FimFiction Link - Short ID: 388956/i-daybreaker
Published: Oct '17
'I, Daybreaker' is a five thousand and eight hundred-word oneshot, told from the perspective of Celestia as she struggles to control the violent, control-obsessed voice in her head. I was immediately reminded of 'Sunken Horizons' as I was reading this story, because the dynamics of Celestia and Daybreaker mirror Twilight and Midnight's conflict surprisingly well and in a way even surpasses it.
The author guides us through history observed from Celestia's eyes from just after the first defeat of Nightmare Moon to the present, every conflict eliciting increasingly demanding calls to action from Daybreaker, as Celestia tries her best to keep her head cool and act in the most benevolent way she can. While clearly Celestia is in the right, the author takes great care to portray Daybreaker as not pointlessly evil, but rather as someone, who at the end of the day wants to do good. However, because she has such a warped worldview and lives in such deep paranoia, achieving her ideal world would mean the destruction of countless innocents and the complete annihilation of what makes ponies ponies, which slowly turns her relationship with Celestia from an uneasy partnership into a bitter rivalry of ideologies. The author also coyly leaves it open what exactly Daybreaker is. Is she really some corrupting force inside Celestia's mind? Is she rather a split-personality that formed from Celestia's guilt after banishing Luna? Maybe her repressed emotions given voice? The answer doesn't really matter, but the mere fact that the question is asked further elevates the story's already tense atmosphere as the reader is left guessing which version is the least heartbreaking.
This all is presented in very well written prose, that easily carries such a hard topic without needing to resort to being overly flowery. While the fic uses italics to denote Daybreaker speaking, it's not even necessary, the two characters' speech patterns clearly shows which one is speaking. This is also the only place I have criticism. It's not a big problem and I'm sure some wouldn't even consider it one, but for me when Daybreaker starts yelling "NO! TRAITOR KILLER DEVIL SISTER HATE FOREVER, she will destroy us!" I couldn't help but find it a bit silly. I get the reason, it's to showcase an emotional breakdown, but it's presented in such a weird and uncharacteristic way that I'm left wondering why the author decided to do it this way instead of opting for a visual description or a more coherent text presented in all-caps.
Ultimately this matters little, my confusion immediately flew out the window the moment I read the ending. It is cathartic. The way Celestia "defeats herself" with only kindness and 5D chess is such a bittersweet moment. It is her greatest success, but she also just signed her own death sentence.
Overall: 9/10 An incredible story told in surprisingly few words. Highly recommend.