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Fan Fic: Bad Future Crusaders
Bad Future Crusaders is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic by Tonic Plotter, based on a series of pictures on Deviantart by Astringe that were designed to show the Bad Future trope as distilled through an MLP:FiM setting.

Official summary: "It was a night that will forever be burned into the memories of everypony. One fateful night in Equestria everything changed. The princesses who had ruled over the world with kindness and heart were gone, and a new ruler had taken their place. Years have passed since that event. Ponies have grown up, aged, and moved on with their lives. Equestria has become a very different place over the span of these years. Our story begins when a face resurfaces in Equestria. When a weathered, scarred, but familiar face steps into the light."

The story can be read here. The original series of pictures can be seen here, and there's also a second set of pictures based on scenes from the story, which can be seen here.

Tropes present in this story:

  • Abusive Parents: Lightning Dust states that the only thing she learned from her father was how to take a punch, from how often he hit her. However, she also says she eventually paid him back, beating him so bad he can't fly anymore.
    • It's also implied that Silver Spoon's parents skewed between this and Parental Neglect.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Babs Seed in Astringe's series of images compared to her portrayal in the story makes her this. True she's not evil, but she's still actively and willingly working for the bad guys.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Of a sort. Astringe had no plot whatsoever in mind when he drew the original pictures; Tonic Plotter had to come up with all of it on his own.
  • Affably Evil: Dinky Doo is pretty amiable for an Evil Princess. All her troops love her.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Even before becoming her deputy, Starlight always refers to Babs Seed as 'Boss'.
    • Daydream calls Sweetie Belle "Lambkins".
  • Alternate Universe: Word of God is that the plot diverges from canon at some point early in Season 3.
  • A.K.A.-47: Peppercorn's revolver is referred to as a "Lucky-7", but from it's description is clearly a LeMat Revolver.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Babs Seed actually has to ask what Bright Eyes' gender is and ultimately settles on using 'he' when the changeling doesn't care enough to answer.
  • Anti-Hero: Apple Bloom is still definitely one of the good guys, but has no problem with killing, and is haunted by actions in her past.
  • Anti-Villain: Babs Seed is a good Royal Guard and believes in the law, but just so happens to work for the oppressive regime of a tyrant who rose to power in a coup.
    • Likewise with Crimson Sky, who's a decent family stallion and A Father to His Men, but not only serves Twilight, but also helped enable her coup in the first place.
    • Sweetie Belle seems to have become completely amoral, willing to make a deal with the people who killed her family, and not bothering to contact her oldest friends when finding out they're still alive. That being said, she's helped transform the Diamond Dogs from uncivilized brutes to a flourishing society that coexists peacefully with Equestria.
  • Anypony Can Die: The author has gone on record to state that no one is safe.
  • Arch-Enemy: Apple Bloom and Silver Spoon became this when fighting against each other in the Sonhos Vale civil war. They are not pleased to run into each other again in Broncton.
  • Arm Cannon: Twist gives us an odd example with a bow and arrow, according to the artwork the story is based on: Her bow attaches to her left horseshoe, while her right has a small hook to nock the arrows (which have holes in them).
  • The Archer: Twist has grown up to be quite good with a bow. After killing her and taking her bow and arrow, Merrilay has taken this role, though she's not very good at it yet.
  • Ascended To Carnivorism: The ponies of West Sonhos Vale did this en mass generations ago as a result of lack of vegetation in their desolate homeland.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Silver Spoon takes out Dinky by biting down on her horn, cutting off her magic and giving Silver Spoon a chance to beat her.
  • Ax-Crazy: Merrilay, whose reaction after stabbing Twist with an arrow for no good reason is to give off a chilling Evil Laugh.
  • Bad Boss: It's implied Featherweight treats the changelings he commands very poorly when Bright Eyes' expression makes it clear Babs Seed doesn't want to know anything about their living conditions under his command.
  • Bad Future: The entire point of the story's premise — at some point, Princess Celestia died, followed by Twilight Sparkle and Princess Luna engaging in a fight that destroyed Ponyville, killing or scattering its inhabitants; the other bearers of the Elements of Harmony are missing, presumed dead; Twilight, now Queen, has turned Equestria into a totalitarian Police State; and formerly sweet and kind characters have grown to be either villains, Anti Heroes, or have lost everything they care about.
  • Battle Butler: Camélia, Daydream's butler, jumps unarmed between Sweetie Belle and two opponents, one of which is armed with a sword, at the slightest provocation.
  • Benevolent Boss: Babs Seed, even though she and everyone else all seem to universally dislike changelings, treats Bright Eyes with the exact same respect she would give to a pony working for her. She even lets him stay in her home when she learns he's been living in her office.
  • Berserk Button: Don't badmouth Diamond Tiara around Silver Spoon.
    • Dinky gets noticeably angry when Silver Spoon mentions her mother, and loses it when her eyepatch is damaged.
    • Speaking of Dinky, the Equestrian military gets pissed after learning she's been attacked and robbed. Apparently "the Dink" is well loved by her underlings.
    • Lightning Dust genuinely cares for all the pegasi under her command. Hurt them, and she will hunt you down. When Twitch is killed, she dedicates the R.E.A.F. to revenge.
      • Another one she has is anything to do with Rainbow Dash, even someone talking about her. When she learns via Featherweight that Scootaloo has a connection to Dash, she decides to hunt her down.
    • Although Rumble is usually calm and stoic if one so much as threatens Babs Seed he goes wild and attacks, which Merrilay learns the hard way when she decides to pick a fight with Babs.
  • Big Bad: Queen Twilight Sparkle, though she hasn't shown up yet.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Snails and Twist rescue Silver Spoon when she's cornered by Crimson Sky in Broncton, with the latter distracting the guards while Snails teleports her to safety.
  • Big Good: The Masquerader/Arpeggio... maybe. It's clear that she wants to find and reunite the Elements of Harmony to bring down Queen Twilight, but it's unclear how "good" she is.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Portuguese, the author's native language, is used for the language of West Sonhos Vale.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: When Silver Spoon jumps Apple Bloom in a flashback, she taunts her in Portuguese and Apple Bloom responds in English, clearly having gotten at least the gist of what she saidnote 
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: It's a highly persistent rumor that this is how Twilight controls the Royal Guard.
  • Break His Heart to Save Him: A non-romantic variation: Apple Bloom ultimately chooses to leave Scootaloo behind, because she figures that she'll have a better chance at a safe, happy life without Apple Bloom's presence. When Scootaloo refuses to part ways, Apple Bloom knocks her out and leaves.
  • Brick Joke: During her meeting with Dinky, Silver Spoon gives the name "John Swaybeck" as the one who hired her (An obvious parody of John Steinbeck). Some fifteen chapters later Silver Spoon is reading Of Mice and Men, one of Steinbeck's most famous works.
  • Bounty Hunter: What Apple Bloom has done for a living since returning to Equestria.
  • Boxed Crook: The Corujas, criminals recruited by the government of West Sonhos Vale as assassins, promised pardons in exchange for meeting a quota of Eastern soldiers killed (though they had no problem killing civilians too). Silver Spoon was one.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Apple Bloom and Silver Spoon both decide it's a good idea to mock and attack Dinky Doo while in prison. As payback she orders their execution at dawn.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Daydream is a Cloudcuckoolander of Pinkie Pie levels, but is very intelligent underneath it all.
  • Cain and Abel: Merrilay is Apple Bloom's niece.
  • The Cameo: Zipporwhill from Filli Vanilli is the mailcarrier in Hoofington. The unnamed town Apple Bloom visits has a pub run by Lyra and Bon Bon, and the Stormfront soldier who tries to arrest her fits Flash Sentry's description (The author goes out of her way to neither confirm or deny it). The story also mentions the "two older lankey twins" who designed and maintain vehicles for Environment Equestria, which strongly implies them to be the Flim Flam Brothers.
  • Catch Phrase: Babs Seed says "It just don't add up" in every one of her chapters.
  • Charles Atlas Super Power: Captain Rumble allegedly spends his entire life training and it shows: He is strong enough to overwhelm a griffon in combat and throw entire carts through the air.
  • Classy Cat-Burglar: What Silver Spoon has been reduced to in order to make a living.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Miss Daydream, the mare in charge of Environment Equestria.
  • Cold Sniper: Unlike her theatrical and talkative partner Snails, Twist is rather stern and turns out to be completely mute. She also has no qualms about harming a young rookie R.E.A.F. flier, something even Silver Spoon was reluctant to do.
  • Combat Pragmatist: After being called out for using a pistol against an unarmed opponent, Apple Bloom remarks that she fights to win and makes it very clear she's this close to shooting him.
  • Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are: Dinky does this during her fight with Silver Spoon, while calmly blowing up all the places to hide one by one.
    You asked for a fight, so come out and get one you will never forget for as long as you live! *BOOM* However long that might be, mind you.
  • Consummate Liar: The only clues to Snails' motivations are what he claims to be after, and they seem to change and contradict one another. He also openly admits that he lying is a regular part of his job as an Information Broker.
  • Could Say It But: Crimson Sky "mistakes" Babs as being from Broncton instead of Manehattan, so that he can tip her off that that's where the fugitive they're chasing (Silver Spoon) is heading, in the hopes she can catch her before the R.E.A.F. has to bomb the town to find her.
    • Dinky tells Lightning Dust that she can't authorize the R.E.A.F. going on a revenge mission for Twitch's death, and that she better not hear about her doing it anyway.
  • Counting Bullets: Apple Bloom keeps a careful eye on how many bullets she has left, counting them carefully during battles and double-checking her remaining bullets whenever she gets the chance. She only drops the ball when fighting Captain Rumble, who's raw physical strength and aggression have scared her to the point she can't concentrate any longer.
  • Crapsack World: Equestria has become a Police State Empire, whose military has no qualms about bombing population centers to drive out fugitives.
    • The rest of the world doesn't look too good either — Sonhos Vale, where Apple Bloom and Silver Spoon grew up after becoming refugees, has been split by civil war for so long no one remembers how it started, and Saddle Arabia's been hit so hard by drought that it's on the verge of collapse.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The war between West and East Sonhos Vale was a massacre in the East's favor — they had early 20th century technology, while the West were stuck in Medieval Stasis, with they only advantage being superior numbers, which were wasted in Zerg Rush tactics.
    • Captain Rumble's battle against Apple Bloom is nasty. Her pistol can't even dent his armor and he has the strength to punch her across the room. She didn't even stand a chance against him.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: When Sweetie Belle took over the Diamond Dogs, she convinced them to stop mining gems solely for their own collections and instead trading them to the Equestrian government in order to build up their own society.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Once curfew is in effect in Canterlot, even members of the military are required to show ID to the Royal Guard patrols, due to a time when the Rainbolts stole some uniforms for espionage purposes. The Stormfront Unit also immediately figure out Apple Bloom's tactics and begin baiting her to fire her weapon while hiding behind cover so she will run out of ammo.
  • Dark Secret: Whatever Apple Bloom did in the Sonhos Vale civil war that earned her the nickname "Mau-Olhado" (Evil Eye).
  • Deal with the Devil: Despite everything that Twilight's actions cost her, Sweetie Belle still cut a deal with her new government in order to secure her own position as leader of the Diamond Dogs — gems mined by the Dogs were used to fund the creation of Environment Equestria, who in turn assured that the valley where the Diamond Dogs live always gets the right weather to ensure they can sustain an actual society.
  • Dirty Coward: Featherweight relies on his Changelings to fight for him, and his reputation and status to intimidate others into doing his bidding. When neither works, he runs off with his tail between his legs.
  • Doomed Hometown: Ponyville was destroyed by the battle between Twilight and Luna.
  • The Dragon: Princess Dinky seems to automatically outrank even Twilight's highest-ranked minions, and seems to their go-between.
  • The Dreaded: Rumble, Captain of the Royal Guard, is feared by all. Probably because he once nearly beat a griffin to death with his bare hooves. And on top of that, his looks and general icy attitude incite fear in those who see him, even those who don't know who he is. Like Apple Bloom, who hasn't been shown to be afraid of anything else.
    • Dinky Doo is pretty feared as well. And judging by her fight with Silver Spoon, for good reason.
  • Driving Question: Who is the Masquerader, and what does she want?
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Twist is stabbed on the kidney by Merrilay. Sweetie Belle gets her to the hospital and she stabilizes, but then suddenly succumbs to her injuries.
  • Elite Mooks: Rumble's Stormfront Unit is described as the creme de la creme of the Equestrian armed forces. Apple Bloom, a veteran soldier herself, immediately notices how better trained and more experienced they are, and they actually put up a good fight until their commander shows up to finish the job.
  • The Empire: What Equestria became under Twilight's rule. In fact, it conquered an actual empire (the Crystal Empire, in fact).
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Twilight raised Dinky and Rumble as her own children.
    • Rumble and Babs used to be a couple, and it would seem he still cares about her.
    • Crimson Sky is a loving husband and father, and is close friends with the other founders of the R.E.A.F. Twitch's death devastates him.
    • Similarly, Lightning Dust genuinely cares about her partners and troops, and is filled with a burning rage when Twitch is killed.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Silver Spoon doesn't see a problem with killing mares or stallions, but killing foals is going too far according to her and ticks her off enough to want to kill whoever does it.
  • Evil Overlooker: The story's cover art features an image of Twilight Sparkle's face looming over the three main characters.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Twilight's forces include a group of changelings used as spies, and her Royal Guard includes Babs Seed and other mares. Astringe the artist even lampshades this in the descriptions of one of the pictures.
    Also too, I had a thought when Scootaloo and Apple Bloom passed a pair of guards and one was a woman. Twilight's army is unisex? How come the bad guys in these kinds of stories are always the most progressive?
  • Exact Words: Lieutenant Merrilay threatens to break Twist's neck unless she gets answers. When she gets what she wants to hear, she stabs Twist instead.
  • Eye Scream: The night Ponyville was destroyed, Scootaloo's left eye was put out when one of the lenses of the goggles she was wearing was shattered.
    • Dinky is also minus an eye, though how she lost it hasn't been revealed yet.
  • The Faceless: The Masquerader completely covers herself in rags, hiding her face and everything else that might identify her.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Twilight Sparkle's seems to be what kickstarted the plot to begin with.
    • Quite a few Ponyvile foals have grown up to be key members of Twilight's regime.
    • Featherweight is a more recent example; apparently, he was a member of the Rainbolts before defecting to Twilight's forces.
    • According to the official story Princess Luna became Nightmare Moon once more and rebelled, conveniently "forcing" Twilight Sparkle to rise up, defeat her, and assume complete control of Equestria.
  • Fallen Hero: Either Queen Twilight or Princess Luna are this depending on whether or not one believes the official story. It's strongly implied the story about Princess Luna's Face-Heel Turn is total BS.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Changelings employed by Featherweight are seemingly universally despised.
  • Fantastic Slurs: The citizens of East Sonhos Vale refer to the ponies of West Sonhos Vale as "spooks" due to the emaciated appearance they all share from generations of starvation and meat eating.
  • A Father to His Men: Crimson Sky.
    • Lightning Dust as well, though she's more brash about it.
  • Flashback Nightmare: Scootaloo has one in chapter 9 to the night Ponyville was destroyed and she last saw Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy.
  • Flash Step: Dinky does this several times during her fight with Silver Spoon.
  • Forever War: Played with. East and West Sonhos Vale have hated each other for so long that neither side can even remember who or what started the conflict but when the West actually started fighting, they with swords and bows got the living crap kicked out of them by the East who had guns, tanks, and even fighter aircraft.
  • Funny Foreigner: Pavel. He hardly speaks English and loves telling jokes that make no sense. Unless you understand Russian slang, that is.
  • Future Badass: The younger generation have all grown up pretty tough.
  • Genius Sweet Tooth: Ms. Daydream puts 20 cubes of sugar in one cup of coffee while rambling about weather theories.
  • Ghost Town: What was left standing of Ponyville after Luna and Twilight's battle was abandoned and left to decay, with no one being willing to enter even to scavenge or steal everything that was left behind.
  • Glamour Failure: Changelings disguised as ponies look indistinguishable, but are easy to recognize when you touch them. Their bodies feel 'lifeless' and cool to the touch.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Twilight appointed herself Queen after taking over.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: At least in the pictures the story is based on. Characters with a full red-black-gray color scheme were irredeemably villains, while characters with only one or two of these colors were anti-heroes/villains or neutral, and characters with brown clothing were the heroes. However with characters like Crimson Sky and Babs Seed's investigation team, this doesn't seem to be the case in the story itself.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Apple Bloom and Silver Spoon both picked up smoking in Sonhos Vale, where it's implied to be quite common as opposed to Equestria where tobacco cannot be found.
  • Great Detective: Babs, having long since been put in charge on the Criminal Investigation Department of the Royal Guard, is the only who doesn't connect the arrest of the Cake twins with Silver Spoon's theft of the Princess's crown on the same night — everyone else sees the twins as a diversion for the theft, but Babs sees it as the coincidence it is. Later, she's also the one who figures out Silver Spoon's civilian identity, from very disparate clues.
  • Handicapped Badass: Apple Bloom has a notable limp in one of her forelegs, but can still fight as good as anyone.
    • Scootaloo is half-blind and has a broken wing, but can give Apple Bloom and Silver Spoon a run for their money.
    • Dinky is also half-blind, but is also one of the most powerful unicorns alive.
    • Babs was removed from active duty in the Royal Guard after a permanent lung injury. She doesn't let it slow her down.
  • Happily Adopted: Apple Bloom was adopted by a zebra couple in East Sonhos Vale after Ponyville was destroyed.
    • Twilight adopted Dinky Doo after Ponyville's destruction. It's also stated that she raised Rumble like a son, but it doesn't seem he was officially adopted too.
  • Heel Realization: Sweetie Belle has one when it occurs to her that friendship really is important to her, after her friend Twist has already died.
  • Heroic BSOD: Scootaloo, after seeing Twitch and recognizing him from the night Ponyville was destroyed, freaks out and then goes practically catatonic.
  • "Hey, You!" Haymaker: How Babs expresses to Featherweight her disgust over the bombing of Broncton, which was based on his intel.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Silver Spoon went from being one of the richest foals in Ponyville to being a common thief. Dinky subtly mocks this when they run into each other.
  • Iconic Outfit: Twitch's battered old flight cap. After he's blown up, it's the only means to identify the body.
  • Implacable Man: Captain Rumble doesn't even seem to feel pain when he's focused on hunting someone down.
  • Interservice Rivalry: There's seems to be a bit between the Royal Guard and the Royal Equestrian Air Force. And no one seems to like Featherweight and his Changeling spies.
  • Interspecies Friendship: Apple Bloom was friends with a griffon and a number of zebras when she lived in Sonhos Vale. It's also implied she was romantically involved with the zebra Peppercorn.
  • In-Series Nickname: Since the Changeling she's loaned doesn't offer its own name, Babs takes to calling it Bright Eyes.
  • Ironic Nickname: Silver Spoon still refers to Apple Bloom as "Blank Flank", even though her own body is so badly scarred she no longer has a cutie mark for herself.
  • It's All My Fault: Scootaloo blames herself for Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy's apparent deaths, believing that since she couldn't fly, she slowed them down enough to get killed.
    • Crimson Sky blames himself for Twitch becoming such a psycho (and his death), viewing himself and Lightning Dust as bad influences on a kid with an already bad outlook on life.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Potentially Twitch, at least if Crimson Sky is right.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Between Babs' Criminal Investigation Department, Rumble's Stormfront Unit, the regular Royal Guard, and the R.E.A.F., there tends to be plenty of arguing over who handles what. And then there's Dinky, who technically outranks all of them and can stick her nose into anything she wants.
  • Karmic Death: Twitch, who gleefully partook in the bombing of Broncton, is killed when a shot from Apple Bloom's gun sets off one of the bombs on his belt, catching him in the blast.
  • Kicked Upstairs: Babs was part of Rumble's personal squad, until an injury during the conquest of the Crystal Empire took her off active duty. She was then reassigned to run the Criminal Investigation Department.
  • Knife Nut: Silver Spoon always fights with knifes.
  • Knowledge Broker: In addition to being a criminal, Snails is apparently this as well. Or at least, he gathers information for his own ends.
  • La Résistance: There's a group called the Rainbolts that apparently serves as the main opposition to Twilight's forces.
  • Leave Him to Me: Lightning Dust's orders to Crimson Sky and Twitch when encountering Rainbow Dash in Ponyville.
  • Let Me Get This Straight: When Starlight tries to sum up Babs Seed's poorly-worded theory about Silver Spoon's double life. It's particularly funny because his summation is worded even worse.
    Babs Seed: What if it was her real self, that is her undisguised 'Not Silver Spoon' that came to the city all legitimate-like, then mugged Ms. Coffee Cream there for a disguise to protect her identity?
    Starlight: Let me get this straight. You think 'Not Silver Spoon' came into the city, disguised herself as not 'Not Silver Spoon' to move around, then disguised herself as Silver Spoon to sneak into the palace.
    Babs Seed: (Flatly) Yes. That's what I think.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: The Masquerader sends Apple Bloom after Scootaloo with orders to capture her, and as such, Scootaloo fights back during the ensuing encounter. It takes making direct eye contact for them to recognize each other, which is what ends the fight.
  • Luke, I Might Be Your Father: It's strongly implied that Crimson Sky is Scootaloo's father; if so, this would be both a straight and inverted example, as it doesn't appear that either party is aware of the connection.
  • Mook Lieutenant: Crimson Sky and Twitch are Lightning Dust's co-commanders in the Royal Equestrian Air Force.
  • Mook Promotion: Merrilay becomes one of Lightning Dust's wingponies after Twitch is killed.
  • Mugging the Monster: In chapter 2, a couple of drunk thugs try to mug Apple Bloom. One takes a bullet to the chest, and the other to the shoulder.
  • Mysterious Backer: The Masquerader. She sets Apple Bloom after Scootaloo, and hired Silver Spoon to steal the Element of Magic crown from Dinky Doo, and gave both parties instructions to meet her in Broncton, implying that she intended for them to meet up even without instructions to do so. And this is all without anyone knowing who she is or what she wants.
    • It turns out that she wants to find the Elements of Harmony so that she can overthrow Twilight, though her motives are still quite unclear.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: The official explanation for why the Royal Guard pledged loyalty to Twilight when she took over — loyalty to the throne, not whoever sits in it.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: A neutral example when Cloudy Cradle is thinking about Trixie's students, all of which are unicorns except for one. She describes them as "a room full of rambunctious unicorns, and Clear Rivers."
  • Mythology Gag: Sonhos Vale, the name of the country Apple Bloom and Silver Spoon grew up in, means "Valley of Dreams". In other words, Dream Valley.
    • Similarly, Pavel claims to be from a country or town called "Grogary Gorki", which is Russian for "Grogar's Mountain."
    • The young unicorn being enrolled at G&P shares a color scheme and interest in being an environmentalist with a character from My Little Pony Tales, as well as a father who works for the paper. Since it's Bright Eyes in disguise, he also shares the same name.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Apple Bloom's reaction when she realizes that the fugitive she's been sent to collect, who she almost seriously wounded or killed, is Scootaloo.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: There's no spoken swearing other than 'ass', but characters often curse quietly under their breaths and in one instance Silver Spoon throws up a 'vulgar gesture' of some kind.
  • Necessarily Evil: Dinky claims this about herself and the rest of Twilight's government to Apple Bloom, saying that they're Not So Different in that they do terrible things because they have no choice, just like Apple Bloom in the war.
  • Neck Lift: Dinky does this telekinetically to Silver Spoon in their fight, and Spoon barely gets out of it.
  • Never Bring A Knife To A Gunfight: Apple Bloom says this almost word for word after using her gun to take out the two thugs who attempt to mug her in chapter 2.
  • Non-Fatal Explosions: Averted. When Rarity is killed she's sent flying by the concussion of an explosion, which is enough to give her fatal internal injuries. Babs Seed was similarly injured by an explosion and survived, but was left permanently crippled with a bad lung that she takes medication for.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: Captain Rumble, unlike every other villain in the series, doesn't even speak to Apple Bloom. Instead he runs right in and kicks the living crap out of her.
  • No One Could Survive That: Scootaloo encountered what she thought were the dead bodies of Snips and Snails the night Ponyville was destroyed. Meeting the very much alive Snails years later bothers her to no end because she simply can't accept that he had survived it.
    Scootaloo: Look, I was young and I was scared, but I know what I saw. That night, I mean. I can't believe he survived that. It's rubbing me the wrong way, and I trust my gut.
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently, the last time Daydream asked Sweetie Belle for advice for things at Environment Equestria, it ended up snowing in summer.
  • Not So Different: Arpeggio compares herself to Scootaloo with a classic "we have a lot in common you and I".
    • Dinky tries to win over Apple Bloom by saying that Twilight's regime, while harsh, only does what's necessary for peace, just like the actions she took during the war in Sonhos Vale.
  • Oh, Crap: Silver Spoon's reaction to realizing she's facing down the Princess, and later when she's confronted by Babs Seed in her civilian guise.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The being who hires Apple Bloom and Silver Spoon for their respective jobs is initially referred to only as "The Masquerader". Later, when she teams up with Snails, she gives him the name "Arpeggio", though this is clearly an alias.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Apple Bloom, who has been nothing but serious calm and jaded throughout the entire story quickly becomes terrified of Captain Rumble during their fight, and for very good reason.
  • Paint It Black: At some point, Twilight had her Royal Guards swap out their gold armor for black and silver which is apparently much more durable. Meanwhile, red-gray-black became the color scheme of the new royal family.
  • Parental Abandonment: Crimson Sky apparently abandoned a pregnant lover in Ponyville before the foal was even born. It's implied this was Scootaloo's mother.
    • Merrilay is apparently the result of a one night stand on Big Macintosh's part. She has issues over this.
  • Parental Substitute: Pinkie apparently raised the Cake twins after their parents were killed the night of Ponyville's destruction, to the point that Pound sees her as their real mother.
  • Pet the Dog: Not only did Dinky seek out Babs Seed to chew her out for attacking Featherweight, but she was also very suspicious of how Babs got intel on a classified mission. Before anything else, though, she was genuinely concerned about Babs' wound and took the time to treat it first.
    • Silver Spoon has a soft spot for children especially in her civilian persona. She even just up and gives the valuable gemstone she found beneath Canterlot to a kid because his mother was sick and couldn't afford medicine.
    • Apple Bloom herself finally gets one when she protects a teenager from being mugged.
    • When Crimson Sky finds Scootaloo after Apple Bloom knocks her out and leaves her, he checks her for wounds, offers to take her to a nearby hospital, gives her some life advice, and lets her have his jacket.
  • Photographic Memory: Dinky apparently has one.
  • Please Wake Up: Sweetie Belle did this with Rarity, who was mortally wounded the night Ponyville was destroyed and didn't wake up the next morning.
  • Princesses Rule: Discussed, when Twitch wonders why Celestia went by Princess instead of Queen.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Most of the R.E.A.F, particularly the rookies, seem to count as this, but the changeling Bright Eyes definitely counts. He obediently does what he's told, but isn't even interested enough in what's going on to offer his name or gender.
  • Punched Across the Room: Captain Rumble knocks Apple Bloom around like a ragdoll during their fight. His first hit sends her hurtling across the room and almost kills her.
  • The Quiet One: Twist doesn't talk much.
    • It turns out that's because she's mute.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: Lightning Dust, Rumble, and Featherweight are Twilight's top lieutenants, but rather than being Co-Dragons, they're outranked by Dinky, through whom they communicate with Twilight.
    • Lightning Dust and her two wingponies are this as well until it's subverted with Twitch's death after he appears only once.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Averted. Apple Bloom uses a 'repeater', in other words a semi-automatic.
    • Played straight with Peppercorn, her lover from the East. He uses a "Lucky-7" which is likely meant to be a LeMat Revolver.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Averted in the civil war between West and East Sonhos Vale. The West had vastly superior numbers but were armed with bows, spears, and medieval armor. The East had guns, vehicles (including tanks) and even airplanes. According to Apple Bloom the West got slaughtered quite messily.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Twist, who is presented in the series of images the story is based on as a major character, is killed rather unceremoniously only a few chapters after her introduction.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Babs Seed is able to get away with much more than other members of the guard simply because she is Captain Rumble's ex and a lot of characters are afraid to mess with her purely out of fear of what he'll do to them if they do. Also at one point Dinky makes it perfectly clear Babs would have been punished severely for attacking Featherweight, but is lenient because of her own friendship with Rumble.
  • Scars Are Forever: Apple Bloom has a scar under her right eye. It turns out she got it when Silver Spoon tried to kill her.
    • Silver Spoon has a scar on her leg, leftover from when Apple Bloom shot at her in a previous encounter. She also has a few more on her body which she shows off while describing what being slashed and stabbed feels like to intimidate an R.E.A.F. rookie and it's later revealed her body is so badly scarred she no longer has a cutie mark and even Apple Bloom takes pity on her.
    • And of course, there's the scar permanently sealing shut Scootaloo's lost eye.
    • Babs Seed has a "messy" scar on her belly from a Cesarian Section. Since she has yet to mention a child it's strongly implied she suffered a stillbirth.
    • Twist has numerous scars over her body, including a large one on her throat from the wound that rendered her mute.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Attempted by Apple Bloom, but her firearm doesn't have the power to actually bust the door open.
  • Shout-Out: Silver Spoon references numerous real-life novels and authors. She mockingly gives the names "Mark Mane" and "John Swaybeck" as the people who hired her along with mentioning The Mysterious Stranger, is reading Of Mice and Men in a later chapter, and refers to Dinky as "The Wicked Witch".
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: When Dinky is trying to convince a captured Apple Bloom to join Twilight's forces, Apple Bloom responds by slamming her into her cell bars, calling her a psychopath, and saying that her mother would be ashamed of what she's become.
  • Social Darwinist: Merrilay makes a few comments that suggest she has this mindset.
  • The Sociopath: Lieutenant Merrilay is a complete sadist who gets off on violence and seems to care very little for even her own comrades — she even claims that if the government hadn't killed her family, she would have. She also has it out for Apple Bloom (her aunt), and literally drops everything to go after her after stabbing Twist.
  • The Speechless: Changelings don't appear capable of speech in their normal form.
    • Twist was rendered mute by some sort of accident.
  • The Spymaster: Featherweight is described as "the Queen's ears", due to the Changeling spies that he deploys across Equestria.
  • Smug Snake: Silver Spoon is this to the point that Snails points it out as her weakness. She always has a sarcastic retort for an opponent, including one that would be a blatant case of Getting Crap Past the Radar if there was a radar to get it past:
    The Princess: (After showing she's clearly not to be trifled with) And yet, that thought gives me pause.
    Silver Spoon: Ah. I had that once. There’s a special cream for it; fixes it up in less than a week. You might want to try washing down there more often.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Ms. Daydream is one of the wealthiest ponies in Equestria and is implied to have come from wealth, yet is incredibly happy, sweet, and friendly to just about anyone.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: The Masquerader does this all the time. It borders on Offscreen Teleportation at times.
    • Snails does this a few times as well.
  • Stepford Smiler: Sweetie Belle has worked hard to bury all her old feelings under an icy demeanor as a defense mechanism. Twist's death seems to break this facade.
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: Several chapters are from the villains' perspective and actually depict them as fairly reasonable ponies. The only two villains in the entire story to not be portrayed as the least bit sympathetic are Merrilay, a complete psychopath, and Twilight Sparkle herself who hasn't made an appearance yet.
  • Tears of Joy: Apple Bloom and Scootaloo's reaction when they recognize each other, thus dispelling the belief each had that the other was dead.
  • That Man Is Dead: Snails says this about his foalhood self, saying he "died" the night Ponyville was destroyed.
    • Sweetie Belle has likewise buried her past, having no problem with cutting a deal with the same people who caused the deaths of her whole family, saying that "the past is the past. Period."
  • The Watson: Starlight is this to Babs Seed, basically giving her someone to talk to while she theorizes.
  • Token Good Teammate: Crimson Sky has been one of Twilight's lieutenants since the start, and is loyal, but is uncomfortable with some of the more extreme things that are done in her name.
    • Babs is similar to Crimson Sky, in that she doesn't approve of the wholesale violence the rest of the Royal Guard and the R.E.A.F. perform, but holds to the oath she took to serve Twilight as a member of the Guard.
  • Token Minority: Babs' investigation team gains one in Bright Eyes, the Changeling loaned to her by Featherweight.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: When the Cake twins are captured by the Royal Guard, Pumpkin apparently responds to threats of enhanced interrogation by giving rather graphic advice on how to do it.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Apple Bloom still has her sister's hat.
    • Scootaloo has three — her old CMC bandana (now used as an eyepatch), her mother's scarf, and Rainbow Dash's flight goggles.
  • Two Aliases, One Character: Babs becomes convinced that Silver Spoon operates this way. She's right.
  • Undying Loyalty: Twilight's inner circle, and her armed forces in general, are this to her.
  • Unfortunate Names: Twitch's actual name is Honeysuckle, which he hated so much he wouldn't even wear his dog tags.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Twitch, according to Crimson Sky.
    • For that matter, most of the characters count as well, compared to their canon selves.
  • Villain Episode: There are a few chapters that focus on members of the R.E.A.F, and of course there are chapters starring Babs Seed (Who's hardly evil but still on the villain's side) and Silver Spoon (Who's a villain, but on nobody's side)
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Queen Twilight is a tyrant, but is still seen as a hero by most of her subjects.
  • War Is Hell: Apple Bloom certainly seems haunted by her experience in the Sonhos Vale civil war.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Apple Bloom and Scootaloo's reunion with Sweetie Belle does not turn out the way they thought it would.
    • Dinky says this word for word to Apple Bloom when offering her a chance to join Twilight's regime.
  • Where It All Began: The Masquerader/Arpeggio has Scootaloo meet her where Rainbow Dash was murdered (which was where the entire Bad Future began), to manipulate her into helping by convincing her they both have something to gain by teaming up.
    Arpeggio: I wanted you to hate. I wanted you to remember the one who hurt you, the one who is my enemy, and hate her with all of your heart. So you would understand we have a common interest in this.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Silver Spoon seems to have a soft spot for kids. She's reluctant (though willing when he pushes his luck) to harm Pinstripe because he's just a young rookie, and in a flashback expresses her disgust over a comrade who killed his wife and child.
    Silver Spoon: Maybe he had a reason for doing the old ball and chain, but there’s no excuse for killing foals. I was going to put a knife in his back after the job was done anyways.
  • The Worf Effect: The first time we see Rumble in action, he beats Apple Bloom unconscious with no apparent effort on his part.
  • Written by the Winners: Officially, after Celestia's death, Luna tried to usurp total control of Equestria for herself, which is why Twilight had to fight and stop her. It's rather strongly implied this is total BS.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: After Ponyville was destroyed, the survivors all scattered across Equestria (and in some cases, sought refuge outside Equestria itself).
  • Your Mom: Silver Spoon gives a basic "Your mother" in response to Dinky's questions on how she found the secret passage into the caverns under the royal palace.
Background PonyFanWorks/My Little Pony: Friendship Is MagicThe Ballad of Twilight Sparkle

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