Fanfic: The Conversion Bureau: Not Alone
"I believe in my whole race...in the honesty, courage, intelligence, durability... and goodness of the overwhelming majority of my brothers and sisters everywhere on this planet. I am proud to be a human being. I believe that we have come this far by the skin of our teeth, that we always make it just by the skin of our teeth — but that we will always make it … survive … endure. I believe that this hairless embryo with the aching, oversize brain case and the opposable thumb, this animal barely up from the apes, will endure." The Conversion Bureau: Not Alone
—Robert A. Heinlein
is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
fanfic. It is a sometimes heavy-handed and different take on The Conversion Bureau
; while not strictly necessary, reading or at least having knowledge of TCB is strongly advised
Similar to mainline TCB, the Equestrian landmass appears suddenly in the South Atlantic. While humanity extended welcome to the ponies, there were those who had doubts. These doubts proved founded once the ponies' imperialism came to light, leading humanity to gear up for war. At the same time, there are also those ponies who disagree with the Princesses' actions.
The story is presented through newscasts, postings and other formats in addition to standard prose.
Dalek IX, author of the fanfictions A Hero
and Friends of a Solar Empire
, is writing a fan sequel to Not Alone
, called Conquer The Stars
. That story takes place 200 years later on a colony ship that has rediscovered the Equestrian Barrier... in an entirely different star system. Much of the original's open ending is expanded upon, both on Earth and in Equestria.
As of January 31, 2013, Starman Ghost decided to delete the story from Fimfiction.Net
, declaring that he refused to write in the Conversion Bureau setting anymore, to the shock of his readers, who did their level best to convince him otherwise. However, readers uploaded the story (with his permission) to other places, including the Spacebattles link above.
A second fan sequel has been posted to Fimfiction.Net
by another fimfiction author called Warwolf, with Starman's permission, as of February 11, 2013 called The Shadow of Ages
, and is also a crossover with another Conversion Bureau fanfic called The Conversion Bureau: The Warrior's Way
, itself a sequel to Warwolf's story The Shogun Six
. The Shadow of Ages
can be found here
This fanfic contains examples of:
- Author Tract : The author himself states the story was written to "set right" perceived issues with certain other pro-conversion TCB stories. Whether it works is left as an exercise to the individual reader.
- Anticlimax: Celestia's Answer ends with Equestria just... vanishing.
- Aliens Are Bastards: Averted. While ponies like Twilight Sparkle definitely qualify, there's also ones like Ice Breaker, Evening Star and Lyra, who do not agree with what Celestia is doing.
- An Arm and a Leg: Shining Armor lost both hind legs during the battle of South Africa.
- Assimilation Plot: The typical TCB ponification crusade by Celestia.
- Ass in Ambassador: Twilight Sparkle ends up offending the entire human race and sparking a war between Earth and Equestria.
- Bittersweet Ending: For Earth. The good news is that Equestria retreats back to its home dimension and won't be bothering anyone else anytime soon, humanity survives, there is hope for peaceful coexistence with the ponies left on Earth, and it appears Celestia will get her comeuppance. The bad news is that the PER and HLF are still out there and still a threat, many ponies are still being held in internment camps, South Africa is turning into a fascist hellhole, and many countries have begun spending massive amounts of money (at the expense of education and healthcare) on the military and building weapons in preparation for a war that will never come.
- Blatant Lies: Celestia, in an interview, states that she wants friendship between species. She also states that she's not forcing humanity to accept ponification. If you're familiar with the Conversion Bureau in general, you'd see that neither of these statements are true.
- Confirmed by Luna herself when she says it wasn't Celestia's fault that they rejected her 'perfect solution' for the problems of humanity despite everything she did to make sure they didn't.
- Plus it's revealed at the end that Celestia personally transported Equestria to Earth to purposefully assimilate them.
- Creepy Souvenir: In The Battle Of South Africa, the soldier Pieter hacks off a dead unicorn's horn as a trophy. This is NOT to be seen as a good thing.
- Day of the Jackboot: After the war, much of South Africa is under martial law and the country is rapidly spiraling into fascism due to its millions of displaced people, staggering loss of infrastructure, and widespread hatred of the ponies.
- Deconstruction Fic: Of The Conversion Bureau.
- Humanity reacts appropriately to the ponies' misanthropy, the effects of the expanding Equestrian bubble are further examined, and we have human-sympathizing ponies.
- Likewise, we have reasonable motivations on both sides of the conflict (humans are neither evil for the sake of evil or entirely saintly, nor are the ponies a race of Purity Sues or genocidal monsters), as well as consequences that leave neither side much better off.
- Even the ponies suspect something's wrong with the conversion bureaus when they realize there's something seriously off with the newfoals.
- Pony superiority over humans in battle was also deconstructed, as Rainbow Dash finds out the hard way. She initially wanted to go out to the front lines, "bucking all the humans before they could hit her," but this ambition dies very quickly once she sees the evacuating Royal Guards, many of whom are wounded badly or are in need of medical attention.
- Doomed Moral Victor: The Longest Day sets up Lyra and the EFH for a lesser version of this: they haven't died, but Cheerilee loses her job and they're all effectively exiled from Ponyville. In other words, standing up for what they thought was right means they lost just about everything else they held dear.
- Downer Ending: For Equestria. They are able to make it back safely to their home dimension in one piece, but their military is utterly decimated, and in their hasty retreat, the princesses were forced to leave more than 3000 ponies behind to an uncertain future on Earth. Moreover, the population is revealed to be losing their faith in the princesses, and the gryphon and zebra nations are not happy to hear about what Celestia tried to do to the humans. The story ultimately closes with the Gryphon Queen writing a letter to Celestia that heavily hints they may even wage war against Equestria (which is exactly what happens in Conquer the Stars).
- Drowning My Sorrows: Andrew/Iceman, after Eddy's ponification.
- Et Tu, Brute?: Bon-Bon in The Longest Day.
- Emergency Transformation: Eddy chooses to be ponified because he has terminal lung cancer.
- The Evils of Free Will: In not so many words by Twilight Sparkle.
"Ponification fixes all the problems with your people. We get rid of that pesky human nature and reconfigure you to live in harmony with others."
- After being questioned about Celestia's border expansion, Twilight simply dismissed those 'silly' human politics and insists they'd all just be better off under Celestia's rule and that Celestia and Luna being Goddesses is reason enough the humans should trust their leadership, and why it's fine to accept relinquishing their civil rights.
- Expy: Several elements of the story are borrowed from World War II: a nation rapidly gaining power under the control of a self-righteous, bigoted dictator begins expanding into the surrounding world, and eventually crosses the line, bringing a large part of the rest of the world down on it with full military might, and resulting in the internment of suspected spies within the "allies" solely by ethnicity.
- The Equestrians For Humans are based on the White Rose. Thankfully, they're not executed, but Lyra, Cheerilee, and Mayor Mare are exiled from Ponyville and have to start all over again.
- Extreme Doormat: The Newfoals. While they can feel annoyed, sad, or frightened, they are almost completely incapable of feeling anger and don't ever assert or stand up for themselves.
- Extremely Short Time Span: According to Celestia, the Battles of South Africa and the South Atlantic - the events of up to four whole chapters - took place in only two, extremely intense and brutal days.
- Fantastic Racism: Twilight Sparkle is very biased against humans.
- This seems to be common amongst the ponies, though not so much amongst the gryphons and zebras.
- When one pony suggests resorting to violence against humans who want to turn them over to the SAS, he's immediately berated by his colleague for "acting human." This is made even more egregious when compared to Newfoal Thunderhead, who says he cannot think mean things because of the potions, but natural-born ponies clearly can.
- It also goes both ways, and creates numerous problems for Evening Star, who has to hide from the humans even as she tries to aid them.
- The Human Liberation Front is just as genocidal as the ponification crusaders.
- Fictional Document: Played straight with all articles, though averted with CNN, Blogworld and Google.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: As shown with Thunderhead, the newfoals generally do not like swearing. Thunderhead himself at one point is even able to admit that he's "pissed off" during a tough repair job, but only because he was being pressured into it and he very clearly didn't like using that kind of language.
- Hanlon's Razor: When we finally get to see Celestia's side of the story, she's genuinely clueless as to why humanity is rejecting her overtures, instead of being a deliberately genocidal tyrant.
- Heel Realization: In The Man From Cape Town, it's hinted that Twilight is beginning to have second doubts.
- It's pretty heavily hinted that Fluttershy thinks they were the ones who approached the humans wrong, not that humanity was inherently vile.
- After Twilight thinks about the effects of the potion, and what they would do to Shining Armor if it could heal him, she finally realizes the real reason humanity went to war.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Unicorns turning human weapons against their wielders.
- Homage: The author has said that The Battle of South Africa was inspired by the Klendathu Drop from Starship Troopers (the film, not the book), and to a lesser degree the battle scenes in Passchendaele.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: What Twilight Sparkle expresses in her interview with a reporter.
"We've seen what your greed and corruption have done to your world. How could we possibly let you into Equestria?"
- Like a lot of other things, this is deconstructed - there are sympathetic (Andrew, Antonio, Russell, the Humans For Sapient Rights organization) and not-so-sympathetic (Pietr, some of the bloggers, the HLF) humans in the story, and there are ponies that do legitimately want to help the humans.
- Humans Are Warriors: Very much so. The Canterlot guard is utterly annihilated by human weapons, and the gryphons identify themselves with humanity on this basis, and it's because of this that their queen declares Celestia a threat.
- Celestia also laments that it takes a long time to get ponies trained up to the level the Royal Guard deployed to South Africa was. It takes humans only a few weeks to get other humans trained enough to kill those guards.
- Humble Pie: Rainbow Dash initially wanted to go out and fight with the Royal Guard, thinking it would be easy to buck every soldier she found. Then, after she sees them after they come back from South Africa horribly injured and mutilated, she gets to eat a fat slice of this.
- Hypocrite: The ponies that follow Celestia. They accuse humanity of being greedy and selfish... and proceed to take humanity's lands away from them, cover the Earth in an expanding barrier that kills everyone, and deny entry into Equestria from unconverted humans. The ponies of Equestrians For Humans are all too happy to point it out to them.
- Later chapters have Celestia become this as well.
- Ignored Epiphany: Whenever Twilight questions the role her own mistakes made in causing the war, she's reassured by most of her friends that she's not at fault.
- Similarly, Celestia has Luna constantly reassuring her she did the right thing whenever she shows a hint in wavering.
- Seemingly averted when Twilight starts to express doubts in private, where, without the influence of her peers, she finally starts to understand some part of why humanity isn't so keen on ponification. Sadly, come the sequel, she's still in denial.
- Incompatible Orientation: Andrew and Ice Breaker; Andrew is gay (and not closed off to the possibility of Interspecies Romance), Ice Breaker is straight and only attracted to mares, thus they remain Just Friends.
- Inferred Holocaust: In-Universe - this story examines the effects of the expanding Equestrian bubble, such as human displacement and loss of infrastructure, something many other TCB works ignore.
- Jerkass: Some of the bloggers.
- And of course, the ponies against the humans.
- Karma Houdini: At first it seems Celestia is this. She destroyed several human cities, left thousands of people homeless, was directly responsible for the war that cost the lives of several humans and ponies, and essentially tried to exterminate the human race in the process. When she realizes she's going to lose said war, she takes Equestria and runs away, rather than surrender herself to the humans to save her ponies. That said, she's fully aware this means she's abandoning all the ponies who were captured/aren't currently in Equestria, and that about the only thing keeping her from breaking down is the fact she needs to be strong for the survivors.
Ultimately subverted in the last chapter, where the combination of losing the war, missing their friends and family members they had to leave behind on earth, and the odd behaviors of the newfoals causes the ponies of Equestria to begin questioning her actions and start to lose faith in her, and the gryphon and zebra kingdoms identify her as a threat. Granted, she'll probably avoid Karma for a while, but not forever.
- Bon Bon as well. She sold out the EFH, likely knowing full well the repercussions of what could happen to them, and she never suffers any kind of comeuppance (that we know of). The fact that Lyra was her best friend makes her snitching all the more deplorable.
- The Magic Versus Technology War: Ponies' magic vs. humans' technology.
- Moral Myopia: Bon-Bon brings up how they don't owe humans anything, saying that they're "weird". Zecora reminds her that the ponies once said the same of herself too.
- One poster made by Equestrians For Humans asks why ponies can't be friends with humans, if they already are with gryphons and dragons.
- More Dakka: The barrier's bombardment involves absurd amounts of this.
- Muggles Do It Better: Rocket artillery beats force field. Machine guns beat Royal Guard armour.
- Next Sunday A.D.: Takes place in 2017/2018, with no significant differences from the present.
- Not Himself: Played painfully straight with Eddy, now Thunderhead.
"He's a pleasant smiling zombie with wings."
- Aftermath, Part I delves into why: in essence, Eddy's original personality was completely destroyed and overwritten by a new one provided by the potion. However, he retained his memories, basically fooling him into thinking he's the same person who drank it.
- Not So Different: Ponies and humans. The gryphons also recognize the great similarities humans have with them.
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Averted with Quantum Leap in the epilogue, who admits that she can't modify the potion or create something like it, as she's just a climatologist.
- Omniscient Morality License: Celestia, naturally. Revoked as of the epilogue.
- One-Man Army: Shining Armor actually takes down fifteen tanks by himself.
- Physical Goddesses: Celestia and Luna.
- Poe's Law: This fic is intended to satirize and deconstruct TCB, but some readers have mistaken it for merely being another of that sub-genre.
- Pyrrhic Victory: Chapter 18, The Battle Of South Africa is this for the humans. An artillery detachment and their escort get stuck in the mud and are ambushed by a small number of Royal Guards. An armoured scout rolls in and changes the tide in favour of the humans, but the unicorns possess some of the guns and turn them against their wielders. By the time more human backup can arrive, most of the detachment is dead, as are all of the ambushers.
- Later, also the entire Battle of South Africa and the Battle for the South Atlantic end up as these. With all their newly gained territory reconquered by humanity, Equestria ends up under siege, but at an all in all surprisingly steep price.
- The whole aftermath of the war for humanity in general - Equestria has retreated and won't be bothering anyone else, but the troubles are far from over, as South Africa is turning into a facist state and several countries start spending enormous amounts of money (at the cost of healthcare, education and environmental protection) beefing up their military forces and preparing for a war that will never come.
- The Quisling: Bon-Bon sells out the members of the "Equestrians for Humans" despite many of them, particularly Lyra, being her friends.
- Reality Ensues: This fic in a nutshell, as applied to the Conversion Bureau subgenre.
- Rousing Speech: What U.S. diplomat Ellen Rowe gives after the United Nations General Assembly declares war on Equestria.
- Several readers gave their own speeches in the comments section.
- Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Fundamentalist type. Instantly Celestia looks at human culture, deems it barbaric, and creates the ponification potion to 'convert' humanity into 'better' forms. When humans start rejecting the potion, Celestia tries to eliminate humanity with her barrier.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!: The attitude of the pony apologists is that "our rulers are goddesses, they can do what they want."
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Once Celestia realizes that Equestria is going to lose the war, she decides to retreat back to their home dimension.
- Screw You, Elves!: Humanity as a whole does not take kindly to the ponies' misanthropic and ambiguously genocidal attitudes.
- Sequel Hook: The story resolves the Earth-Pony war, but leaves many possible sub-plots only partially concluded, or not concluded at all; such as the Gryphon Queen's letter and the direction South Africa is moving. The author specifically states:
- However, before deleting the story and swearing to never write anything for the TCB universe again, Starman Ghost did mention the possibility of writing a bunch of side stories detailing a few things that happened during and after the war. Not really a sequel, but pretty close.
- Dalek IX has begun work on a fan sequel, found here. It now has its own tropes page.
- Warwolf has also started a fan sequel, The Shadow of Ages. The two sequels are entirely unrelated though both are set sometime after the end of the original. How long varies. Dalek IX's fic is at least a century or so after the original. Warwolf's...hasn't actually been defined in terms of timeline beyond the fact that it's sometime after Equestria jumped back to its own world.
- Sociopathic Soldier: Pieter, who seems to be a combination of Types 1 and 2.
- South Africans with Surface-to-Air Missiles: The author went to quite some lengths to describe the fighting prowess of South African artillery and light armored cavalry, including detailing their names and weapon systems.
- Stepford Smiler: The newfoals. Aftermath, Part II reveals even natural-born ponies find them creepy and unsettling.
- Stylistic Suck: Some of the blog comments are poorly written.
- Tearful Smile: Seen in Aftermath, Part I when Andrew apologizes to Thunderhead.
- This Means War!: Humanity's response to Twilight Sparkle's words.
- Title Drop: During the US President's speech after the war is wrapped up.
President John McCormick: We know now that we are not alone in the universe.
- Totalitarian Utilitarian: Celestia is a Type 2. She seems to honestly think ponification would help solve all of humanity's problems but doesn't understand why the humans don't want to give up being what makes them human.
- Uncanny Valley: In-Universe - the natural-born ponies find the newfoals unsettling and strange.
- Unwitting Pawn: Twilight, Shining, everypony that helped Celestia. Lampshaded when Shining tells Twilight that the war was inevitable; even though he doesn't know that it was Celestia who purposefully sent Equestria to Earth specifically to destroy the human race.
- Urban Fantasy: Very much so. Like the original TCB, it explores what would happen when a High Fantasy world in a Medieval Stasis clashes with contemporary Real Life earth.
- War Is Hell: Touched on in The Man From Cape Town, which features a non-soldier helping the soldiers for exactly this reason: he's from a city destroyed by the Barrier, and hates the ponies with all the passion you'd expect from something like that... but he's still very uncomfortable using weapons and at the end of the chapter, muses on how much more he likes firing at a nonliving barrier than he does the idea of firing at something that can not only shoot back but has a life of its own.
- We Are as Mayflies: Keeping with conventions for the genre, ponies typically live for several centuries.
- We Have Reserves: One of the main reasons, coupled with Humans Are Warriors and Zerg Rush, and the already steep cost in the lives of the Royal Guards, why Celestia fled: Even if they had ten times the number of Guards they had, the humans still have a pool of about seven billion potential recruits, and could drown them in numbers alone.
- What the Hell, Hero?: At the very end, the Queen of Gryphus pulls one of these on Celestia, and informs her that her Omniscient Morality License has been revoked.
- You Can't Go Home Again: As of The Longest Day, everypony who was part of the EFH has been effectively banished from Ponyville. To say nothing of all the ponies who were left behind when Celestia pulled Equestria out of Earth.
- Zerg Rush: Humanity suffers ten casualties for every pony killed, but their sheer numerical superiority gives them a fighting chance, and ultimately allows them to win handily.
- Celestia also notes that most of the troops fighting in South Africa are not humanity's finest soldiers, being poorly trained rookies that were fighting out of their element, and with inferior equipment. If it had been a better trained and equipped fighting force, the price for the ponies might have been far steeper than it already was.