FimFiction Link - Short ID: 415251/origin-of-them
Published: Jul '18
Origin of Them is a 9k Cadence being an idiot one-shot. In this story, Cadence is an idiot.
The "...Them" series is, I think, the only series of pony stories to write about zombies in a way that isn't just silly or gory for its own sake. It helps that PaulAsaran and Rainbowbob have the writing chops to pull this off. I've read a few entries in the series before and enjoyed them quite a bit, only now deciding to read the whole series as it stands now.
As the title implies, OoT is the first chronological entry, depicting the start of the plague. So, obvious ending ahead.
There's a faraway region beyond the Frozen North called Horsemouth, the resting place of Grogar. After his defeat, the whole area was sealed and noboy was allowed near it. However, Shining and Cadence fear the remnants of King Sombra could've made their way into Horsemouth and absorbed the magic there. So, instead of doing the sensible thing and share their fears with literally anybody, Shining goes on his own. When he returns he's sick and nobody seems to know why.
As much as I'm grilling on Cadence for being an idiot--which she is--the fic does a remarkable job at presenting her insecurities and fears as a why to explain why she made the decisions she made. It's unjustifiable, but it explores her mindset, as well as the extreme turmoil inside her.
I greatly enjoyed Discord, as well. He starts as silly as you'd expect him to be, but when he realises the magnitude of what's happening, he becomes very stern, and it was fun seeing him chew out Cadence for her stupidity.
Overall, I'd have to say that the horror element in this story is barely there. Yeah. It's zombies, but that's more of an element at play during the story rather than the core. Deep down, this is a drama, and a tense one at that. Cadence takes shortsighted and desperate actions, but there's a part of you that wants her to succeed, despite knowing full well that such a folly can only bring one outcome. Going back to Discord, his final words before leaving Cadence and the Crystal Empire behind are quite interesting. Makes me want to read a longer story about him facing a facet of mortality.
Nevertheless, Origin of Them is an engaging thriller and one that holds promise for more.