Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Backgound info for "A New Path Forward" which you hopefully don't actually need to know.

This goes with the story A New Path Forward.

First off, if I'm doing my craft well you should be able to jump into A New Path Forward without knowing any of this and simply taking what the story provides itself.  That said, I wanted to give background for any who wanted it up front and in case I don't do things well.

It is, for the record, really, really hard to sum this crap up quickly.  Since I've completely given up on making an opening note explaining this, I'm not even going to try for "quickly" anymore though I will attempt to stop short of "absurdly long".  I will probably fail.

I'm not going to note where this diverges from canon.  This is about the story's canon.


~ * Location in Time * ~

A New Path Forward serves as a sequel to Dainn's Anon-a-Miss (except the epilogue) but not in a way that should make Anon-a-Miss into required reading.  As the title suggests it's about what happens moving on, not what happened before.  The title comes from the fact that Anon-a-Miss left off in a way that would necessarily have to make everything different in the aftermath so things can't follow remotely the same track as the canonical path.

Anyway, location in time.

What this story takes as more or less canonical (I will not be holding myself to exact wording or any such thing) are the movies Equestria Girls and Rainbow Rocks, all but the last seven pages of the comic Equestria Girls Holiday Special, and the pre-epilogue parts of Dainn's Anon-a-Miss (which begins where it diverges from the Holiday Special.)

It story starts during winter break which is before the movies The Friendship Games and Legend of Everfree would have taken place.

~ * About the Setting * ~

The Equestria Girls universe is the human-verse of the current My Little Pony multiverse.  Other than humans and certain animals being significantly more colorful it's basically a bog standard earth-type setting when taken in itself.  The thing is, it can't really be taken in itself.  It's connected by magical portal to the pony-verse that is the setting of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic which has allowed individuals and magical objects to cross over into it in spite of its lack of experimentally verifiable native magic.

The human-verse of Equestria Girls is the sort of parallel universe where there are alternate versions of individual people from the main (pony) universe.  They generally have the same name, voice, and coloration along with similar personalities and relationships.

The Equestria Girls stories take place in and around Canterlot High School and the local population largely mirrors Ponyville of the main universe.  Sunset Shimmer and Twilight Sparkle are not from Ponyville originally (Sunset never was, Twilight moved there in the first episode of the series as a result of events the human-verse had no parallel to) and as a result neither of their alternate versions has been encountered at this point in the timeline.

Transitioning from the pony-verse to the human-verse gives one the form of a native creature (usually a human, but Spike the baby dragon became a dog) and strips one of their magic.  Inanimate magical objects, however, retain magical power.

The sorting algorithm can do weird things, which we'll get to when talking about the sirens later.

There are only four known non-natives living as humans in the human world.  Sunset Shimmer and the three sirens.

~ * Characters * ~

Sunset Shimmer was originally a unicorn in the pony-verse.  She was a magical prodigy and Princess Celestia's personal student.  They had . . . different moral frameworks.  She took off to the human-verse and became a villain.  She reformed following her defeat and eventually saved her school and world when the next villains, the sirens, came along.

When A New Path Forward begins she's just recently cleared her name after being framed for going back to her evil ways (but stupider and less magical), completely estranged from her canonical friends, recovering from being severely beaten (indirect result of the framing), and reconnected (as friends this time) with her former lackeys from her villain days (who helped her after the beating.)

As an aside, thinking about the idea of what happens when Sunset is entirely separated from her canon friends is what drove me to start writing the story.

Snips and Snails are Sunset's former lackeys.  After her defeat, which dragged them down too, Sunset assumed they'd want nothing to do with her.  They thought she didn't want to have anything to do with them, believing she'd traded up to better friends.  The mob that beat Sunset dragged them along (with the expectation they'd be accomplices in the beating), which gave them the opportunity to help her.  (They didn't save her, they gave her the opening needed to save herself, and then followed her plan when she figured out how to do it.)

Twilight Sparkle was a unicorn who became Princess Celestia's personal student not long after Sunset.  By the time she actually met Sunset she had leveled up to alicorn princess.  She's the one who stopped villain-Sunset.  By the time of the story she's gotten the title "Princess of Friendship", she's figured out a way to open the portal at will, and she's the only one in the pony-verse Sunset is in contact with (via a pair of books that use magic to make it so whatever is written in one appears in the other.)

Celestia and Luna are sisters who are the human counterparts of the rulers of Equestria.  They're Principal and Vice Principal of Canterlot High respectively.  Their school has recently been afflicted by magical happenings, and more recently an entirely mundane plot that almost got one of their students (Sunset) killed by other students as well as inciting less violent but still severe conflict amongst the student body.

They've basically locked down the school in response, shutting down all extra curricular activities.

They're also responsible for the ones who attacked Sunset getting the less severe extralegal punishment that Sunset wanted, where letting the legal system run its course would have had those students facing second degree attempted murder charges.

Adagio Dazzle, Aria Blaze, and Sonata Dusk were originally sirens in the pony verse.  In this context that means flying horse-fish-things with gems embedded in their chests who can cultivate hostility with their magic singing and then feed on the resulting negative energy.  They can also use their magic singing for more direct influence, causing people to do what they want instead of engaging in general hostility.

When they were banished to the human world the gems stopped being parts of their bodies and started being pendants.  When they were defeated the pendants were shattered.  Without the pendants they can't feed on negative energy and when the story starts they are slowly starving to death as a result.  (Physical food can slow down how long it takes for them to die of starvation, but only magically feeding on energy can actually keep them alive.)

They haven't reformed, and Adagio and Aria aren't very nice people regardless, but Sunset agreed to try to them get new pendants (by having Twilight back in magical pony-land make them) so that they won't have to die.

While in theory new pendants could allow them to go back to trying to take over a world or two, given that defeat in the human realm breaks their pendants and that the only possible source of replacements wouldn't take kindly to another attempt at world domination, Sunset doesn't consider it a major risk.

Fluttershy, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Applejack and Pinkie Pie are the alternate versions Twilight's pony-verse friends.  The helped her defeat Sunset, agreed to look after Sunset and teach her about friendship when Twilight asked them to (after Twilight saw Sunset was truly penitent), worked with Twilight to defeat the sirens (though that initially failed until Sunset stepped in) and rejected Sunset with incredible haste and vitriol when she was framed.

They're not going to be in the story much.  As noted above, the driving force behind the story is what happens when they're out of the picture.

The angry mob . . . is't actually very important to this story, but takes a lot of words to explain.  So just remember this section may be big, but it doesn't really matter that much going forward.  And the parts that do matter even a little will be explained covered in a fair amount of detail because getting the police to put an attempted murder case on hold as part of blackmailing the guilty into accepting a lesser punishment is complex and difficult.

That said, let me repeat, it's not very important to this story.  I'd be perfectly able to tell the story I want to tell if Anon-a-Miss had ended with them carted off to prison and never seen again.  It would be different, because changing things changes other things due to the interconnected relationship of all things, but it would still be pretty much the story I want to tell.

So have you got that out of all of the things here you don't need to read this is the one you really, really don't need to read?  Because now we finish with the long explanation.

The angry mob was a group of students led by one named Gilda who thought Sunset was guilty of that thing she was framed for that I keep on mentioning but not explaining.  Short version: being an internet personality called Anon-a-Miss (where Dainn got the name for his story) who was spreading around people's secrets, breaking friendships, making people targets of bullies, screwing up families, and wrecking lives.

They lured Sunset into a trap and beat her.

They didn't start out with intent to kill, but somewhere along the way they realized that, given how far things had gone, if Sunset ever told anyone what happened they'd be completely screwed.  Even then none of them were quite able to bring themselves to do the deed directly, and intended to leave her (bound) to freeze to death in an abandoned building with no hope of escape or survival where they hoped she wouldn't be found until the trail had gone cold.  (Thus second degree attempted murder, because there was intent to kill but that wasn't the plan ahead of time.)

From a legal standpoint they're getting away with everything, though they left enough evidence that all that needs to happen is for the case to be allowed forward and they (almost) inevitably would end up convicted of attempted murder.  Thus: blackmail.

What they're being blackmailed into as punishment, at Sunset's choosing, is making sure the ones actually behind Anon-a-Miss aren't harmed.  Not even a shove in the halls.

The guilty party happened to be three kids from the middle school adjoined to the high school so this protection means that the angry mob gets to spend the next four and a half years, until the three graduate high school, devoting their lives to protecting the people who actually did the thing the angry mob tried to kill Sunset for allegedly doing.

Sunset is apparently a fan of specially-tailored psychological punishment.

(Still less time than five to fifteen years for second degree attempted murder.)

How it's possible to blackmail the angry mob into this --which is to say: how it's possible to put a police investigation of attempted murder on hold when it already has the evidence necessary to convict everyone-- is nepotism and intrigue (involving Celestia and Luna.)  Mostly intrigue.

~ * Final Summary * ~

Word count doesn't equate to importance, as I noted when I pointed out that the angry mob is of basically no importance to the core story in spite of requiring the most words to explain.

So here's my quick summing up of the previous summations.

  • This takes place in the human world so, other than the fact that they might have naturally purple skin or blue hair or some such, the characters can be assumed to be just like ordinary humans unless otherwise stated.
  • The center of much of what will happen is the high school Sunset Shimmer attends which is run by Principal Celestia and Vice Principal Luna.
  • Sunset Shimmer is one of four (known) non-humans currently living as a human, the other three being the sirens who are currently dying of magical starvation but Sunset has promised to try to (get Twilight Sparkle to) help.
  • The bridges between Sunset and her former friends have been burnt to a crisp.
  • Sunset is recovering from being injured.  Celestia and Luna are dealing with the fact that their school degenerated into a hive of scum and bullying villainy at the drop of an electronic hat and the fallout from blackmailing the students who attacked Sunset into accepting an extralegal punishment.
  • The story starts in the winter break following Rainbow Rocks, and is thus before when The Friendship Games would have been if things had not diverged from canon.
  • That's more or less it.

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