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Fanfic: The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum
The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic formerly co-authored by Redskin122004 and TB3, who stopped co-writing with Redskin after the release of the "Writes of Passage" chapter to continue his professional writing career. Since then it has evolved into a group project with authors Doctor Fluffy, ProudToBe, Drawdex, Kizuna Tallis, Beyond The Horizon, Rush, ThatClosetBrony, Inquisitor-Awesome, Jed R, TheIdiot, Red-Bomber, VoxAdam, and Sledge115 pitching in, eventually drawing TB3 back to the story. It's based on The Conversion Bureau, with a different spin on the premise.The story begins on a bright and sunny day in Ponyville, with Twilight Sparkle and her friends enjoying the beautiful weather and generally having a good break from their usual calamities and adventures. Suddenly, a magical portal appears, grabbing the Element Bearers' attention. When they go to investigate the scene, they find a bipedal creature that calls itself a "human", who can speak perfect Equestrian. But as they try to make contact, the human viciously attacks the Mane Six, all the while going on about something called "ponification".Once the mess is cleared up, Twilight, her friends and the Princesses learn from the human, who is named Marcus, that his home world is being attacked...By QueenCelestia and the Elements of Harmony themselves.Upon realizing that there is a whole alternate universe of them committing these evil actions, the ponies of Equestria pledge to go to war to aid the last holdouts, human and pony alike, and save humanity from the dark Equestria's "solution" for them before it's too late. But they need to hurry – more than a third of the human world is uninhabitable thanks to The Barrier that's slowly wiping away any evidence of humanity, the assaults from the Solar Empire and their PER underlings wreak daily havoc on Earth, and over two billion humans have either died or been ponified into near-zombie-like Newfoals. The war grows more unforgiving by the day, and ever more hopeless...Notable amongst Conversion Bureau fanfics for its massive cast, highly detailed world-building, and unusually high quotients of Nightmare Fuel, The Other Side of the Spectrum is possibly the most thorough and brutal of stories written in response to Chatoyance. You can find a timeline of the universe here.Also comes with the canon side-stories. Several more are planned, though here are the existing ones:
Shades of the Unsung, which focuses on Inkwell (a character from Calm), TCB!Sunset Shimmer and other original characters working behind the scenes to topple the Solar Empire. (written by TheIdiot)
Adrift, which details the story of a smuggler ship and its crew at the outbreak of the war, in the form of an interview with a pony crew member. (written by Sledge115)
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Action Girls: Among the PHL ponies, we have the TCB versions of Trixie and Cheerilee (main story), and Blizzard Flurry (Asia Side-Story). TCB!Vinyl Scratch and TCB!Spitfire are also mentioned as being amongst their best fighters.
Stephan Bauer is currently training the Canon!Mane Six to become bona fide soldiers.
On the human side, there's Alicia of the Bundeswehr, Captain Rebecca Kleiner of the Asian Pacific "Stampede Fleet", as well as unidentified female soldiers making up the Dragons of the East (the Asia Side-Story characters) who will appear later on.
Advancing Wall of Doom: As with other TCB stories, the magical barrier consuming the Earth will vaporize any humans or human-made objects it touches. It doesn't even leave dust behind.
Adult Fear: The PER have been known to ponify children (some as young as infants) in hospitals.
This plays a very big part in Kraber's backstory and why he became the man he is in the main story.
TCB!Big Mac in Calm Before the Storm with regards to how much Applejack changed for the worse, as well as having been genuinely frightened of what Applebloom could've become if she had stayed any longer in the Empire and let herself be completely brainwashed.
Aliens Are Bastards: Subverted. While many of the TCB!Equestrians are dedicated to Queen Celestia's campaign of xenocide, there are also ponies like Lyra and Cheerilee, who are just two of the many resistance fighters. And this is not counting the Canon!Equestrians, who are immediately horrified when they learn what their counterparts are doing.
This was Canon!Spike's view of Marcus for a bit, since in Spike's eyes, Marcus attacked and nearly killed his friends for no reason.
Alternate Universe: Notable not just for being this, but also for TCB!Equestria being four years ahead of Canon!Equestria chronologically. This leads to problems when Marcus assumes he only traveled through time and attempts to "prevent" the war by trying to kill Celestia.
Due to the Recursive Fanfiction that came about from this story, the author has announced that he is setting up an "alternate universe" of the Spectrumverse.
Discord apparently loves to travel to different universes for kicks.
Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome: After TCB!Equestria encountered Earth, Lyra was not only appointed ambassador to the United Kingdom, but went on to lead the resistance against Queen Celestia, becoming a martyr upon her execution at the Tyrant's hooves. Marcus describes her legacy as the Big Good to TCB!Celestia's Big Bad as running so deep that the PHL see her as a savior figure, and even the HLF hold her in some esteem (not that it stopped them from trying to have her assassinated).
America Saves the Day: Averted. While the Americans provide the backbone of Earth's military response to the Solar Empire's xenocidal campaign by virtue of having the most powerful military on the planet and being one of the few countries not seriously crippled by the Barrier, it's very much an international affair, with the British, Germans, South Koreans and Russians in particular playing very big parts in the overall war effort.
Amputation Stops Spread: If a human's arm or leg is covered in the potion, they still have a chance to avoid transformation if they remove the affected limb. Getting hit in the face or the chest is an automatic death sentence, however.
Marcus: "[The potion] rewrites a person into a pony... changes their body, their mind, binds their soul in chains... takes them away from you."
In "For Whom the Bell Tolls", Canon!Luna finds out how the Bag of Tirek imprisoned the TCB!Mane Six within their own minds and replaced them with puppets. TCB!Twilight even begs Luna to kill her and her friends, as she can't stand to watch the pain and suffering go on any longer.
Oddly enough, Elsa the reindeer somehow manages to be both an Inversionand a Subversion. Her consciousness is actually kept alive in a magic cloak and rather than taking total control of the body of whoever wears it, merges with the host's consciousness, but with Elsa in the dominant role. In theory the wearer should be subjected to this trope, but they actually consider it an honor to give up their personal lives to give Elsa, who is not only the granddaughter of Sint Erklass but their race's chief mage/shaman, a new body. Elsa, on the other hand feels guilt and shame for taking their personal freedom away for her to continue "living".
Animorphism: The ponification potion turns any human that absorbs a given amount into a Newfoal.
Chapter 10 of the main story ("Consequences of Conflict") essentially confirms that Doctor Whooves used to be The Doctor, but transformed into a pony sometime and somehow before TCB!Equestria and Earth met.
Apocalypse How: Canon!Twilight says that a Class X scenario would happen if all of Equestria simply teleported directly onto Earth.
A Class 3 event has already passed for the Changelings and the reindeer in the TCB-verse. Queen Celestia plans the same for the humans, minotaurs, griffons and zebras.
Class 5 for most of Europe and sections of Africa due to the Barrier, and may happen worldwide. Humanity intends to use this against Queen Celestia thanks to the Yellowstone megavolcano, which has nukes buried underground at its weakest points, to be detonated if mankind's loss appears imminent.
Apocalypse Anarchy: The few nations that still exist untouched by the Barrier aren't exactly in good shape.
America: Even though the PHL/UN Taskforce has rather good publicity, there are growing anti-pony movements affiliated with the HLF, which has become a frighteningly hate-filled movement of Right Wing Militia Fanatics with enough firepower and rage to attempt a takeover of a military base. Not to mention, like the people in Rio, most civilians are going hungry a lot of the time.
China: By the time of the Main Story, it's devolved into a lawless hellhole, with "reports of mass public executions, mass suicides, riots and God knows what else" in whatever's left of the place (mainly in the western and central regions of the country).
Brazil: We don't see much outside of Rio De Janeiro. However, it's become an almost CyberpunkWretched Hive reminiscent of Elysium, full of starving War Refugees, incredibly overpopulated, and so short on food that some jobs actually pay in food rations instead of money. The narrator describes the city as "damn near a warzone" and considers it a terrible idea to walk outside his apartment without body armor. He also alludes to race riots and food riots, and there's apparently lost Newfoals in the city.
TCB!Equestria itself is sliding into a total breakdown. At the moment, only terror, propaganda, and the mass-exploitation of Newfoal slaves is holding them afloat, and even that's starting to fail.
Artifact of Doom: The Bag of Tirek is responsible for TCB!Celestia's corruption.
Ascended Fridge Horror: The Starvation story was written by the very same troper who wrote the entry on the fridge page that questioned what happens to refugees when half the world is unable to produce food. Which in turn, led to the Asia Side-Story.
This happens rather frequently. Given that two of the authors/editors/contributors are tropers themselves, it was bound to happen.
The Calm Before the Storm side-story does this for any fridge horror relating to the broken minds and Extreme Doormat tendencies of the newfoals, as well as illustrate just how Equestria would be dreadfully unprepared to support a large influx of billions of new residents.
Adaptational Badass: From TCB!Equestria, several background characters, like Lyra, Cheerilee, Zecora, Vinyl Scratch and others become hardened resistance fighters. Sweetie Belle is especially notable, given that she lives in Zecora's old hut in the forest.
The main characters of the Asia Side-Story fill this out as well.
Badass Family: The Whooves clan, consisting of the Doctor and Derpy, their daughters Dinky and Amethyst Star, plus Dinky's boyfriend Pipsqueak. And yes, they have a working TARDIS.
Badass Grandma: Queen Elizabeth II, who took down a squad of Royal Guard and PER agents sent after her at the cost of her own life. By blowing up Balmoral Castle.
Badass Boast: Part of the Queen of England's final words, which became known as the Balmoral Address.
Queen Elizabeth II: "You think you can come into MY palace, MY country, and destroy the will of MY people! I may be old and decrepit, but I. WILL. NOT. STAND FOR THIS INSULT!"
Princess Celestia delivers one to Queen Celestia for her evil counterpart's sins against the very concept of harmony.
Badass Normal: Stephan, who does a good job of keeping up with Marcus despite lacking the Power Tattoos. One commenter even called him "the Batman to Marcus's Superman".
Badass Princess: Princess Celestia and Luna, who were ready to beat Marcus into the ground due to him damn near killing the Mane Six. Celestia also plans to lead her troops into battle against the Solar Tyrant.
Gilda is the princess of the Griffon Kingdom in this fic.
Badass Teacher: TCB!Cheerilee, a former teacher who is now a hardened resistance fighter, empowered with magic runes... and able to deal one hell of a smackdown on a clone of the Tyrant.
Empowered Badass Normal: Marcus, already a fierce fighter, becomes immeasurably more deadly once equipped with his runes.
Future Badass: Most of the PHL ponies, since their Equestria is four years ahead of Canon!Equestria.
Heroic Bystander: TCB!Lyra and all the ponies who refused to stand by and let Queen Celestia destroy humanity. It's somewhat nuanced by the fact that TCB!Equestria already got some military experience out of the war with King Sombra, but still. TCB!Cloudchaser stands out for punching out Twilight after the latter tried justifying the xenocide on the humans.
World of Badass: On one side, TCB!Equestria is led by a Celestia even more powerful than her canon counterpart, with the six Element bearers acting as her lieutenants in the field. Insane and xenocidal, but undeniably badass. On the opposing team, we have a battle-hardened coalition of humans and ponies, a rune-empowered Marine, a Bundeswehr soldier wielding a magical claymore, a shape-shifting pony assassin, the griffons' elite forces, a minotaur, four renowned criminals, the last Time Lord and now a dragon. And then Princess Celestia calls on all the races of her world to join in the fight against the Solar Tyrant, including Discord and the Changelings.
The leader of one of these races is essentially said to be SANTA CLAUS in animal form, and he's just as jolly as you might expect, but everything he does in preparation for the war against TCB!Celestia just screams badass.
Bad Future: The TCB timeline in general. Nowhere is safe - Earth is a literal battlefield and is sliding into total anarchy, and TCB!Equestria is only kept afloat through fear and brainwashing.
Baleful Polymorph: The potion will turn anyone it makes contact with (except for other ponies) into a perpetually smiling zombie-like shell of a pony that is completely loyal to Queen Celestia.
Being Evil Sucks: For those ponies that stayed in Equestria and joined the PER, especially the Elements (though it's really not their faults). It's made abundantly clear that the war has done them far more harm than good, and many of them have lost several friends and family members in their dogmatic pursuit of ponifying all of humanity. To say nothing of the massive ecological damage done in the pursuit of said ponification of all humanity...
Berserk Button: The Newfoals are Extreme Doormats, no question about it, but they will turn violent against anyone who hurts one of the TCB!Element Bearers, insults Queen Celestia or says anything negative about Equestria.
Do not dare commit xenocide on an unsuspecting species and try to justify it in the name of harmony. Princess Celestia doesnotapprove.
BFG: Many characters wield heavy-duty assault arms. Justified, as newfoals will ignore pain and gunshots to continue coming at their targets, so bigger bullets are necessary to cut down on wasted time.
Big Bad: Queen Celestia, known to her enemies as the Solar Tyrant.
Bigger Bad: According to Spykoran, the Bag of Tirek is carrying out its maker's will by turning Queen Celestia into its puppet to gain control over humanity as revenge for Megan defeating him.
Big Good: Princess Celestia in the Canon-verse, though she does have to face criticism from several characters.
TCB!Lyra Heartstrings was this to Earth's people before her death, after which her position is taken over by Cheerilee (who, incidentally, shares Celestia's voice actress on the show). The story gives them both shining moments, with Lyra quoting Charlie Chaplin's speech from The Great Dictator, and Cheerilee getting to actually hold her own in a fight against the Tyrant.
Blue and Orange Morality: Some of the other races on Equus actually worship Discord, as he's an agent of change and they recognize that sometimes, chaos is necessary. Although that doesn't necessarily mean that they like him.
Body Horror/Transformation Horror: What the ponification process does to its victims is rather messed-up, to say the least. And that's without even going into the first trial potion tests...
Brainwashed: Most of the TCB!Equestrians, by magical means. Applebloom barely avoids this when Sweetie Belle persuades her to escape to Earth.
Oddly enough, all but two of the heterosexual pairings are cases of Interspecies Romance and even then, those two "exceptions" required Animorphism to get that way. Unless you count that Kraber was married, but she's barely mentioned at all.
Category Traitor: A common accusation between the three main factions of the story (PHL, PER and other Equestrian forces, and HLF).
The Solar Empire labels Lyra and pro-human ponies as "Betrayers".
The HLF consider the PHL as an affront to humanity, with Marcus and any other humans in relationships with ponies derided as "horse-fucking traitors".
Celebrity Survivor: Amongst the ponies of the PHL, Vinyl Scratch (aka DJ Pon3) seems to be a high-ranking member, Sapphire Shores uses her singing voice to raise morale amongst the troops, and Photo Finish is in charge of creating pro-human propaganda to spread throughout TCB!Equestria.
Child Soldiers: The war has made human children and foals carrying weapons a common sight. Cheerilee and Doctor Whooves are saddened by this, but regard it as a necessary evil.
Doctor Whooves: "No child should ever become a soldier. But desperate times call for desperate measures."
In the Asia Side-Story, one of Yon-Soo's responsibilities while stationed in St. Petersburg (Russia) was to train kids how to fight and defend themselves. He similarly notes that kids should not have to fight, and promises to make the Queen pay for what she's driven humanity to do.
In the Europe Side-Story, there is a mention of a teen soldier who "was not older as eighteen years" (the author's English isn't very good, just roll with it) but his exact age is not specified.
Conditioned to Accept Horror: The people of Earth have become used to mind-numbing tragedy as the war goes on. Best summed up in this quote from Chapter Six of the Asia Side-Story:
They'd all seen yet another city steeped in history and home to millions wiped off the earth for the umpteenth time, destroyed in a manner so contemptuously and anticlimactically simple that there were almost no words that could describe it. It was so very anticlimactic and inevitable that the news barely paid mention to it. Years ago, in Yon-Soo's childhood, the destruction of just an important building would leave the world reeling, but they were now all numbed to such tragedy.
To an extent, Marcus, who is able to deal with his memories of the war better than Celestia, partially due to coming from a world far more brutal than Equestria.
Hyong-Jin as well; having already lived a tough life in North Korea, he's a bit more used to the harsher aspects of war than South Korean Yon-Soo is.
Continuity Porn: "Training Days: Part 1" features a conversation between TCB!Vinyl, TCB!Trixie, Acevedo, and several other side-characters that list several events in TCB!Equestria's history that could have been the Point Of Divergence, calling to mind several events in Last Train to Oblivion, such as the explosion of Kith and Kin, the installation of the totem-proles, and extermination of the Changelings.
Cool Airship: The Solar Empire's Great Equestrian is described as one of the biggest skyliners ever built, being able to deploy chariots and spray potion clouds.
The A.S. Great Equestrian, largest skyliner ever built, loomed over the skyline of Boston like an angel of death, disgorging chariots from which unicorn mages began to fire down bolts of lethal magic.
In the Europe side-story we get to see what it is fully capable of.
The Royal Guards had sent a giant airship to attack the rest of the human army and to crush the ponies who dare to help them in the Middle East. The city of Herat fell within the day, even with thousands of people fighting for it, it fell due to its new weapon. Potion Clouds. They threw everything they had, but nothing they had on hand could pierce the shield that was covering it, along with a few dozen Potioneer Ships, the entire city of was swarming with ponies.
There are also the less threatening Potioneer Ships.
Crapsaccharine World: TCB!Equestria paints itself up as a paradise, but any veneer of niceness is easily broken if you dig deep enough. For one thing, it's shown that the Empire is very dreadfully unprepared to support the massive influx of newfoals coming in, and if you even so much as question Queen Celestia's "wisdom", you could get sent to a prison camp where you'll be worked to death, or imprisoned and tortured, as TCB!Spike learned the hard way. There are also mentions of re-education centers; PHL members Aegis and Verdant Tract allude to having had brushes with those in the past, something which neither of them want to go through again. And according to TCB!Granny Smith, the whole land is "poisoned and dying".
Crapsack World: Earth has become one for the War Refugees. Rio de Janeiro especially has become a total hellhole according to the Starvation side-story. It's best described by the main character himself:
Acevedo: "The city, Rio de Janeiro, is damn near a warzone. Food riots. Race riots. Dead ponies left and right, especially Newfoals. You can't walk outside without protection."
In "Trust", U.S. President Jack Davis states that China has all but devolved into a lawless hellhole, with mass suicides, public executions, riots, and general anarchy being daily occurrences. America counts as well, thanks to the majority of civilians going hungry (while the military gets a decent supply of rations) and the ever-growing presence of the HLF; the President claims it is a good day when he gets only twenty suggestions to do "things that are best not discussed in polite company" to any ponies found outside the Barrier. It's implied that it's ever so slowly slipping into violence.
And it would seem that any facade of niceness is barely kept within TCB!Equestria itself; their version of the Crystal Empire has become a police state under total media blackout, where the crystal ponies are forced to mine crystals for the Solar Empire. Marcus even goes so far as to call the place "the North Korea of Equus".
Creator Provincialism: Played with. While the authors have written stories taking place around America or Europe, they've also written plenty that take place outside their home countries.
Creative Sterility: Newfoals can't get cutie marks. What's more, regular ponies have had great deals of trouble earning them since the invasion began (though it isn't impossible – TCB!Dinky and the TCB versions of the Cutie Mark Crusaders got theirs after fleeing Equestria), to the point that they're calling it the Dearth. Why is not entirely clear, though the most likely candidate is Queen Celestia's rampant Mind Rape crushing the freedom of thought required for ponies to find their special talent.
Creepy Souvenir: Some human soldiers are overly fond of collecting unicorn horns and pegasus wings.
Crossover: With G1 My Little Pony (Tirek's Bag plays a major role, and Megan is revealed to be Marcus' mother), and with Doctor Who, since Doctor Whooves is confirmed to be the Doctor.
Discord travels to the Harry Potter universe, revealing the Veil to be a portal between worlds, befriends Sirius Black, and taunts Voldemort. He then goes on to visit Samurai Jack's universe and is forced to rethink his position on the ponies' progress and realize his own role in what he accused Canon!Equestria of turninginto, as well as the fact that Celestia and Luna took power because of his carelessness in the first place.
Do Not Call Me Paul/That Man Is Dead: As demonstrated by Stalwart Heart and Focus Ray, Newfoals don't take kindly to being reminded they were once human. Stalwart Heart also didn't like being called by his human name (Jacob).
Domed Hometown: Pretty much every town that has been absorbed by the Barrier...
Doomed Hometown: ... Of course, said hometowns are vaporized bit by bit on contact with said barrier.
Door Stopper: The main story is currently at 300,000 words... and that's without going into all the side-stories it has.
The Dragon: TCB!Twilight is leading the invasion while Queen Celestia handles affairs back in Equestria. She also counts as The Evil Genius since she helped to create the potion.
Queen Celestia's presence has the same effect on the PHL. The TCB!Mane Six too; it's generally advised to run like hell if they're nearby.
The PHL ponies are still very scared of Nightmare Moon.
Easy Logistics: Mostly averted, since while not much detail is provided, the human forces are clearly being worn down by the enemy's constant onslaught, but played straight in that the Solar Empire never seems to run out of vials for the ponification potion.
And then subverted in Calm before the Storm, where we get a good look at the state of TCB!Equestria's economy. The mentioned potion vials are only available in masses due to newfoal slave labor. Otherwise, the laws of economy and logistics have hit them very hard.
Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion: Averted. The battle for humanity is a hard-fought one that has been going on for three years, mostly thanks to the Barrier.
Emergency Transformation: In the early days of contact with TCB!Equestria, the potion was given to cancer patients, amputees, the blind, the deaf, and so on. Needless to say, thecost outweighs the benefits.
Discord is disgusted by what Queen Celestia is doing to the humans and what she did to his counterpart. Not only that, but even he's scared of the Bag of Tirek. Meanwhile, in addition to having the same feelings as his canon counterpart, TCB!Discord protected several ponies who would otherwise have been killed by collateral damage when Queen Celestia attacked him.
Queen Celestia briefly had doubts when she forcibly ponified some reporters at a press conference, and when she turned Luna to stone.
Played for Laughs in Chapter 11, when Discord reveals that even Queen Celestia couldn't stand Prince Blueblood and turned him to stone and crushed to pieces.
Queen Chrysalis balks at Shining Armor's accusation that she raped him while disguised as Cadance, and even seems insulted that he would think such a thing. She still used her Mind Control to her advantage, but not for that specifically. May also be a Take That to stories which actually have that happen. For her part, TCB!Chrysalis was disturbed to realize what Queen Celestia was up to, though that may have been due to the Newfoals' tainted love, which fatally poisoned all Changelings who fed on it. It's safe to say that even the show's greatest villains think the Solar Tyrant is going too far. With one exception – the original nemesis, Tirek, is The Man Behind the Man to Queen Celestia.
Less-than-moral characters from other franchises also get in on the act when the protagonists from Grand Theft Auto V play a major role in a raid on a Conversion Bureau. (They do expect payment.)
In "For Whom the Bell Tolls", Canon!Luna inwardly states that Queen Celestia's method of turning the TCB!Elements into her tools of evil was so foul that even King Sombra would have never stooped to that level.
According to Case Files, the HLF is largely composed of sadists, paranoid survivalists and violent psychopaths. They still never crossed the same lines as the PER.
Button's Mom cannot stand working with Newfoal children. Considering what her youngest colt was like, this says volumes about how unbearable they are.
In Chapter 21, Stephan says that although he knows firepower is needed to destroy the device maintaining the barrier, he thinks calling in the Dragons of the East (the Asia Side-Story characters) is a bit much.
Kraber has a lot of loose screws and is the definition of Ax-Crazy, yet even he can't help but lose his lunch after Luna shows him TCB!Twilight's gruesome experiments with the prototype ponification potion.
Evil Counterpart: Princess Celestia and the Mane Six have theirs in the TCB-verse. However it's clear that they are all being controlled by the Bag of Tirek, and the TCB!Mane Six themselves were all locked up inside their minds, unable to do anything but helplessly watch as mental homunculi that were implanted inside their bodies drive them around like puppets, committing war crimes of the highest caliber. Moreover, said homunculi were created from the darker parts of the TCB!Mane Six's souls, while also keeping at least one defining personality trait (like Applejack's honesty, Fluttershy's sweet-talking, or Twilight's drive to learn) to be used for evil purposes.
Evil Stole My Faith: Marcus hasn't believed in a just God since 9/11. Plus, it's implied that many humans have lost their faith in God because he is allowing something as monstrous as the Queen to wipe out Humanity.
Evil vs. Evil: Queen Celestia's war against King Sombra in the backstory, though this was before TCB!Equestria officially became the Solar Empire.
Fallen Hero: The TCB!Mane Six. Except that in truth, they've all been enslaved by Celestia, locked up in their own minds and made to watch as a homunculus (a dark personality implanted into their bodies) ruined their lives and committed countless atrocities.
It's shown that many ponies in TCB!Equestria are downright frightened by the Newfoals and some even outright despise them, but thanks to government spies, they have to stay quiet about it unless they want to be sent to the gulags or to a mind healer (read: re-education center).
The Starvation Side-Story shows that even pro-human ponies are not safe from this, with race riots and dead ponies being quite common in Rio. This later gets expanded upon with the HLF, which is so very anti-pony that one unnamed Brazilian blogger (implied to be one of the Starvation characters) claims that they're "giving Celestia all the ammunition she needs!"
Canon!Celestia states that despite her and Luna's work to stamp out such things, there are still a great number of racial supremacists all over Equestria, most particularly unicorn and pegasus supremacists obsessed with "bloodline purity". On top of that, some ponies don't hold the best opinions on the griffons, minotaurs and other species in Equus.
Fan Verse: The author is currently setting up a universe for alternate timelines in the Spectrum verse.
Fascist, but Inefficient: TCB!Equestria. However, they brought it on themselves, taking on such a huge population increase while going to war and destroying all the human infrastructure they could have used to make colonizing Earth easier.
First Contact: TCB!Equestria came about because of an accident at CERN HQ in Geneva, Switzerland involving an attempt to track and identify tachyon particles which ended up breaching the fabric of reality and creating a portal.
First-Person Perspective: The lingering effects of the mind-sharing spell occasionally causes Princess Celestia to see Marcus' memories of the war through his eyes.
Flawed Prototype: Let's just say that early versions of the ponification potion were rather... unpleasant. Nearly three thousand people died in the initial trials.
There's also a mention by Discord that TCB!Twilight "lost more than her mind". And, at the beginning of "For Whom The Bell Tolls", it's shown that TCB!Rarity isn't fully in control of her actions. And then comes The Reveal...
For Want of a Nail: The biggest Point Of Divergence between Canon!Equestria and TCB!Equestria is that Princess Cadance never became an alicorn, and thus didn't take the throne of the Crystal Empire, allowing King Sombra to reestablish his power and fight a conventional war with Equestria. However, that only came about because of a heavily corrupted Celestia's influence, which in turn only happened because Lyra went on an ill-fated scuba diving trip...
It's implied that in his last moments, TCB!Discord placed a hypnotic suggestion in TCB!Twilight's mind to compel her to use the Elements of Harmony on Marcus rather than just ponify him, sending him to Canon!Equestria to get help. His death was not in vain.
The familiar Equestria ends up diverging from the show's canon in the main story's "Sons of Legacies" arc, where the Princesses, Discord, Marcus and Stephan are the ones handling the return of the Crystal Empire while the Mane Six have to undergo training for the war.
For Your Own Good: How the PER and the ponies loyal to Queen Celestia see the ponification of the humans; the war is even referred to as "Ponydom's noble battle to save Earth from itself".
Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: The Newfoals always smile, and happiness is the only emotion they can feel. No sadness, no fear, just a false smile, oblivious happiness, and blindly praising the Queen.
The smilies on the TCB!Mane Six are sentient, twisted mockeries of the actual Mane Six, who are kept enslaved and tortured in their own mind while a fake pony happily lives out their life, ruins their relationships, and murders countless innocents.
God Is Good: Marcus strongly doubts this view. The Scribe's existence suggests there may be some truth to it, though.
Gun Porn: The main story's narrator goes into some pretty serious detail on the DSR.50 anti-materiel rifle and its special anti-alicorn munitions in Chapter 18.
There's also one of Isaac Acevedo's pistols, an "eight-shot .44 Magnum with a central 20-gauge barrel," making it possibly a LeMat revolver.
And Sergei goes into a bit of detail about the Borz pistol - though, unusually for Gun Porn, it's about how much they suck.
Guns Are Worthless: Only against alicorns; they work just fine on everypony else. However, there are ways of getting around the threat of guns. Magical shields (if strong enough), can No Sell most forms of weapons, and there is the old trick of simply taking the guns away using unicorn magic and turning them against their owner... which seems to have been largely overcome by the time the main story chapter "Strike" rolls around. Guns are now modified to be resistant to magic, as well as fire faster, harder, more accurately, with larger magazines, all through runic magic. And even the alicorn factor is shown to be waning after one of the assault teams uses a sniper rifle to blow off Queen Celestia's ear. Then, in the next chapter, Kraber destroys her spine with the very same rifle; unfortunately, she turns out to be a duplicate created by the Mirror Pool, leaving it open as to how effective the gun would be against the real thing.
Heroic Sacrifice: Queen Elizabeth II blows herself up to kill a squad of Royal Guards and PER agents sent after her.
Hit So Hard the Calendar Felt It: Canon!Equestria is in the "Second Year, Anno Harmonia", which is to say two years after the events of Nightmare Moon's defeat. TCB!Equestria is in its sixth year, however.
Homeworld Evacuation: Deconstructed and Averted. It's made clear at least three times (twice in the main story, once in Calm) that it's just not going to work. Mostly because of the radiation in space, limited resources (both for making the ship and helping the crew survive), lack of habitable planets, and, as Crowe pointed out, the few colonists that could escape would be nowhere near a match for Celestia if she eventually found them.
Hopeless War: For one thing, millions of people have become War Refugees over the course of the war thanks to the Barrier, which annihilates any human or human-made object in its way (not even leaving dust behind). Not only that, but the barrier is nigh-unstoppable, and every human knows it. It took a minor miracle for the PHL and the American military to even delay the thing! The situation looks so bleak that the U.S President has resigned himself to a plan that would destroy all life on Earth, with the small hope it will at least do something to the Barrier, even as it kills them all. But now that the Canon!Equestrians have arrived, it may not be so hopeless anymore.
It's even hopeless on TCB!Equestria's side as well. Humanity's determination to fight back and the ensuing advances in battlefield and assault weapons technology has caused enormous casualties, enough to make the Solar Empire's old fashioned tactics and Zerg Rush usage of the Newfoals just plain impractical. On top of that, the massive influx of Newfoals has upended their economy, and morale is so low that only terror, propaganda and fanaticism are keeping the Empire afloat. And even that is failing, since more and more natural born ponies are beginning to question Queen Celestia's actions and are either defecting to the PHL or getting imprisoned or executed as "enemies of the state".
Humans Are Special: Maybe. The canon versions of Twilight and Lyra have both read books which mention humans coming to Equestria long ago via the Rainbow of Light, and the event where the first portal opened at CERN may not have been an accident, since Queen Celestia already knew of mankind's existence and stole TCB!Discord's magic so she could travel across the dimensional barrier.
The Scribe's monologue to a gathering of human and pony resistance fighters suggests the two species are connected in some meaningful way. Later in the story, Spykoran reveals that the Bag of Tirek wants revenge against humanity, following a previous encounter where its maker was defeated by a human.
Twilight: "The humans are a disorganized mess, they've damaged their planet with how reckless they've been with their industrialization and technology."
Even some of the Canon!Equestria ponies believe this. However, it's also clear most of their TCB counterparts joined the conversion out of their own free will.
Humans Are Warriors: From official soldiers to civilian resistance, every able bodied human is in the fight. Even before Queen Celestia invaded, TCB!Discord warned her that humanity would not just go quietly into the night.
Discord: "You, bring order to a group of beings that thrive on chaos and order with a mixed bag of general insanity? I have seen them, long ago before you were even a speck in Mother's mind. They are powerful and will destroy you and all your ponies the moment they feel threatened."
Humanity Is Advanced: Some of the TCB!ponies such as Cloudchaser are amazed by human technology... and find it disturbing that Twilight is not going gaga over humanity's science and art.
Hypocrite: The TCB!Equestrians can go on and on about the evils of the human race, never mind that they're doing far worse. They also consider technology and human works to be evil, yet they have used zeppelins and concrete for their own purposes. That, and as Marcus points out, their talk about love, friendship, and harmony is at complete odds with the Mind Rape and forcible transformation of an entire species into zombie-like Newfoals.
The chapter "For Whom The Bell Tolls", reveals that this alleged superiority was accomplished via the sacrifice of almost three thousand innocent men, women, and children at the hooves of a brainwashed slave of an insane goddess, while said slave screamed and begged for death as she was trapped inside her own head.
Straw Hypocrite: The worst part is that almost none of the ponies, not even Queen Celestia or the TCB!Elements, actually believe in their cause. They were only brainwashed to think that way one way or another because a certain Artifact of Doom had a grudge with one particular human and wanted to destroy her species in retaliation.
Idiot Ball: Mankind's general acceptance of the Conversion Bureaus prior to the war does stretch Willing Suspension of Disbelief, considering that even "progressive" human societies tend to be slow in embracing new medical practices. Plus, this kind of Genre Blindness feels like it belongs to a world in which works of fiction such as the Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man" were never made.
In the main story, none of the Mane Six find it suspicious when TCB!Trixie disappears into a cloud of smoke, only for Rainbow's father to appear seconds later. Sure, the girls didn't know about the Blue Spy's shape-shifting abilities beforehand, but you'd expect them to put two and two together.
I'm Melting: What happens when humans are affected by too much magic, touch the barrier, or somehow get onto the other side of the barrier. The last one being a complete lie courtesy of Queen Celestia.
The TCB!Equestrians have zero qualms about potioning small children, even shoving it down their throats if necessary.
On the other side, it's perfectly acceptable to shoot said Newfoal children, especially since they're now the enemy and would happily force potion down people's throats, all in the name of spreadingharmony. It's even seen as a Mercy Kill of sorts.
Interspecies Romance: There's Marcus and Cheerilee, Stephan and Trixie, Peter and Sapphire Shores from the Europe Side-Story, Aitmatov and Blizzard Flurry in the Asia Side-Story, and Rebecca Kleiner and Thunderwing from Case Files.
Zig-Zagged with Doctor Whooves and Derpy. Chapter 10 of the main story all but spells out that Doctor Whooves used to be theDoctor, but got turned into a pony at some point, though unlike the Newfoals, he's fine.
Technically, TCB!Twilight Sparkle and Stalwart Heart are such a pair, as Stalwart Heart was a human and Marcus's brother before getting ponified.
In short, one of the tragedies of the war is that the two races can live in harmony, and even love each other... but Queen Celestia won't let it happen.
Just Before the End: It's made abundantly clear in the main story (and far clearer in the Asia Side-Story, Starvation, Calm Before The Storm, and Last Train) that the world isn't in great shape. At least a third of the Earth's landmass has been eaten up by the Barrier, people are starving, cities are overpopulated, and Apocalypse Anarchy reigns.
Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Played with. Human-made energy weapons do exist in the story, but of the two that appeared, one melted itself into oblivion, and the other one (A Lightning Gun mounted under Kraber's machine gun) was very effective. Judging by the fact that they've only appeared twice (while also being mentioned in Case Files) it seems that while they are possible thanks to magic and technological advantages, they're just harder to build than assault rifles and the like.
Blasts of magic, however, are still incredibly effective.
Knight Templar: Queen Celestia and her followers seem to genuinely believe they're doing what's best for humanity. Although the presence of the Bag of Tirek puts into question how much of that can be anything but brainwashing. The Mane Six, at least, had their minds replaced entirely by new avatars Queen Celestia created, leaving their original selves helplessly trapped inside their bodies.
The HLF are humans who desire to kill every last pony, regardless of evidence that not all ponies support Celestia or her mad plans.
La Résistance: The Ponies For Human Life (PHL), ponies who fled Equestria and fight alongside the humans against Queen Celestia's regime.
The Human Liberation Front (HLF) also exist in this continuity, but they are largely overshadowed by the PHL. On top of that, the HLF are rather... extreme.
Last of His Kind: The Scribe was created to serve as the collective memory of the first alicorn race by Faust, who was the last one to survive the war against Tirek.
Queen Celestia killed all the dragons, with the exception of Spike, whom she kept locked up and viciously tortured.
Iron Will is the only minotaur confirmed alive in the TCB-verse.
In the Europe Side-Story, Chrysalis and her Changeling hive were killed by the tainted love of the Newfoals, with Chrysalis hanging onto life for a good few years before finally succumbing to the poisoned love consuming her body.
Though not the last of her species, Gilda is the last living member of the griffon royal family. Similarly, Marcus is currently the last surviving member of his family, and so is Asia Side-Story character Hyong-Jin.
Lovecraft Lite: Mankind encounters another sapient species from a parallel universe... that wants to assimilate us and our planet, wiping out every last trace of our existence. However, many of the aliens decide to throw in their lot with humanity, and their powers combined with human ingenuity are enough to slow down the enemy's advance.
Cosmic Horror Story: In a more traditionally Lovecraftian sense, the reason the alien species wants to destroy us is because their leader, who was once a beacon of hope and enlightenment, first allowed her world to stagnate and was then enslaved by an Artifact of Doom powerful enough to corrupt the noblest of heroes.
Ludicrous Gibs: Many human weapons ranging from high-caliber firearms, magically enhanced firearms like Marcus's Colt M1911, explosives, and APC/Tank weaponry are capable of doing this to the ponies. Marcus's rune magic is capable of this at full power.
Taken to the logical conclusion when Newfoal attacks end in a rain of blood, bones, flesh and stuff better not mentioned. It is speculated that Newfoals are used mainly to drain ammo reserves.
Mad Bomber: The PER (Ponification for Earth's Rebirth) make liberal use of potion bombs.
Magic Antidote: The potion was seen as this in the early days of contact with Equestria, until the mental changes of the Newfoals became more and more apparent.
[Cadence] still shivered at her aunt's explanation about everything involved with the Sun Tyrant, that lingered in her mind, how she came to the world of Humanity, bearing gifts and good tidings, all the while planning to subjugate them and erase their very existence from their world. How she offered a would be miracle cure; it cured diseases, cancers, gave sight to the blinded, hearing to the deaf, grew legs that allowed those without limbs to walk once more, and so much more. But those that took it... lost everything in return, and when the time was right, when humanity began to learn of the side effects of the potion, she struck.
Master Race: What the Imperial ponies see themselves as.
Military Brat: Marcus and his brother Jacob, whose father David died in combat. Porter's father is one of the soldiers that fought alongside David, making him a Military Brat in his own right. Rebecca Kleiner is also stated to be one in her biography from Case Files.
Mind Rape: Becoming a Newfoal turns people into perpetually smiling, mindlessly cheeryzombies, with little (if any) free will of their own. Most of TCB!Equestria was subject to this well. TCB!Applebloom describes it as feeling like her thoughts are replaced with an irrational hatred for humans and a desire to ponify every person she sees. Queen Celestia also placed a 'Geis' on the Royal Guards, making them serve and follow her every order without question. And then there's the corruption and subjugation of the TCB!Mane Six. We even see it happening to Twilight firsthand, and it's written in a way that feels disturbingly similar to actual physical rape. In fact, Queen Celestia herself is a victim of this, given what the Bag of Tirek did to her.
Mirror Universe: Redskin has stated the story is supposed to be a different take against other authors' stories in the TCB genre, especially Chatoyance, as he has viewed the original TCB premise as Canon Defilement.
Mutagenic Goo: The ponifcation potion. Unlike many examples, this one can actually be turned into clouds.
TCB!Twilight is basically a pony version of Josef Mengele in the flashback scene of "For Whom The Bell Tolls." It was not willing on her end of it.
Next Sunday A.D.: When the TCB!Equestrians arrive on Earth in 2018, the world bears little difference to the fic's time of writing.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: Subverted. The Japanese Prime Minister and the US President are fictional characters, but several major real-world figures appear.
The British Royal Family are featured quite prominently. Queen Elizabeth's last act is to take some Royal Guard and PER agents to hell with her. Prince (now King) William and his family are seen getting evacuated out of a nearly overrun United Kingdom, and as of the main story chapter Pushed to the Limits, he is a pilot in the British military. Meanwhile, his father, Prince (also promoted to King, though very briefly) Charles is shown to have been ponified.
In the Asia Side-Story, Kim Jong-Un is said to be fleeing North Korea, but his squadron gets overwhelmed by the PER. His ultimate fate is left rather ambiguous.
Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera (who appears during the military strategy meeting in "Trust") is a real life person.
No Endor Holocaust: Averted. See Canon!Twilight's long Reality Ensues rant on the problems of Equestria appearing in the sea, which doesn't happen in this story, since the only means of travel between Equus and Earth is via magical portals, and the parts of Earth consumed by the Barrier are being colonized by the TCB!Ponies (though it's revealed they're having a hard time at it).
Not Himself: The potion completely takes away the victim's original personality, effectively killing them. "War March and Past Sins" delves into exactly why this is - basically the human convert's soul is shattered to pieces and then "bound in chains" to Queen Celestia and the Bag of Tirek's will. Even worse, according to the Elder Shaman of the zebras, it is completely impossible to repair those souls with any medicine or magic; only death will make their souls whole again and set them free.
On the subject of how much Newfoals are unlike the person they were based off of, one former HLF member has this to say in Case Files:
Andrew Silas: "The simplest way I can put it is that we expected it to be them. That they'd be something like the people we knew. Henry, though - you've heard this description a million times, but it just wasn't him in there."
TCB!Cloudchaser noticed Twilight's uncharacteristic lack of interest in human technology. As it turns out, none of the TCB!Mane Six are themselves, having all had their free will locked away by Queen Celestia, who then replaced them with homunculi.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: There are plenty of these to go around. Marcus gives a few to the Canon!Mane Six (when he thinks they're the TCB counterparts), TCB!Trixie gives one to a guard near Spike, Queen Celestia gives one to Princess Celestia and then Princess Celestia returnsthe favor tenfold, Princess Celestia gives one to Discord, Discord gives one to Princess Celestia... Though, to be fair, it's a Conversion Bureau fanfic, and a deconstructiveHate Fic, against Chatoyance, who has given plenty of material. "The Reason You Suck" speeches are not just expected, but a certainty. Case in point:
TCB!Trixie (impersonating Lyra) gives one to former human Focus Ray.
Trixie: "WE ARE NOTHING ALIKE! YOU SPEAK AS IF YOU'VE BEEN A PONY ALL YOUR LIFE! YOU ARE JUST ONE BROKEN SOUL AMONG THE MILLIONS THAT WERE CONVERTED! THE GRIFFONS ARE MORE KIN TO ME THAN YOU ARE!"
After he pushes her already strained psyche too far, Princess Celestia gives Prince Blueblood a long overdue verbal beatdown for being such an embarrassment to the royal family, before declaring him cut off from his inheritance.
From the Asia Side-Story, a PER agent tries to give one to Porter in the first chapter; Porter just argues back that he at least isn't selling out his own kind to a bunch of xenocidal invaders. Porter himself also delivers one to an HLF member in "A Melody of Flames and Frost", stating that he and his friends have actually done important stuff for the war effort (evacuate and help civilians, fight the TCB!Equestrians and newfoals) and don't throw untrained children into the meat grinder, whereas the HLF have only hurt, destroyed and killed everything in their path.
In the PER chapter of Case Files, Cheerilee gave such a massive one to PER agent Mikhailovitch that he broke down, told her what she needed to know, and apologized for what he did.
Angus Reid delivered one to his HLF group over how they never did anything of real worth for the war effort or disprove the people's descriptions of them as madmen destroying civilization before declaring he's leaving for the PHL in a quote in the third chapter of Calm Before the Storm.
There's also Thaddeus Crowe's scathing debunking of the Russian Space Program's calls to start a space program during wartime, and Fiddlesticks' denunciation of her home.
Marcus leads the bulk of the UN's defense forces, but he isn't actually this to the PHL, serving instead as the prime human liaison to the pony group. The leadership role now appears to have been taken over by Cheerilee (who is also Marcus' lover) and Doctor Whooves.
Right Wing Militia Fanatic: The HLF, who are usually the heroic go-to anti-pony La Résistance in anti-TCB fanfiction, have devolved into this in this universe. There's likely an element of deconstruction involved, directed at both traditional Conversion Bureau tropes – showing how, for example, most of them likely wouldn't get along well with ponies, it is unlikely that most military forces would fall under their umbrella, and their rigidness makes them remarkably ineffective at opposing Imperial Equestria. It's also worth mentioning that it originally wasn't intended as this in-universe – this HLF has its roots in a support group designed for helping the friends and family members of people that took the ponification potion deal with the radical personality changes their loved ones went through. However, it quickly attracted a multitude of unsavory characters after the war began.
Princesses Celestia, Luna, Cadance, and Prince Shining Armor fully plan on doing something about Queen Celestia.
Queen Elizabeth II blew herself up when the Equestrian Royal Guard and PER came a-knocking on Her Majesty's doorstep. Her grandson, William (who was promoted to King in this universe) is no slouch either, flying patrol jets and fighting alongside commonfolk, as he's just one of millions fighting for humanity's survival. Meanwhile, Prince Harry has become a helicopter pilot for the British military.
TCB!Luna tried to stop Celestia, but failed. And though TCB!Cadance may never have ascended to alicornhood, that doesn't change her lineage, inspiring her to work on a way to use the Power of Love to free ponies from the Tyrant's brainwashing.
Queen Chrysalis, in both universes. TCB!Chrysalis taught shapechanging to Trixie and sensing love to Cadance before she died, while Canon!Chrysalis takes part in the joined forces on Equus to destroy Queen Celestia, intending to prove that Changelings have worth.
Salt the Earth: Whenever human forces have the time, they lace the cities they have to abandon with explosives. Once ponies move into the area, they set the bombs off, taking out a chunk of the enemy and wiping the city out before the Barrier can do it.
The Barrier essentially does this to the TCB!Equestrians. The lands they claim on Earth behind the barrier are useless to them, as all agriculture, buildings, infrastructure and so on are vaporised by the barrier. Essentially they got forests and green meadows which are pretty useless for food production on the scale they need.
Despite rejecting the misanthropy of traditional Conversion Bureau stories, no bones are made about the human capacity for viciousness, the HLF is depicted as no better than the Solar Empire, and even many humans on the "good" side display psychotic tendencies brought on by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Meanwhile, the ponies who reject Queen Celestia's new order have either lost their innocence or are in process of losing it, while the Imperial ponies are blinded by their dogmatic belief that they are in the right. And the war is so unforgiving that Child Soldiers and "I Did What I Had to Do" methods have become commonplace for the PHL.
On the other hand, humans and ponies are shown to be perfectly capable of working together, many of the less morally upstanding characters do have at least one redeeming trait (provided they aren't pro-Conversion), and though this is a situation where love, tolerance and friendship can't magically solve everything, they are still powerful forces which can give people the will to stand firm against whatever the world throws at them. Plus, there are a couple of moments that take a break from the fighting to evoke an underlying sense of wonder at both races' accomplishments.
The main story is definitely Fantastic, with many of its chapters revolving around both Equestrias and the action sequences running heavily on Rule of Cool. However, whenever Discord shows up, things take a right turn into Surreal.
The Starvation Side-Story and Calm Before The Storm are Unusual, being fairly mundane in terms of drama and conflict, but set in worlds where magic exists and war is fought on an unprecedented scale for Earth.
One could make a case for both the Europe and Asia Side-Stories to be called "Unrealistic with a touch of Unusual", since they each focus more on military deployment and character than the more fantastical elements. Rule of Cool is still in place, but it comes off as low-key compared to the main story.
Case Files takes a Mundane approach to the Unusual events it describes.
Most of the battle scenes are filled to the brim with Rule of Cool, gleefully laying a smackdown on the TCB!Equestrians when the PHL or other pro-human characters have the upper hand; this applies to Discord's fighting style in particular. However, the mood quickly turns grim if the Solar Empire ever gains the advantage, and the aftermath of the battles is rarely pretty. War Is Glorious only when detached from anything resembling real-life warfare; otherwise, not so much.
The Starvation Side-Story sums up Spectrum's tone in a nutshell — over-the-top characters messing with each other and dropping silly pop-culture references, while around them, the world is dying a slow, painful death.
Smug Snake: TCB!Celestia, though this is taken Up to Eleven in her 'Letter to Humanity', which assumes that the humans will just give up and be ponified in the face of her power.
Take Over the World: Queen Celestia's plan for Earth, Canon!Equestria and any other universe she comes across when she's done with them both.
Take That: Being a Deconstruction Fic series dedicated to really illustrating how wrong the general plot of The Conversion Bureau is, every fic has their share of potshots at the TCB genre. The stories of Chatoyance in particular are huge targets of the authors' and editors' scorn.
Taking You with Me: Queen Elizabeth II takes the Royal Guard and PER agents sent after her straight to hell thanks to a rigged Balmoral Castle.
The American military has jury-rigged multiple nukes to set off the Yellowstone caldera in case the barrier consumes too much of the planet, as a last blow against Queen Celestia. For reference, the other suggested alternatives included surrender to the Tyrant, a Senseless SacrificeLast Stand against the Newfoal hordes, all-out nuclear bombardment of the barrier or attempting to build a spaceship to escape. The last two were found to be Awesome but Impractical, because the barrier disintegrates all human artifacts, and a spaceship would consign any unfortunate "colonists" to death by radiation and starvation.
In the Asia Side-Story, a group of elderly folks who refuse to evacuate St. Petesrburg get help from the main characters to rig their nursing home with explosives. They blow themselves and their Royal Guard assailants sky high.
In the second chapter of Calm Before the Storm, TCB!Fancy Pants detonates a magically enhanced sword to blow his house up, killing himself and the newfoals inside, as well as give Queen Celestia a "very bad day" in order to buy more time for Fleur to escape safely.
Aitmatov: "Like shooting fish in a barrel, it was. I don't think I've ever gone through a magazine in so little time. Hell, aim for the unicorns while they're casting spells, and they practically explode! I just remember thinking there, 'Oh my God! They explode! My life has new meaning now...'"
Training from Hell: Yon-Soo and Hyong-Jin from the Asia Side-Story go through this in order to become better soldiers.
Stephan puts the Canon!Mane Six through this.
All of Canon!Equus' armies are going through this to prepare for the war.
Transhuman Treachery: Once they're transformed by the potion, Newfoals will immediately denounce their former humanity and become loyal to Queen Celestia.
Troperiffic: The sheer volume of this page, the number of Shout Outs, and occasional Lampshade Hangings is more than enough evidence of this. Considering a few of the co-writers are Tropers themselves, it's rather deliberate.
Uncanny Valley: In-Universe; in addition to the standard characterization of theNewfoals, Blue Spy also handily points out that every Newfoal ever produced is a Blank Flank, and treats it as the unsettling icing on the creepiness cake. What's worse is that the blank flank syndrome is spreading to the natural-born ponies as well. In fact virtually everything about TCB!Equestria conveys this image, too. The authors go to great lengths to describe Imperial Equestria as looking happy, but there is something very seriously off.
Urban Warfare: The Salvation Army's and the Rescue Fleet's main strategy is to corral all humans too weak or exhausted to flee any longer into the cities, which are then bombed full of potion in liquid or gaseous form. Consequently, most of the story's battles take place within a devastated urban landscape.
War Is Hell: Just ask Marcus or Princess Celestia. Stephan summarizes this to the Canon!Mane Six when he begins training them.
War Refugees: The civilians that managed to escape their home countries and cities before they were overrun by the barrier, the ponies who defected from Queen Celestia, and Chrysalis for awhile. The Starvation short story focuses on the struggles of various war refugees in Rio de Janeiro.
Discord thinks he's one too, as he only caused chaos in Equestria the first time so ponies could overcome the challenges necessary to make themselves self-reliant. He's not thrilled with what Princess Celestia's well-meaning efforts to stop him have led to, though his trips through his trips through the multiverse do force him to realize his own carelessness and lack of control at the time as well as reconsider his position.
Then comes the good kind, where humanity finds some valuable allies.
White Male Lead: Played straight with Marcus and Stephan. Zigzagged with Acevedo in Starvation, who is Brazilian but has Caucasian features. Averted with Yon-Soo from the Asia Side-Story, who is South Korean.
Would Hurt a Child: The TCB!ponies are more than willing to cram potion down human children's throats. Even worse, several children made up the three thousand test subjects used for TCB!Twilight's potion trials.
Wrong Genre Savvy: The HLF in general have this problem. While they, like most other people, want the TCB Equestrians gone and humanity saved, they completely ignore that the ponies can work with humanity, deriding any pro-human defectors as spies and the PHL as "an affront to humanity." Their desire to defeat the TCB ponies with purely human ingenuity also has its own problems, because it's increasingly clear that isn't going to work; the PHL/UN Taskforce on the other hand uses every bit of Equestrian craft and magic they have at their disposal to fight the Solar Empire and slow down the Barrier, and moreover the PHL's methods actually make progress against the Empire (even delaying the Barrier, no small feat at the time) and accomplish more than senseless deaths. And yet the HLF completely ignore it in favor of seemingly thinking they're in the middle of a desperate last stand full of slowly dwindling and increasingly ineffective resources, degenerating into violence and paranoia. Thanks to this, they are decently threatening in the Asia side-story, but by the time of the main story they are not, and Kraber has called them "a punchline" (among other things generally hinting at incompetence) in response.
You Can't Go Home Again: For the PHL ponies. Which is understandable, considering that their home is a fascistic, despotic hellhole that would brainwash anything that kept them different from newfoals out of their minds. In fact, many ponies, such as Fiddlesticks (that Palette Swap of Octavia from "Apple Family Reunion") no longer considers it to actually be her home anymore.
In Chapter 18, a rune-inscribed crystal 50-cal bullet goes through Queen Celestia's shield and blows one of her ears off.
In the same chapter, Discord shows off a tiny gun he acquired in his search for their dimension. It shoots Banzai Bills.
Actually a Doombot: The "Celestia" whom Luna and Discord fight in Boston is actually a Mirror Pool clone.
Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Subverted. TCB!Equestria's use of zeppelins has been confirmed by Redskin to be purely coincidental with the idea that skyliners (the Equestrian equivalent of cruise liners) could be adapted for military use.
Redskin122004: "Some new changed Newfoal thought it would be great if they can use them in the 'good fight' for earth, passed it on to Twilight who began to set up the ships to be refitted for defense and potions, and improve magical to help power it."
Played straight with their use of concrete.
In Calm Before the Storm, the Canon!Equestrians are absolutely enthralled with human artwork.
Alien Invasion: The TCB!ponies' arrival on Earth. Though it wasn't apparent until sometime after their arrival.
The Alliance: All of Earth's remaining armed forces unite as one to combat the ponies.
An Offer You Can't Refuse: In a flashback from the chapter "Sanguine Meetings and Bloodied Past", Newfoal unicorn Stalwart Heart (formerly Marcus's brother Jacob) tried to make Marcus back off by magically choking Cheerilee. Marcus responds by killing him.
Anachronic Order: The first chapter opens with Marcus restrained in a hospital after his beatdown of the Canon!Mane Six; the following chapter recaps the fight in detail.
Anything But That!: Celestia willingly weathers the storm of Marcus's war memories... right until his recollections of TCB!Twilight and the rest of the Mane Six.
Antagonist in Mourning: In the chapter "The Writes of Passage", we learn that TCB!Flim and Flam of all ponies were present at TCB!Granny Smith's side during her last days when TCB!Applejack was not.
Despite their virulent anti-pony sentiments, some members of the HLF mourned TCB!Lyra's death, if only because of how cruel it was.
By the end of it, nopony would have considered isolationism. No matter their occupation, they resolved that they would Do Something Important. Whether it was manufacturing, support, maintenance of communication networks, or fighting on the frontlines with the new modular assault yokes and saddles that they saw at Isaac Dan Der Grimnebulin's stall... they would not quietly sit in their homes as war raged on... They would make absolutely sure that Earth won its fight.
Appeal To Audacity: In "Trust", Canon!Luna presses her head directly to the muzzle of an anti-alicorn BFG to convince the PHL soldiers that she's on the level, because would a puppet deliberately put itself in PHL crosshairs?
Vinyl: "Hey! All my speakers are awesome, you should've seen some of those humans fighting when my speakers are cranked up to 15!"
Awesome but Impractical: The various proposals that President Davis receives. While the "awesome" part is uncertain, they're impractical because they just don't have that kind of time anymore.
President Davis: "Then there are the various projects that Crowe Labs or any other convenient think tank tries to peddle to us and any other government that still has a couple acres they can set foot on without melting into puddles. They crank out new concepts once a week, it feels like. Wildly unfeasible energy weapons, bioweapons that we're not sure even work against ponies, barrier-resistant materials, spaceships, and something that they called Project Sunflower! All prohibitively expensive, of course, requiring hundreds of imported Equestrian materials, things we'd need to make decade-long leaps in science to make, especially in the time that we have left! It took us a miracle to even delay the barrier! As far as I can tell, we have no choice. I'd love to say no and kickstart Project Sunflower, but the barrier would be at the Rockies by the time we had enough of that done for it to make a difference! From what Stephan has said, they were friendly, and we simply have no options left on the table!"
Battle Cry: What Queen Elizabeth's final address became.
In "Sanguine Meetings and Bloodied Past", one of Marcus' memories shows that he brought Cheerilee to Washington DC because she wanted the PHL to take a more active role in fighting the Tyrant. The visit coincided with a major PER/Solar Empire joint-attack, and Marcus had to kill his ponified brother.
Luna wants to know what drove TCB!Twilight to beg for death. Not!Twilight shows her the potion's process of creation.
Better to Die Than Be Killed: Marcus attempts to slit his throat when he thinks he is about to be ponified by the Canon!Mane Six, only for the knife to be taken from him. In desperation, he tries to faceplant on the knife, but ends up knocking himself out.
Queen Elizabeth and the Prime Minister of Japan both took their own lives rather than be ponified.
Humanity's last plan if all else fails is to create a mass extinction event by nuking the Yellowstone supervolcano.
TCB!Fluttershy and TCB!Pinkie Pie. Fluttershy uses her Stare to convince people to drink the potion, while Pinkie is every bit as childish and silly even as she commits horrible atrocities.
TCB!Cheerilee plays this very straight when she sees Queen Celestia kill a child soldier.
Beware the Silly Ones: TCB!Pinkie Pie. She commits the same atrocities as the rest of the elements while keeping her usual smile and childlike attitude throughout it all. Not to mention, her party cannon has been upgraded to a more lethal party shotgun.
Canon!Pinkie Pie as well. Seeing how her hair goes straight and limp as she sees the Solar Empire's atrocities against humanity in Calm Before the Storm and never recovers is a very big warning sign that there won't be any more fun and games.
BFG: While going through Marcus's memories, Princess Celestia witnesses one of Vinyl Scratch firing a harness mounted minigun at the Mane Six.
The DSR-50 anti material rifle◊ carried by Bundeswehr sniper Alicia, specifically modified with magical runes to kill the Tyrant. She gets a good shot, but Celestia moves her head at the last possible second, leaving it ambiguous as to whether the gun could actually kill an alicorn.
Big Applesauce: Discussed in Chapter 10, when Doctor Whooves says that the New Yorkers have survived too much to even contemplate evacuating. New York also serves as a major stronghold for the PHL.
Discord also manages to rebuild a version in Canon!Equestria in chapter 25, to serve as housing and training grounds for the various armies that have come to fight TCB!Equestria. It was purged of every Chuck. E Cheese and Freddy Frazbear's pizza.
Big Damn Heroes: Subverted. In Chapter 3, Princesses Celestia and Luna think they are rescuing the Mane Six and Spike from Marcus, not knowing just why he attacked in the first place.
However, Princess Celestia plans on playing this straight by leading an allied army to assist humanity and the resistance movements against her evil counterpart.
Brawler Lock/Punch Catch: Marcus and Celestia in Chapter 3. It's a bit of both since Celestia doesn't have fingers.
Breaking the Fellowship: The Cutie Mark Crusaders were disbanded thanks to the war. They get back together in "The Writes of Passage" (both versions of the chapter).
Breaking the Fourth Wall: Pinkie Pie and Discord shatter the fourth wall in the gag version of "The Writes of Passage", with Discord mocking the Tastes Like Diabetes nature of about half that chapter, then abruptly rewriting its outcome.
In simple words, she had suffered a temporal stroke, leaving the two halves of her brain in separate time zones. One was always in the present, while the other...wandered. Sometimes she babbled about events that had yet to happen, or screamingly re-experience past horrors, not just from her own life, but of Eldritch nightmares from eons before Equestria's founding. It was a painful, debilitating and humiliating fate. But at times, the ability to experience the future before it happened was extremely useful.
Canon!Lyra in "War March and Past Sins", when she realizes that she could have doomed the world if she had gone on the scuba-diving trip which uncovered the shipwreck that held Tirek's Bag.
TCB!Twilight (and by extension, the rest of the Mane Six), owing to having their bodies hijacked by TCB!Celestia and being forced to witness atrocity after atrocity. She's reduced to an emotionally destroyed wreck, begging for Canon!Luna to kill her. And then Not!Twilight shows Luna the gruesome history of the ponification potion's development, capped off with the three thousand human test subjects it took to perfect it...
Marcus: (describing the barrier) "For a while, we simply thought that Celestia had panicked, that she was trying to protect her subjects from a potentially dangerous race..."
Twilight: "No... I don't want to hear this!"
Marcus: "But if that was the case, diplomacy would surely have made her see reason, that we wanted co-existence on mutually agreeable terms..."
Twilight: "Please, stop..."
Marcus: "But when Lyra showed us the truth, that Celestia was building an Equestrian Empire, we realized that she was just the latest in a long line of despots and dictators, a mad god trampling down on everyone and everpony."
Twilight: (completely in tears) "STOP!"
Broken Pedestal: TCB!Applebloom with regards to her sister and TCB!Scootaloo to an extend towards Rainbow Dash, but it really isn't Applejack or Rainbow's fault.
Defied in "Trust". Marcus chooses not to bring Canon!Lyra with him back to Earth, because TCB!Lyra's legacy is too great for her to live up to.
Cannon Fodder: The general purpose of Newfoals is to overwhelm PHL and other humans so real fighters (i.e, the Royal Guard) can take them out.
The Caper: The protagonists of Grand Theft Auto V, Iron Will, Gilda, and a motley assortment of griffons engage in one to steal a new magical power source from a now-fortified Conversion Bureau.
Casual Danger Dialogue: Kraber and his pony friend Aegis engage in some after they watch Canon!Luna hit the Rage Breaking Point and turn into Nightmare Moon. Though, to be fair to them, it's implied that they're in shock.
Aegis: "I think we know why Twilight teleported out. Whatever happened between Twilight and Luna... appears to have turned her into Nightmare Moon."
Category Traitor: While being interrogated by TCB!Trixie, Captain Green Fields of the Royal Guard delivers this burning accusation:
Fields: "Go to Tartarus! [...] And you're no pony, you're one of those... those human things! You might trot on four hooves, but you're the very image of what Equestria needs to stomp on, squash out, crush underhoof until nothing is left! YOU, ARE, AN, ANIMAL!"
Celebrity Survivor: Amongst the ponies of the PHL, Vinyl Scratch (aka DJ Pon3) seems to be a high-ranking member, Sapphire Shores uses her singing voice to raise morale amongst the troops, and Photo Finish is in charge of creating pro-human propaganda to spread throughout TCB!Equestria.
Chekhov's Gunman: Luna mentions Discord turning Sint Erklass' granddaughter into a cloak, in "Sanguine Meetings and Bloodied Past". Said granddaughter makes her full appearance 15 chapters later, as Sint's own second-in-command.
The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: Although they were Childhood Friends, Twilight dismissed Lyra's belief in humans. Sure enough, Marcus's arrival proves that humans do exist... and unfortunately, are under attack from an alternate Equestria.
Combat Pragmatist: During a fight between TCB!Trixie and Canon!Rainbow Dash in "Sons of Legacies Part 1", Trixie transforms into Rainbow's father and knocks her out when they hug.
Crazy-Prepared: Subverted with the U.S. Military. The United States were building up their military since 9/11 to partake in The War on Terror, but they were preparing for terrorists; now they are using their beefed-up military to fight xenocidal aliens.
Bordering on Deconstructor Fleet, as this fic shreds through why Equestria and the ponies would engage in a typical Conversion Bureau plot, addresses the impracticality of transporting Equestria to Earth, the misanthropy of most ponies in TCB fics, and it does not shy away from the horrors of war. And even it has a deconstructor fic in the Starvation side story, which was based on taking most of the Fridge Horror of the setting and demonstrating how awful such a world would be for the people who don't get to be larger-than-life heroes.
The chapter "For Whom The Bell Tolls" deconstructs another thing usually glossed over in other TCB fics - the creation and the testing of the potion itself. Let's just say there's a very good reason why the TCB!ponies are frequently compared to Nazis.
Dedication: "Sons of Legacies, Part 1" is dedicated to Drawdex, a pre-reader/editor who recently left the team for personal reasons.
Deep Cover Agent: In Chapter 11 it turns out that some of the Royal Guards were actually Changelings planted there since they were young.
Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Rune engraved .50 BMG rounds have been produced for sniper rifles (and presumably all types of firearms) that also have runes inscribed in them. They work so well, that they are able to hurt Queen Celestia.
Marcus reveals that his mother died of a stress-induced heart attack brought on by seeing Jacob ponified.
Determinator: During his fight with the Canon!Mane Six, Marcus keeps on fighting even after being blasted through a glass window (no Soft Glass here, folks) courtesy of the party cannon and getting thrown into a wall.
Princess Celestia in the mental sense. While obviously suffering from seeing the memories of her ponies commit such horrible actions, she willingly endures, only breaking when she sees the Mane Six participate.
Princess Celestia: (sobbing) "Show me more! All of it, I can take it!"
Prism Flash is disappointed in his daughter Rainbow Dash for fighting with Trixie instead of talking out the problem like he taught her. It was part of an act by Trixie, who transformed into Rainbow's father.
The Scribe is not at all happy with how her children mucked her plans up, particularly with the fact that Celestia found the Elements before the time was right and locked Luna and Discord away. However, she puts her disappointment aside because there are far more urgent matters to attend to.
Doesn't Like Guns: Doctor Whooves detests not only guns, but weapons of any kind. He's in something of a minority position amongst the other characters.
A bit of exposition reveals that Marcus's mother, Megan (yes, that Megan) died of a heart attack shortly after Jacob's ponification. On that same note, Marcus's Aunt Molly and Uncle Danny were also killed a year into the war when they were caught in the crossfire of a massive shootout between the PER and the police.
Earth Is a Battlefield: The East Coast of the United States has become the latest battlefield in the war against the TCB!Equestrians; elsewhere, the Barrier has stretched far enough that Nairobi (Kenya), New Delhi (India), and New Brunswick (Canada) are on the frontlines as well.
End of an Age: At least two characters have referred to the death of old TCB!Equestria in the face of Celestia's Solar Empire. Trixie has referred to Imperial Equestria as "Equestria no more". Granny Smith, however, summed it up in an outright Nightmare Fuel-inducing fashion:
Granny Smith: "No! Landsakes no Bloom! Get yerself away from this place as soon as you ken'. Get out of Ponyville, getch yerself outta Equestria! This whole place has been poisoned. It's dyin' Bloom, and what'll be left will soon be just a corpse, movin' and talkin' and playin' like it were alive, but dead through and through..."
Kreme-Brulee spells it out as well:
"Does this seem like Equestria, where we have to be so afraid? Watch our flanks in the presence of those abominable things?! Since the wedding, maybe even before then, our land, or something in Celestia, has shifted! We're turning into something else, something that isn't Equestria, and my Great Babe doesn't belong to whatever that is! It belongs to Equestria, or whatever of our Equestria is left after Celestia -" (EXPLOSION INTERRUPTION)
In "The Writes of Passage", we learn that Tirek's curse reduced the formerly all-alicorn pony race to having only one of the three attributes, resulting in the modern pony races.
Canon!Equestria is also experiencing its own "end of an age". The Age of Innocence, held up by Celestia for more than a thousand years, is over.
Expository Hairstyle Change: Princess Celestia's mane returns to its natural pink color after having seen what TCB!Equestria has done to Earth. Since her hair never returns to the style seen in the show, it seems to be her "serious look".
Pinkie Pie. After seeing the whole extent of the suffering and how Newfoals get false happiness imprinted into their brains, her hair goes straight, which shows that she's done with fun and games.
Expy: TCB!Twilight is essentially a pony version of Josef Mengele. Albeit not of her own volition.
Extremely Short Timespan: While a week has passed in Canon!Equestria, only fourteen hours passed on Earth. Doctor Whooves explains that time is like a river, and some places flow faster and slower than others.
Eye Scream: In a flashback in "Trust", TCB!Spike did this to Queen Celestia while helping Rarity to escape, though her eyes later regenerated.
Faeries Don't Believe in Humans Either: Except for Lyra and a few other eccentrics, nopony in the canon Equestria saw humans as anything other than creatures of legend... then the story begins.
The Farmer and the Viper: TCB!Trixie's attempts to help Focus Ray keep ending up getting the good guys hurt. The Blue Spy is eventually forced to kill him.
Final Speech: Condemned to be turned into a statue and smashed, TCB!Lyra got to extensively quote Charlie Chaplin's speech from The Great Dictator in front of an angry crowd of TCB!ponies calling for her blood. Not an example of Shaming the Mob, since Lyra knew most of them wouldn't listen to her. All she could hope for was that somepony would record her last words for future use against Celestia. This did happen, and Photo Finish uses them for that very purpose.
Fridge Horror: Why would Queen Celestia allow the face of the pony resistance to deliver a Rousing Speech, effectively turning her into a martyr? Because she's just that confident, and many ponies in the crowd are already brainwashed? Probably, but an even more likely (and disturbing) explanation is that this is Celestia's Troll side showing again. She not only knows she's very likely to win, she's deliberately giving her enemies Hope Spots. (Confirmed in Chapter 18.)
The Final Temptation: In Chapter 15, Canon!Equestria's Bag of Tirek tries to offer Discord something to prevent it from being sent to the stars. Discord shuts it up by asking if it could give him back his mother.
TCB!Bon-Bon was forced to watch Lyra get turned into stone and crushed by an angry mob. Broke the poor girl's mind in two.
The TCB!Mane Six were all trapped within their own minds, their bodies taken over by dark puppets. All the girls can do is watch on helplessly, and Twilight even begs Luna to kill her.
Soon after this, Not!Twilight forces the memories of her experiments on human subject for the ponification potion onto Luna; there were almost three thousand of them.
Force Feeding: TCB!ponies are known to force the potion down the throats of their targets.
From Bad to Worse: In Chapter 10, it comes to light that the griffons are sending over the Tsumerai (their version of the Special Forces) to aid the battle for North America. Just one of them is supposed to be incredibly skilled and badass, and they're sending all one hundred of them. Sounds like good news, doesn't it? Except their main duty is to protect the ruling monarch, and the only way all of them are able to come over is because their King just died, leaving Gilda as the last member of the Royal Family for a country that was already barely on its last legs after being cut off from trade by Queen Celestia.
In Chapter 19, the fight against the Tyrant is interrupted by Luna transforming into Nightmare Moon.
Future Me Scares Me: After a fashion. TCB!Equestria is about four years ahead of Canon!Equestria, and the Canon!Mane Six and Princess Celestia are truly horrified at their counterpart's actions. Especially' Celestia, who experienced firsthand through Marcus's shared memories what she was like. She... didn'ttakeitwell.
Ghost Memory: Thanks to Canon!Twilight's mind-sharing spell, Princess Celestia now knows most of Marcus's life such as his Marine training, his pre-war life, among others. The same is true for Marcus, but a mental "guardian" calling itself "Tia" keeps most of them away from him due to the fact that over a thousand years worth of memories would make him a vegetable.
Godzilla Threshold: Princess Celestia decides to consult Discord about The Bag of Tirek. The talk ends with Discord himself deciding to join the fight.
The entire Middle East allies with each other to fight the Solar Empire. And then there's the nukes set near the Yellowstone megavolcano.
Despite still being wary of them, President Davis states that siding with the Canon!Equestrians is the best course of action, what with all other choices running out fast.
Grew Beyond Their Programming: If Discord is to be believed, Celestia and Luna were only meant to move the sun and moon, not to actually rule over the ponies.
The Gulf War: Chapter 11 briefly reveals that Marcus' father died to protect his comrades from Iraqi Republican Guards. One of those men is Richard Stanley, the father of Porter (one of the main characters of the Asia Side-Story) and a former HLF member who appears in Case Files.
Both versions of Dinky and Amethyst Star for that matter. Derpy raised Dinky as a single mother before she married Doctor Whooves, whereupon they later found and adopted an orphaned Amethyst on one of their time traveling adventures.
Happily Married: One of the few good things to have carried into TCB!Equestria is that Doctor Whooves found Derpy.
He Who Fights Monsters: Discussed at least twice. TCB!Trixie is concerned about this happening to her and the other PHL soldiers after the war, and King William (in a completely different chapter) is truly saddened by what they've been driven to:
Trixie: "Cadance... what has this war done to us? What are we going to be when it's done? Heroes, criminals, monsters worse those than those we've fought... or, something else altogether... it scares me Cadance. It scares me..."
King William: "Damn them... Damn us... So much loss, so much death and pain and suffering and rape of innocence... We'll all go to the Devil for this."
Head Desk: In Chapter 15, Lyra has this reaction to learning she missed out on finding a ship carrying proof of human existence in the Galloping Sea. And, less amusingly, upon hearing that said ship contains the Bag of Tirek.
Heel-Face Turn: TCB!Bon-Bon was all for complete ponification, until she was forced to kill a Newfoal trying to beat Lyra to death.
The Fujin missile which took down the Great Equestrian airship was able to do so by absorbing all the magic the TCB!ponies used in a failed attempt to stop it.
TCB!Cloudchaser was hit by a poison that works like this- it absorbs any magic in the area and kills the person or pony slowly. Thankfully, Discord saves the day.
The Barrier, while their trump card, essentially screws TCB!Equestria over big time, since it vaporizes everything (agriculture, infrastructure, buildings, and information about how to create these things), leaving the conquered lands useless to them, especially since their food production is breaking down. They destroy the very resources they need so much. Not only that, but they've overstretched themselves so far that it'd be nigh-impossible to even figure this stuff out, and it's all during wartime no less.
Holy Backlight: In the chapter "The Answer'", Derpy first appears gliding out of the TARDIS, explicitly described as being 'backlit like an angel'.
Holy City: According to the chapter Setting It Right, Mecca has been wiped out by the barrier, devastating the Islamic world. Though, there has been no word on Vatican City or Jerusalem. However, given The Barrier's starting point (Switzerland), it's safe to say they were destroyed before Mecca in that order.
Home Base: The PHL headquarters are in the Freedom Tower in New York City.
Homeworld Evacuation: Doctor Whooves suggests a plan to evacuate as many humans as possible to a planet in the Epsilon Eridani System. It won't be able to get them all, but it'll be something, at least...
I Did What I Had to Do: The dragon king Spykoran destroyed all of Dream Valley, burying Tirek's Bag and killed any pony remaining in Dream Valley (along with the Six Princesses) that had been corrupted by its influence. He feels massive regret over what he did, but stands by the fact that it was the only way to keep Tirek from returning.
Marcus's reasons for wanting to kill the TCB!Mane Six, ranging from Rainbow Dash ponifying his soldiers right in front of him to Twilight ponifying, seducing, and marrying his own brother, which led to Marcus having to kill said brother.
Discord has the memory of his TCB counterpart's torture and death at the hooves of Queen Celestia.
Luna, thanks to her mind-reading skills, was not only witness to the degradation of TCB!Twilight, but was then forced to experience Not!Twilight's memories of experimenting with the ponification potion. Her response? Turning into Nightmare Moon.
Kraber with regards to TCB!Pinkie Pie, who ponified his children at their birthday party.
Interrupted Suicide: Marcus tried to slash his throat to avoid capture, only for Canon!Twilight to take the knife from him.
Invaded States of America: After the Barrier has consumed most of Europe, the TCB!Equestrians strike the Eastern United States.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: TCB!Trixie, who doesn't have a high opinion of either humanity or ponykind, but will put her life on the line to defend them anyway.
Marcus and Princess Celestia go deep into Marcus's past and present with the help of a mind sharing spell. Needless to say, Celestia nearly Goes Mad From The Revelation upon seeing the atrocities her little ponies are committing on the humans.
Luna does this to TCB!Twilight in "For Whom The Bell Tolls". The things Luna discovers push her so far off the edge of rage that she turns into Nightmare Moon!
Chapter 11 reveals that the PER kidnapped homeless people across the US and ponified them to assist in attacking Washington DC.
The ponification potion was created and used for "beneficial purposes" before Celestia began her conquest of Earth, but its creation required extensive experimentation. Redskin 122004 explained that Celestia picked off humans from poor areas across the world over a long period of time to avoid detection while acquiring test subjects.
The Lancer: Stephan to Marcus, with his own Lancer in the form of TCB!Trixie.
Last Stand: This was suggested as an alternate plan of action to using the Yellowstone megavolcano to create a Class X Apocalypse How scenario. It doesn't take, for the simple reason that it would be a Senseless Sacrifice.
Laughing Mad: A (possibly) ponified clown that Pinkie Pie brought to the ill-fated birthday party for Kraber's kids was found giggling mad.
Leeroy Jenkins: Trevor's plan of attack in Chapter 16... on a stealth mission. Thankfully, everybody talks him out of it.
Literally Shattered Lives: One of Queen Celestia's favorite execution methods, given that she used it on her universe's Lyra and Blueblood.
She later demonstrates the spell "Ashes of Solaris", which turns bodies into ash from the inside, causing the victim to crumble apart at a touch.
Life or Limb Decision: During the attempt to retake Washington, Marcus "amputates" a man's arm with a shotgun after it gets splashed with potion, saving him from ponification.
Lowered Recruiting Standards: By the time the Barrier swallows up most of Europe, children start making up some parts of military units and the Bundeswehr also allowed Kraber, a former HLF operative and someone who desperately needs a mental health evaluation, to serve (thankfully, his Ax-Crazy nature is only limited to his enemies).
The inclusion of Newfoals into the Royal Guards and the Wonderbolts is this.
Manly Tears: When Canon!Lyra meets with Marcus in the room he is being held in, Marcus is overwhelmed with emotion to the point of tears since the Lyra in his universe became a martyr for opposing Queen Celestia, saving many human lives, and was also a good friend of his. It happens again when Marcus tells the Canon!Mane Six about the state of his world.
Mary Sue: In-Universe – the concept is Discussed, and Deconstructed at the same time. According to Marcus, the ponification potion turns people into "perfect ponies". Applejack quickly dismisses the concept of perfect ponies as complete crap.
Marcus: "The last time we all met, we were at war. Applejack pinned me down so that Twilight could administer the potion, promising to make me 'perfect'... a perfect pony..."
Applejack: "Ponies ain't perfect, bub! Anyone tells you otherwise don't know their flank from their face."
Fluttershy: "A-hum... Ponies can be mean, and cruel... but also kind..."
Princess Celestia voluntarily undergoes (you can't fault her determination) and suffers through Marcus's war memories to see if he really is telling the truth and share his pain... until TCB!Twilight and the rest of the Mane Six showed up, and she broke.
Then it happens to Canon!Luna, when Not!Twilight (the dark personality that overtook TCB!Twilight's body) shows her all that she did, which enrages Luna so much that she turns into Nightmare Moon.
Canon!Sombra does this to Marcus to feed off his despair and guilt by making him see the friends and family members of his that died during the war. And then Sombra takes control of Marcus' body.
Misplaced Retribution: It turns out that while Marcus' mother (Megan) did go to Dream Valley and defeated Tirek, she didn't defeat TCB!Tirek himself. In fact, she actually defeated the Tirek of Canon!Equestria.
Monumental Damage: The Barrier destroys many human landmarks, such as Westminster Clock Tower (aka Big Ben) and the Pyramids of Giza.
Balmoral Castle is destroyed by Queen Elizabeth taking the Royal Guard and PER agents down with her.
Hancock Tower was destroyed when the Great Equestrian crashed into it.
Windsor Castle is mentioned to be destroyed when a plane crashes into it just as the UK is overrun.
The Legal Seafood restaurant◊ note It's just down the street from the New England Aquarium. is destroyed by a boat sent flying from Nightmare Moon's appearance.
The Andrew McArdle Bridge was blown up to obliterate a large Newfoal horde.
Mecca, the Muslim equivalent the The Vatican, has been destroyed by the Barrier.
Mood Whiplash: After Discord spends all of Chapter 18 ("Strike") in an extremely humorous Loony-Tunes style fight against the Tyrant, this is followed by Chapter 19 ("For Whom The Bell Tolls"), possibly the single darkest chapter in any Conversion Bureau story ever published, and thus far the only chapter of this story where the author felt the need to put up a warning label.
"Sons of Legacies, Part 3", however, went the opposite direction, starting off with Marcus' wartime nightmares... and then going to the Looney Tunes-esque fight, which may be even more absurd than the one in Chapter 18.
Moral Dissonance: The TCB!ponies are intentionally depicted as having this, no question about that. However, Canon!Discord's chewing out of the Princesses for sealing him away and preventing him from using his chaos to make ponies stronger rings kind of hollow, considering his liberal use of Mind Rape and warping reality around him For the Evulz in his first canon appearance. His trips through The Multiversedo eventually force him to reconsider this view, and in "Sons of Legacies, Part 1", he takes responsibility for his own role in failing to stick to the Scribe's plan for Equestria's future.
Trixie's legs suddenly felt as soft as rubber, and she sat with a horrified gasp. Wet tears of her own ran down her face. This was worse than the Newfoals, worse than the war. This was a life brutalized and tortured, by Equestria... Equestria. Loving and tolerant... Equestria. Peaceful and forgiving... Equestria no more...
This was also heavily discussed and subverted in War March and Past Sins, with the eponymous past sin being that Spykoran resorted todrastic measures to keep the Bag of Tirek buried. While the other world leaders of Equus are horrified by what he did (with Luna herself calling him a murderer), Discord, Marcus and to a lesser extent Celestia agree that Spykoran did what had to be done, and Spykoran himself deeplyregrets his actions.
For Luna, it's seeing how TCB!Celestia corrupted the TCB!Elements and the very gruesome tests done to make the ponification potion work. These revelations push her into a primal Unstoppable Rage so great, that she turned back into Nightmare Moon.
In "Trust", we learn that the backbreaking straw which made the U.S. military take action against the HLF was their kidnapping, torturing and murdering a PHL mare to make an example of her.
More Dakka: The PHL is built on this trope. However, it also is justified, since the huge waves of Newfoal attacks make tons of dakka absolutely needed. The end result is pretty obvious.
Ms. Exposition: The Scribe, the godlike incarnation of ponykind's genetic memories and last remnant of the first race of alicorns.
Multinational Team: The remainders of Europe's armed forces have now joined together as one to keep fighting the ponies.
Multiversal Conqueror: It's very clear that once Queen Celestia is done with Earth, the regular Equestria is next. And according to Discord, she will likely only continue on after that. It turns out to be Tirek's whole plan.
Discord: "The multiverse is vast, each world having vastly varied ways of existing, all with different ideals. Something the corrupt queen wouldn't be able to stand. Oh, there are powers out there that can rival, yes, or even beat her. But she will play it smart; she will gather power from other worlds before finally striking, with a limitless army at her beck and call from dozens, if not hundreds, of worlds."
Murder-Suicide: A flashback shows a man killing his recently ponified son and then himself after reciting The Lord's Prayer, to TCB!Applejack's disgust and Marcus' horror.
Marcus after killing Stalwart Heart to save Cheerilee.
King Spykoran in Chapter 15, in an effort to keep the Bag of Tirek from corrupting anyone else, destroyed all of Dream Valley and its inhabitants (who had been affected themselves), as well as sunk the ship that held the findings of an archaeologist with the bag itself on board. Despite his regret, he does maintain that he did what had to be done.
Canon!Lyra in that same chapter when she realizes just how close she came to causing the apocalypse.
Apart from exiling Luna to the moon, Princess Celestia regards her hasty banishment of the Changelings to the Badlands, as well as losing the Crystal Empire to Sombra, as these.
In his own twisted way, Canon!Discord feels he's let down the alicorn Faust by indirectly inspiring the Royal Sisters to become rulers of Equestria in the first place, which he believes has reduced the ponies' capacity for self-determination.
Neck Snap: Marcus killed his ponified brother this way.
Never My Fault: Although his intentions could be considered benign, Discord had a bad case of this in the earlier chapters when he refused to acknowledge the damage he caused in attempting to bring Earth-like levels of "chaos" to Equus and his own role in what he accuses Canon!Equestria of turninginto (namely the fact that Celestia and Luna only took power in the first place because they felt it was their responsibility to clean the damage up). His trips through the multiverse finally do force him to reconsider this view somewhat.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Discord attributes Canon!Equestria's Medieval Stasis to Princess Celestia's desire to let the ponies live in harmony, which he claims has only made them complacent and overly dependent on her and presumably, ill-prepared for their war with TCB!Equestria. In turn, the Princesses only took power because they felt it was their responsibility to clean up the damage Discord's carelessness with his chaos caused, leading to the misunderstanding and conflict between them that has lasted to the present day. In short, both parties are equally guilty of failing to stick to the Scribe's plan for their world.
In Chapter 19, Canon!Luna hesitates to kill TCB!Twilight, which allows the latter to escape and teleport the other Element bearers away.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: TCB!Twilight accidentally helped open the portal that got Marcus to Canon!Equestria, bringing them into the war to aid Earth.
In "Strike", some PHL soldiers are on the verge of attacking Canon!Luna and Discord when Queen Celestia shows up and indirectly shows the former are on the level.
Discord: "We only began to fall down the hole full of horrors and sins, so start kicking and screaming, kid. It's only going to get worse."
No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Upon first arriving in Canon!Equestria, Marcus beats the ever loving hell out of the Mane Six (well, four out of six, due to Rarity and Twilight being late to the party) after mistaking them for their TCB counterparts. Later, he even manages to give the Princesses a run for their money.
In "Strike" TCB!Cheerilee, in a fit of Unstoppable Rage, unleashes a brutal and well-deserved one on Queen Celestia after her "Ashes of Solaris" spell kills a teenage boy soldier.
Princess Celestia shows her evil counterpart how ponies and humans are similar and capable of living in true harmony with each other, though naturally, this doesn't change the Tyrant's mind.
A conversation between Celestia and Discord in Chapter 11 has Discord implicitly say this (without referencing Queen Celestia) about Princess Celestia. He points out that her "harmony" has caused ponykind to stagnate, and implies that his normal brand of "chaos" was actually similar to how humanity and Earth function, and claims it would have been a much better way to encourage the growth of pony civilization in the long run.
There are two instance of Newfoals trying to invoke this on a PHL pony, first with Stalwart Heart to Cheerilee, then Focus Ray to Trixie. Neither are successful.
Not What It Looks Like: In Chapter 3, "Harmony and Hegemony", Princess Celestia pulls off her Big Damn Hero moment just as Marcus drives Canon!Twilight to tears while describing Queen Celestia.
Nuclear Option: U.S. President Jack Davis decided to nuke Washington DC rather than let it fall into Queen Celestia's hooves.
One suggestion for a final plan of action against the barrier was all out nuclear bombardment. It didn't take, as the barrier destroys all man-made objects, including nuclear weapons. So mankind rigs the Yellowstone megavolcano with nukes instead.
Odd Friendship: Discord and Marcus seem to be developing one as of Chapter 11; they appeared quite friendly at the beginning, anyway.
Offing the Offspring: A tragic case in Chapter 4; while Marcus was fighting in Mexico, he saw a father and son split apart. The son was ponified, and the father killed him before killing himself.
Oh, Crap: Twice during the Canon!Mane Six's fight with Marcus. First is when Twilight sees that Marcus is impervious to magic. The second is when Fluttershy's Stare fails to subdue him.
In Chapter 6, TCB!Trixie gets a massive one when she realizes that Queen Celestia is modifying the potion to turn the Newfoals from a bunch of Stepford Smiler zombies into an army of soldiers, willing to kill... meaning that she has over a billion potential new soldiers.
Princess Celestia when she realizes that Queen Celestia is more powerful than her.
Well, aside from the obvious, TCB!Cloudchaser notes how Twilight isn't obsessing over human technology.
Cloudchaser: "What really got me wondering though, is why you aren't going gaga over [human technology]? You love this kind of stuff, Twilight!"
Discord refers to Celestia chewing out Prince Blueblood as one of these. It's justified, as she had been under a lot of stress recently.
TCB!Lightning Dust and TCB!Rainbow Dash are implied to be in a relationship with each other. Justified in that certain events in TCB!Equestria played out very differently from canon, and there's the fact that none of the TCB versions of the Mane Six have been in control of themselves or their actions. Which raises... certain questions.
Explicitly noted in "For Whom the Bell Tolls", when some Bundeswehr soldiers question Fluttershy's unexpected competence while under fire.
People's Republic of Tyranny: The TCB!Equestrian army is called the Salvation Army, while their airfleet is called the Rescue Fleet. The reeducation centers are called "Mind Healers" by pro-Empire ponies. Averted with the official name of Equestria itself, however, which is now called The Solar Empire.
Physical God: Celestia, Luna and Discord are seen as such. They're later revealed to be the brainchildren of the Scribe, the guardian of the first alicorn race's memories and the avatar of the last alicorn Faust, who fought Tirek in the distant past. Considering that Discord calls Faust his "mother", this would technically make him Celestia and Luna's brother, which he acknowledges to some extent, calling their trip to seek her out a "good old fashioned family reunion".
Pitying Perversion: Berry Punch, and presumably all other members of the PETN (Ponies for the Ethical Treatment of Newfoals), assume that the Newfoals' Uncanny Valley behavior is comparable to coming out of a drug addiction, and that they should be treated with respect. Of course, it never occurs to them that maybe turning them into ponies in the first place was unconscionable in itself.
Properly Paranoid/Crazy-Prepared: Marcus, Celestia, and Luna are trying this, according to the first chapter of Calm Before The Storm. They don't think things will go horribly wrong, thus dooming humanity and all sentient life... but they have to be sure.
Proud Warrior Race Guys: The Minotaurs and Griffons are depicted as this. However, it's clear they're pretty big fish in their respective small ponds, and are utterly shocked by the scale of warfare that humanity has been engaged in.
Pyrrhic Villainy: The Americans intend to invoke this if the barrier makes it too far by wiring the Yellowstone volcano with nukes. Even if the barrier can keep the ash and radiation out, part of the volcano will be inside the barrier when it blows, causing a chain reaction that will turn Earth into a Death World and ensuring that humanity's enemy will have fought and died for nothing.
Questionable Consent: The TCB versions of Rainbow Dash and Lightning Dust are a couple. Twilight Sparkle and late former human Stalwart Heart were married. None of the Elements of Harmony have been in control of their actions since before the war even started. The beings bedding Lightning Dust and Stalwart Heart were the twisted constructs Queen Celestia put in control of their minds and bodies, but Rainbow and Twilight are still able to perceive everything that happens.
Marcus has seen a lot during the war, but always kept (for lack of a better word) calm. After ending up in Canon!Equestria and encountering the Mane Six, though, he finally loseshishead.
Twilight decided there and then that, to the end of her days, she would never forget the look of shock, followed by inexpressible rage that plastered itself over his features.
In Chapter 11, Discord is visibly angry when he finishes chewing out Princess Celestia over Equestria's Medieval Stasis. During the same chapter, Princess Celestia finally lets loose all her stress and built-up rage on Blueblood when he pushes his attitude too far.
Stephan, after seeing Alicia and Daniel fall to their "deaths" thanks to Queen Celestia, begins beating the hell out of the Queen's indestructible shield, proving it wasn't as indestructible as commonly thought. Then Cheerilee hits hers as well when the Tyrant kills a child in front of her.
Meeting TCB!Pinkie drives Kraber into this.
And then Luna sees what happened to TCB!Twilight's original personality. It's so horrific that it makes even one who has delved as deeply into dreams as Luna think she might get nightmares from it, causing such levels of anger and despair in her that she turns into Nightmare Moon.
Ragtag Band of Misfits: It's revealed in Chapter 21 that the PHL/UN Taskforce's unicorn personnel are something like this. Thanks to Queen Celestia drafting the strongest and smartest unicorns at the best schools across Equestria, the taskforce has very few unicorns that are actually experienced at "serious" magic. The ones they do have are usually "escaped academics that were often easing themselves into semi-retirement, self-taught like Trixie, or less-than-entirely-patriotic students who had slipped out before the Tyrant could warp their brains," while the bulk of their unicorns are untrained laborers or civilians forced to Take a Level in Badass.
Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Canon!Chrysalis may have had no problem with leeching off his love for Cadance while impersonating her, but she never once considered "sharing herself" with Shining Armor during her attempted takeover.
Reality Ensues: Twilight explains the scientific reasons that the usual TCB plot wherein Equestria just pops up out in the middle of the ocean is impossible. Besides the massive amounts of magical energy it would take to transport an entire continent to another dimension, that is:
Redemption Equals Death: During his fight with Queen Celestia, TCB!Discord saved several innocent bystanders who would have been killed in the crossfire; the Queen eventually overpowered him before slowly and painfully depleting him of his magic.
The Remnant: The military forces and civilians that survived Europe's destruction are still fighting for the UN and humanity.
Right Hand Versus Left Hand: In "Strike", the PHL shooters under Stephan's command mistake Canon!Luna and Discord for their TCB counterparts and would have attacked them if not for Queen Celestia appearing.
Marcus's beatdown on the Canon!Mane Six (although it's misaimed); that said, Marcus seems to be after Fluttershy and Twilight more than anypony else.
Marcus: "It's you, or me, Flutterbitch. I've dreamed of this moment, for years. How does it feel, to be trapped, like the rest of us, in a vice with no escape? Tables finally turned, bitch. Now, you, are, going, to, DIE!"
Discussed in Chapter 10. TCB!Snowflake's anger problems are well known throughout the PHL, though Cloudchaser has been helping him with them; if Cloudchaser were to die from the injuries she sustained in battle, it could very well send Snowflake into one of these. Luckily, Discord saves her.
Queen Celestia kills one of the Child Soldiers in Boston. Result? Cheerilee completely loses it and, thanks to her runes, tears into Celestia with an unholy fury.
The memories within TCB!Twilight's mind drive Luna to transform into Nightmare Moon, and her first action is to charge screaming towards the Tyrant.
Sadistic Choice: In the flashback in Chapter 11, Marcus had to choose between saving the Newfoal that used to be his brother, or Cheerilee.
Sanity Slippage: Though Marcus hasn't driven Celestia insane with his memories, this doesn't mean she responded well to them.
Schizo Tech: In "War March and Past Sins", Discord points out that the ponies are too coddled by Celestia to have come up with trains or electric generators without getting the ideas from somewhere else.
Shapeshifter Guilt Trip: Inverted by TCB!Trixie, who uses her Blue Spy abilities to take on the appearance of Lyra Heartstrings as a distraction during the fight with Focus Ray. Since Ray is a Newfoal, his first reaction upon seeing the Solar Empire's greatest dissident is to drop all else and charge at her.
Marcus, although it's rather subtle at times. He displays a lot of the classic symptoms of PTSD, such as having frequent flashbacks to previous events in the war, and the sheer amount of hatred he harbors toward the TCB!Mane Six borders on psychotic. In Chapter 21 it actually helps him against Sombra because all the fear has been burned out of him, leaving nothing for Sombra to use. Despair on the other hand, he has plenty of...
Princess Celestia is becoming one due to her having absorbed Marcus's memories. Coupled with having no time to cope with the memories, the shock and horror of what her "precious little ponies" are capable of, and the depths of evil to which her counterpart has sunk, it's of little wonder that she finally snaps in Chapter 11. Discord eventually casts a mental spell on her to help gather these memories and help her deal with them, but time will tell if it's successful. Later on, Scribe helps get Celestia into a healing chamber within her home to help speed the mental reconstruction process up.
And then there's Kraber. He's frequently said and shown to be a heavy drinker, his hatred of Pinkie Pie definitely qualifies as psychotic, though it's justified in that he hired Pinkie Pie to plan his children's birthday party, only tofind his family ponified. On top of that, there's his Long List of crimes while in the HLF, and according to Princess Luna, his nightmares hang over him even during the day. He's also drowning in a sea of guilt and shame over his actions in the HLF, and also exhibits many signs of PTSD as well.
TCB!Spike and Rarity were implied to have had something before Rarity's brainwashing.
Between TCB!Rainbow Dash and TCB!Lighting Dust. Yeah, it's okay, take a minute to let that sink in. Blame the Mind Rape.
One was the rainbow-maned Captain of the Wonderbolts, while the other was her loyal (and some said, loving) lightning-fast second-in-command. Within seconds, both had disappeared within the gleaming spires of the citadel, and from the fact that they had been flying supersonic over the capital, the implication was that they bore urgent news.
Before her fight with Queen Celestia, TCB!Luna shoots herself in the head at point-blank range to prove that alicorns can't be taken out by conventional means. This is after Luna is Brought Down to Normal from being less powerful than her sister to begin with.
Averted in Chapter 18, where humans have pulled out entirely new hybrid weapons – a fusion of their own technology, magical runes and crystal fragments. With it, they manage to shoot off Queen Celestia's ear, though it doesn't kill her, since she can regenerate limbs.
After enduring the Tyrant's attempts to convince her of the evil of humans, and listening to her abuses of the term "harmony", Princess Celestia delivers a heated one to a vision of her evil counterpart in Chapter 4.
Canon!Equestria's Bag of Tirek tries to convince Discord to not throw it away into space, tempting him with the usual stuff. Discord asks it if it can bring his mother back to him. That promptly shuts the bag up.
When Princess Celestia angrily calls Discord out on how his vision of chaos caused untold amounts of pain and damage to the ponies and Equestria, Discord retorts that her Harmony has caused its own damage by causing pony civilization to become stagnant, and the ponies themselves complacent.
In "War March and Past Sins" when Luna calls Spykoran a murderer for destroying Dream Valley, Discord reminds her that she herself would have killed the world as Nightmare Moon.
Single Tear: Marcus sheds one before he kills the Newfoal that used to be his brother.
Discord: "Do they really? Oh, woe is me, to try and understand your flawless judgment. I mean, just look at your standing army! You have them equipped with... spears! They question nothing! Trouble? You resolve without an effort Risks? Why worry, the princess knows. Secrets of the past? What secrets of the past? The princess would never lie, so why think further? Why try anything new, when the one proven to know better is in charge? The ponies are going to be stagnant once you reach your limit, which is nearing, and you know it!"
Super Breeding Program: Celestia and Luna encouraged a lot of intermarriages between the three pony races in order to try getting more alicorns. Celestia rejects calling it anything driven by eugenics however, as she states that breaking the barriers between the three tribes would've been right to do anyway, and "purity" driven movements did not end well.
While searching through Marcus' mindscape, Discord pushes his way across a horde of Newfoals, at one point stomping on "a white unicorn with gold-rimmed glasses, golden eyes and a frizzy pinkish-orange mane", the spitting image of Chatoyance's profile picture. There is a lot of blood spattering.
Stephan expresses annoyance at looking like a Twilight vampire when he's turned sparkly by the Crystal Heart.
Catseye (a unicorn modeled after Chatoyance's avatar on Fimfiction.Net) makes a physical appearance in the "Training Days" story arc as an antagonistic figure determined to sabotage the heroes' efforts. Not only is she a pony supremacist with less than flattering views on the other races in Equus, but it's also stated that her prejudices extend to half-pony hybrids of other species, with quick blurbs in her introductory scene hinting that she herself is a half-pony hybrid who detests her heritage and takes great measures hiding it. It's a none-too-subtle reference to the fact that Chatoyance is a Male-to-Female transsexual who has a reputation for coming off as incredibly misandric.
On a meta-level, Canon!Celestia showing a distaste for eugenics is also a Take That directed at Chatoyance, where one story states that her Celestia actually used eugenics to make the ponies better by breeding out any "undesirable" traits.
TCB!Lyra, Luna, and Blueblood were all turned into stone. Lyra was crushed by an angry mob and the sight led to TCB!Bon Bon's complete mental breakdown, Luna is kept as a trophy, and Blueblood got crushed as well, though it's implied that was because even Queen Celestia couldn't stand him.
Blueblood gets turned to stone by Discord in the mostly-canon universe, this time as punishment for being such an Entitled Bastard. But it's temporary, in this case.
When the magical portal that transports Marcus into Canon!Equestria opens up over Ponyville, Twilight Sparkle remarks that everything tasted purple for a moment when she senses the massive amounts of magical energy radiating from it.
The void between universes tastes orange to Discord.
Teacher/Student Romance: Princess Luna had this with Sombra, although it was one-sided on his part. He claims that her not returning his feelings was one of the main reasons he went evil. Discord calls it out as trite.
The Teaser: The story begins with Marcus, already captured and mouthing off at Canon!Twilight.
There Is No Kill Like Overkill: As revealed in "Pushed to the Limits", the Second Gate to PHL HQ is designed to take no chances with unauthorized personnel, involving turrets, gas, napalm and who knows what else.
The Troubles: While he was a human, Focus Ray was a member of the Irish Republican Army.
Twenty Minutes into the Future: Earth is currently in the year 2023, but appears to be not too different from today... well, you know, without the xenocide. Justified, considering that TCB!Equestria's invasion would have greatly impeded all non-military scientific progress. The situation is actually somewhat similar to Resistance - it's not that much more advanced than our time (there's mentions of some PHL-enhanced tech making its way into the private sector, but not very much) but the military sector is incredibly advanced.
Uncanny Village: TCB!Ponyville, if not most of TCB!Equestria, is like this now, if the opening description in "The Writes of Passage" is anything to judge by. There's perpetually smiling zombie-like Newfoals everywhere, and there's something wrong with the sunlight. According to said opening description:
The sun, although bright and radiant, seemed to cast a colder, more pallid light... everything on which it cast its gaze seemed... lesser. Not washed out, or colourless, or even decayed. Just lesser, diminished, reduced.
Though as of Calm Before The Storm, the veneer seems to be ever so slightly cracked.
Underestimating Badassery: General Ironclaw and Warlord Wilmorn Darkhoof, the respective military leaders of the Griffon Empire and the Minotaurs, didn't believe they were in need of training from the humans. Oh, how wrong they were.
Initially averted in that the resistance groups and the military don't seem to have any problems with cooperating with each other, as well as in the case of New York's mafia and gangbangers, who now hand out weapons free of charge to civilians. Plus, continuing to fight each other in a city with high military presence is just stupid in every way.
Played straight, however, when humans first meet up with Canon!Luna and Discord. The PHL is all primed to kill them should they twitch wrong, and they've brought their best god-killing gear with them. Possibly the only times that Queen Celestia showing up somewhere has a positive effect, convincing people Discord and Luna are not her allies.
We Can Rule Together: How Stalwart Heart (formerly Marcus's little brother Jacob) tries to convince Marcus to be ponified and join him in "spreading harmony".
We Have Reserves: Queen Celestia's plan for using her vast reserves of Newfoals to conquer other universes.
Wham Episode: "For Whom The Bell Tolls". It is the single darkest chapter of the story so far. Readers get to see how Queen Celestia replaced the minds of the Elements with the mockeries seen in the war, followed by a detailed description of what happened to the three thousand test subjects TCB!Twilight used to make the ponification potion work without horribly disfiguring or killing the subject, capped off by Luna turning into Nightmare Moon, which cows Discord into seriousness.
Wham Line: "Hidden Truths" ends with Canon!Discord telling Celestia he freed himself because her "ever loving twin" killed his TCB counterpart.
"Pushed to the Limits" ends with Canon!Luna announcing to a squadron of human pilots that they have Marcus, meaning that Canon!Equestria will finally join the war.
What the Hell, Hero?: In the TCB-verse, most of Ponyville gave one to Twilight and company when news of the Barrier's expansion began to spread across Equestria.
In "War March and Past Sins", everyone is horrified by what King Spykoran did to keep the Bag of Tirek buried, and some even outright call him a murderer. In his own defense, Spykoran admits what he did was terrible, but maintains that he did what had to be done.
Who Wants to Live Forever?: Canon!Cadance is genuinely afraid of outliving everypony she has ever cared for. Celestia and Luna as well, to a lesser extent.
When Marcus realizes that he (and to an extent Cheerilee and possibly Lyra) could possibly have their own ascensions, he starts worrying that this will happen to them.
Why Won't You Die?: Luna asks the Mirror Pool Clone TCB!Celestia this question. She's quite justified in asking, given the downright horrific things she saw the Queen do to turn the TCB!Mane Six into her lackeys and the potion prototype experiments. Queen Celestia also does this to Stephan, which is also justified, given that he's punching the crap out of her!
Wrong Genre Savvy: Marcus suffers from this earlier on, when he initially believes he simply traveled back in time to Equestria before they ended up on Earth, and tries to kill the Mane Six and Celestia to prevent the war. He quickly realizes he was wrong and now has allies that can help turn the tide of the war in humanity's favor.
The crew of the Starvation Side-Story finally meet Marcus in "Trust".
Averted for the crew of the Asia Side-Story, who handle things halfway around the world, though Marcus does tell Cheerilee in "Trust" to go look for them so they can help out in the upcoming final battle.
Marcus is treated by Isaac Dan Der Grimnebulin in "Sons of Legacies, Part 3".
You Are Too Late: Doctor Whooves tried to save TCB!Lyra and TCB!Bon-Bon. Unfortunately, Lyra's death was a fixed point in time, and the fallout from the Doctor's meddling caused Bon-Bon's already fractured psyche to become embedded with visions from all of history.
You Can't Fight Fate: TCB!Lyra's death is one of the immutable fixed points in history that Doctor Whooves can't change.
Your Head A Splode: What happens to those close enough to Marcus when he attacks with his "force push".
BFS: Stephan is given a machete by TCB!Chrysalis that turns into a claymore sword thanks to Changeling magic. It's about the same height as him, but weighs less than a regular claymore.
Despair Event Horizon: Chrysalis crossed it after she became the last of her kind to survive Queen Celestia's xenocide of the Changelings.
Dirty Old Man: Peter. While he's treated sympathetically by the text, he does mention having had four wives and is rather frank about why exactly he likes Sapphire Shores.
Enemy Mine: The entire Middle East are mentioned to have put aside their differences to fight the TCB!Equestrians, including the Taliban and the ANA.
In the appropriately titled chapter "The Enemy of my Enemy", Stephan encounters Queen Chrysalis being kept on life support in an Icelandic hospital. She offers to train Trixie, a pony she once would have seen as no more than prey, in the arts of shape-shifting to strike back at Celestia.
The Exile: TCB!Chrysalis somehow made it to Earth after fleeing Equus.
Everyone Has Standards: Trixie may be self-absorbed and abrasive towards humans, but she's sickened at the idea of forcing the ponification potion down anyone's throat.
Hypocritical Humor: Peter's comments about being in a relationship with pony celebrity Sapphire Shores creep out Stephan, even as he's falling for Trixie himself.
Last Stand: What the remains of the TCB!Changeling hive did to protect Chrysalis so she could hide away and repopulate their species when the Newfoals' tainted love killed them all off. Sadly, it was all in vain.
Middle Eastern Coalition: When all of the countries within the the Middle East ally against a common enemy, that's when you know the world is ending.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: The chancellor of Germany is an unnamed, middle-aged woman. Given that the side-story is set in 2020, Angela Merkel could still be in office by then.
Police Brutality: Trixie is subjected to this after being taken into military custody aboard an American airfcraft carrier. The Marines fully intend to finish her off, too, but Stephan arrives just in time, and accompanied by Marcus, who uses his senior officer status to overrule them.
Red Baron: Stephan's nickname, "The Knight of Germania", due to him being German and using Powered Armor and a sword.
Rescue Romance: Getting saved by Stephan from death at the hands of the vengeful Marines is the first step for Trixie to fall in love with him.
Rouge Angles of Satin: The story is littered with spelling and grammatical errors. Somewhat justified in that English isn't the author's first language.
Sexy Discretion Shot: At one point, Stephan wakes up Trixie to give her a briefing while she's in bed. Once he's finished speaking, she points out they do have two hours left...
Shown Their Work: The military procedures of the Bundeswehr are told in great detail. Word of God states that the author has experience in that department.
Take Up My Sword: Chrysalis does this both literally and figuratively to the two main characters by introducing Trixie to shape-shifting magic and giving Stephan his signature Morph Weapon.
War Refugees: Trixie spends some time in a pony refugee camp in Iceland. Fortunately, since most human governments acknowledge that not all ponies seek to destroy mankind, the conditions there are rough yet bearable.
Break Out the Museum Piece: Both the Russian military and civilians have done this, whether it's with old rifles, bombs and tanks.
Call Forward: Melnik claims in Chapter Six that things will only get worse for everyone in the world, and the war is the easiest it's going to get. Anyone who has read the Starvation Side-Story knows just how right he is.
The Cameo: Marcus and Ambassador Lyra both show up in the chapter "The St. Petersburg Diaries".
A "wild-bearded Menschabwehrfraktion (German HLF) man" with an MG2019 is briefly shown on the news in Chapter Six, clearing an entire street of Newfoals. Considering that Kraber claims to have done this at some point, it's probably him.
Cheerful Child: Comet Tail, who takes a shine to the humans that rescued her and her mother from the HLF.
Click Hello: How Yon-Soo and Porter first meet Hyong-Jin.
Continuity Nod: Queen Elizabeth's last address is reproduced. We also get to see a glimpse of TCB!Lyra and her work prior to her death.
Creator Provincialism: Played straight with regards to Yon-Soo being South Korean (as Kizuna Tallis stated in a review of Starvation that her mother's family comes from there), but averted with the story also taking place in areas of Russia, Mongolia and China.
Defiant to the End: A group of elderly folks who refuse to evacuate from St. Petersburg ask the protagonists to rig their nursing home with explosives, and when the Royal Guards come in to convert them, they blow the building to kingdom come.
Dying as Yourself: The main characters make a vow to each other not to hesitate in shooting their comrades should they get potioned; this is apparently not uncommon amongst human fighters.
Empathy Doll Shot: Yon-Soo sees several discarded and dropped children's toys (along with clothes and other types of possessions) on the streets when he and the crew are helping to evacuate civilians out of St. Petersburg.
Enemy Mine: North Korea and South Korea form an alliance in the battle against Imperial Equestria, but the Democratic People's Republic is quickly overtaken by the Solar Empire's forces and promptly is wiped out by Russia's and China's nuclear warheads.
How We Got Here: The prologue opens in the main story's present day (2023), and the rest of it recounts how the Dragons of the East were formed and how the war has been going on in the Asian front from the day it was declared and onwards.
I Need a Freaking Drink: For everyone who managed to escape Moscow, St. Petersburg and anywhere else in western Russia swallowed by the Barrier in Chapter Six.
Irony: Hyong-Jin, a former North Korean, bemoans President Davis's decision to nuke Washington D.C.
It's Personal: Porter wants to make the Queen pay for ponifying his girlfriend (who was one of the reporters that got forcibly converted at the Berne press conference), while Hyong-Jin vows to avenge his family and friends that were likely killed or ponified by the PER.
Aquamarine and Comet both want to get back at the Solar Empire for how it corrupted Gale (Aquamarine's husband/Comet's father) and broke up their family.
Difficult but Awesome/Awesomeness Is Volatile: Creating one takes immense amounts of concentration and uninterrupted flying for Firebrand. On top of that, Firebrand can't control the tornado once he's out of the cyclone, plus any additional latent magic and other fuel for fire can make it become even bigger and more uncontrollable.
Mercy Kill: Yon-Soo does this to a fellow soldier right before the man was fully ponified. Hyong-Jin does the same to an old man with dementia that gets converted.
Multinational Team: A South Korean, an American, three Russians, a North Korean and four ponies join forces to take the fight to the Solar Empire.
Nuclear Option: The Russian and Chinese governments resorted to this to keep the Newfoals in North Korea (numbering the millions) from spilling over into their countries.
Old Soldier: Aitmatov is described as being one of the older members of the characters' faction, and a Great Patriotic War vet in St. Petersburg pulls a Taking You with Me when Royal Guard Ponies show up at his and his friends' retirement home.
Roof Hopping: The guys pull this off during the evacuation of St. Petersburg.
Everything about the Borz pistol found in Chapter Seven is true, in that they really are that bad and unreliable. On top of that, Russia has a lot of Neo-Nazis, unfortunately. The chapter also has plenty of (untranslated) Russian dialogue.
Soap Within a Show: Going by the clip Sergei shows to Aquamarine and Comet, "The Baker's Dilemma" has many shades of this, most particularly including a Love Triangle that involved Yon-Soo's character (who makes a Race for Your Love dash through an airport after an apparent epiphany) and a bunch of other overblown cliches.
Take That: A completely unintentional example in the form of pegasus filly Comet Tail, who also shares her name with a unicorn mage from one of Chatoyance's stories. Word of Kizuna states she was completely unaware of that, and retroactively made Comet into a straight Take That, which works as Comet's love for humans and human culture doesn't get dampened by her traumatizing stay with the HLF.
Taking the Bullet: In Chapter Five, a Russian soldier named Markov pushes Porter out of the way from a potion getting thrown at him. Yon-Soo Mercy Kills him right before the conversion process is complete.
Those Wacky Nazis: Khan mentions offhandedly that a decent percentage of the Russian HLF's membership is comprised of neo-Nazis.
Translation Convention: Porter is fairly good at speaking Korean, though Yon-Soo (and later on, Hyong-Jin) can speak fluent English. There's also the Russians' dialogue.
True Companions: The main characters, soon to be called "The Dragons of the East". They even serve somewhat as a surrogate family to each other.
Uncanny Valley: In-Universe; Comet finds earth horses to be unnerving and odd looking (though they're still just slightly better than the newfoals). Sergei even mentions this trope by name.
Vomit Discretion Shot: Yon-Soo has a Stress Vomit version of this after the evacuation of St. Petersburg by grabbing the nearest trash can and releasing the contents of his stomach.
Body Horror: Isaac Acevedo claims that he's become skinny enough for his ribs to start showing through. Still, the guy does seem pretty limber for a man in that state, all things considered.
Crapsack World: Rio de Janeiro. It's said to be better than China, though.
Creator Provincialism: Its aversion - and more broadly, averting the common use of this trope within the TCB genre, which usually has stories set in Europe and America and nowhere else - was explicitly one of the reasons that Fluffy wrote it. He's not Brazilian.
Creepy Child: Pegasus filly Autumn Showers is one of the Dissonant Serenity kind. To be fair, it's implied she's shell-shocked from losing her parents.
Cyberpunk: Digital broadband and video games are apparently still readily available, but living conditions are squalid and food is scarce. Believe it or not, this is actually Truth in Television – the real-life Rio's favelas are some of the most technologically advanced slums in the world.
Button: "Even if aliens that probably use plasma or hard light weapons as the basic loadouts for their troops, or concepts we probably haven't even thought of yet hear this, it's just not relevant to the plot!"
Acevedo: "Hehe... plot. I guess I got caught up in the moment."
Take That: The world in this short story greatly resembles the way Chatoyance usually depicts Earth... except that in this case, the TCB!Equestrians are very much responsible for the over-crowded Cyberpunk hellhole mankind is forced to live in.
War Refugees: If you think Trixie had it tough in the Europe Side-Story, well, read this...
Calm Before the Storm
All Animals Are Domesticated: Very much averted. The predatory animals living in the parts of Earth that the TCB!Equestrians are trying to colonize are giving them a hard time. Africa in particular is especially brutal.
It's explained later that the zebras, ponies, and a few humans actually placed a spell on the African continent so it would forever be a Death World to Celestia's forces.
Apocalypse Anarchy: It's already a known fact of Earth, but in the "Who Am I To Stand Still" segment, we actually see it ourselves. Or at least, we see some of it on the news. There's are HLF suicide bombers, the PER hijack a train, there's riots over food in New Orleans and North Dakota, and one National Guardsman is quoted as saying "It's like looking into the gates of hell" in response to a question about a food riot.
And there's also the Fu'an riots, in which the protesters have guns - it's described as not so much a riot in as much as an all-out war.
Ascended Fanon: In-Universe - the "Thaumic Absorbent Runic Missile" or TARM was originally proposed by Spudrum, a reader whom Doctor Fluffy likes.
Fiddlesticks: "It's turned into a nightmare, half my family isn't on speaking terms with each other! Half of them left for earth, almost none of them want to talk to Applejack, a quarter of them can barely work the farms they grew up on or meet any of the quotas, they use slave labor, and they're actively celebrating turning people into unthinking zombies!"
Break Out the Museum Piece: Two notable examples in "A Story About Them". First, there's a mention of Beyer-Garratt steam locomotives being used to evacuate refugees. Another is a mention of a man using an STG-44, a Nazi assault rifle that would, at this point, be eighty years old, and is seemingly a case of Improperly Placed Firearms. However, both are Truth in Television – STG-44s are fairly common in Northern Africa and were in fact used in the Libyan Civil War, and Africa does in fact still use steam locomotives.
Call Forward: In a recorded quote during Chapter 3, Fiddlesticks Apple claims in 2020 that TCB!Equestria will be "an unrecognizable shithole" within a couple years. This being immediately after Chapter 2, which showed us just how terrible TCB!Equestria is.
Canon Immigrant: Desert Wind, Alexander Redmond, and other characters from The Avatar Of Albion appear in "With Dignity", the fourth segment of Chapter 3. Which, fittingly enough, was written by Avatar Of Albion's author.
Deconstruction Fic: The second chapter is dedicated to showing how Equestria's really not going to be able to shoulder the sudden massive influx of newfoals coming in – they're forced to rapidly industrialize and destroy their own environment to produce enough materials to just stay afloat in the war, making them Not So Different from humanity in that regard. There's also nowhere near enough jobs or food to support their influx of new residents, so their economy is, to put it lightly, screwed. On top of that, they've destroyed all the infrastructure they could have possibly used to support their explosive population growth and make colonizing Earth easier, so they've basically screwed themselves over. And it also shows that having zombie-like citizens obedient to a fault is pretty bad, culturally, given that they are explicitly mentioned to work themselves to death if they aren't told to take a break, and they make the perfect prostitutes because they can't say no to anything.
Dystopia Is Hard: Thanks to the Barrier, ironically enough. Though specifically, it's more a case of "wartime dystopia is hard". It's proven to be a herculean task to keep TCB!Equestria under control of Celestia, thanks to the Barrier destroying any resources the TCB!Equestrians could have used to support their growth.
Homemade Inventions: "A Story About Them" features mentions of homemade rifles, gunpowder, and claymore mines. Angus Reid also states that the HLF's "home-brewed cannons and pipe guns" are nothing compared to the PHL's magically enhanced superweapons. Several homemade weapons, such as a .50 BMG open-bolt rifle, appear in Chapter 4.
Human Resources: There's a mention of scientists harvesting the alicornal tissue in newfoals in Chapter 3 to use its magic.
Hypocrite: The second chapter explores the Imperial ponies' hypocrisy in great detail. For starters, to keep the war effort from destroying them and to provide jobs to the massive number of Newfoals coming in, the TCB!Equestrians have gone through rapid industrialization that is destroying their environment (one of their many criticisms against humans). There's also the fact that Newfoal workers get exploited as slave labor, and TCB!Big Macintosh even muses how for all the Empire's railing against humans for engaging in slavery in its history, the Empire is no better. TCB!Fancy Pants also points out how disingenuous it is to claim that ponies are peaceful and Equestria is a paradise when they're using the Newfoals as Cannon Fodder and exploiting their passivity.
I Ate WHAT?: Implied in Big Mac's comment about giving Diamond Tiara food poisoning.
Just Before the End: Special mention for pointing out that they're at the point of no return - as soon as the Barrier eats up most of North America, everyone is done for.
Plenty from Fancy's chapter, which pokes fun at numerous things, such as the ease with which problems are often solved in the show.
Fancy: "If we were living in the same Equestria where problems could be solved within thirty minutes and capped off with a speech..."
The propensity of the authors for writing speeches.
Fancy: "You can debate the morality of it with humans. They do seem to love their moralistic speeches..."
And how out of character "Xenolestia" needs to be for a Conversion Bureau fanfic to work.
Fancy: "How is any of this even remotely in-character?! It's like something derailed her character, and forced her to become some evil tyrant!"
Ludicrous Gibs: Fancy Pants actually manages to cause this effect with swords, and the description of the aftermath is grisly.
Meaningful Name: Enitan Adebayo's first name means "person of stories," or "sum total of all the myths, songs, histories and other cultural concepts which make up religion and society" in Yoruban. And she's a storyteller who narrates most of the "A Story About Them" segment of Chapter 3.
Moral Event Horizon: In-Universe. The Canon!Mane Six and Lyra consider the PER and Newfoals' infiltration of a maternity ward to convert helpless newborn humans to be this. Canon!Fluttershy is also disgusted with the Barrier and the Newfoals, which she considers an "affront to all life" (and since she's a Friend to All Living Things, it's no surprise).
Reality Ensues: This story (or at least, its second chapter) illustrates the consequences of what would happen to a country if it had a sudden and enormous population boom in wartime, and inadequate infrastructure. TCB!Equestria is suffering from food shortages and rapid industrialization that is ruining the environment. Arguably, the only thing they have plenty of is space, but due to the lack of adequate infrastructure to support all the Newfoals coming in and the barrier destroying everything they could have used, they're unable to use it well, forcing the Newfoals into the cities to work on machines and weapons for the war. And a prolonged war with innumerable casualties that are by now in the millions is bound to completely destroy the fabric and the general morale of society, so much so that in the end only terror and fanaticism can hold it together.
Rousing Speech: As Enitan points out at the end of "A Story About Them", the main characters have more to live for since the battle of Boston than they have had in the last four years.
Straight Gay: Enitan, evidently, given her mention of a wife.
Stupid Sacrifice: Fancy Pants makes a Last Stand against a horde of newfoals in his mansion while Fleur de Lis escapes through a secret passageway. Awesome to be sure, except that by Fancy's own admission, the passage is well hidden, and it took a long, long time for the Newfoals to break down the barricade leading into the room. Couldn't he have just as easily followed Fleur down the passage and given them the slip? Maybe even break open a window to make them think they escaped in a different way?
Actually it's not so stupid if one gives it more thought in the longer run. Had Fancy left with Fleur, it would've caused the Newfoals and the Royal Guards that were chasing them to spread their search all over the city and possibly all over Equestria, therefore making it much harder for them to run and hide due to everypony loyal to the Empire looking for them, especially the Newfoals. So what would make things easier for them; running away together with everyone searching the city for the both of them, or one of them staying behind to kill everyone who saw them both and making everyone focus on that single pony, giving their loved one enough time to leave the city before their absence is noted?
Coal Embers calls Dr. Jacqueline Reitman (an unflattering stand-in for Chatoyance) a "horse fetishizing bitch."
Too Dumb to Live: The HLF are portrayed this way, one of them having tried to sabotage a PHL-aligned factory.
Newfoals are also this - or rather, Too Jingoistic To Live, as a result of the spellwork driving them and their hollow "minds" around.
The Unreveal: In Chapter 4, an HLF soldier accuses the PHL of turning Verity Carter into a Newfoal (see Last Train From Oblivion for more details). The PHL say she's "not a newfoal at all" but before they can explain what really happened to her, they're attacked by actual newfoals (whatever happened though, Kraber seemed to think it was hilarious).
Wham Episode: "The Empire" Chapter is a double-feature of wham:
The readers see Inkwell's segment ("The Worst Day of Your Life") as this. It's easy to see why - before this, readers had only gotten scattered glimpses of TCB!Equestria, which was at the very least implied to be a Crapsaccharine World. This segment, however, took place entirely in there, and showed just how terrible it was, revealing it to be as crapsaccharine as you can get without being a straight Crapsack World. There are food shortages, overpopulation of urban centers and pollution, a total logistic breakdown, mass poverty, deranged newfoals just barely hidden under the veneer of niceness...
Small Reference Pools: Unfortunately, the book Doctor Fluffy was referencing in it was very obscure, confusing many people that responded to his blog posts on the subject.
All There in the Manual: This side-story exposits the history of the war, revealing details that simply would have been hard to reveal in the main story.
Armor-Piercing Question: Marcus delivered a couple to the founder of the PER after she was captured, first asking her why she hasn't taken the potion for herself if she claimed to hate humanity and being a human so much. He then asks just how the TCB!ponies could be kind and peaceful if they're stealing humanity's home, vaporizing all of its history into nothing, and committing the worst kind of Mind Rape imaginable. She can't answer either of those, and instead resorts to hurling insults at Marcus and telling him that he will bow to Queen Celestia one day.
Cassandra Truth: We learn that one of the breaking points for the HLF's founder was the FDA's dismissal of his concerns about the potion.
As with TCB!Lyra - she was seen as crazy at first, or no different from the potion-happy forces of the Solar Empire.
Continuity Nod: TCB!Lyra's commemoration of Queen Elizabeth and public declaration of her defection from the Solar Empire is lifted from the Asia Side Story.
Dark Messiah: Dr. Jacqueline Dionna Reitman, the PER's founder, was regarded as a "high priestess" by her more fanatical followers.
Documentary Episode: This side-story is described by Redskin as being like "something you would see on TruTV".
Heroic Sacrifice/Last Stand: It's explained that TCB!Lyra was captured by the Empire in the aftermath of the famed "Battle of Thunderchild", wherein she commandeered a magically-enhanced Cool Ship off the coast of Iceland to give the refugees there time to evacuate from the approaching Imperial forces. The diversion succeeded at the cost of the prototype ship's destruction and her getting taken prisoner before she could leave the area.
How Dare You Die on Me!: Thinking back, Marcus can't help but express this sentiment, though he quickly relents and admits the depth of his grief.
Kangaroo Court: TCB!Lyra's "trial" after being captured by the Solar Empire amounted to little more than this.
A Lighter Shade of Black: The disgust which most characters express for the HLF's actions pales next to their utter contempt for the PER.
Magitek: The creative ways the PHL find to combine technology and magic to further the war effort are lovingly detailed.
Retired Monster: Some of the interviewees are former HLF members, such as Andrew Silas, Dayoung Tengku and Viktor Kraber. Granted, Andrew Silas' only crime was graffiti tagging Buckingham Palace, Dayoung Tengku only stuck with the HLF after they saved her from the PER and she left pretty quickly, and Kraber is not anywhere nearokay withhis past misdeeds, and Word Of Fluffy is that he's suicidal due to the sheer guilt. Nonetheless, there's plenty of HLF members that qualify. There's also PER defector Ernst Kasparek, who left due to a crisis of conscience.
Shown Their Work: The mentions of landmarks in Riga, such as the Daugava and Cathedral Dome, are actual places.
Take That: Again, several of them are applied to Chatoyance and to the TCB subgenre as a whole.
TCB!Lyra acted as one against Chatoyance's version of earth as a diseased hellhole and her Humans Are Bastards views:
Lyra: (to Aegis) "I've seen most humans, and I've visited many places all over Earth. Let me tell you this: they're not living in some dystopia where everything is owned by a greedy minority and every religion is some corrupt scam church like so many newfoals claim! Sure, it isn't perfect, but it's not as though they're riddled with kill-happy criminals, murderers, terrorist fanatics, and whatever else you can think of! They seem happy!"
An unintended example popped up in Andrew Silas' interview where he mentions having known some transsexuals who came to regret their sex change operations (unlike the newfoals who never stop telling people how great ponification is no matter how long it's been since they were converted). Chatoyance once infamously put up a "support" website for transpeople advising them to fool psych tests that would determine whether they were real transsexuals and thus in need of surgery. There probably are people out there that took her "advice" to heart...
Taken Up to Eleven with the reveal that the PER's founder was a misanthropic doctor named Jacqueline Dionna Reitman. In other words, she shares the same initials as Chatoyance's real life name (Jennifer Diane Reitz). For that matter, the names even sound similar.
Also, while she's in federal custody, she gets punched in the face by an FBI interrogator (with an "audible crack" to go along with it) and receives a vicious "The Reason You Suck" Speech from Marcus.
One PER agent being interrogated in a flashback clip is named Mikhailovitch. Mikhailovitch is the Russian equivalent of "Michelson," making him a Russian equivalent of Michelson from Chatoyance's infamous story The Speed of Right. He even mentions another PER agent named Morely.
Techno Babble: A magical variant was given to Aegis while he was talking to TCB!Lyra. He did not understand it at all.
Celebrity Paradox: Doctor Who is mentioned several times as existing in the Spectrum version of Earth despite the fact that the Doctor himself is a real person in context of the story. Handwaved by the fact that Doctor Whooves is from a different dimension anyway.
The Chains of Commanding: King William feels he's got it easy compared to President Davis, who, like most American presidents, is aging prematurely.
Defector from Decadence: Angus Reid was in the HLF before he left due to his frustration with their fanatical tactics and lack of accomplishments.
Drowning My Sorrows: The characters at the bar were busy doing this until they heard of the upcoming speech.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall/Take That: True Quill gives a short speech that reflects Doctor Fluffy's views on the Conversion Bureau. Or rather, his views on how Chatoyance took it over:
True Quill: "All of this. The war, the newfoals, the barrier... we've done nothing but hurt you. Equestria's arrival could have been something wonderful! We could have had a cultural revolution, conquered the stars together, made things of beauty... and instead, this happened. Whatever madness took hold of Celestia then infected that bitch Reitman... it took something that could have been amazing, ran it into the ground and turned it into a xenocidal nightmare. I'm so sorry!"
Modest Royalty: William is written as such, going out of his way to put True Quill at ease and even inviting her for dinner with the Royal Family.
Obviously Evil: True Grit and Steady Hoof saw TCB!Equestria as this. And, to be honest, they're not wrong.
One Steve Limit: Two of the ponies in the story, True Quill and True Grit, share the same first name.
But they don't share a gender. Whether that avoids the confusion factor is a different question.
Real Person Fic: King William V of England is better known as Prince William, husband to Kate Middleton and second-in-line to the British throne, in the real world as of 2014.
Throwing Out The Script: The King figuratively does this by forgoing the UN spin doctors' planned Hollywood-blockbuster speech in favor of a more down-to-earth, personable affair.
Last Train From Oblivion
Alternate History: Another thing that went differently in TCB!Equestria is that following the Changelings' failed invasion of Canterlot, the Royal Guards went out and purged every hive they could find.
Anyone Can Die: Much more pronounced here than in the other stories, especially since the protagonists aren't exactly larger-than-life action heroes like Marcus, Stephan or the Dragons of the East members.
Author Appeal: Trains are a subject of no small interest to the author.
Be Careful What You Wish For: PER member Rio Deneter willingly lets herself be ponified because she legitimately thought ponification would be the answer to all of her life's problems and it would take the pain of her Dark and Troubled Past away. She is utterly dismayed (to put it lightly) to find out that even though she willingly joined them, the Solar Empire only cares enough for how she can benefit their xenocidal cause.
Artificial!Twilight: "We don't need your soul. Just the bits of it that are useful to us. Besides, this is what you wanted, deep down. Freedom from your past."
Big Brother Is Watching: The Baltimare segment of "A Tale of Three Cities" shows that TCB!Celestia uses "totem-proles" to simultaneously broadcast to and monitor the Equestrian population, not unlike telescreens.
Break the Haughty: Failing a Sonic Rainboom, being put in the presence of what's implied to be the sentient embodiments of the TCB!Elements of Harmony (as in, the actual Elements such as Laughter and Generosity, etc, not the Bearers), then catapulted into an unfamiliar world, wings nearly destroyed from the pain? It has not been a good day to be Lightning Dust.
This also goes for Verity Carter, who was ponified while somehow retaining her personality and free will. Unfortunately, she was also a member of one of the top HLF units, and as a result, they're all gunning for her, even when she asked for shelter.
The Cloud Cuckoo Lander Was Right: HLF member John Birch claims to have seen ponies kidnapping people before Equestria manifested on Earth. He may or may not have actually seen this happen, but seeing as this canonically did happen, he's still correct.
Cryptic Background Reference: Many in "Bloodstained Sketches of a Small Town". It mentions several HLF units, such as the Swiss 'Glanzon's Gluemakers', the Russian 'Oborots', the Serpents, the Heidelberg Brigade, Old Skinner's assortment of units, and someone named Kagan Burakgazi that's apparently almost as bad as Kraber and defected around the same time...
Defector from Decadence: Apparently, this happens very often among HLF members. Reasons usually range from either growing disillusioned with the group's extremist methods, guilt, or just realizing that the HLF is incredibly ineffectual when compared to the PHL.
Not quite fear, as that was the kind of emotion she associated with being a daredevil pony and soon-to-be Wonderbolt; fear was something to overcome and destroy. No, this was the pain of slowly eroding confidence. Slow, rather slight, but noticeable. And when she lost that core of herself, well she'd not be Lightning Dust any more, just a useless frightened filly.
Fictional Document: Continuing from Calm Before The Storm's example. But it also has an entire chapter full of in-universe quotes.
Hope Spot: Readers get treated to a flashback in Baltimare shortly after the end of the Crystal War. Ponies are celebrating, Celestia is still a princess, and Sweetie Belle and Babs Seed have been invited by Fancy Pants to attend the unveiling of the Great Equestrian airship, which is to introduce a new era of harmony and progress – then the crystal statue at the heart of the ship representing Equus's races joined in friendship (which, like all Equestrian crystals, is magically connected to its namesake country) explodes, killing and injuring several passengers. This is immediately followed by Celestia announcing that she has taken the Crystal Throne, her revealing Earth's existence to the nation, and stating her intention to "spread harmony" to this new world.
Day of the Jackboot: The zebra ambassador declares that Celestia is acting in violation of the Concordia Maxima by not consulting the other species of Equus on the matter of First Contact, while Sweetie, Babs, Fancy and Luna are horrified by the sudden death around them. Sadly, they are voices lost in the ocean of crowds of ponies in the streets below them that are cheering for what amounts to the birth of the Solar Empire.
Humans Are Cthulhu: Lightning Dust is downright disturbed at some of humanity's accomplishments.
In something of an inversion, she's also unaware that Earth does not in actuality have weather teams, causing the presence of a hurricane to make her incredibly angry and call the local weather team idiots.
Industrialized Evil: The totem-proles use the powers and bodies of crystal ponies as raw materials.
Just Before the End: While most Spectrum stories have this in their tone, Last Train deserves special mention for how much it emphasizes this.
Made a Slave/Sex Slave/Sex Bot: PER member Rio Deneter willingly lets herself be ponified, and is programmed (read: mind raped) into becoming the fuck toy of a barrack of Royal Guards to "keep their morale up". What makes this especially horrifying is the fact that she states she was raped at some point in her past, which made her hesitant to have sex again. Ironically (and just as horrifying), it also gives her the ability and inclination to mind-control victims so she can literally rape them.
There's also Maddy, a ten-year-old member of the PER who actually looked forward to being ponified. That line of thinking gets dashed pretty quickly, and even then, it's only because she felt she "wasn't ready." She also objects to Tess giving Jean-Eric a Mercy Kill to prevent his ponification, treating it like the former's Moral Event Horizon.
Distant Prologue: Inverted - it starts a significant amount of time after the story starts, on a stolen steam locomotive in White River Junction.
Fictional Document: There are several pieces of in-universe interview quotes, excerpts from books and other pieces of the news pertaining to the situation. In particular, the HLF.
Foregone Conclusion: Numerous segments take place in the HLF settlement/shantytown called Defiance in the summer of 2022. Anyone remembering Case Files probably knows what the fate of the town will be.
From Bad to Worse: It's already been made clear that humanity is having trouble feeding itself. But making matters worse, it's revealed that Spectrum currently takes place during the winter, and humanity's capacity to grow food in the face of the apocalypse is only getting worse. And nobody wants to think about what happens the winter after that...
Gaia's Lament: Apparently, higher primates (not just humans) and intelligent sea mammals are also killed on contact with The Barrier. Other animals survive but seem to react poorly to contact with The Barrier, and as mentioned in Calm Before the Storm, Equestrians commit mass extermination campaigns against predatory wildlife in places overtaken by The Barrier.
I'm Having Soul Pains: People who escaped ponification through amputating potioned limbs are still occasionally hit with strange and disturbing feelings and echoes of the potion's magic. Considering that the potion literally shatters the soul if allowed to do its work, this is to be expected.
Irony: During a flashback to his college years, a younger Kraber is rather contemptuous of American gun culture and disgusted on how gun companies profit from paranoia. If only he knew...
New Old West: Appears to be heading this way, judging by the mentions of bounty hunters in chapter 2, combined with the general vibe of the Dancing Bear pub. And of course, steam locomotives.
Obligatory War Crime Scene/Kick the Dog: Chapter 2 is dedicated to this, showing both a highly illegal HLF checkpoint, and the HLF (and, prominently, Kraber) killing a family of PHL ponies that they rescued from the PER.
Your Days Are Numbered: Lovikov promises that Kraber will die for the crime of letting ponies live at the checkpoint. Of course, Kraber's going to live through it.
Would Hurt a Child: Kraber finds that the PER had taken a family of PHL-affiliated ponies prisoner and subjected them to Cold-Blooded Torture since this is his HLF days, he shoots them to death, laughing while he does it. Though it's merciful compared to what he does to their father.
Shades of the Unsung
Action Survivor: Inkwell is shaping up into one thanks to the harsh conditions of the gulag.
The Alcoholic: Rockwell helps to make the prison camp's home-brew and drinks copious amounts of it.
Bad Black Barf: Inkwell spies on his cellmate, Rockwell, vomiting up something that gives off the same dark magical vibes as the ponification serum. Turns out that he was exposed to the Bag of Tirek.
The Cameo: One in-universe newspaper clipping telling the news that Fancy Pants as a spy for the PHL is revealed to be written by a pony named Flower Pepper. She is the newfoal form of Eun-Hee Lee, The Lost Lenore of Porter from the Asia Side-Story.
Great Escape: What Rockwell and Soundstorm appear to be planning.
Noodle Incident: No pony in the prison camp knows just why Rockwell's in there, though rumors include that he either killed a stallion with just his left hoof, robbed a bank with only a quill, or helped smuggle TCB!Luna and Cadance out of the Empire.
Police Brutality: Pegasus mare Soundstorm was on the receiving end of this during the Cloudsdale Protest much like Blizzard Flurry was.
The Cameo: Stellar spots a wounded Aegis in the aftermath of the car bomb.
Cloudcuckoolander: Stellar has some shades of this. For instance, he inexplicably thinks there are humanoid robots in St. Paul's Cathedral.
Celebrity Paradox: Invoked. As Sherlock Holmes is stated to be a living person in the Spectrumverse, the interviewer (implied to be Mycroft Holmes) is utterly perplexed when Stellar mentions Sherclop Pones.
Suddenly Shouting: Stellar does this when talking about Viktor Kraber, who is still a member of the HLF at this point. Apparently, Kraber managed to blow two bureaus into oblivion, and killed most of the ponies in Innsbruck, Austria.