Fan Fic: What Hath Joined Together
For the past few thousand years, Equestria
remains a land living in harmony. Disorder breeds misery, so thanks to "the Order
," society is structured so that never happens by ensuring every pony race remains in their own sphere, in livelihood and in love. Such is the way it has always been
On the first day of Princess Twilight Sparkle's royal duties, the Royal Guard Flash Sentry finds himself assigned in her court. Unfortunately, Twilight's first day sees the noble unicorn Orion attempt something unprecedented: defying the Order to marry his childhood love, who unfortunately is an earth pony and therefore off-limits. Infuriated by Twilight's refusal to overrule the logical
system, he attacks in a rage, but Flash Sentry quickly restrains the rogue.
During his debriefing, Flash makes eye contact with Equestria's youngest princess, and so begins the first urges of something extremely forbidden, but something they both desperately need. Will Flash's crush develop into something more, one able to shake the rigid society for the better, or will the Order of Equestrian society strike him down as it did to Orion?
The author Bad_Seed_72
began the story as a one-shot ending on an ambiguous note with The Order
, but due to overwhelming reader support, was expanded into a full story with What Hath Joined Together
This fanfic demonstrates examples of:
- Adorkable: Twilight Sparkle acts as enthusiastic and eager to learn as in the main series, but Flash also gets his moments. It's almost always around each other.
- Alternate Universe: According to snippets, the universe is mostly the same as the canon events, with Twilight meeting her friends, defeating villains like Nightmare Moon and Chrysalis, and ascending to Princesshood. The only difference is that Equestrian society runs on a Fantastic Caste System. Also, Flash Sentry is in the Canterlot Royal Guard instead of the Crystal Empire's.
- Armor-Piercing Question: Cadance directs a powerful one at Twilight after revealing the true circumstances of her romance with Shining. It definitely forces her to doubt her own assurance in The Order.
Cadance: “Twilight, if I were a pegasus, or Shining wasn’t the Captain of the Royal Guard, would you have let us marry?”
- Arranged Marriage: Since your marriage options depend on your social class, you can either marry a few ponies or not marry at all, and as an alicorn, Twilight Sparkle only has the high-ranking unicorn Captain Ironhoof as a legitimate suitor. After being narrowed down, regular dating occurs, and ponies like Princess Cadance play matchmaker to help those relationships go smoothly (though, Cadance doesn't exactly like the idea, even though she was fortunate enough to get a husband she adored).
- Beautiful Dreamer: Twilight Sparkle asleep as she naps on the train ride north, although it's more adorkable than beautiful as she looks very inelegant while doing so (not that Flash minds at all).
- Being Good Sucks: Cadance and Shining Armor just want to do some good in the world, like allow ponies to love other ponies of a different race than themselves or not treat Crystal Ponies like second-class citizens in their own homeland. To do so requires going against society itself, and may force the Crystal Empire to secede.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Captain Ironhoof, courteous to his superiors and a Jerkass to everyone below him. Exemplified when during the tea party with Celestia, Twilight, and Flash Sentry, he acts polite and warm to the Princesses, even going so far as to using slang to get them at ease. Once he and Flash Sentry depart, Ironhoof grabs him uncomfortably and threatens him if he "steps beyond his station again" while he's Twilight's bodyguard.
- Bodyguard Crush: Develops into one, as Flash Sentry ranked only as a standard Royal Guard when he fell head-over-heels for Twilight Sparkle. Since then, he's been promoted to her actual bodyguard, and Twilight starts showing signs of an attraction she doesn't understand.
- Could Say It But: Turns out, this is how the Crystal Empire shelters its 'love refugees.' Cadance and Shining Armor don't officially permit any mixed-race relationships, but they definitely don't mind suspected couples moving to their country, and they help them get settled in just because they're friendly neighbors, and they don't ask what goes on behind closed doors.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance:
- The Equestria here is centuries behind socially compared to the main series, but as the writer explained, fighting society itself makes for a more engaging conflict for a FlashLight Ship Fic than typical romance.
- In the story itself, most ponies indulge in Fantastic Racism to show their jerkass behavior, but it's meant to convey Twilight Sparkle's naivety due to a sheltered upbringing in her case. She even wonders why Orion would defy the Order for someone he knows he could never marry.
- One of the rules of The Order is that stallions needed mares, and mares needed stallions. The author describes her own sexuality as "gayer than Elton John waving a rainbow flag and skipping down the streets of San Francisco," so there's little doubt about the author's stance of The Order's true legitimacy.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Already a case for Shining Armor and Cadance. Even though they fell in love early on, they had to conceal their relationship. Shining had to depart from his intended career field and enlist, then work himself to the bone for a decade to be promoted to Captain of the Guard, the only position permitted to marry alicorns. Only then were Shining Armor and Cadance allowed to publically consummate their relationship.
- Shaping up to be a case for Twilight Sparkle and Flash Sentry, as society itself is literally against them.
- Fantastic Arousal: Flash needs to try very hard to stop himself from getting wingboners whenever he sees Twilight in a particularly alluring position. Somewhat Played for Drama, because at those specific moments it'd be a faux pas that could legitimately cost him his job.
- Fantastic Caste System: In this universe, there is "the Order," which mandates that alicorns rule the kingdom, the unicorns are the elite, the pegasi are the soldiers and artisans, while the earth ponies are laborers. Somewhat Downplayed, as Twilight apparently still befriended the other Mane 6, but miscegenation remains forbidden and nobody protests the idea of inherent racial superiority.
- Fantastic Racism: par the course for any society with a caste system. Almost everyone is simply used to "the Order" and accepting that some species are inherently superior, but a few take it into outright scorn.
- Felony Misdemeanor: After defending Twilight from a furious noble's assault and taking his share of injury from the ordeal, Flash's gesture of respect for the Princess is to give a gentlecoltish kiss on her hoof. For Equestrian society, his action is far beyond his social standing, and Flash notes how lucky he was that Ironhoof merely verbally disciplined him.
- First Name Basis: Twilight asks this of Flash to make their time together less awkward, in addition to not enjoying her title much in the first place. Prince Shining Armor seems to practice this as well, as he didn't bat an eye when Flash didn't refer to Twilight as "Princess."
- Fisher King: An interesting inversion, as Princess Cadance's own state is affected by that of her subjects. She fell very ill in the past, but being a Love Goddess, her vitality returned as she discretely relaxed The Order's rules regarding love restrictions.
- Friend or Idol Decision: Twilight Sparkle is quickly approaching one. Celestia is perfect to her, and The Order that she endorses is just and logical. Cadance shows her how that idea is far from the truth, and wants Twilight to take a stand against it with her. Fortunately, a third option is already available; Cadance wants Twilight's help to bring Celestia around.
- Good Is Boring: The author felt a typical Ship Fic between Flash Sentry and Twilight Sparkle would be far too boring, and so crafted an entire Alternate Universe designed to make their romance as painful to achieve as possible.
- Government Conspiracy: Turns out, Cadance and Shining Armor have begun one, called "The Order of the Silver Guard." As they seek equality between races and toppling The Order, they're the early stages of a Benevolent Conspiracy.
- Hate Sink: Captain Ironhoof existence showcases the worst potential outcomes of the Fantastic Caste System in place. His unlikability is really meant to draw ire from characters who have more complex reasons for upholding The Order.
- Heel Realization: Twilight begins to undergo one after she meets Clover, and realizes just how much pain and oppression The Order she endorses causes.
- Humble Hero: Cadance may have ascended from a pegasus orphan and currently serves as the reigning monarch of the Crystal Empire, but she definitely hasn't forgotten her roots. Hence, she despises The Order, because although she was lucky enough to benefit from it, she sympathizes with those facing oppression. Despises The Order enough to potentially secede from Equestria.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Captain Ironhoof has a pegasus, Major Shooting Star, as his second-in-command, but every one of his subordinates has no doubts that the Major possesses the greater competence of the two. With the Order in place, Shooting Star will never achieve the rank he deserves.
- Innocent Bigot: Twilight Sparkle at first, viewing The Order as necessary and perfectly logical. Naturally, her worldview gets shaken constantly over the course of the story.
- Jerkass: Captain Ironhoof breathes this trope.
- Just Following Orders:
- Interesting variation. Celestia upholds "the Order," segregating Equestrian society into classes by race and forbidding miscegenation. However, Celestia is the pony with the power to influence the system to change, continuing it for reasons unexplained despite emotionally suffering from it as much as her subjects do.
- Flash Sentry is a straighter example, because while he supports Orion's cause to allow interracial marriage, he still complies with orders to remove Orion from the court and arrests Orion when he attacks Twilight Sparkle.
- Long List: When trying to make small-talk with Flash on their train ride, Twilight's "short" list of topics stretches across the entire cab's length. Flash surmises that there's not enough paper in Equestria for a list Twilight considers "long."
- Love Hurts: Absolutely for Flash Sentry when he could be fired or publicly shamed just for looking at his crush improperly, much less actually expressing it. Orion, however, had it worse.
- Love Martyr: Orion was willing to attack a princess in her own castle surrounded by her own guards to demand the right to marry his earth pony fiance. Fortunately, he hasn't been killed, but he's still suffering for his actions.
- Love Triangle: Type Four. Flash Sentry crushes so heavily on Twilight that that the ground would crater if he could drop it, and Twilight starts showing hints of reciprocation. Unfortunately, Flash's superior Captain Ironhoof has his sights set on taking Twilight as his wife, and is eager for any excuse to put Flash in his place and secure Twilight for himself.
- Love Goddess: Princess Cadance, to the point that seeing blossoming love restores her health and seeing it restricted takes a physical toll. Naturally, she rebels against The Order, hating it for restricting love between ponies in addition to all the suffering it enables.
- Luminescent Blush: Twilight and Flash Sentry develop some rosy cheeks around each other.
- Maligned Mixed Marriage:
- Orion and his fiance Clover, and unicorn noble and earth pony servant who wanted to make official the love they felt since they were foals. For their overtures, they're fated with a life sentence and familial abuse, respectively.
- Flash and Twilight haven't even moved beyond the "crush" stage, but given the nature of the story, their inevitable relationship will be an example.
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Rare non-malicious version from Shining Armor. Shining's counting on Twilight's support in their upcoming civil revolution to abolish The Order, since both her and Cadance hopefully have the power to sway Celestia to their side. However, if it's known she's romantically involved with Flash Sentry, her stake in the revolution will be less of wanting to reform society for the better and more about abandoning her values because of infatuation, which would undermine their case. Flash agrees, but time will tell if the promise is kept.
- The Neidermeyer: Ironhoof again. Thanks to his overt Fantastic Racism and glee at throwing "the Order" as a justification for his behavior, there hasn't been a single instance of his subordinates expressing anything but a negative opinion of him.
- Nice to the Waiter:
- Parental Substitute: While Flash grew up with a loving mother and father, Greyhoof quite often dishes out advise (particularly concerning Flash's feelings for Twilight), and they're interactions are more similar to that of a father and son than a knight and his servant.
- Shining Armor and Cadance as well, the former not caring that Flash didn't refer to his sister with her proper title.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Right before a serious chat with Cadance:
Twilight Sparkle loved daffodil and daisy sandwiches, especially with a side of hayfries. If given the choice of eating only one dish for the rest of her life, she would choose that over all of Canterlot Castle’s imported delicacies and exotic dishes.
In this moment, Twilight pushed her favorite dish away, as if it were rotten.
- The Power of Legacy: As in canon, Cadance was a pegasus that ascended to an alicorn, but unlike canon, such a fact is now in direct contradiction with what society considers possible. So, Cadance was forced to lie about her heritage, claiming she was originally a unicorn. However, she remembered her roots, and grew up hating The Order for all the restrictions placed on her kin.
- The Power of Love: What gives the Orion the boldness to make a serious request to allow a marriage that is forbidden, and openly mock Celestia during his sentencing. However, put on hold, for now.
- Praetorian Guard: Celestia assigns Flash Sentry as one to Twilight Sparkle for her research trip to the Crystal Empire. With the volatile combination of holding a Bodyguard Crush, his superior eager for a social misstep to dismiss him, and the fact he'll be visiting a Princess whose special talent is detecting love, Flash knows this situation won't end pleasantly.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Orion delivers a serious verbal beatdown on Celestia during his trial, calling her a tyrant for her enforcement of "the Order" and criminalizing finding love across racial boundaries. Orion may have been tackled, gagged, and dragged back into the dungeons afterwards, but the fact he made an Physical God break her stoic facade and run from her podium in emotional distress makes it obvious that he won their exchange.
- Recursive Fanfiction: Not a whole fanfiction, but a poem. In fact, most chapters get a poem in the comments.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: Shining Armor reaffirms that the Order of the Silver Guard's goal is civil reform, not a civil war. They aren't opposed to Celestia and Luna, they're opposed to The Order itself. Even though the two princesses endorse it, they hope to convince them otherwise. The large military they're raising at a breakneck rate is only for defense if relationships go sour.
- Right Hand Versus Left Hand: An unfortunate heroic version. Shining Armor asks Flash Sentry not to romance his sister as it potentially undermines their case in their upcoming revolution, but in true Love Goddess fashion, Princess Cadance keeps encouraging it (along with Apt Drop getting in on the teasing).
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: The noble unicorn Orion hoped for this. He went to Twilight Sparkle to ask her to overturn the laws forbidding his marriage to an earth pony, knowing that Twilight has the authority to do while hoping she was progressive enough to allow it. Unfortunately, Twilight's upbringing meant she never questioned "the Order's" necessity and respects Celestia far to much to go around her back, and things get worse from there.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Inverted, as Celestia is upholding the rules because she's believes doing so is the right thing. She's burdened with regret and sadness from breaking apart so many couples and permitting institutionalized discrimination, but she's utterly convinced keeping everything ordered as it stands is the best option.
- Shout-Out: During the Crystal Pony's stage production showing a classic romantic comedy, the unassuming male character is declared to be 'a bit of a fixer upper' before receiving a well-needed grooming.
- Straight Gay: The kind, quirky librarian Apt Drop turns out to be in a happy relationship with a playwright stallion, which comes as quite a shock to Twilight. Thanks to The Order, homosexuals are supposedly all misguided and secretly unhappy, none of which she's picking up from him.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Flash Sentry is surprised by the size and advanced armament of the Crystal Guard that he's helping train. Shining Armor assured it's strictly there to guard the palace, despite that there are enough soldiers to guard several more similarly-sized palaces. Shining Armor is right, he's just anticipating a possible siege in the future.
- Title Drop: "The Order," the name of the first story, refers to the traditional caste system used in Equestria. As such, many characters invoke the name when justifying separation or discrimination.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Though far from the "Tyrantlestia" interpretation, the story hasn't shown Celestia as anything but stern, serious, and utterly conservative. Discord hinting there's a reason for her behavior, mentioning how she wasn't this "cold" in the past.
- Town with a Dark Secret: The Crystal Empire, in a surprisingly benevolent example for. It shelters many "love refugees," ponies who fall in love with ponies outside their race. Though Cadance permits them to continue their romance, it's still illegal, hence the secrecy.
- Tuckerization: The minor character Apt Drop's name is an anagram of "Poptard," the handle of the troper who launched the series trope page. One of Us, indeed.
- Unequal Pairing: Thanks to the caste system. The only socially acceptable case is unicorns marrying alicorn princesses, and other relationships across class (and therefore racial) lines are forbidden. This is going to make the romance budding between Twilight Sparkle, a princess, and Flash Sentry, a pegasus Royal Guard, very tricky.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Stick two ponies with crushes on each other yet forbidden from expressing their love onto an empty train to the Crystal Empire for twelve uninterrupted hours, and this is the result. Flash Sentry's biggest challenge is suppressing his wingboner.
- Uriah Gambit: Nonlethal, heroic version. Shining Armor knew he needed to name a unicorn as his replacement Captain, and chose Ironhoof knowing his inflated ego and unpleasant attitude would soon be his undoing, thanks to the increased public exposure of his new station. It also won't be hard to win support for his cause when an embodiment of everything wrong with The Order is the public face of the military.