Fanfic: The Flight Of The Alicorn
The situation isn't as bad as it looks... honest.The Flight of the Alicorn
is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
fanfiction by Ponydora Prancypants.
Rarity's exploits in "Sweet and Elite" set in motion a chain of events that will find the unicorn dressmaker taking part in the greatest airship race in the world, the Alicorn's Cup. Excitement will give way to terror, as Rarity soon finds herself the victim of a plot against Equestria, and shipwrecked far from home with her least favorite stallion, the boorish Prince Blueblood. Rarity will learn of treachery in Canterlot and abroad, and will have search for something of substance beneath the prince's obnoxious veneer as she struggles to not only save herself, but her entire nation.
Book One of The Adamant Triskelion
, a planned trilogy. The second Book, The Abyssal Forge
, is currently ongoing.
The Tropes of the Alicorn:
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The aqueduct that Rarity and Khufu's crew use to sneak out of the Griffon base.
- Action Girl: Rarity and Zinzi.
- Ancient Artifact: The Heavenstone or the Adamas Firmamentum is a massive diamond that can store and amplify unicorn magic as well as enable a unicorn to cast spells at considerable distances. It belongs to the bloodline of Princess Platinum and has remained in their family’s care all the way to the present day. Before Celestia and Luna, unicorns would willingly contribute their magic to the Heavenstone, and in doing so give their ruler the power necessary to move the sun and moon. After the Royal Sisters emerged and the unicorn royal family lost much of their power and prestige, the Heavenstone also fell into disuse and was locked away in the ancestral home of Platinum’s family. Until recently when Blueblood’s brother Procyon steals it and Windlass turns it into a superweapon.
- Anguished Declaration of Love: Blueblood gives one to Rarity shortly before his attempted Heroic Sacrifice. She rejects him.
- Anti-Hero: Blueblood.
- Always Murder: Chancellor Ninetalons is old and very stressed. Surely his death is just bad luck? Yeah, we didn't think so either. Subverted; he isn't really dead at all.
- Balance of Power: Khufu’s justification for supplying weapons and technology to the griffon General Karroc centers on this idea. Karroc convinces Khufu that Equestria’s rising economic and technological dominance, growing population and territorial expansion will inevitably lead to armed conflict with the griffon states. The griffons would ultimately lose such a war and if not wiped out entirely would be doomed to a slow death as their society steadily declines into nothing. Khufu, having witnessed the near-destruction of his own people, agrees to help provide Karroc with the resources necessary to put the griffons on equal technological footing to Equestria to deter any aggression by ponykind. Unfortunately Khufu did not realize General Karroc is more than a little Ax-Crazy and is planning to use those weapons to start a war rather than deter one.
- Betty and Veronica: Sort of for Rarity, in the form of Blueblood and Buckaroo. Blueblood is arrogant, abrasive, and insecure but at the same time intelligent, inventive, occasionally courageous, and is aware of his character flaws. Buckaroo is a former bounty hunter who has done questionable things but is described as “ruggedly handsome”, has shown a compassionate heart and is quite a charmer himself. This plot element has not really come to the fore since the ongoing crises Rarity finds herself in make romance the least of her worries. Later on, the love triangle seems to quietly unravel when Buckaroo and Applejack start getting friendly.
- BFG: Rarity and her allies manage to steal a prototype weapon called an Automatic Repeating Cannon which is described in a word as being “pony-sized”. Considering the “firesticks” which are used by the griffons appear to be based on real-world flintlock weapons and can only be fired and reloaded twice a minute, a weapon like the ARC that can fire half a dozen rounds a second is truly devastating.
- Body Horror: In the final battle, Windlass' misuse of the Heavenstone seems to completely alter the cellular structure of her body. Her horn shatters and is replaced by a jet of pure magical energy, her skin cracks, and hellish red light emanates from the cracks as well as her facial orifices. At that point, Rarity wasn't sure if the terms 'alive' or 'dead' could even be applied to Windlass anymore. Also, she exploded into a cloud of red sparkles when she was hit by a bullet.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Windlass and General Karroc are working together, but both have vastly different goals and are only waiting for the other to betray them.
- Big Bad Wannabe: Procyon. His standing, connections, resources, and motives suggested that he was masterminding the conspiracy (and he genuinely thought so), but it turns out he was little more than a tool for the real players.
- Big Damn Heroes: Applejack kicking Tempest off the Alicorn while Tempest was holding Blueblood hostage.
- Birthmark of Destiny: According to Princess Palladium, the three gemstones that form Rarity's cutie mark actually represent the Heavenstone, Hopestone, and Balancestone, (collectively referred to as the Adamant Triskelion) and signify her connection to them.
- Broken Ace: Blueblood thinks he’s this, much to Rarity’s irritation.
- Chekhov's Gun: To prove that the different airship racers have stuck to the assigned path, each team must stop at specific waystations and pick up a special marker from each site. The first is an apple from Sweet Apples Acres in Ponyville. The second is a string of pearls from the coastal city of Gallopoli. The pearls are said to have a little magic that makes them good luck charms for those at sea. The third is a flower called the Badge of Courage to be retrieved from the jungles of the Impenetrable Lands. When Rarity and Blueblood are left stranded in the jungle together, the pearls save Rarity’s life by warding away various waterborne predators while the Badge of Courage flower turns out to have potent medicinal properties that save Blueblood’s life from a potentially lethal infection. Even the apple turns out to have some significance as Blueblood uses it to say farewell to his crashed airship and his failed revival of the Alicorn's Cup.
- The catta tonic, which allows griffons to enter a deathlike state when ingested. In Chapter 25, it's revealed that Ninetalons had used it to fake his death in order to increase hostilities between ponies and griffons and so he could continue his machinations behind the scenes.
- Clarke's Third Law: Quoted by Fancy Pants, as he toasts technology's ability to level the playing field between the various sophonts in and around Equestria.
- Cool Airship: Several, but most notably the one that the story is named for.
- Cyanide Pill: Used by a griffon scout when he and his partner are captured by Rarity and Blueblood. Subverted; it's actually a drug that mimics the effects of death so he can take the unicorns by surprise a little later.
- Development Gag: The show's original plans for Blueblood to be a duke rather than a prince are worked into the fic by having him actually be a duke, and explaining that "Prince Blueblood" is in fact a hereditary title held by his family's eldest son.
- Despite Rarity claiming that it's a fake title, it turns out that "Prince Blueblood" is semantically equivalent to "Uncrowned King of the Unicorn Kingdom." The only fake thing about it is how it suggests to the ignorant that the prince is closely related to Celestia and Luna.
- Did Not Get the Girl: Subverted. Rarity Rejects Blueblood's initial confession, but eventually he does manage to win her over.
- Dumb Blonde: A comment by Rarity suggests that white coated ponies suffer from the same prejudice as blonde humans. However, it is subverted by the story, since neither Rarity, Blueblood nor Fancy Pants fit the stereotype.
- Dragon with an Agenda: Subverted with Windlass, who turns out to be The Man In Front Of The Man.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: This is Princess Palladium's cutie mark talent, a talent shared by her ancestors. The ability has weakened with each generation; while Palladium can only catch small, vague glimpses of the future, her predecessors were able to see the future with perfect clarity and accuracy.
- Rarity has several prophetic dreams during the course of the story, which foreshadow, among other things, being thrown overboard, the conflict with the griffons and her final battle against Windlass.
- Disc One Final Boss : Windlass almost certainly serves as this. She's played up as the Big Bad, but it eventually becomes apparent she's in over her head and not nearly as powerful as she should be. True to form, a greater danger is hinted at in her final words.
- Evil Matriarch: Blueblood’s mother, Princess Palladium, is a mad old Racist Grandma who Blueblood quietly describes as a ‘monster’.
- The Exile: Prince Khufu of Camelon which is inhabited by, well, camels. He is revealed to have been a hedonistic prince who did nothing to help defend his people when his kingdom was under threat of invasion. His inaction angered the camels to such an extent that they revolted against their government and the entire royal family of Camelon. A mob eventually killed every last member of Khufu's family and also gouged out his eye to symbolize the blind eye he turned to the suffering of his people. Khufu would have died by hanging if the rope had not snapped, giving him opportunity to escape but never able to return home under penalty of death.
- This is more or less the fate the conspirators are trying to arrange for Celestia and Luna.
- Eye Scream: The Griffons threaten to do this to Rarity after she is captured while raiding their base.
- Faking the Dead: Chancellor Ninetalons.
- Fantastic Racism: When Blueblood hosts a dinner for the various racing teams participating in the Alicorn’s Cup, his unicorn mother insults not only the griffons, three zebras, and one camel attending but also the pegasi and earth ponies present. In the words of Blueblood himself:
Blueblood: As you may have gathered at the dinner, she abhors commoners, non-unicorns, and non-ponies, in order of increasing disgust.
- Fancy Dinner: Blueblood's family holds one of these, including a Bastardly Speech, followed by a Patrick Stewart Speech, and of course a murder.
- Family Theme Naming: Blueblood’s family are descendants of Princess Platinum (one of the founders of Equestria) and female members are all named after platinum group metals such as his mother Palladium and his sisters Ruthenium and Iridium. Males of the family are named after stars such Blueblood’s brother Procyon. Even Blueblood’s true name is revealed to be Polaris.
- The First Cut Is the Deepest: Why Rarity rejects Blueblood's confession to her. She is terrified that the unicorn who shattered her heart at the gala is still around somewhere, and until Blueblood proves to her otherwise she refuses to form a romantic connection with him.
- From Nobody to Nightmare : In a villain team that includes generals, princes and international arms dealers, guess who's the most powerful and dangerous? A skinny, pink aeronautical engineer who initially comes across as an immature and catty lovesick teenager. Cut to later on in the story and Rarity seriously considers that she might be more powerful than Celestia and Luna.
- Girly Bruiser : Rarity’s physical fitness is brought up several times, especially in comparison to some of the other high class ponies in the race. She points out that her father isn’t a Duke or CEO, but a Gym teacher, and he taught her well.
- Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Rarity, at least according to Blueblood. She is quite drunk in the second chapter, and does hard liquor more than once later in the story.
- Harpoon Gun: Zips’ spear-thrower, a device of his own invention, combined with his uncanny aim allows him to snipe targets from a considerable distance. This is all the more impressive because the spear-thrower is fired from his mouth since zebras and ponies lack hands or fingers.
- Healing Potion: The Badge of Courage flower, but only for injuries that were heroically gained.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Prince Khufu, staying back to take on the griffons and thus enabling Rarity, Zips and Zinzi to escape.
- In chapter 23, Blueblood tries to do this by volunteering to ram the Alicorn into Karroc's warship since it needs constant piloting in order to stay on course. Twilight successfully teleports him to safety at the last second, however.
- Hidden Villain : Procyon is apparently the mastermind behind everything, but unlike the other villians he doesn't get any motive rants, major apparences or even a speaking role. All we know about him is Blueblood's description, where he points out how unlikely a mastermind he is. Eventually he turns out to be a mere tool of the real big bad.
- As of Chapter XXI, we still don't know how the ponies and gryphons involved got in contact with each other, much less began conspiring.
- Highly-Visible Ninja: Rarity lampshades the fact that her blindingly white coat is not the ideal color for stealth.
- I Call It Daisy May: The ARC stolen from the gryphon base in the Impenetrable Lands.
- Impoverished Patrician: Blueblood, which is at least part of the reason for his Inferiority Superiority Complex. Subverted, in that it turns out his accountant was lying to him.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Zips, being half-zebra and half-pony, has a cutie mark and associated special talent for accuracy. Whether it is throwing or shooting, Zips can hit a target dead-on with ease.
- Insufferable Genius: Of all ponies, Blueblood. Blueblood’s company North Star Shipwrights produces airships of such quality that Fancypants decides to buy it outright to gain access to its innovations and brilliant staff of engineers. Blueblood later reveals to Rarity that Fancypants will gain nothing from the acquisition as he and he alone was responsible for all the designs that made his company’s airships great. Unfortunately his impressive intellect only gives him more reason to look down on others and adds to his arrogance.
- Inferiority Superiority Complex: Blueblood, Blueblood, Blueblood. Rarity considers it just another method to keep everyone’s attention on him.
- I Work Alone: Blueblood is the only racer without a team (because no-one else can stand him).
- Jerkass Façade: Blueblood.
- Just Between You and Me: Windlass and Tempest, when they're about to drop Rarity of the airship. And Windlass again when Rarity meets her in magic plane of the Heavenstone. She threatens to kill Rarity more than once only to continue talking.
- Kill All Gryphons: Tempest's reason for joining the conspiracy.
- Kissing Under the Influence: Fairly early in the fic, a heavily inebriated Rarity ends up forcing a kiss onto Blueblood.
- Klatchian Coffee: Blueblood is the only member of his racing team, meaning he must handle the tasks of navigating the airship, maintaining the engines, monitoring weather and altitude and so on. Normally these jobs are divided amongst a five-pony crew who take shifts so that the airship can keep racing day and night. In order to stay competitive, Blueblood begins taking unsafe amounts of wakewort, an herbal root that allows a pony to stay awake so long as they keep chewing it but can cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Rarity admits that she once used wakewort to meet deadlines making dresses until she realized how irritable she became as it wore off.
- Lady of War: Rarity.
- Last Villain Stand : Rarity tears apart the final tatters of Windlass's plan in the final chapter, leaving her surrounded by guards and abandoned by all her allies. Her reaction is to note that she could still easily win by killing everyone present personally, and works up through taking out almost the entire cast, a serious Villainous Breakdown when she realises Rarity is more powerful than her, a suit of steampunked Powered Armor, a Heroic RROD, some Villainous Valor and a One-Winged Angel transformation for luck. Phew...
- Legacy Character: "Prince Blueblood" is actually a title passed down to male heirs of his family, females being Princess Platinum (yes, that one). His birth name is "Polaris" by the way.
- Lovable Rogue: Khufu and his crew are a bunch of shady arms dealers...who happen to be some of the most honorable and tightly-knight characters in the fic.
- Love Makes You Evil: Rarity notes early on that Fancypants’ engineer Windlass seems to be quite enamored of him. Later it is revealed that not only is Windlass collaborating with General Karroc, Colonel Tempest and Lord Procyon to drive Equestria to open war with the griffons, not only is she using the Heavenstone as a superweapon to help overthrow the Royal Sisters and install Procyon as the new monarch, but she is using the entire conspiracy as a means to realize Fancypants’ vision of a democratic Equestria in the hopes it will make him love her. Even making Procyon king is only a stepping stone for her as he will only be a figurehead to be used to ease the transition from monarchy to democracy.
- Magitek: Building on Lauren Faust's explanation for how technology in Equestria is powered, reference is made to a "magilectric grid" that wirelessly supplies energy to any appliance within a certain radius, such as Pinkie Pie's phonographs or Rarity's sewing machine. Border towns like Appleloosa however are too far to receive energy from the grid, hence the differing levels of technology in different parts of Equestria. Interestingly the "magilectricity" is generated by the Celestia Dam seen in Ponyville, like a modern hydroelectric dam.
- Make It Look Like an Accident : Chancellor Ninetalons' totally unsuspicious death by heart attack, Rarity’s fall from an airship and Prince Blueblood’s sad crash during a storm are all totally accidents, honest!
- The Man Behind the Man: Or rather, The Man In Front Of The Man. Procyon thinks that Windlass is under his command, but in reality she has him completely manipulated to serve her own goals, and plans to discard him after she achieves them.
- Meaningful Name: Windlass is introduced as a sailing engineer, and a windlass is a piece of equipment aboard ships. But she's also a young unicorn mare with a knack for manipulating the weather, making her Wind Lass.
- Mineral MacGuffin: The Heavenstone. And according to Princess Palladium, there are two more stones like it called the Hopestone and the Balancestone, and together the three are known as the Adamant Triskelion. Legend has it that they were left behind by the god that created the world, and that uniting them will signal the end times.
- Mixed Ancestry: Zipinoru, or Zips as he is called, is half-zebra and half-pony. His front half is striped but his rear half is solid color like a pony. On one flank he has a cutie mark like a pony and some kind of zebra symbol (like Zecora’s) on the other.
- Mood Whiplash: Rarity and Blueblood are planning out their escape and reasoning out the conspiracy trying to kill them, when suddenly a bat appears!
Rarity: You get it! It’s coming for my hair, I just know it! Do something before it gets tangled in my hair!
Blueblood: Use a spell before it drinks my royal blood!
- No Body Left Behind: After Windlass' Taking the Bullet moment, all that's left of her is a mist of fading crimson sparkles.
- No One Gets Left Behind: Khufu is very determined not to leave his crew at the Griffons mercy, to the point of tricking Rarity to go and rescue them.
- Orwellian Retcon: A minor one that most people might not be aware of. In the original version found on FimFiction, the griffon chancellor's name was (and still is) Ninetalons, so named because he's missing one of his digits. However, in the fic's physical hardback release, his name is changed to Seventalons, presumably because the author remembered that the griffons in the show (and eagles in real life, for that matter) have a total of eight talons, not ten.
- Prince Charmless: Blueblood. At first.
- Reasonable Authority Figure : Chancellor Ninetalons is old, tired of conflict, and the only Griffon who isn’t a jerk. Fancypants too, though events occasionally cast doubts on this. Subverted for the former, as Ninetalons was secretly one of the conspirators all along.
- Redemption Equals Death: For his part in Karroc's schemes, Khufu is mortally wounded buying time for Rarity's escape.
- Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: After the regatta goes awry, Rarity and Blueblood are both considered missing and presumed dead.
- Secretly Wealthy: Rainbow Dash.
- Self-Deprecation: On seeing her appearance in her racing uniform:
Rarity: I hereby pronounce myself guilty of fashion treason. The sentence is public humiliation, to be carried out at once.
- Sequel Hook: Several are sprinkled throughout the fic, most prominently regarding a prophecy about Rarity being somehow involved with the end of the world.
- Shower Scene: Rarity has several of these.
- Silk Hiding Steel: Why, Rarity of course.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: Rarity vs. Blueblood. If they're talking to each other, this is the inevitable result.
Rarity: Sorry, did I scratch the paint with a branch? Here I thought the goal was to avoid being discovered by griffons. I do hope any harm I did will blend in with the giant hole in the hull and all the damage from crashing into a forest of trees!
Blueblood: Touché. Thorough job you’ve done, I must say. I can hardly see the forest for all the trees that you pulled down over the top of my ship. I’m sure the effect works equally well in the opposite direction.
- Spanner in the Works: Rarity's a spanner in the "Kill Rarity" and "Kill Polaris" plots; afterwards she understands enough to join the Xanatos Speed Chess already in progress.
- Steam Punk: There are prominent elements of steam-driven technology, not the least of which are the zeppelin-style airships involved in the race. Besides owning a personal airship, Fancypants also possesses a steam-powered carriage. Fancypants mentions investing heavily in steam engines as he considers them to be a necessity for expanding Equestria since distant settlements will be deprived of the magilectric grid (see “Magitek”).
- Taking the Bullet:
- Blueblood takes a bullet for Rarity, but thankfully only gets hit in the rib.
- After the final showdown between Rarity and Windlass, a maddened Procyon aims a gun at Fancypants, blaming him for Windlass' fate. Just as he pulls the trigger, Windlass jumps in front of Fancypants to save her beloved. It's unclear as to whether or not it was a conscious decision or a purely instinctive reaction on her part.
- Theme Naming: We are introduced to three more zebra characters: Zolo, Zinzi and her son Zipinoru (also known as Zips) who, like Zecora from the show, all have names beginning with "Z."
- Unkempt Beauty: Rarity spends most of the fic minus her makeup, and although Rarity herself tends to be self-conscious about it, no one else doubts her beauty.
- Unobtainium: Although pegasi can manufacture cumulus clouds for producing weather, the stratus clouds used in constructing their homes are actually quarried. Rainbow Dash's father found a massive deposit of stratus clouds in the mountains along the Equestrian-Griffon border. The pegasi are now almost entirely dependent on this deposit of stratus to build cities like Cloudsdale. However the griffons claim the Equestrian cloudmining amounts to little more than stealing their resources and is also scaring away the wildlife they hunt. This leads them to lay claim to the area the ponies are settling on and threaten to expel them from what they say is rightfully their land. To further complicate matters, Rainbow's father has recently passed away and without his mediation, contentions between the pegasi and griffons rise. The conspirators take advantage of the tinderbox between Equestria and the griffon eyries over this contested region to try and trigger open war between the two nations.
- The Vamp: It's implied that Windlass convinced Procyon to help her by seducing him, and Procyon's words in the penultimate chapter all but confirm it.
- World Building: And how! In addition to exploring modern Equestria’s steampunk/magitek, we gain insight into pegasus-griffon relations, learn a little more about zebras, are introduced to the camel race and information about pre-Equestrian times. Furthermore, the course of the airship race travels across Equestria’s borders and to the edges of the known world. While we do get to see the coastal Gallopoli on Equestria’s southern border and the jungles of the Impenetrable Lands even further south, Rarity’s journey is interrupted when she is thrown off her airship.
- Yin-Yang Clash: The penultimate chapter Alicorns. The power mad Windlass unveils steampunk Powered Armor powered by the Heavenstone, turning her into a mechanized Alicorn. In response, Rarity, using her own connection to the Heavenstone, transforms Twilight's old "butterfly wing" spell into very real wings, turning her into an artificial Alicorn. So begins the final battle of omnipotently powered Selfishness and Generosity.