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Fanfic / The Life And Times Of A Winning Pony


The Life and Times of a Winning Pony (also available at FF.Net) is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic by Chengar Qordath. The story tracks the life and times of Cloud Kicker, a fun-loving Ethical Slut with a tendency to have lots of random sexual encounters and end up in wild misadventures. The story weaves reasonably well into actual episode screentime, and also is unique in pointing out some of the cronyism inherent in Equestrian society

Side-stories and recursive fanfiction for this fic have been written by numerous authors, and these are collectively referred to as "the Winningverse". They range from the comic tale of Pinkie Pie's attempts to make a romantically dense Rainbow Dash realize her affections, to the more serious story of Derpy Hooves running off to Ponyville after being kicked out from her family for an unplanned pregnancy. There is also a series of stories (beginning here) focusing on Sunset Shimmer during and after her stint as Celestia's student, centering mostly on her adventures in Freeport, and which are related to the main Winningverse mostly by a shared setting and backstory, although the narratives are quite separate.

The side stories are collected here.

This fanon universe also splits off into three Alternate Universes:

The Dead-Derpy-Verse - Cancer kills Derpy, who leaves behind two daughters and Rainbow Dash as godmother.

The Phoenix Empire - Splitting off not long after The Lunar Rebellion, the Phoenix Empress, ruler of a much different Equestria at the time of the show, is born when a misunderstanding leads to Celestia accidentally crippling Sunbeam Sparkle, and the only way to fix it is if Celestia gives her immortality and her dominion over the Sun to Sunbeam, thereby cementing Sunbeam as the new ruler of Equestria. Currently, Tales of the Phoenix Empire is leading up to the Empire's version of Nightmare Moon's return.

The Road Not Taken - A pair of "What If?" one-shots where Fluttershy and Cloud Kicker did NOT break up over the Flight Camp incident. They got married instead and had a daughter. Also, Sparkler was adopted by Cloud's mother instead of Derpy.

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     Core stories 
  • Action Girl: Cloud Kicker has some moments of this, thanks to her military training.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Cloud Kicker calls Fluttershy "Eepysqueak" as that was what she thought her name was when they first started talking.
    • In the present, but before they make up, it's become a bit of a Berserk Button for Fluttershy (as much of one as it can get with Fluttershy) as it reminds her of the Flight Camp incident, which she still blames herself for.
  • Asexuality: Rainbow Dash. According to Cloud Kicker, Rainbow's relationship with Pinkie is the first romance she's ever had.
    • In chapter 9, it is revealed that there may be a physical reason for Dash's lack of sexual activity.
    • It's made blatantly clear through Dash's narration in The Incredibly [Adjective] [Noun] of Rainbow Dash stories that she's a complete dunce when it comes to anything related to physical intimacy. Early in the latter, she's reasonably sure Cloud Kicker's reference to "pie" is an innuendo, but doesn't care.
  • Badly Battered Babysitter: Cloud Kicker winds up becoming one after somehow ending up in charge of Dinky, Alula, and the Cutie Mark Crusaders.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Applejack and Rarity, to the point that arguing and foreplay are virtually indistinguishable.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Blossomforth is usually a pretty nice pony, but she can very fearsome when properly riled.
  • Black Sheep: Cloud Kicker feels like one to her family for dropping out military school and not carrying on the family tradition.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Played seriously when Cloud Kicker gets her ribs broken.
  • Breakout Character: The author wrote a previous fan fiction, The Incredibly Dense Mind of Rainbow Dash. Word of God: 'Somehow, Cloud Kicker and Blossomforth really managed to steal the show in terms of what I enjoyed writing. To heck with RainbowPie, Cloud Kicker/Blossomforth is my new OTP. In fact, I will e-mail cupcakes to the first person who writes a good Cloud Kicker/Blossomforth story. Pinkie Promise.' Note that RainbowPie was the actual primary ship being built in the fic.
  • Broken Pedestal: Seeing Derpy physically lash out in anger is enough to severely shake Sparkler's faith in her.
  • Bully Hunter: Cloud Kicker does not like bullies.
  • But Liquor Is Quicker: Blossomforth makes a very clumsy attempt to seduce Cloud Kicker after she gets drunk.
  • Can't Hold Her Liquor: Blossomforth is apparently a lightweight. She also can't keep her mouth shut.
  • Cat Fight: Blossomforth and New Fluttershy get into a particularly nasty one.
    • The fight between Rainbow Dash and Cloud Kicker from their flight camp days is a brutal aversion. The sum total of the resulting injuries included a concussion, broken face bones, a broken leg, broken ribs, a dislocated wing, an eye injury, a collapsed lung, and a Groin Attack so vicious that it ended the fight and caused serious internal injury and near fatal bleeding.
  • Catch Phrase: Cloud Kicker almost always refers to sex as "banging." When she doesn't. Non-dramatic, by the way, "And then we made love" is the sweetest sentence in the entire fic.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Rainbow Dash' crashing is usually treated as a Running Gag. It's not so amusing anymore when it's revealed to be happening due to an eye injury that could possibly blind her.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: While Life and Times started as a bit naughty romantic comedy, it gets more and more drama-driven by time, with some serious character backstories and a complicated Love Triangle, only getting more serious the closer its story arc gets to The Canterlot Wedding.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Dropped by Rainbow Dash at the beginning of chapter 16, immediately followed by a Shout-Out to the page quote for this trope.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Cloud Kicker has been through military school. She uses a pegasi version of krav maga.
  • Character Development: Blossomforth has slowly been developing a thicker skin in response to Cloud Kicker's teasing.
  • Childhood Friends: Cloud Kicker, Derpy Hooves, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy are all old friends from Flight School.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Cloud Kicker and Derpy Hooves.
  • Children Are Innocent: Dinky is so cute and innocent that her appearances border on Tastes Like Diabetes.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Cloud Kicker sees herself as such. Actual results... vary
  • The Clan: The Kicker family is big and almost all of them are in the military.
  • Conflict Ball: Everyone gets hit with shades of this in chapter 16, from Rainbow Dash growing incredibly violent and Blossomforth uncharacteristically trying to pick a fight with Derpy, with bug insults coming from both sides. However, it appears something else is at work here.
    • In later chapters, there's a growing tendency for characters to get into arguments, along with the trend for those involved to end on bad terms.
  • Cool Big Sis: Cloud Kicker tries to be one to her little sister, Alula.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Blossomforth, when she's not being embarrassed by Cloud Kicker.
  • Dented Iron: It seems a life of constant crashing head-first into things is finally taking its toll on Rainbow Dash. She has a breakdown in chapter 10.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: It's left unclear if Cloud Kicker actually banged Princess Luna or if it was just a drunken sex dream.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Pretty much all of the cast who know about it agree that Cloud Kicker was being incredibly stupid when she slept with Blossomforth behind Derpy's back. However, they also agree that Derpy punching Cloud Kicker in the face in a fit of thoroughly uncharacteristic rage was going way too far.
  • Ethical Slut: Cloud Kicker, to the point of actually having a list of rules.
  • Everyone Is Gay: All of the Mane 6 are gay, and mostly every other girl is too. In fact, only one couple is heterosexual. note 
  • Evil Matriarch: Nimbus Gust comes across this way.
  • Expy: Cloud Kicker takes several cues from Charlie Sheen, including using tweaked versions of some of his more infamous quotes as chapter titles.
  • Extreme Omnisexual: Not only does Cloud Kicker have an interest in both genders, but also claims to have been involved with just about every intelligent species in the show.
  • Fantastic Arousal: Wingboners (a Pegasus unfurling their wings when aroused) are present.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Near the end of "The Pony Who Doesn't Fit Into Their Little Box", Chrysalis gives Cloud Kicker the following offer: giving up Shadow's armor in exchange for having her and her loved ones leave Canterlot unharmed. She then leaves to go gloat about her victory of taking over Canterlot. You are invited to guess what happens next.
    • Cloud and Blossom were stated to be the Official Couple of the fic, even though they don't become official until the final chapter.
  • Gilligan Cut: Sparkler makes a Pinkie Promise that she has no romatic interest in Cloud's cousin Star Kicker. "Less than two hours later, I caught Star and Sparkler making out behind the equipment building. So much for Pinkie Promises."
    • Cue Pinkie Pie confronting Sparkler nearly the same way she did Applejack in "The Last Roundup"
  • Godzilla Threshold: Anything that justifies taking Shadow's armor out of the vault at the Kicker Compound. Which includes the battle with the Changeling swarm once word reaches the Kicker Compound that Princess Celestia is down, though Shadow rejects Cloud and things work out without the armor anyway, and Tirek's attack on Equestria, though it's unknown if Storm kept Shadow's armor afterward.
  • Good Bad Girl: Cloud Kicker.
  • Groin Attack: When it is delivered by a horse, it matters not if you are male or female. Played for Drama, since Cloud's desperation kick on Rainbow Dash resulted in Rainbow being unable to have kids. Ever.
  • Grumpy Bear: Blossomforth can be rather grouchy times.
  • Growling Gut: Pretty much every time eating is mentioned.
  • Happy Ending Massage: Rarity inadvertently sets one up for Cloud Kicker.
  • Has Two Mommies: An occasional rumour in-universe surrounding Derpy's natural daughter, and a certain mare who was hanging around her at the time. While feasible in-story, it's only available 'when some very high-level and hard-to-get (not to mention expensive) unicorn magic was involved, or when the Magic of Love gets tossed into the mix. A one-night stand between two pegasi wasn’t likely to include either of those factors. Not that crazy rumors have ever been deterred by a few inconvenient facts.
  • Heroic BSOD: In the wake of discovering her mother's mangled corpse and killing the Changeling responsible, Cloud spends the entirety of Chapter 17 in a near-catatonic, emotionless state.
  • Hidden Depths: Cloud Kicker insists that she has them. To be fair, she actually does.
  • Hive Mind: The changelings have the variant where a single consciousness is distributed across the entire species, with Chrysalis serving as an Avatar of sorts, essentially being the hive mind’s self-aware consciousness.
  • Hive Queen: Chrysalis. Better justified than with other examples of this trope, since she isn’t a crucial node whose destruction damages the whole swarm. Rather, she’s essentially the conscious portion of the Hive Mind itself, and destroying her simply means she’ll have to make herself a new body.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Cloud Kicker tells Derpy off because she made Fluttershy cry, when she overheard Derpy implying that she was going to steal Cloud Kicker from her. Once she kicks Derpy out, Cloud sleeps with Fluttershy and discusses running away to get married afterwards. To be fair to Cloud, though, her only intent was to comfort Fluttershy. The sex... simply just happened.
  • I Banged Your Mom: Cloud Kicker uses this to force a stalemate in parental sex squick while talking with Sparkler... the adopted daughter of Derpy.
  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: Presumably the reason one of Cloud Kicker's rules is that friends are off-limits for relationships.
    • It's also why Cloud won't sleep with any of Rainbow Dash's friends.
    Cloud Kicker: The boss might be friends with some real hotties, but banging one of them would get real messy real fast. The boss and I have a good thing going, and I’m not gonna mess it up just for one night of meaningless sex.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: "You feather things up with Derpy and I'll kill you."
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every chapter title follows the format of: "The Pony (Adapted Charlie Sheen Quote)"
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Dash goes into shock from blood loss after almost getting disemboweled with a vicious kick
  • Innocent Innuendo: Cloud Kicker, at a party, chats up Derpy. The conversation turns to 'eating muffins'. After being reminded of innuendo, Blossomforth figures Derpy was talking about actual baked goods. Naturally ... they spend several minutes putting together muffins. Then they clean up the leftover batter, up to when Derpy accidentally spills some. All of it lands on very lickable parts of herself, and nowhere else.
  • I Think You Broke Him: Cloud Kicker has a tendency to break Blossomforth when she's teasing her.
  • It's All About Me: Cloud Kicker can be a little self-centered at times.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Cloud Kicker in regards to Derpy. She was downright shocked when she found herself turning down two offers for three-ways.
  • Lethal Harmless Powers:Light refraction spells can be used to create pretty light shows, focus light for long range observation... or cut enemies into smoking chunks with laser beams.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Cloud Kicker and Blossomforth.
    • Said word-for-word by Nurse Redheart.
  • Love Triangle: Blossomforth is Cloud Kicker's best friend hoping for a Relationship Upgrade, Derpy is currently in a very loose relationship with Cloud Kicker.
    • Though Blossomforth insists that it's a case Friend Versus Lover.
    • After Chrysalis is defeated, Cloud finally makes things official with Blossom, and FINALLY gets Fluttershy all the way back at the same time. Sadly, it seems Derpy opted out.
  • Military Academy: Cloud Kicker went to one for four years, but dropped out shortly before graduation. Specifically, She ran off in the middle of the graduation ceremony.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: In chapter 9, Fluttershy went to Rainbow Dash for sex advice, which resulted in RD and Cloud kicker nearly killing each other. Fluttershy breaks down crying and muttering this.
  • Military Brat: Both of Cloud Kicker's parents are in the Equestrian Royal Guard, as is most of her extended family.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Applejack tries to run Cloud Kicker off the farm when she catches her talking to Big Mac.
  • Never My Fault: Rainbow Dash's huge ego makes it impossible to apologize to Cloud Kicker for firing her in a fit of anger. She does want Cloud Kicker to come back, but she refuses to accept the job after picking apart how Rainbow just wants to make herself not look bad in front of everypony else.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Cloud Kicker unleashes one in Chapter 5.
  • Noodle Incident: Something happened between Cloud Kicker and Fluttershy that destroyed their childhood friendship.
    • No longer hidden, as of Chapter 9. Fluttershy and Cloud Kicker became a couple in flight school. Then Fluttershy created a misunderstanding that started a fight between Rainbow Dash and Cloud Kicker that left both with life-threatening injuries. Then Fluttershy panicked and broke up with Cloud Kicker as she was being flown to the hospital.
    • Also, the Lunar Rebellion. All that's really been established about it is that it happened 900 years ago, it started in Cloudsdale, and Cloud Kicker's family was one of the few pegasus families to remain loyal to Celestia. This is now being covered in a sidestory titled after the aforementioned rebellion.
    • "This rope can hold a weight of a stallion the size of Big Macintosh, suspended from the ceiling."
  • Not So Stoic: Derpy usually displays almost saint-like calm and composure. Then Blossomforth tries to take Cloud Kicker from her.
  • Oblivious to Love: Played incredibly straight by Rainbow Dash in the story's prequel. Averted by Cloud Kicker; she's well aware of Blossom's interest, but has been deliberately ignoring it in the hopes that Blossom would get over her crush.
  • Odd Friendship: Cloud Kicker and Blossomforth have one. And it gets an upgrade at the end.
  • One Steve Limit: Cloud admits at one point that name duplication has been an issue in her clan, since there are only so many names one can combine with "Kicker" that still sound good.
    • The Lunar Rebellion also feature Nimbus Kicker as a character, while Cloud Kicker's mother is named Nimbus Gust.
  • Orphanage of Fear: Where Sparkler, Derpy's adopted child, came from.
  • Percussive Maintenance : Ever since her and CK's punch-up back in flight camp, Rainbow Dash's eye rolls back in her head every so often, and giving herself a smack is the only thing that will reset it. She nearly knocks herself insensate in chapter 10. it seems to be taking it's toll...
  • Poor Communication Kills: Almost literally back in flight school.
  • Reconstruction: To an extent, Cloud Kicker is a reconstruction of the "Charlie", from Two and a Half Men, character type. She's actually relatively nice, and clearly has rules she follows, and isn't exploiting people.
  • Recursive Fanfiction: The page image for one. The author actually posts any Fan-Art of his works on his blog.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Cloud Kicker is red, Blossomforth is blue.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Chrysalis, by virtue of being the consciousness of the changeling Hive Mind, can simply spawn a new physical body for herself if her old one is destroyed. She’ll exist as long as the changeling race does.
  • Sex for Solace: Cloud Kicker and Blossomforth finally do the deed in the wake of Cloud's mother being found dead at the hands of a Changeling Infiltrator.
  • Sex Is Good: Cloud Kicker's general philosophy and how she explains her lifestyle choices.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Heavily utilized to keep the fic from entering mature territory.
  • Shout-Out: Perhaps unsurprisingly given one of the author's other works there are one or two references to The Dresden Files.
    • The thing of mares' tails involuntarily twitching when they're aroused, seen when Sparkler is teased about her developing relationship with Cloud's cousin Star, is taken from Xenophilia.
  • Straight Man: Blossomforth often takes this role to Cloud Kicker.
  • Tap on the Head: Discussed - at one point Cloud Kicker finds herself in a situation where she needs to disable a pony without causing injuries and she finds her options very limited.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: Chapter 9 kinda gives us an explaintion why Cloud Kicker doesn't want to have a romantic relationship.
  • The Tease: Teasing Blossomforth is practically Cloud Kicker's hobby.
  • Theme Naming: Cloud Kicker's family engages in this.
    • As are the chapter titles.
  • Threat Backfire: In Chapter 16:
    Changeling!Nimbus Gust: I suppose I should thank you, though. I admit, some of my plans did not develop entirely to my satisfaction, and the fact that you found my papers earlier than planned was unfortunate. However, I’m sure my queen will overlook such minor affairs when I present her with the corpse of one of the Element Bearers.
    Rainbow Dash: Over my dead body!
  • Tranquil Fury: Cloud Kicker's reaction when Derpy is insulted.
  • Tsundere: Blossomforth is very much so for Cloud Kicker.
  • Twin Threesome Fantasy: When Rarity arranges an apology, Rarity arranges an apology. Well, accidentally.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Cloud Kicker certainly enjoys Derpy's muffins.
  • Uptight Loves Wild: Part of what drew Blossomforth to Cloud Kicker.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Rarity and Applejack. Also possibly Cloud Kicker and Blossomforth.
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: Fluttershy and Cloud finally hook back up after Chrysalis is defeated, forming a threesome with Blossomforth, whose official relationship with Cloud was also finalized then, but was a Foregone Conclusion by Word of God.
  • Villain Override: Chrysalis can possess any Changeling in her swarm, even shapeshifting to make them look like herself, something she does when she has to be in more than one place at the same time—for instance, trying to get Cloud Kicker and her group to surrender while at the same time gloating over a defeated Celestia.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Cloud Kicker spends a lot of time poking fun at Blossomforth, who eventually starts giving back as good as she gets. Despite that they're still best friends.
  • "Well Done, Daughter!" Girl: Cloud Kicker seems torn between striving for her family's approval and insisting she doesn't care about it.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Cloud Kicker and Fluttershy. Chapter 9 tells us why, and it's not cleared up until later.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 6 has Cloud Kicker pull Blossom's crush on her out into the open during a fight that seems to have torn their friendship to pieces.
    • And then we have Chapter 9...
    • At the end of Chapter 15: Cloud Kicker's mother has apparently betrayed Equestria, and she intends to kill her.
    • The next chapter then hits us with a double-whammy: the traitor Nimbus Gust is actually a Changeling Infiltrator... who has already killed the real Nimbus Gust and dumped her body in a cave.
  • Wham Line: In-universe, Derpy saying "I love you too" when CK tells her she turned down not one, but two threesomes.
    • The last line of Chapter 8. "Fluttershy was the first pony I ever banged."
  • What the Hay Best Friend? / "The Reason You Suck" Speech: In Chapter 6 Blossomforth starts out by calling Cloud Kicker out on her tendency to be a bit self-centered and inconsiderate, but but before long it morphs into something nastier, and then things get worse.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Cloud Kicker and Blossomforth. They do, and Fluttershy joins in.
    • Applejack and Rarity, too. They did. ... Eventually.
  • Your Cheating Heart: When they start to get serious, Derpy starts to fear this about Cloud Kicker. She did admit to loving both of them, and she had spent most of her time with either of them instead of Derpy, after all. When Derpy expresses her concern to Cloud about her lingering feelings, Fluttershy overhears and breaks down crying, thinking herself the reason for Derpy's stress. Cloud Kicker angrily kicks Derpy out and then sleeps with Fluttershy, making the whole thing a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.

     Winningverse side stories 
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: A couple of story titles, such as Princess Twilight's Profoundly Peripheral Protector and Princess Twilight's Protector and the Prankster Pests.
  • Brainwash Residue: Cheerilee is worried her feelings for Big Macintosh might be this.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: When Twilight is startled out of an eavesdropping spell in Princess Twilight's Profoundly Peripheral Protector, she awkwardly tries to claim she was distracted due to thinking about "magic and friendship, and the magic of friendship."
  • Curse of the Ancients: Normally a given considering it’s Applejack, but one in The Incredibly Blitzed Night of Rainbow Dash is particularly impressive and lampshaded.
    Applejack: “That dadgum sidewindin’ hornswaglin’ sodbustin’ tree-poundin’ corn-shuckin’ blockheaded barn-razin’ scruffy-lookin’ nerf-herdin’ bushwhackin’ cracker-croakin’ yellow-bellied galoot! What the hay is he thinkin’?”
    Lyra: “Wow. That was some authentic frontier gibberish.”
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The Incredibly Dense Mind of Rainbow Dash was originally written as a one-shot story without any indication of starting an all-out Shared Universe, and thus contradicts some of the later established backstories. It was afterwards rewritten to fit the current Winningverse canon, but the original version was also kept for comparison.
  • The Fair Folk: The rusalka in “The Incredibly Thrilling Investigation of Storm Kicker”. It’s described as a trickster spirit and uses what appears to be a form of vocal glamour/mind control to turn ponies into thralls, which it’s perfectly happy to kill if they, say, miss a dance step, or if it gets bored. It apparently considers this a justifiable way to alleviate its loneliness.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The Free Minds were created by Chrysalis to have more independence and personality than regular Changelings, to serve as better infiltrators. This worked a bit too well—they had enough independence to resent being slaves to Chrysalis' will, and rebelled.
  • Grumpy Bear: In her story, Raindrops is a typical example.
  • Het Is Ew: Apparently. There are hardly any heterosexual couples, Applejack actively guards Big Macintosh from courting mares, and since magic can help with same-sex conception, some family trees are filled entirely with females.
  • Hero of Another Story: Since most of the side stories take place simultaneously and sometimes intersect, the POV characters are all this to each other.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: A good deal of the Winningverse stories are titled as some variant of "The [adverb] [adjective] [noun] of a [character name/descriptor]"
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Rainbow Dash's mother Surprise and her fillyfriend Pinkie Pie are... remarkably similar. She doesn't seem to notice.
  • Mythology Gag: Rainbow Dash's parents are the G3 Rainbow Dash and Surprise, a G1 pony that was the inspiration for Pinkie Pie.
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently, after a drunken bender, Lyra once somehow ended up hanging from a statue of Celestia, asleep, and with her tail tied to her horn. Storm still isn’t sure how that happened.
  • Rogue Drone: The Free Minds, changelings created by Chrysalis to have actual personalities rather than being extensions of the Hive Mind, so as to be better infiltrators. They eventually got fed up with what was essentially slavery, rebelled, and broke away from Chrysalis' swarm.
  • Shout-Out: In ''The Incredibly Blitzed Night of Rainbow Dash", Rainbow claims she's swift as a coursing river, got all the force of a great typhoon, and all the strength of a raging fire.
  • Tortured Monster: The rusalka in “The Incredibly Thrilling Investigation of Storm Kicker”, which uses Mind Control to enslave ponies in order to alleviate its crushing loneliness. Deconstructed, as it’s stated that even though a Tortured Monster is tortured, it’s still a monster. It doesn’t matter why the rusalka is enslaving and killing ponies, only that it is.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Rarity refers to Cloud Kicker's fondness for banging as "socializing".

     The Lunar Rebellion 
  • A God Am I: The Avatar’s worldview in a nutshell, although “A God’s Avatar Am I” might be a more accurate term.
    “I am an alicorn, a higher state of being. I am faster, stronger, smarter, and simply better in every conceivable way. I am Luna reborn, her will made flesh and Equestria’s liberation.”
  • And Then What?: Used by Celestia to deliver an intellectual beatdown on Apple Tree, illustrating that his positions - while valid concerns - are also immensely complex problems without the easy solutions he advocates.
  • Back from the Dead: In Chapter 1 of Acendant Shadows, Shadow herself. Arguably a borderline case, since heart and lung activity ceased, but it’s implied brain death was not reached.
  • Bling of War: The unicorn nobles, to a ridiculous degree. At one point, Shadow half-jokingly wonders if they plan to achieve victory by blinding the enemy with the light reflecting off of their adornments.
  • Blood Magic: Practiced by the lunar cultists. Among other things, they can use pony sacrifices to turn a normal pony into Nightmare Moon’s Avatar.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Midnight’s reasons for wanting to be grown up.
    Midnight: I think I would like to be an adult more than a child. Then I could do as I pleased. Like stay up all night reading, eat ice cream when I wished, or call upon great magical forces to smite my foes and make them lament the day they crossed me.
  • Cannibalism Superpower: Hags can increase their power by devouring one another.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Invoked. The Order of Sol Invictus deliberately employs this technique to confront dangerous foes. In Interlude 5, this is used to capture Rightly Doo.
  • Dramatic Irony: In a last-ditch attempt to keep Shadow from defecting to Celestia's cause, Cyclone says that if she does, the Kickers will forever be remembered as "blackguards and betrayers, lead into infamy by a madmare". In the Winningverse's present, the Kickers are remembered as the only clan that remained loyal during the Rebellion, and Shadow is one of Equestria's greatest heroes.
  • Exact Words: Early in the Gathering Shadows, Shadow Kicker promised a Griffon Archduke that she wouldn't castrate or flay him if he revealed where the remaining pony captives were, not that she wouldn't have him hung if she found out he'd killed said pony captives and eaten from their corpes.
  • Footnote Fever: The Lunar Rebellion is presented as the most recent edition of Shadow Kicker’s in-universe memoirs as edited by Cloud Kicker, and is liberally interspersed with Cloud’s running commentary as she alternatively provides useful exposition or her own opinions of the various goings-on.
  • Human Sacrifice: In the epilogue of Rising Shadows, archmagi Copper Spark and Piercing Cry are sacrificed by the lunar cultists to power the spell that turned Bright Charger into the Avatar of Nightmare Moon.
  • Hypocrite: Swift Blade calls Celestia a tyrant who is only concerned with the well-being of one tribe (the unicorns) over the rest of Equestria and denounces Sunbeam as a monster for performing atrocities in the name of grim necessity. He later performs atrocities as bad as, if not worse than, Sunbeam’s on much shakier grounds, and openly promotes Pegasopolian interests and welfare over those of the unicorns and earth ponies.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: In the second Manehattan Crisis chapter, this is Swift Blade’s rationale for burning the Earth Pony governing body alive and replacing it with a puppet government.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Turns out that, 900 years before the show, Griffons partook of pony meat when they took them prisoner. Too bad this seals an Archduke's fate when Shadow finds out.
    • Midnight's Shadow gives us Grandmother Carrot and the other hags in her coven.
  • Kick the Dog: In the epilogue of Rising Shadows, when Bright Charger (who has already started becoming less and less sympathetic by this point) learns that one of her twins has died in battle against Sunbeam, and that the other, realizing that he could only retreat or die a pointless death, fled. Her response?
    “[…] Is it not better that one of us survives?” “Would that the better of my sons had.” Mother struck him full across the cheek. “Instead he died so that thou might live.”
  • Klingon Scientists Get No Respect: During the time of the Lunar Rebellion, pegasi are almost exclusively a warrior culture. Swift Blade, one of the ephors (major clan leaders), is skilled in strategy and logistics, but is looked down on by the others for not possessing their prowess in personal combat.
  • Legendary in the Sequel: Shadow Kicker. By the time of the Wininningverse present, she even has a religion dedicated to her.
  • Motive Decay: The rebels. They start out championing democracy, self-rule, and freedom from tyranny, and make sure to fight and campaign with honor. Eventually, they start to tend more towards championing Pegasus rule, and freedom from non-Pegasus tyranny, while using increasingly dubious tactics to promote their cause. Ultimately, they become nothing more than a front for lunar cultists seeking to bring back Nightmare Moon.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Midnight Sparkle. Her reaction to a unicorn lieutenant who made the mistake of trying to pick a fight with Shadow Kicker was to excitedly ask him if he's going to die.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: One of the first moves of the Ephorate during the Lunar Rebellion is to assist the Earth Pony populist movement in overthrowing the upper class elite and forgiving the debt of working farmers, which Celestia had previously refused to do. Shortly thereafter, we see exactly why she thought it was a bad idea: unable to collect on the money owed to them, the banks of Manehattan almost immediately go bankrupt. The new Earth Pony government, meanwhile, proves to be as uneducated, stubborn, and shortsighted as they are idealistic, and have absolutely no idea how to handle the situation.
  • Old Master: Played straight by characters like Grandmaster Crossguard and Steel Striker. Played with more interestingly by Shadow Kicker; although she's still far from old, she is implied to be in her mid-forties or so. Despite being extremely experienced, skilled, and battle-hardened, it's noted more than once that she's not quite as fast, durable, or strong as she used to be. When forced into a direct confrontation with the extraordinarily gifted and physically in-her-prime Lance Charger, she needs to use every dirty trick in the book to keep up.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Sunbeam tends to revert to her working-class accent when angry.
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Sunbeam’s mane covers her left eye.
  • Principles Zealot: Fair Deal, the provisional chancellor of the aforementioned Earth Pony populist movement, who refuses to compromise with the magnates in any way, even if it’s the only way to get the funds to finance the revolution he’s fighting, or to prevent a civil war among the Earth Ponies. This gets him and his lot killed when pre-Avatar Bright Charger authorizes Swift Blade to do whatever is necessary to get what the Lunars need from him.
    Fair Deal: Neigh, I say. I am not backing up, not one step, ever.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The pegasi, to even greater degrees than what was shown in canon. Their entire culture is dedicated to supporting their army in some form or another, their system of morals was clearly created to apply to war and the battlefield first and foremost, and they’re obsessed with personal honor.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: The Avatar uses the possibility of this as a threat to try to force Shadow to convince Celestia to surrender Canterlot, claiming that it’d be impossible to control victory-drunk soldiers seeking retribution for a long, hard siege and the deaths of close companions.
    “If I take the city by storm, half of it will burn to the ground, and a year later most of the surviving mares shall have new pegasus foals.”
  • Red Herring: Throughout Rising Shadows, it’s hinted that the pony who would become the Avatar of Nightmare Moon is Lance Charger. Nope! She dies by accidentally swallowing some tanglehoof, and Bright Charger becomes the Avatar instead.
  • Revenge Before Reason: In chapter twelve of Rising Shadows, Bright Charger attempts to murder Shadow under a flag of truce for the latter’s perceived murder of her daughter, never mind that a) she has nothing more than circumstantial evidence for this claim, and b) she willfully breaks a truce to do this, doing incredible damage to the rebels’ cause and credibility in the process.
  • Sink-or-Swim Mentor: In chapter 7, Celestia purposefully refrains from interfering in a fight between her subordinates, hoping they will learn to work it out themselves. It backfires disastrously, the argument escalating nearly to the point of violence rather than simmering down and continuing to erode their confidence in her leadership.
  • Soul Jar: Shadow’s Armor, which contains an imprint of her mind and served as a much more literal example when Celestia temporarily stored Shadow’s soul in it when the latter died.
  • Unperson: Damnatio memoriae, a posthumous punishment in Imperial Rome Pegasopolis during the era of the Lunar Rebellion. A pegasus who has particularly shamed their clan is completely expunged from their clan's records after death.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Swift Blade is essentially one who got his facts wrong. He honestly believes that Celestia is a tyrant, that Nightmare Moon was banished unjustly and should be returned to power, and that Equestria would be genuinely better off as a military dictatorship. Even if he were right, that still doesn’t excuse allying with warlocks and lunar cultists, violently overthrowing other governments, and using blood magic to turn a fellow ephor into the Avatar of Nightmare Moon.
  • Wham Episode: The twelfth chapter and the epilogue of Rising Shadows: Shadow Kicker is by all appearances dead, and Bright Charger has become the Avatar of Nightmare Moon.
  • Wham Line:
    • In The Manehattan Crisis I chapter:
    Swift Blade: ‘Tis simple, Skilled. We are to launch a coup ‘gainst Chancellor Fair Deal.
    • At the end of the prologue of Ascending Shadows:
    Bright Charger/The Avatar: “How can it be that Shadow Kicker lives?!”
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Most characters act like they’re in a fairly realistic military low fantasy story with Gray and Grey Morality. They’re not exactly wrong, especially in the early part of the story, but this is still part of the Black and White Morality high fantasy setting of My Little Pony, and discrepancies show, especially in how a lot of ponies assume that Nightmare Moon’s rebellion was just a dynastic power struggle, and Celestia killed Luna and covered it up. The Wrong Genre Savvyness start to show more as the story goes on and the Gray and Grey start to markedly lighten and darken.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Almost word-for-word in chapter 7, when Sunbeam Sparkle congratulates Shadow Kicker over defusing a very tense confrontation between Sunbeam and Rightly Doo.

     "Dead Derpy Verse" 
  • Children Are Innocent: Dinky, oh so much, in "From the Mouth of Fillies" and its sequel "Changes".
  • Driven to Suicide: Sparkler stops eating and drinking after Derpy's funeral and throws away her food to cover it up. While it's not clear if it was an intentional suicide attempt or just a side-effect of depression, the end result is that she nearly dies before Rainbow Dash figures out what's going on.
  • Please Wake Up: When Dinky finds her mother's body in Changes, she thinks Derpy is just sleeping and cuddles up with her. Then she realizes she won't wake up and this trope happens.
  • The Plot Reaper: While not technically an example, this does solve the Cloud Kicker/Blossomforth/Derpy love triangle.
  • Promotion to Parent: In "Changes" Rainbow Dash finds herself no longer acting as the world's greatest baby-sitter, but a mother, and isn't quite prepared to cope with the promotion and the death of one of closest friends.

     Road Not Taken 

  • An Arm and a Leg: Rainbow Dash lost one of her hind legs defending a town from a dragon attack during her stint in the Long Patrol.
  • For Want of a Nail: In Chapter 9 of Winning Pony, we see Cloud Kicker and Fluttershy break up over the former's fight with Rainbow Dash during Flight Camp. This Alternate Universe explores the "What If?" of how things would be if Cloud and Fluttershy had NOT broken up. Other examples include:
    • Rainbow Dash briefly joins the Guard before being forced into early retirement due to a hind leg getting mangled to the point of amputation.
    • Sparkler's foster mother becomes Nimbus Gust, not Derpy, creating Sparkler Kicker instead of Sparkler Doo.
    • Cloud Kicker does not fly out on the Guard, rising to the rank of Major as of the original one-shot.
    • Rarity and Applejack are ex-wives, as Applejack kept sponging off Rarity's success to fund Sweet Apple Acres, which no longer exists as of the original one-shot due to the Apples going bankrupt after Rarity divorces AJ.
    • Cloud Kicker and Fluttershy eventually marry and have a daughter, whom Rarity and Rainbow Dash are tasked with watching over in the original one-shot while Cloud and Fluttershy go out somewhere.
  • Happily Adopted: In this continuity, Sparkler is Cloud and Alula’s adoptive sister, after being adopted by Tornado Kicker and Nimbus Gust after Nimbus rescued her after her foster father broke her leg.

     Phoenix Empire stories 
  • Altum Videtur: Apparently, Old Unicornian is known to us as Latin, and was the spoken language back when Nightmare Moon was banished, hence her gratuitous use of it when she possesses Just Cause after he is cornered by Strumming and Lyra.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Circle, founded by Celestia not long after she abdicated, led by Cadance in the Present, and Twilight Velvet is a member. According to Cadance, when she tries to recruit Rainbow Dash, the Circle's purpose is to "keep Sunbeam honest." That is, to keep her from Jumping Off the Slippery Slope and becoming the tyrant many feared she would after her Ascension.
  • Badass Teacher: Rarity as the Sapphire Guardian, the Phoenix Empire's version of Mare-Do-Well.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: The Ministry Of Heart, led by Lyra's father. Doubles as The Men in Black.
  • Classified Information: Whatever the hell Lyra was doing in the Everfree, or at Cloudsdale and Appleoosa, before she was assigned to Aedile Pinkie Pie's assassination. To the extent that, when Strumming asks her about it on behalf of her uncle, Lyra's father, who is the Minister Of Heart himself, Lyra says that, if the Minister Of Heart doesn't know about whatever their intelligence says she was doing, then the orders must have come from the Empress herself, which would mean that both Strumming and Minister Heartstrings are overstepping and risking getting into scaldingly hot water with Sunbeam by prying into "a top-secret matter of Imperial security" which is blatantly relevant to Nightmare Moon's return and Sunbeam's attempts to locate and recruit this universe's versions of the Mane 6.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Just Cause was instructed by Nightmare Moon to kill off the Mane 6 to neutralize the threat of the Elements Of Harmony against her. So far, Aedile Pie is the only fatality, attempted or successful. Clearly, this time around, Nightmare Moon has done her homework.
  • For Want of a Nail: An unusually harsh training session between Sunbeam and her daughter Midnight makes Celestia hastily jump to the conclusion that Sunbeam was either actively abusing Midnight, or starting down that road. As a result, Celestia attacks Sunbeam, crippling her. Later, Sunbeam reveals to Celestia that she is Secretly Dying of her wounds, and Celestia realizes the only way to save her is for her to Ascend and become an Alicorn. Sunbeam expects to replace Luna, but Celestia double-crosses that idea and instead has Sunbeam replace HER instead. Introducing... the Phoenix Empress!
  • Married to the Job: Lyra Heartstrings, to the point where she now answers directly to Empress Sunbeam and doesn't have much of a social life, which worries her father and cousin to the point where, after she joins the Phoenix Cult, they investigate her and are blocked by the Classified Information above.
  • Meaningful Name: The Ministry Of Heart, a sort of Family Business in that the headship is passed down through House HEARTstrings. The incumbent Minister in the Present is revealed by Strumming Heartstrings to be her cousin Lyra's father.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Rarity has sold out to Sunbeam in exchange for a special license that eliminates any trouble she'd have with the usual law enforcement.
  • Oh Crap!: Cadance when Sunbeam reveals that she knows about the Circle, and that Cadance herself is the current leader, hence why she's being given the title of "aedile" and relocated up north to settle a dispute that will conveniently last just long enough for whatever Sunbeam has planned for Nightmare Moon's return to bear fruit.

    Sunset Shimmer stories 
  • Adult Fear: In The Hunted, Kukri’s parents have to deal with the fact that there’s something that can pass any defense, is unhinged at best and actively sadistic at worst, has very likely ties to someone who wishes their family harm, and seems to have a marked interest in their eleven-year-old daughter.
  • Black Magic: Mind control and necromacy are specifically stated to be illegal black magic. Unlike other cases, black magic here is not stated to be inherently corruptive or addictive—rather, it’s more of a case of Slowly Slipping Into Evil, since dark magic provides such quick, easy, and (at first) cost-free options, it becomes too tempting to indulge in to resist.
  • Dark Is Evil: In Freeport Venture: The Hunted, Kukri swiftly develops this view, since the Monster prefers to attack in the dark.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Sunset Shimmer starts out with the tendency to jump into things without properly thinking her plans through. For instance, she didn’t really put a lot of thought into what she was going to do after leaving Celestia beyond “head as far away from Equestria as possible”, something she only realizes when she arrives at Freeport with little money, no contacts and no means to make either.
  • Dramatic Irony: The Equestrian Intelligence Service intends to keep tabs on Sunset on the off-chance she might go off the deep end and, say, return to Equestria as a false alicorn at the head of an army of brainwashed minions or something like that.
    Sunset Shimmer: “Yeah, there’s no way that would ever happen.”
  • Eldritch Abomination: The demon in Freeport Venture: Auction Night is positively Lovecraftian.
    There were tentacles. There were claws. There were gaping mouths full of needle-like teeth. And none of them were arranged in anything remotely resembling natural or sane anatomy.
  • Elemental Embodiment: In A Thousand Maks, Strumming and Puzzle come across a stone spirit bound in the walls of the Blood Stripes’ base as a security system. Air spirits are also mentioned.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: The feared pirate Metal Mome was apparently rather fond enough of his mother, Granite Mome, to name his ship, the Granite Heart, after her. Insulting his mother is also one of the few ways to get him visibly pissed.
  • Exact Words: In the penultimate chapter of The Freeport Venture, Sunset accepts the Council of Thirteen’s offer to destroy Metal Mome’s golems and all existing notes on how they were made. She never said anything about the very detailed memories she gained from Mome’s mind, though.
  • Foil: Starlight Glimmer is one of sorts to Sunset. Both are very powerful unicorns, both are extremely dedicated to a goal (equality or alicornhood) and won’t shut up about it, and both have gone back on their ideals when faced with imprisonment (Starlight using her family’s wealth and connections, Sunset using dark magic). The main difference is Sunset is more aware of her failures and much less of a hypocrite.
  • Healing Factor: The Monster has one. It only works as long as its target is afraid of it.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: It’s mentioned that warlock hunters are the likeliest demographic for becoming warlocks themselves.
  • Hypocrite: Starlight is one in much the same way she is in canon, since her motivation for making everypony equal is pretty obviously a way to make sure nopony’s better than her rather than actually helping ponies, as she claims. When she robbed a bank to give the money to the poor, claiming entirely altruistic reasons, she kept three quarters of the money for herself.
  • In-Series Nickname: Strumming likes to call Sunset “bacon-mane”.
  • Insistent Terminology: Kukri is not a grub. She’s eleven-and-a-half years old.
  • Just Following Orders: Strumming would really like to be friends with Sunset, it's just that she has orders to spy on the runaway and later confine/keep an eye on/recapture her. Later, when Sunset uses Dark Magic while escaping, she ''must'' be a warlock and thus ''obviously'' seeking to be the next King Sombra. note 
  • Mage Tower: Sunset ends up building one made of obsidian to live in in Freeport, partly because it’s traditional, partly because it means she has to buy less land.
  • Mind Rape: Most forms of mental magic edge at least somewhat into this. For a specific example, in The Freeport Venture there’s Sunset destroying Metal Mome’s mind and reducing him to a permanent vegetable state.
  • The Nicknamer: The independent changelings/Free Minds are a bit odd about names, and prefer to use titles or nicknames on most occasions. They refer to themselves as “this one”, other Free Minds are some variation of “the other one”, Chrysalis is “the Old Mind”, ponies are nicknamed with constructs of their name and gender (such as “the Shimmer-mare” or “the Heartstrings-mare”), and Celestia is “the White Pony”.
  • Not-So-Safe Harbor: Rogueport, run by greedy merchant-princes and with guards so corrupt they are expected to supplement their income with bribes, is a notorious haven for Black Market deals in every sort of banned good, a hotbed of espionage and counterespionage, and a nest of organized piracy.
  • Things That Go Bump in the Night: The Monster in Freeport Venture: The Hunted. Numerous species of such beings are stated to exist.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Black Codex, written by a cabal of warlocks and lunar cultists during the Lunar Rebellion and containing information on every form of Black Magic in existence.
  • Properly Paranoid: When Strumming approaches Sunset Shimmer humbly, apologizes for her earlier antagonism, offers her food, and doesn't try to steal any for herself, Sunset promptly assumes the meal has been poisoned. She's right, but Strumming does want to reconcile, and is Just Following Orders, however reluctantly.
  • Shout-Out: One of the perks Strumming lists for being a spy is the right to be really snooty about ordering your milkshakes shaken, not stirred.
  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: Black Magic works this way, rather than being actively addictive: at first, a pony might use dark magic to escape an otherwise hopeless situation, then maybe use it in another dangerous or desperate moment, eventually using it more readily and more often, without necessarily realizing what’s happening. Eventually, it starts becoming their preferred recourse to issues, and by then there’s no turning back.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Starlight Glimmer. She has plenty of raw magical power, perhaps as much as Sunset herself, but she doesn’t have any proper training in how to use it effectively. Her temper problems don’t help, either.
  • Wretched Hive: Rogueport is a Not-So-Safe Harbor ruled by greedy merchant-princes, its guards are so corrupt they are actually expected to supplement their income with bribes, most people prefer personal blood feuds to get “justice” anyway, and it’s a haven for mercenaries, spies, and legalized piracy. There’s a fairly good justification for why a major port city is allowed to go on like this—it sits on an archipelago right between Equstria, Gryphonia, and Zebrica, meaning none of the nations can make any move on it without the other two seeing it as a threat.