In a world of brass and steam, Twilight Sparkle had thought she had made a life-changing discovery with the invention of the telescope.
In a very real sense, she was correct.
Now her discovery has not only changed her life, but the lives of those she seeks out in her desperate attempt to contact the only other creature as lonely as Twilight herself.
It all would have been much simpler, but it had to be the one Twilight could only call The Mare on the Moon.
Decidedly not within walking distance, then.
The Mare Who Once Lived on the Moon is a ''My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Alternate Universe fic focusing on a Steampunk version of Equestria, where Twilight Sparkle has discovered something major. Oddly, the fic was accidentally released prematurely; the author, MrNumbers, meant to publish it when it was completed.
Tropes found within:
- A Taste of the Lash: Celestia once used this as the punishment for an argument between Twilight and one of her teachers about the physics of unicorn self-flight; whoever was wrong got a flogging and was thrown out of the school.
- Batman Can Breathe in Space: Luna, obviously. Other ponies don't have the same luxury.
- Batman Gambit: How Rarity kept Celestia in the dark about Twilight's survival. The Princess demanded to see the equations for the creation of the canon and the technomagical engine to power the ship... but Rarity neglected to inform Celestia that she had given her 'original' notes before Twilight had corrected them.
- BFG: Twilight invents a functioning Verne Gun to shoot a vessel all the way into space. She uses a volcano to fire it.
- Bold Explorer: Rainbow Dash, of course. In her dreams, anyway. She's stuck at a desk job when we first meet her.
- But in Chapter 15, she becomes the first pony to see the dark side of the moon, and is part of the first expedition into outer space.
- Burning with Anger: A variant: Celestia gets so angry when confronted with the prophecy that steam vents from her mouth as her saliva evaporates.
- Catch a Falling Star: Twilight and Luna's first meeting takes place at near-terminal velocity.
- The Chains of Commanding: Shining Armor is one of the few officers in Celestia's army to truly respect the sacrifices her troops make in her name, and one of the few to burden himself with the task of avoiding unnecessary casualties.
- The Chessmaster: Princess Celestia is renowned for her ability to both perpetuate and foil plots within the Empire, and for knowing exactly what leverage to use against unwilling subjects to gain their obedience. When she puts Twilight under house arrest for treason, she sends Shining Armor as gaoler for two reasons; first, because Twilight would never fight back against her brother, but Shining, being loyal to the crown, would kill his sister if necessary, and second, because she knows she can press both of them with the threat of harm to their shared family.
- Crapsack World: The Empire of the Mourning Princess is not a happy place. The nation is always fighting a war of conquest somewhere, the military and royal court are filled with self-serving sycophants who walk over everyone to get what they want, the streets are filled with homeless and disabled children, and the Princess herself is a sadistic and vindictive tyrant. Things take a major turn for the better once Luna is brought back from the moon and the Nightmare is finally exorcised.
- Darkest Africa: True to the setting, the Zebra lands are regarded as an unexplored wilderness populated by brutal savages.
- Death Ray: Twilight describes her Bright Emitter Aimed at the Moon this way. It's taken out one pegasus by accident.
- The Empire: The Equestrian Empire. It's been busy.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Bright Sparks is unable to understand that Rainbow Dash and Twilight actually want to help Pinkie, and believes that (like he actually is) they're pretending to be her friends and caretakers while exploiting her ideas to make money.
- Celestia can't imagine that Twilight would want to teach foals for the sake of their own education, and thinks that Twilight's doing the same thing Celestia did to her.
- Evil Teacher: Bright Spark, a respected and tenured professor of the electrical sciences at Twilight's old University. Twilight learns that he has been keeping Pinkie Pie - who is a certifiable genius mathematician and inventor - under his hoof in order to exploit her work for his personal gain, and also owns several business interests within Canterlot - all of which run on his patented technologies. He also makes use of industrial spies and legbreakers to muscle out any potential competition.
- Expy: Bright Spark. Fans quickly identified him as Thomas Edison. While Pinkie Pie seems to be this for Nikola Tesla—to the point of having TESLA as a pseudonym—there are noticeable differences.
- The Fagin: Fluttershy, for a group of foals. She still deeply cares for them, as best as her means can. She just ... expands their means as much as possible too.
- Fantastic Racism: Unicorns look down on the other two tribes. And then there are the non-pony races on the fringes of, or newly conquered into, the Empire.
- A Father to His Men: Shining Armor. As a colt he liked to collect tin soldiers and paint them. He also gave them names. And remembered every one of them. As an officer in the Imperial Army, he remembers the name of every troop that is, or was, under his command.
- Fun with Acronyms: They've cropped up a few times. Pinkie Pie was initially called 'The Electrical Science's Lecturer's Assistant'; Twilight later repurposes this into 'Twilight's Extra Special Laser Artificer'.
- Gentleman Adventurer: What Rainbow Dash wishes to be and ultimately achieves beyond her wildest dreams. Unfortunately, Rainbow is a common pegasus, so she forced herself to take on a managerial role she had no aptitude for just to collect the extra money she could store away for her planned eventual grand safari.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: In this continuity Celestia is known as the Mourning Princess, and she is a secretive, spiteful creature who lives in a constant state of brooding melancholy and tries to fill her emptiness through war and conquest. Twilight is the only person allowed to openly disagree with her without fearing for her life or position (due largely to the fact that Celestia's self-loathing makes her masochistically yearn for Twilight's veiled insults), but even she has to tread a fine line with the Princess or suffer consequences to her friends or family. It is later learned that she may have been possessed by the Nightmare for the 'past thousand years'.
- Great Escape: With bombs!
- Improvised Microgravity Maneuvering: Twilight and Luna get from the surface of the moon to the vessel looping around it by throwing one another with magic, the physics of which is explained in-story.
- Insignificant Little Blue Planet: Rainbow Dash becomes one of two ponies to have seen the stars from the dark side of the moon, and makes a rather poignant observation.Dash: The stars look different from the shadow of the moon, Twilight. You can see all of them. Its not like... you look up at the sky, and you think maybe were just a pearl in a big ocean? But its more like... were the grains of sand on a world thats a grain of sand for a sun thats a grain of sand on a beach that goes on forever.
- The Lancer: Twilight's job as the Royal Philosopher in Residence is to be the Lancer for Celestia herself, and as such she is the only pony alive who can openly contradict or rebuke the Princess without fearing for her life and family. Until she mentions the prophecy about the Mare on the Moon, which hits Celestia's Berserk Button hard and leads directly to Twilight being banished from court, and ultimately being declared a traitor to the throne.
- Lemony Narrator: Twilight's inner thoughts make up most of the narrative, and they tend to be on the quirky side.
- Long-Distance Relationship: With a distance of three hundred eighty four thousand, four hundred and three kilometers, at that.
- Mad Scientist: Pinkie Pie is a well-intentioned but genuinely unstable example who needs to be firmly told that making experimental nuclear reactor in the basement of Twilight's library is not a solution to their energy problems and that if she can't touch an animal, then it's probably not really there.
- Twilight's getting pretty close to this. As Shining Armour puts it in chapter 12, 'You don't mean to but, Twilight, there's stuff here that could change the world, and for a lot of ponies and horses and zebras it wouldn't be for the better.'
- Must Have Nicotine: Rarity is a bit of a compulsive smoker, though she does her best to avoid it in polite company. Except for that one time in the Princess' throne room....
- My Master, Right or Wrong: Subverted. When Shining Armor comes to the conclusion that Twilight is actually capable of toppling the throne - the entire reason he and a contingent of the army have her under house arrest - he very emphatically demands that if Twilight truly intends to take Celestia down, she'd better not miss.
- Not His Sled: At first, it just seems like a drawn-out, steampunk retelling of the series' first episode. Then, it turns out the Mare on the Moon is not, and has never been Nightmare Moon - the Nightmare has, for the entire thousand years, been inside Celestia.
- Officer and a Gentleman: Shining Armor lives up to his name in this department, although it takes effort to retain personal nobility in the service of a brutally imperialistic regime.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Rainbow Dash loves affecting the speech and mannerisms of a Quintessential British Gentleman on safari. The act tends to drop whenever she's caught off balance or is being brutally honest.
- Painful Rhyme: Twilight's attempts at poetry are so terrible that even characters who don't know anything about poetry can't stand them. Luna's are significantly more impressive, and trying to make something wonderful enough to send back is what drives Twilight to seek out Rarity.
- Red String of Fate: Twilight and Luna are destined to be together. Rarity is overjoyed by how cliched the whole thing is.
- Reentry Scare: Coming back from the moon is pretty rough.
- When Twilight goes on a trip in a sub-orbital capsule, she discovers that the Aether is made of pure magical energy. A short while later she accidentally shreds the capsule to pieces by overloading a small magic-driven fan that's used to pass air through the scrubbers. That's right - she stirred the oxygen.
- During their flight through space, Rainbow Dash breaks out a phonograph and - contrary to her own tastes - selects a recording of Clair de Lune for the first piece. When asked, she comments that classical music just seems most fitting for what they're doing.
- Space Is Magic: A rare literal case. Magic is really weak on the planet, but even before leaving Equus's atmosphere the amount of effort Twilight put into 'spinning a tiny fan' is enough to rip open the metal vessel she's in.
- Steampunk: The foundation of Equestria's society.
- Street Urchin: Scootaloo, again. She's with others, and on the streets because she lost her wings to an industrial accident.
- Talk To The Hoof: Rainbow Dash, after Twilight delivers a nasty speech to Bright Spark about what he'd been doing with Pinkie Pie's legacy. Spark gets as far as 'I—'.
- Technological Pacifist: Twilight refuses to make weapons, and is in fact horrified by the idea that her (incredibly destructive) inventions might be used for war.
- The Teetotaler: Twilight and Applejack are both stubbornly averse to touching alcohol. Twilight loses her inhibition and becomes The Alcoholic after being made to drink in order to endure the pain of multiple life and limb-threatening injuries, and realizing that it does wonders for her creative juices.
- Too Dumb to Live: A Sergeant Sentry flew into Twilight's beam. Twilight had warned Shining about the beam, and his response to the rest of the squad after they grumbled about Sentry's death was to read aloud a book titled Natural Selection to them.
- Volcano Lair: The Verne Gun ends up being made there.
- World's Most Beautiful Woman: Cadance, who in this story is only a pegasus. She's barely mentioned, but it's clear that despite not appearing to have been Twilight's foalsitter, Twilight still adores her just as much. She's completely out of Shining Armor's league—but he got her anyways.
- Wrench Wench: Applejack. And to AJ's surprise, Twilight.