Harmony Theory was, for uncounted months, one of many Bad Future Friendship is Magic fics on my radar, but the sight of so many potential plot threads kept it etched in my mind. And, ironically, looking forward to a story so much meant that I put it off for a long while, thinking it deserved better than chunks of text squeezed in between work and whatever else happened to occupy my attention, even as I saw others refer to it in ways ranging from "This is the greatest fic EVAR" to "eh". But now, I've finally found the time to start, which also offers an opportunity for something else that had been rolling around on the back burner: a liveblog. Going back over the prologue...
We start with an epigraph of unknown origin noting how it's the little things that develop into great history. "In this case, the end of the world began with an argument between two sisters." Suitably vague and portentous.
It's the reception of Shining Armor and Cadance's wedding, and Celestia's enjoying the celebration from her balcony. Luna drops in to add her two cents and engage in some sisterly banter, with a lot of worldbuilding slipped in as well- apparently Luna's royal "we" came from each princess formerly speaking with the authority of both (Celestia dropped this after Nightmare Moon since she didn't feel it was her place to speak for her sister then), and that Luna was absent from the wedding due to watching over some business of "great import" to Equestria. Details later?
Luna also asks about Celestia's niece Cadance, snarking that she must be quite drunk now since she cannot recall them having any other siblings. Turns out she's part of the unicorn royal line. They had done some attempted ascensions of their own back in the day- at least until the Nightmare Moon incident gave Celestia the excuse to tell them to knock it off, making them full Equestrian royalty in return- and every so often the wing gene will pop back up, but they've never managed all three tribes' magic. Cadance is special, though, as she has a small piece of some "Deep Power" that the alicorns share- that's what allowed her and Shining to blow away the changelings. Aight.
Luna segues from Cadance's power and love talent into the Elements of Harmony (while Celly looks down at the bearers, with Applejack and Rainbow Dash doing some hoofwrestling) and is suddenly suspicious of how Cadance felt the need to integrate the bearers into the wedding despite not knowing most of them, but Celestia brushes it off since they are quite well known.
Focusing on our protagonist-to-be for a moment, Luna also notes that Dash (who lost the match and is demanding another go) has "something of the braggart to her"- only some, since she can generally put her money where her mouth is- though Celly notes it's less acceptable now to rub everypony's face in it, and also knows why Luna's harping on about the Elements and wishes she would get it over with. Her and me both- conversations that drag on until they've become arguments on some out-of-nowhere point, especially as they recur in pony fics, really grate.
(Also, not that Dash's ego can't use a good popping every so often, but I do wish writers in both fanon and canon would let her come out on top a mite more often. Here's hoping an unattainable rematch isn't one of the things bugging her after her Clop van Winkle act.)
And Luna does on get with it, noting the Elements would have been overkill for Chrysalis and her brood, and also how odd it is that the mare who has raised the sun and moon for a millennium was defeated in a contest of simple magical strength, lack of practice and enemy power-up or no. And how Luna was called away just when Chrysalis would have infiltrated, and how Celestia ignored her "niece's" change and her faithful student's suspicions. Celestia finally admits to letting Chrysalis's deception play out and throwing the fight, claiming that she would have zapped more changelings in the process to help the Mane 6 if she had known how many there were, and also that she would have just busted out and taken care of things if Shining and Cadance hadn't intervened. All for the sake of making her little ponies less dependent on her. Huh, never heard that interpretation before. Nice to see Celly not get worfed after all, for once.
Again, though, Luna's problem is with the overuse of the Elements themselves, both due to overkill and the deleterious effect they can have on their bearers. Celestia returns that it's all right for the Mane 6 because they're the Elements' true, chosen bearers (as opposed to others like the princesses). She reminisces about the Elements reactivating, Luna's return and purification, and believing that was the end of it until Discord broke out- making her believe there might be yet another task the Elements are meant for, hence her attempting to get the Mane 6 to use them again and get more in tune with them. Luna gets her to knock that chessmaster crap off, and Celestia, watching the bearers again (namely Twilight, who still can't dance to save her life), clues in that just asking Twilight to research the Elements can hardly hurt. And, segueing through her letter to her student, we end on Twilight being as adorkable as ever as she prepares for her new assignment, with a title drop as the header for her notes.
Woof, that was long on both Sharaloth's and my parts. Off to an intriguing start, though that epigraph makes me wonder if the apocalypse is going to come despite Twilight's research or because of it. Celestia's gut/Deep Power feeling: a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?