Fan Fic: Harmony Theory

Harmony Theory is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic by Sharaloth.

After the defeat of Chrysalis, Celestia assigns Twilight the task of studying The Elements of Harmony. Over a thousand years later, Rainbow Dash wakes up underground, next to a dead stallion, with no memory of anything that has happened since Ponyville was assigned tornado duty, in a world very different to the one she is used to. Equestria has split in two, the magic of the world has faded, the geography, cultures and languages are not what she is familiar with and the first thing she does gets her in trouble with the Lunar Republic's police force.

After injuring herself, she is rescued by Star Fall/Fallen Star and her griffon bodyguard Astrid, two spies for the Solar Kingdom. Star Fall recognises the language Rainbow speaks as Old Equestrian, that she is the most powerful and magical pegasus to have been seen in at least eight hundred years and that she is claiming to be the ancient hero Rainbow Dash.

The tensions between the two sides of Equestria only increase with the arrival of a living superweapon and it looks like Nightmare Umbra, the alicorn of war is set to return. And what does Rainbow's arrival have to do with the activities of the criminal Max Cash?

And how does all this relate to Twilight's disturbing discoveries about the Elements of Harmony themselves?

This fanfic contains examples of the following tropes:

  • The Ace: Rainbow Dash ,Applejack and Rarity. This is due to their vast amount of innate magic, which the ponies of future Equestria have little of. Twinkle Shine even comments that Rainbow Dash was a phenom even by pre-Schism standards.
  • After the End: The Schism was an apocalyptic event which resulted in this.
  • Arranged Marriage: The griffons and changelings have eugenics programs. The Solar King also has the power to arrange this. He uses this power to betrothe Star Fall to his son.
  • Bad Future: What Rainbow Dash finds herself in. While not dystopian, it's still bad compared to her Present Day. Applejack and Rarity finds themselves there, too, whilst Spike is still alive.
  • Badass Bookworm: Star Fall is a scholar, magic talent, spy and powerful (by modern standards) mage, able to use her abilities in a fight.
  • Badass Grandpa: Spike is one, having reached the present day "the long way around". The little baby dragon is now one of the biggest adult dragons still alive on the planet, and with a huge amount of political influence if he deigns to use it.
  • Blade on a Stick: Melody chooses a spear in her fight against Charisma.
  • Blessed with Suck: Charisma's Cutie Mark decreed special talent: she's a born assassin. As a result, she constantly "hears" her subconscious not only whispering how she can kill every single being she interact with, but demanding that she does kill them. It goes without saying that this has driven her totally insane.
  • Blood Knight: Charisma's talent actually encourages her to fight. And she really enjoys it.
  • Breeding Plan: The Solar King is bent on having powerful Royal Heirs to the point that he wants an Alicorn born into the family. And he believes Star Fall is the key to this. So far, nopony else is in agreement with him, but nopony is able to change his mind
  • Charm Person: Max Cash, who uses a combination of Armor-Piercing Question and Break Them by Talking to compel his victims into performing, as he calls it, "One. Little. Betrayal." Him using an Inverted Element of Loyalty helps.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Blaze's speeches are enough to make some fans suspect him to be Pinkie's descendant.
  • Cute and Psycho: Charisma is a pretty pink pegasus who is considered very attractive. She's also dangerously insane.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Astrid telling Star that she regrets becoming an "unstoppable badass" instead of learning "egghead language" shows her to be this.
  • The Dreaded: Charisma is basically considered impossible to beat in single combat and scares just about everyone who knows about her. Nightmare Umbra is even scarier as she's effectively a war goddess ponification of destruction.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Rainbow, Astrid and Star Fall actually manage to chase off Nightmre Umbra. However, Umbra is still regaining her strength.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: A variation. Rainbow does know how strong she is. What she doesn't realise at first though is how fragile everypony else is and nearly kills two police officers by accident. Even the air pressure from her sonic booms are dangerous.
  • Eternal English: Averted. Although the languages that the two sides speak are based off of Old Equestrian, neither one can be understood by Rainbow Dash at first. That and, like real languages, Solar and Lunar are different enough that understanding one doesn't mean you understand the other.
  • Fantastic Racism: Most ponies have serious hatred of changelings and in the Solar Kingdom there is a strong belief in the supremacy of unicorns over other kinds of ponies. It leads to some political uncertainties and a lot of angry nobles the moment the king announces that Star will marry one of his sons, who he also makes his heir to the throne.
  • Fantastic Slur: "Insect" for changeling. Also the two sides of Equestria call each other "lunatics" and "sun-heads".
  • Faux Affably Evil: Max Cash can act rather polite and friendly. But it has a disturbing undercurrent. He barely understands friendship and basically is just messing with heads. While not confirmed by the writer, a lot of Max's actions are similar to the characteristics of actual sociopaths.
  • Genius Loci: The Everstorm seems sentient and malevolent.
  • Götterdämmerung: Celestia and Luna are now sealed in their respective celestial bodies. As a result, this has sapped ambient magic, causing the present day population of ponies to be dramatically weaker than those of the eras before.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Neither the Solar Kingdom or Lunar Republic are exactly bad, both have some unpleasant parts to them and neither is really that wrong for seeing the other as a serious threat. The only black so far seems to be Cash and Nightmare Umbra, a criminal with way too much power and an immortal alicorn that causes a lot of destruction. And that last one may have some goal in mind that is intended to help the world.
  • Hermetic Magic: As a pegasus, Star Fall has no horn and so casts spells by drawing magic circles on spell paper.
  • Healing Factor: Nightmare Umbra regenerates almost instantly from injury, assuming you can get through her defenses. Her blood fights back as well. Rainbow also heals extremely quickly to the point that when Star Fall boosted her Healing Factor her wounds began closing up before their eyes.
  • Impossible Task: The Maul is an obstacle course designed to be impossible to complete which is used in training Solar Kingdom spies. Rainbow completed it, but with a lot more difficulty than she expected as she didn't realise that she'd have to be dodging bullets, missiles and melee fighters at the time.
  • In Love with Your Carnage: After Charisma sees what Rainbow can do, she seems impressed and starts calling her "Hot Stuff". She is also pleased by Blaze's resistance to torture.
  • Instant Expert: Rainbow Dash and later Applejack and Rarity learns the modern language well enough to passably speak it in a matter of weeks. It's hinted that something strange might be going with them to let them do that.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Charisma is sometimes turned on by the idea of others being injured.
  • In Universe Nickname: Blaze for Trail Blazer.
  • I Want Grand Kids: The main reason the king sets up Star's marriage to Regal is the hope that they'll produce an Alicorn grandchild. Even though it really shouldn't work he seems to have had some of his family's mystic visions that suggest she'll be somehow involved in the process of their return.
  • I Want My Jetpack: Rainbow actually asks why they don't have jetpacks. Star Fall is actually a bit disappointed at how unimpressed Rainbow seems with the future.
  • Knife Nut: Charisma raids Melody's weapons. Naturally, it's the knives she takes.
  • Knighting: Rainbow Dash gets knighted after helping defeat Nightmare Umbra. However this is done not as a reward, but as a political tactic to draw attention away from Star Fall's engagement to the prince. In this universe, knighthood is another form of nobility, and giving the knight an estate to manage is included in the ceremony.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Rainbow is faster, stronger and tougher than pretty much every modern pony. There are modern supersonic pegasi, but they are extreme specialists and only the more powerful earth ponies are stronger or tougher (and probably not both).
  • Living Lie Detector: Hard Boiled's magic lets him function as one of these.
  • Living Statue: Apparently Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Rarity, and presumably the rest of the Mane 6 are animate sculptures who possess their respective consciousness from different periods of time.
  • The Magic Goes Away: The Schism as part of Celestia and Luna's plan. This has had severely negative effects on the planet; for example, all ponies are vastly inferior in ability compared to what Rainbow Dash and the other members of the Mane Six remember being capable of, whilst the griffons have nearly gone extinct due to the low magic levels impacting on their genetic viability.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Nightmare Umbra uses the Royal Canterlot Voice as a weapon. Sonic booms can also be weaponised.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Max Cash with a little help from a couple of Elements of Harmony.
  • The Mentor: Twinkle Shine for Star Fall.
  • Mind Control: Both an ability used by the changelings and an ability Max Cash is using the Elements of Harmony for.
  • Motor Mouth: Blaze really seems to like talking.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Downplayed. Calumn has an existential crisis about his identity as a changeling and what that means, but changelings do not seem to be Always Chaotic Evil in this fic. Just different.
  • Not Quite Flight: Bigwig can levitate platforms to carry himself at speeds rivaling pegasi (though with worse maneuvrability).
  • Orwellian Editor: Someone went to great lengths to remove any mention of the Elements of Harmony from the world. Even Twilight Sparkle's book on the subject isn't mentioned in any way even though she's basically the founding figure of modern magical studies. Similarly, no one seems to have ever heard of Discord before.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Inverted. Modern Equestria is both more scientifically advanced and more religious than Rainbow is used to. She considers it strange to think of the alicorns as gods or to pray to them. Twinkle Shine lampshades how this is different from what her class might expect.
  • Painful Transformation: How Twinkle Shine transforms into Nightmare Umbra is...not pleasant. It involves her bones, tendons, and flesh constantly shifitng breaking and tearing and healing as she grows wings and more than doubles in size.
  • The Power of Friendship: As one might expect for a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic, this turns up. But things are more complicated than you would normally expect from the trope.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: Max Cash can do this to the unconnected.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Charisma is Trail Blazer's ex.
  • Punctuated Pounding: Rainbow does this to the thugs who were torturing Blaze and tried to do the same to her.
  • Reality Is Out to Lunch: The Everstorm induces insanity, creates illusions, moves locations, has variable gravity, logic defying weather, attacks with floating skulls and the occasional crucified zombie ursa major animated by fast growing vines among other things.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Bigwig is considered a fair employer and is effective in helping calm a potential mob, until Charisma intervenes.
    • The king of the Solar Kingdom genuinely wants what's best for his kingdom and people, doesn't really subscribe to the unicorn-supremacist philosophy that some of his nobles do, understands that he has limits on his power and tries to instill the same virtues on his son. His only flaw is that he also wants Star to give him an alicorn grandchild to help repair the world's political divides even though it's been made clear she can't.
  • Red Baron: Charisma is called "The Asskicker" by her enemies. Also, "The Killer".
  • Retcon: In her notes Twilight Sparkle suggests that the Elements of Harmony are capable of doing this to people and fears that they may have already done so without anyone realizing it.
  • Retired Badass: Bigwig is former milliatary and can fight Charisma.
  • Secret Identity: Rainbow's is Firefly.
  • Semantic Superpower: Rainbow is able to use her talent of being fast and winning to win a bet and learn how to speak Solar in mere days. Or she might be mistaken after all.
  • Shapeshifters Do It for a Change: Changelings take full advantage of the fact that their Voluntary Shapeshifting let's them switch gender at will. They do have a default gender though.
  • Book Within A Fic: Harmony Theory itself and The Magic of Friendship. Both by Twilight.
  • Slave Race: Every griffon is pledged to serve the Solar King, as his magic is keeping their species from extinction.
  • Super Soldier: How Rainbow is viewed by those in the setting.
  • Tactful Translation:
    Rainbow: Buck you, Bird Brain!
    Astrid: What did she say?
    Star Fall: She says that she's unhappy, but will accept the wisdom of your decision.
  • Torture Technician: Charisma and she enjoys it.
  • Translation Convention: There are at least three languages in the fic. All three are represented by English in the fic. A switch in languages is represented by writing the language which is spoken less in that scene in italics.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Astrid claims that Rainbow is this. Gamma responds that the problem isn't that Rainbow is unskilled, but rather that she's a Technical Pacifist.
  • Walking Armory: How Bigwig chooses to confront Charisma.
  • War God: Nightmare Umbra is thought of this way. But she is feared rather than worshipped.
  • Willing Channeler: Nightmare Umbra is possessing the willing Twinkle Shine.