Today’s story will be there for you in the dark times.
Her Soldiers, We
[Adventure] [Drama] • 42,716 words
Vesperquines — batponies — have faithfully guarded Equestria’s night for a thousand years. Apart from Celestia, they alone have kept the memory of Princess Luna alive in their hearts. And they alone know of their failure, of how they were not the friends she needed when jealousy and despair gnawed at her.
They pray for a second chance. They vow to do better.
And then, one night, miraculously, she returns.
But the princess whose memory they cherish is still lost to her mad fury. And for a young recruit of the Night Guard, the nightmare has just begun.
FROM THE CURATORS: Depending on where you read this, it’s getting posted either before Christmas or Auld Lang Syne, so it’s fitting that this week’s feature touches on the redemptive power of tradition and loyalty. “This is a story about what the batponies — ‘vesperquines,’ which I thought was a good name for them — were up to during Nightmare Moon’s return,” Chris said. “Tigerhorse paints the dilemma of the two protagonists — how must they hew to their duty to Princess Luna, when she won’t even acknowledge that name? — in a pleasingly grey light.” Bleak circumstances which highlight all the more their dedication, as Present Perfect noted: “The strength here is Nebula’s unwavering faith in her princess, her belief that friendship will push Nightmare Moon to do the right thing and stop the assault on Equestria.”
It was the powerful treatment of that central theme that garnered the most praise. “I think that it hit some great emotional notes, and the concept itself is genius,” Soge said. “It’s a non-cynical take on the fix-fic, patching over some of Nightmare Moon’s inconsistencies, while establishing some interesting worldbuilding.” Chris concurred: “It’s a great example of how to write a serious story based on a children’s show. Heck, it even works Pinklestia in in a heartwrenchingly dramatic manner, which is not a phrase I thought I’d ever type.” That surprising breadth garnered a number of other compliments, such as Horizon’s comment: “That this expands the story of Nightmare Moon from Ponyville to Equestria is sweet, sweet cake. That it offers a plausible and heartwarming explanation for Shining Armor’s promotion to Captain of the Guard is the icing on top.”
Those elements won us over despite several curators’ concerns about length and pacing. “This could have stood to be about half the size, but it did an excellent job of thoughtfully stitching together a lot of apparently unrelated canon,” Horizon said. “It offered a behind-the-scenes take of a story which a great many authors have covered, and managed to keep it feeling fresh.” In the end, we thought, it did too much right to ignore. “Could it be better? Undoubtedly,” Present Perfect said. “But what’s here is one of the best batpony fics I’ve ever read, and believe you me, I’ve read a lot.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Tigerhorse discusses pink snow, holes in the sky, and edgy fruit bats.