A Posse Ad Esse
"[Kroko. Lilo. Dolly. Sly. There is little point in me beating about the bush: (...) the majority of us have gained, for lack of a better word, superpowers.]"
Sly was the only one to vocalize a reaction: "[Awesome!]"
is an Alternate Universe Fic
for obscure web game Die Anstalt
. Specifically, an AU where the six main characters all gain superpowers. Considering these characters are all disabled cuddly toys (five patients and a doctor, to be exact), the inevitable result is conflict, confusion and a different kind of therapy: experience.
It can be found on LiveJournal here
. Recently given an AO3 backup
A Posse Ad Esse provides examples of:
- Actual Pacifist: While hinted at in previous chapters, Kroko confirms himself as one of these in Chapter 10, to the point where he doesn't even want the primary antagonist to get hurt. Of course, just because he doesn't wish to harm anyone doesn't mean he can't...
- All There in the Manual: The physical depictions and names of some of the Claw Association members can only be found in the Chapter 16 Postface.
- Altum Videtur: The title of the story, and of each chapter, are all Latin phrases, some more recognizable than others, that indicate the content within. (EG: A posse ad esse means 'from being able to being'.) Overlaps with Pretentious Latin Motto for the particularly obscure ones (Incepto Ne Desistam, anyone?).
- An Ass-Kicking Christmas: Played with. The story starts "literally three days until Christmas", but only Dr Wood knows this. The other patients have very little concept of time passing, and no reliable clocks once they are forced to leave the asylum, relying on the sun setting and other visual cues just to figure out whether it's morning, afternoon or night. Nonetheless, the prose attempts to make clear that the two first fight scenes between hero and villain sides occur on Christmas Day, four hours apart.
- Apologizes a Lot: Kroko, sometimes Dolly in a sadder mood. Most egregiously done in Chapter 6, when he allegedly manages to say sorry for yelling at Lilo forty times in the space of three minutes.
- Author Vocabulary Calendar: The author has been making an active attempt to avert this; one revision removed redundant instances of "a little", "a bit" and "seem", amongst other changes. But linguistic leitmotifs are still commonplace, particularly likening Dub's physical attraction to Wood to a "chill".
- The Big Damn Kiss: Half-exploited half-invoked by Dub. The fact that he and Wood were at a fireworks show is mere convenient timing, but it was his idea for it to be exactly when the biggest firework exploded, and his power that allowed that to come to pass...
- Bilingual Bonus: An slightly complicated one for the sake of a joke in Chapter 10.
Dolly: [Wood's the only one with any horrible intent note , so it's safe to-]
Sly: [He doesn't have a view note , he can't see us through the hood.]
Dolly: [Yes he can, and I said intent, not view.]
- Callback / Chekhov's Gun: Dr Spieler mentions in the narration of Chapter 1 that she had two therapeutic setbacks in her early days of taking over from Kindermann: an "incident with the hypodermic needle", and "trouble with the Halo-Stop-Ultra". Later, in Chapter 4, Dr Wood takes inspiration from the first to aid his fighting style (albeit with a stick), and in Chapter 14, it's revealed that Kroko had enough of the latter to necessitate electroshock therapy, which the others use as a springboard to help revive the then-catatonic Dub.
- A slightly weirder meta-example of a Callback: In Chapter 5, one of the few German phrases Dub knows is "Himmel Auf - not sure what it means, but I heard it in a song once or twice." Twelve chapters later, the soundtrack for Chapter 17 is... "Himmel Auf" by Silbermond.
- Comically Missing the Point: In Chapter 13, Dr Wood explains to Dub the statistics of a submarine (in kilometres as opposed to miles) to prove a point about how being unaerodynamic isn't a detriment to speed and performance. Dub's response?
"Ooh, you work in the metric system! I like-y."
- One chapter on, Sly also has one of these, only in a more tense circumstance.
Dolly: [You really think I'm going to willingly trigger myself by walking out in front of a dog with Dub in, what, a wheelbarrow or something, so he can catch my fear?]
Sly: [No! I think Dub would be in a wagon, not a wheelbarrow. I don't even know what is a wheelbarrow.]
- Cloudcuckoolander: Sly. Downplayed and justified, given thought disorder is one of the expanded symptoms of his condition. Specializes in Neologisms.
- Crash-Into Hello: Dolly and Kroko's first interaction, and the first toy-toy interaction in the entire fic, begins with one of these. This is then echoed in Chapter 10. It should be noted that both of these are due to a weather-based influence.
- Dating Catwoman: Not exactly this as of Chapter 7, but more textual than Foe Romance Subtext too. Became this properly in Chapter 13.
- Desperately Craves Affection: Spinne. Lyall, to a certain extent.
- Dramatic Irony: For those who have played the game, the fanfic runs on this. For novices, it's more like Foreshadowing.
- Dysfunction Junction: A small group of mentally ill toys with superpowers? Hmm.
- Explaining Your Power to the Enemy: Played for Drama, in that it's the up-to-that-point Secret Weapon doing it.
- Fantastic Recruitment Drive: Villainous variation. Dr Wood manages to drum up a large number of toys to side with him within a matter of five days. Justified, because in canon he has already been shown as very good at persuasion and charisma, and he is at the point of his therapy when that trait is even more enhanced.
- He's actually banked far too much on this by the time Chapter 16 rolls around - the success of his sermon depends on his audience trusting him so blindly because of aforementioned charisma that they will not ask for direct proof of what he can do. But Lilo of all toys shows up to prove him wrong, untangling the web of lies.
- Flat "What." and Big "WHAT?!": One right after the other in Chapter 6, courtesy of Sly.
- For Want of a Nail / In Spite of a Nail: Crosses between the two. In recent chapters, despite there being no currently accessible therapists, the toys have been making what would be deemed therapeutic process in a similar, but not the exact, way as they do in canon. Most notably, in Chapter 10, Lilo skips Stage 3 of this therapy after oscillating between 1 and 2 for a while to go straight to Stage 4 (the one with the rectus trementis), which actually kick-starts Sly's slide from his own stage 3 to 4, which in turn sets off other character developments. An author's note likened it to a mixed up domino bridge.
- Genre Shift: Expected, given the premise.
- Grey Rain of Depression: Taken very literally with Dolly, particularly in Chapter 5.
- Hypocritical Humor:
"[What's up with your eyes? They're wide and size-changing. It's creepy,]" said the snake with the constantly dilating and constricting pupils.
- In Medias Res: The fic starts, and thus begins to diverge, in the middle of most toys' cases when Dr Kindermann has already left.
- Literal-Minded: Kroko, as in canon. Lilo and Sly also fall into this sometimes.
- Living Toys: As in the original, they oscillate between 3 and 4 on the sliding scale.
Very few shoppers noticed the toys, leading to a couple of narrow escapes from falling winter shoes, and those who did didn't speak to them.
- Mass Super-Empowering Event
- Moral Dissonance: Inverted to some extent with Sly, backed with What the Hell, Hero?. Sly has no qualms about using his "sparks" to cause harm to the toys he needs to fight, even if Dolly has expressly said he's not to. He also doesn't mind giving pretty severe shocks to Lilo in order to aid his powers. But when it comes to doing the same thing to Dub, in a piecemeal form of electroshock therapy, which we know from canon is the only way his character arc can proceed?
Sly: [No, I can't give sparks to Dub. I don't want to. It's wrong.]
- Motor Mouth: Sly again, in Chapters 1 and 14 especially.
- Lilo too, when he's given the ability to communicate at all. Usually in writing.
- The Nicknamer: Lyall. Dolly = "Doll"; Sly = "snake boy"; Dr Wood = "Woodster"; Lilo = "Savvy"; Dub = "turtle"; Kroko doesn't have one. "Doll" has been the most consistent. It's a sign of zer starting to respect Dolly more when ze uses her actual name.
- Only Neurotypical Toy: Applied more literally than usual to Dub (pre-Chapter 13's Angst Coma, anyway); despite having been in an asylum for the best part of six months, he persists in his belief that he didn't need to be admitted there. But, as Dr Wood puts it, "Toys without problems don't tend to be found in asylums."
- Personality Powers: Sort of. The powers the toys gain reflect the therapeutic state they were in at the time of receiving them, but the discoveries of these powers serve as each's Establishing Character Moment.
- Powers in the First Chapter
- Precision F-Strike: In Chapter 12, after Sly manages to trigger a Rant-Inducing Slight.
Dolly: [How is that my fucking problem?]
- Pronoun Trouble: Lyall is gender-neutral, and goes by ze/zer/zer pronouns - despite the fact that the equivalent in German linguistics is es, not ze. Since Dolly's natural tongue indicates that she was made in Scotland, though, and Lyall therefore must have been made at the same time in the same place, we can let it slide. At first, Dolly kept slipping up and used 'it' instead of ze, while Sly persisted for a while in calling zer Ze-Sir instead of Lyall, since he was the one most confused about the existence of that particular gender identity.
- Savage Wolves (to Dolly anyway, Lyall zerself is actually a Noble Wolf)
- Scam Religion: As in canon, from Chapter 5 onward.
- Ship Tease: Kroko and Dolly got a couple dotted through various chapters, until Chapter 17 bumped it into overdrive.
- Shout-Out: While the original was rife with shout-outs to deep or otherwise psychological works, the author makes those in this more contemporary. In Chapter 9, Minesweeper and SuperTed of all things are name-dropped, and the writingasm scene in Chapter 10 has shades of the "I WILL READ" scene in Fame. Chapters 14 and 16 also includes thinly-veiled shout-outs to another Die Anstalt fanfic, "Sparkles and the Great Escape".
- Shown Their Work: Chapter 13 has this in spades, specifically regarding certain aspects of German culture.
- Suddenly Voiced (a necessity)
- Switching P.O.V.: Most chapters have a single POV character, but there are some where the switching is in within the chapter. For Dolly, this is a plot point.
- Talking to Themself: Sly manages to hash out his internal conflict and realize his immoral behaviour... with his miniature hallucination of a mouse.
- Thank the Maker / Oh My Gods!!: Zigzagged. Usually the toys invoke God and Goddamn in the traditional way, but other times they say Steiff instead, in a reference to Steiff being the first company to create stuffed toys en masse. At one point, Dolly even says "For the love of Beanie Babies". Justified because, aside from Sly (who explicitly invokes Hinduism, specifically Shiva), none of the toys in canon really have a belief system. Notably, Wood is an exception to both of these tropes.
- Time Dissonance: A constant, given the toys' current location condition and time dilation being a shared symptom.
In that recurring theme of their long-distance relationship to time recently...
- Title Drop: Twice, of the original canon. The only name Sly is able to propose for the group in Chapter 5 is "Paraplüsch", and in Chapter 10, one of the things Lilo writes during his spree is Die Anstalt.
- Translation Convention: The author took the original game's German origins and ran with it, setting the game near Sassnitz and making the vast majority of the characters German speakers as a result. All German dialogue is rendered with square brackets around it, to help distinguish it from...
- Switch to English: ...Dr Wood and Dolly's English dialogue. This, and their speaking it at all, is a necessity both for characters and readers, since Dub is actually from England (Manchester, to be exact) in this version and only knows a few German words. Mind you, he has been attempting to learn more of the to-him-foreign language in an active effort to help Dolly defy Translator Buddy.
- Trigger: Dolly carries over her adverse reaction to dog bones, and fear of dogs in general, from the original canon. Kroko's aquaphobia also shows signs of this, since it leads to a couple of panic attacks. These have both hindered and helped the team over the course of the fic.
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Downplayed. We hear some details of Lilo's plan, but we have to witness the particulars for ourselves as they happen.
- Villain Episode: Dr Wood gets Chapter 9 to himself post-Official Heel Turn.
- Violent Glaswegian: Dolly has a Scottish accent when not speaking German, a Funetik Aksent to boot. This is actually lampshaded the hell out of in Chapter 12:
Dolly: Look, Ah dornt like it either, but [the German language] jist doesnae work 'at way. We've bin ower thes.
Dub: Says she who says "over" as "ower".
Dolly: Leave mah accent out ay thes, ye ass!
- Virtual Soundtrack: On the LJ copy, each post has a certain song outlined in the 'Music' qualifier; on AO 3, this is recreated in the author's notes. The soundtrack is also accompanied with a moodlet to show the central character and overall theme of each chapter: for example, Chapter 2's theme is conflict.
- Overlaps with Song Fic slightly come Chapter 12, wherein the associated song is a Filk Song written and sung by the author herself.
- Wall of Text: Deliberately done in Chapter 10. Lilo's just picked up a pen for only the second time that fic and is caught in the onsweep of potential communication and drawing and writing, much to his delight, so the over-1,000-word section is 'bunched up' accordingly, though still in sub-paragraphs. The fight scene in Chapter 4 is formatted similarly, but not for as long a stretch.
- Warrior Therapist: Dr Wood, obviously.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Early on, Dr. Wood honestly believed he was helping others via the Claw Association, but over time his POV chaters beat in that he's doing it more for psychological ego validation, to bolster his undiagnosed NPD.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Kroko gets this feeling most of the time, since his flight is a minor advantage compared to the others. So does Dub, at least once.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Dub gets called out on a phenomenally idiotic (if naive emotion-driven) decision in Chapter 13.
- Your Mind Makes It Real: The closest trope that comes to describing one of the techniques Wood wants to perfect, and has pretty much perfected as of Chapter 13. One of his long-term goals is to combine this with an inverted Lotus-Eater Machine.