"Imagine that you had this affliction yourself, Lero. Let’s pretend that you were swapped with... oh... a bodybuilder. A stallion who could lift 500-pound barbells every day. There you are, at the gym, compelled to lift these steel monstrosities. You memories insist you've been weightlifting for years... your heart insists you LOVE doing it! It’s your calling in life! It shouldn't be impossible! So you keep straining, obsessively, to lift that 500-pound barbell, hour after hour, week after week, until one day, you tear your own musculature to shreds and your spine snaps in two! That’s where all my friends are now. Destroying themselves slowly. And it’s all my fault... for casting that damnable spell..."
- Twilight Sparkle
Divided Rainbow is a recursive spinoff of AnonAuthor'sMy Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fanfic Xenophilia, written by Mike Teavee.Quite some time has passed since the conclusion of Xenophilia, and life could hardly be finer for one Bellerophon "Lero" Michaelides. Lero has fully acclimatized to life as the one human in a world of sapient polygamous ponies. If anything, the loving relationship he shares between Twilight Sparkle, Lyra Heartstrings and especially his lead mare, Rainbow Dash, has only gotten stronger. It’s only a matter of time before the four herdmates finally get around to officially tying the knot!Until one fateful day, Princess Celestia mails her faithful student a certain spell book, instructing her to find some way of finishing the incomplete spell on the final page. Twilight innocently tests the spell in front of the Elements of Harmony, resulting in all five of her Element Bearer friends swapping identities. But the situation is far more devastating than in the show, especially when romance and family are brought into play.With Twilight stumped for ideas on how to set things right, Lero is forced to adapt to a world gone mad, and figure out how he’s going to live with a fashionista-turned-weathermare, bewitched into believing she — rather than Rainbow Dash — has always been Lero’s first and greatest love...
Divided Rainbow contains examples of the following tropes:
Amnesiacs Are Innocent: As Rarity says, within a dream Lero has of her and Rainbow Dash confronting each other:
“Rainbow, at the end of the day, you’re still my friend,” said Rarity, with kindly compassion. “No one can blame you for abandoning Twilight’s herd, least of all me. Especially not when your new memories insist that you were never PART of our herd to begin with."
Animals Hate Her: All the cottage critters are out for Rainbow Dash’s blood, and to make her life hell.
Arc Words: Numerous variations on the phrase, "It's always been this way."
Armor-Piercing Question: Any question that probes too far into one of the Swapped Five's pasts tends to invoke this, resulting in confusion and doubt, and several seconds of blankness while the appropriate memories are constructed. However, sometimes the spell simply gives an "I don't know" or "I don't remember" for relatively trivial things.
Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Pinkie Pie retains this aspect of her personality, making a bad situation worse; not only does she do a poor job on the farm, but this results in her constantly switching tasks and leaving jobs half-finished.
Big Sister Bully: Pinkie Pie to Apple Bloom. Until Apple Bloom is made the big sister.
Apple Bloom: Yer not mah Ma!
Pinkie Pie: MA’S DEAD. AH’VE pretty much BEEN Ma for ya, in case yew’ve fergotten everythang since yew were in diapers. So yew'll do what Ah say! So git! We got grown-up bizness to do, and we don' need lil' fillies who’re as useless as a glass sledgehammer, an inflatable dartboard, and a wax skillet all at once!
Bilingual Bonus: The Italian song Lyra sings to Rarity at the end of Chapter 20.
Blob Monster: The glufferflork, the monster responsible for landing Big Macintosh in the hospital with all four legs in critical condition.
Body Backup Drive: Discord turns out to have created a backup of the original Fluttershy so she'll always be around even when the original dies. He's also created a backup of the rest of the Mane Six for Backup!Fluttershy, so she won't be lonely, but they're based on Discord's appreciation for them, so they're very limited and much less accurate representations of the real thing; Pinkie Pie's the only other one besides Fluttershy that's even capable of speech.
Backup!Fluttershy: (regarding her fellow Backups) ...they’re full-grown mares, they’re just... Made out of Discord's appreciation and affection for them, just like I am. He, um, favors me more. So they're far more dim-witted and simple than their real-life counterparts. But they’re all so sweet and playful and cuddly and easy to get along with! And they can all go to the little fillies’ room all by themselves! Without supervision!
Composite Character: The Swapped Five are a bizarre, literal, in-universe version of this, containing the base personality traits and talents of one character, while having the memories, aspirations and emotions of another.
Damsel in Distress: To a certain extent, all the Swapped Five are this, but Rainbow Dash in particular needs all the help she can get with her animals.
From the moment Starswirl's incomplete spell brings her into existence, Swapped!Rarity believes herself to be in a loving sexual relationship with all the adults of Herd Bellerophon. Guess what happens at Chapter 20?
Drowning My Sorrows: After being rejected by Swapped!Rainbow, Lero makes a heroic attempt to do this, until interrupted by Discord.
Empty Shell: Immediately after Twilight first casts Starswirl’s incomplete spell, all her Element Bearer friends temporarily enter a vacuous sleepwalker-like state, as they're compelled to physically switch places with each other geographically. Rarity has to endure this the longest because at the moment the swap took place, Rainbow was in the middle of a dangerous forest, many miles away, trying to save Lero’s life. This state wears off over time, and by the time she actually reaches Lero, she's mostly back to normal.
Everypony Is Bi: It’s a Xenophilia story. You can count the number of inarguably ‘bent’ characters on one hand... maybe two.
Fake Memories: Not only the Swapped Five, but practically everyone else throughout the world of Equestria, save for a handful of exceptions. To the point where Twilight temporarily theorizes that Starswirl’s spell actually sent her and Lero to a parallel universe instead of swapping her friends.
There are several hints that suggest the Swapped Five's memories and personality are still there underneath their new ones, and they occasionally break through before the spell reasserts itself.
Fantastic Racism: Honeydew continues her crusade against Lero, but redirects her efforts against Rainbow Dash towards Rarity instead, as she's now the one who's lead mare to Lero.
For Want of a Nail: Xenophilia elements notwithstanding, the main difference between this and Magical Mystery Cure is the difficulty in reversing the spell's effects, which Twilight quickly manages in the show.
The author has stated that in show itself, it depicts Carousel Boutique and Sweet Apple Acres falling into ruin far faster than reasonably possible; his opinion was that the cure took far longer to deduce than apparent in the show and was compressed for narrative reasons, and that one of the main purposes of Divided Rainbow — in addition to adding Lero — is to examine in detail the time that was glossed over in the original.
Q: Why hasn't Twilight figured out the cure to the Swap yet?!
I can understand the confusion. After all, in the Magical Mystery Cure episode, Twilight only spent 10 minutes of screen time grappling with that problem before she was transformed into an Alicorn princess. But here's my response:
A: It WASN'T ten minutes on Twilight's side of the fourth wall!
Consider this; the first time Twilight sees Swapped Pinkie on MMC, the apple orchard she's farming is flourishing and fruitful. Next time we see that orchard, it's pretty much dead and barren. Now I'm not exactly a top-tier agricultural guru, but by my reckoning, orchards don't go from fruitful to barren overnight. Not without a raging wildfire or Pinkie mixing weed killer into the fertilizer, (and not even SHE is THAT idiotic a farmer.) I'd say it'd take at least a month, or more likely SEVERAL for things to deteriorate to the stage.
CONCLUSION: The swapped five STAYED swapped for SEVERAL MONTHS before Twilight reached her epiphany! (Chilling thought, ain't it?) So as it is in Magical Mystery Cure, so too shall it be in Divided Rainbow.
Funetik Aksent: Every member of the Apple Family. And Pinkie Pie. Apparently, Applejack's accent is thick enough to affect two ponies.
Go Mad from the Revelation: Discord reveals that one of the worst fates which can befall swapped ponies is having all their false memories debunked and learning that they are swapped, and insists the knowledge would turn them violent and homicidal. To avoid this, Celestia has Discord modify the memories of most of the world to maintain consistency, and why the members of Herd Bellerophon play along with it.
Green-Eyed Monster: Spike is extremely jealous and angry over the affection Rarity shows towards Lero and his herd. Lero returns the favour when Swapped!Rainbow is extremely grateful towards Spike for helping her with her animals and pretty much ignores Lero's contributions in the process.
Grey and Gray Morality: One of Lero and Twilight's dilemmas is that there's no correct answer on how to deal with the situation, and that what might appear to be the right thing to do would in fact cause far more harm and damage to all involved. This especially applies to Rarity taking Rainbow's place in their herd.
Guile Hero: Since waking everyone up to the truth is not a viable option for him, sheer shrewdness becomes Lero’s new weapon of choice against the swap. He eventually figures out ways to improve both the situation and the morale off the Swapped Five, without telling them the truth about what's going on.
Hair-Raising Hare: When you've got a rabbit like Angel Bunny, who's all-too-willing to unite every creature in Fluttershy's — now Rainbow Dash's — cottage against the target of his ire, yeah, that is pretty hair-raising.
Healing Horn: Both Rarity and Twilight know healing magic. Other unicorns, such as Drs. Osteoblast and Osteoclast of Bramblewood Hospital, have mastered this power to such a degree, that their horn-healing can take the place of major surgery.
Hell Gate: Profound Koan, the last Still Way grandmaster whom Lyra visited on her sabbatical, spent all his time fighting the demonic creatures that were spilling out of such a portal. Admittedly, the demons were pathetic specimens, but he was trying to prove a point to the bigger demons that were watching further back.
Rainbow Dash is now compelled to almost never leave her cottage, except on official 'pet care business.' When Lero succeeds in using dog walking as a loophole, he considers it a triumph against the Swap.
To date, Applejack has only been seen TWICE, in-story, outside of the Carousel Boutique.
In order to begin to truly help her, Lero and Rarity had to magically drag Pinkie Pie away from Sweet Apple Acres, kicking and snarling.
Averted with Fluttershy. She's compelled to seek out ponies, (and other sapient beings) and make them laugh. Lero considers her newfound extroversion a plus; Fluttershy's actually a terrific conversationalist if you can get her to lay off the jokes.
Averted with Rarity. Since Rarity's now driven to perform Rainbow Dash's old weather duties, (including managing the pegasi that'd been under Dash's command,) Rarity gets to go outside and socialize the most.
Tragically, while NOT Swapped, herself, Twilight Sparkle deteriorates to a state where she literally walls herself off from her own family with books, in order to research a cure.
How Many Fingers?: Since Rarity doesn't possess fingers, she levitates some pebbles off the ground and asks Lero to blink the number she's holding up.
I Did What I Had to Do: Twilight seems to hold this view about the time she had sex with Rarity, claiming that while she wasn't forced into it as such, she only eventually consented because she believed the alternative would be worse.
If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: In a rare moment of motherly affection, Star Sparkle threatens Rarity if she ever hurts Twilight. Rarity is naturally very confused about this, since from her perspective she's been in a loving relationship with Twilight for years as part of Lero's herd.
I Need a Freaking Drink: After being dropped into a forest of thorn trees after apparently being abandoned by the woman he loves, then being captured and tortured by a giant spider, only to be rescued by a friend who strangely seems to be acting like a lover, tolerating extensive medical care and muteness, being given a grand tour of his friends and lover's grand miseries at the hands of a misfired spell, and being soundly rejected by said love in his efforts to break said spell, possibly destroying what little relationship between them remains, Lero comes to this conclusion. Most people wouldn't have lasted half as long.
Here was a muumuu made entirely out of belts and zippers. There was a garment which was naught but the buttoned pockets of cargo pants all sewn to each other in a blouse-like formation. On this pony mannequin: a set of parachute pants so slack and saggy, one could leap off a cliff in them and be assured of a safe glide back to earth. On that pony mannequin: dungarees dyed in the whimsical hues of smashed caterpillars and cockroaches.
In-Series Nickname: Rarity uses them for her new herd members, constantly referring to Lero as her "Prince", Twilight as "Sparkle-kitten" and "Enchantress", and Lyra as her "Sweet Songbird".
Instant Sedation: Twilight's sleep spell, which she ends up using on Lero a few times.
Interspecies Romance: Rarity originally had no interest in dating outside her species. Swapped!Rarity couldn’t be more delighted with having Lero as her 'stallion', which is a major source of moral conflict for Lero.
Just Smile and Nod: Lero and his herd have pretty much had to embrace this tactic as a new way of life. Otherwise, their well-meaning friends and neighbors would’ve had them committed long ago.
Twilight: Well, uh, Rarity has dated. Lots. More than the rest of us six. Every now and then, back in the days when Rarity was her old self... we’d all just be having girl talk, and she’d brag or joke about some of the ones she... well...
Twilight: Yes. Bedded. She wasn't crass about it or anything, but Rarity made it pretty clear she knows her way around a bedroom very well. So when she swapped with Rainbow Dash, those bedroom skills just... transferred over naturally.
Masquerade: The Bewitchment. Most of the world's population has been bewitched so that their memories fall in lockstep with those of the Swapped. Including, in some cases, forgetting who their blood relatives actually are.
Magic Carpet: Rarity pretty much invents one by combining a cloud-walking spell with her weather magic, and often uses it for transportation.
Mundane Utility: Rarity's all-purpose weather magic! She'll use it to vanquish monsters! She'll use it to water farm crops! She'll use it to dry herself after showering!
My God, What Have I Done?: This question always lies at the bottom of Twilight’s heart, for casting Starswirl’s incomplete spell in the first place.
The Needs of the Many: Herds operate on this principle, with "protect the herd" being the most important goal, especially so for stallions.
Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Lero first realizes this the moment Rarity kisses him. And then he’s brought back home to Ponyville, and sees just how out-of-control the situation truly is.
Personality Swap: In addition to swapping memories, the Swapped Five also switch personalities, but only partially. For example, Swapped!Pinkie retains her hyperactive personality, and Swapped!Rarity is still elegant and classy, as well as possessing great confidence in her appearance. Conversely, Swapped!Rainbow becomes much shyer, Swapped!Fluttershy is far more extroverted, and Swapped!Applejack acquires some of Rarity's romanticism.
Polly Wants a Microphone: Jabbers; one of the cottage critters. Though this talking bird isn't intelligent to utilize real speech, the words he parrots are always uttered in a cruel, jeering tone.
Punny Names In classic MLP tradition, several of Divided Rainbow's all-new original characters have very on-the-nose aptonyms for names. This is most blatantly obvious in regards to the authors of Equestria's books.
Lero glanced over some of the titles. The Question Of Free Will by Inevitable Outcome. Magic And Memory Modification by Spell Bound. Identity Formation by Self Concept.
Rainbow Text: Whenever the storyline directly 'flashbacks' into a story one of the Swapped are telling, the text turns purple.
Sadistic Choice: For Twilight and particularly Lero when it comes to dealing with Rarity having taken Rainbow's place in their herd. They're torn between being faithful to Rainbow's love and the original Rarity's wishes, or playing along to prevent Swapped!Rarity from being extremely hurt and depressed, and possibly destroying Rainbow's love for Lero and Twilight when the spell is finally fixed.
Seamless Spontaneous False Memory: All the Swapped, (and all the Bewitched as well,) excel at coming up with no end of new memories on the fly. Or were they already put there to begin with?
Suddenly Sober: Courtesy of the breathalyzer Discord attaches to Lero while they're both in the World of Chaos.
...After a while, Discord popped it out of his mouth. “Welcome back to sobriety!”
Lero felt at his head and blinked his eyes. “Oh my God... I am sober!”
“Yep! This little guy feeds off inebriation, sucks it right out of drunks! Isn’t that right, buddy?”
“That it is!” chirped the ‘breathalyzer,’ and bowed respectfully to Lero. “Thank you for being such a delicious meal, sir!” Discord tossed it aside, and it somehow skittered off.
Swapped Roles: Divided Rainbow can almost be seen as a vicious deconstruction of this whole trope.
Take a Third Option: Instead of revealing the truth or going along with things, Lero instead takes it upon himself to help the Swapped Five with their duties, to help avoid the depression and chaos being caused by their ineptitude at their new callings.
The Chosen One: Twilight is the only one who can discover a cure for the swap. Knowing this doesn’t do anything to help her nerves.
Understatement: The titles of some of the most pivotal chapters in the story include: 'Pinkie Pie Talks About Oranges,' 'Rarity Lowers The Temperature' and 'Rainbow Dash Entertains Some Guests.' Take our word for it; a LOT more happens in those chapters than these titles let on.
Weather Manipulation: Among the most striking differences between Rarity and Swapped!Rarity is how she now utilizes weather spells with the prowess and familiarity of a lifelong pro. Bursts of "artistic inspiration" notwithstanding.
Lero gives one to Twilight when he walks in on her having sex with Rarity.
Lero similarly gives one to Spike, when Spike goes with him to help Rainbow Dash for selfish reasons — keeping Lero away from Rarity — rather than out of concern for his family member, and someone who is practically an older sister to him at this point.
What Would Rainbow Dash Do?: To get an idea on how the original Rainbow Dash and Rarity would want him to handle the situation, Lero presents it as a nightmare he's been having, and asks Swapped!Rarity for her opinion by appealing to her love for him. Turns out she'd be okay with him being in a relationship with Rainbow if the situation was reversed. She also states that if she were to hypothetically take Rainbow's place in his herd, she would gladly do it for her friends in a heartbeat, and that it's hardly a terrible fate to suffer through.
Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Both Lero and Rainbow Dash are dismayed when the young colt Absinthe tells them his name. In all honesty, though, it's far from the worst pony name that Lero gets to hear.
Written-In Absence: Lyra Heartstrings, who has been traveling abroad on her Still Way sabbatical since before the plot began. Although a letter is received from her in Chapter 7. The rest of Herd Bellerophon write to her constantly to keep her up-to-speed with all the swap-related madness happening at home. Appropriately enough, she has a much more active role in the Fourth Wall Mail Slot.