to gag, “something that’s really hard to do.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Alphacat discusses trusting your intuition, manipulating dualities, and the importance of revision.