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Fanfic / A Voice Among the Strangers

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A Voice Among the Strangers is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Fan Fic by Tystarr.

Jessica finds herself flung into a world she has little concept of. Everything is strange and new to her, but worst of all she cannot communicate with the native inhabitants. A world of monsters and sentient ponies, griffons and other assorted beasts is no place for a human girl.

How will Jessica cope? Without an understanding of their language how will she make her way in the world, will she even be able to ever communicate with them? Why was she even brought into the world and is there even a way for her to get home?

The story is now complete, with a P.O.V. Sequel, A Stranger Among the Voices, told from the various Equestrians' points-of-views, now in-progress. Tystarr has also stated that a sequel is planned, as well as the backstory of Jessica's guards. Other side stories, which may or may not be eventually canon, have been announced, mostly focused on Jessica's experience of Equestrian holidays.

Tropes present in these works:

  • Adaptation Expansion: A Stranger Among the Voices — due to the multiple POV characters and increased first-hand dialogue, the story has taken over 118,000 words to cover the same time frame of the first two chapters of the original fic (just over 28,000 words). And then there's the 10,000 word first chapter, entirely set before Jessica arrived in Equestria.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Ebony dubs Jessica "Legend", in honor to some legends of how some creatures gave emotions (their food) freely to Changelings, just like Jessica was doing since their escape. Meanwhile, Rarity dubs her "Mystery" and later "Luna's Melody" in an attempt to dissuade ponies from calling her the Foal-Hunter.
  • All Periods Are PMS: Jessica gets hit hard when her time of the month comes while she's in Equestria. This is justified by multiple issues going on with her: she has just learned that the means used to get her to Equestria was left behind, her menstruating brings up the fact that, since she's the only human there, she can't have children and thus fulfill her promise to her mother of handing down her bracelets to a daughter she would have. This causes her to try to literally outrun her problems. She ends up exhausted and punches the first thing that tries to help her: Iron Will. She also mentions cramping, something she hasn't had since she was fourteen.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: After Jessica rescues Dinky from a chimera, Ebony helps by leading the chimera away and into the path of the hydra she almost ran into earlier.
  • Appropriated Appellation/Meaningful Rename: Ebony comes to prefer Jessica's nickname for her over her Changeling name.
  • Break the Cutie: The first ponies Jessica meets are the Flim Flam brothers, who are running a monster horror show. They added her to the monster roster, treating her poorly. This left her with a fear of unicorns and their magic, and a general distrust of ponies.
  • Bilingual Backfire: After returning to Ponyville, Jessica shocks a number of characters with the fact that she's been learning their language, much to Rainbow Dash's amusement.
  • Broken Bird: Jessica considers herself one after being caged like an animal for a week.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Swift Dawn and Aurora Blossom, Captain of the Royal Guard and Captain of the Night Guard respectively. Initially, only Swift (and the unrelated Bastion) are assigned to Jessica, with Aurora joining them later. The three guards all volunteer to stay with Jess in Canterlot Castle, largely out of friendship.
  • Brutal Honesty: Made Manifest, a Canterlot noble who is on good terms with the Princesses for precisely this reason — he tells Luna that their plan to bring Jessica to the castle in hopes of provoking the Changelings is "a bloody stupid idea," but notes that he would have said the same about Celestia's plan for Nightmare Moon if he'd been aware of it.
  • Calvinball: Jessica joins in a ball game with the ponies and utterly fails to figure out what the rules are, even losing track of who is on what team.
  • Childish Pillow Fight: Jessica and Ebony start one with Aurora in "Compassion", which quickly draws in Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Twilight, Spike and Luna. It resumes several times later with others getting involved.
  • Crazy-Prepared: As in canon, Pinkie Pie, who apparently already has pillows on hand when she walks in on the pillow fight.
  • Cuddle Bug: Jessica, who at several points is found hugging Ebony in her sleep, much the amusement of anypony who sees. She's pretty affectionate towards Dinky as well, and at one point surprises Bastion with a hug after he lets her ride on his back when she can't walk anymore.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Bastion, emphasis on deadpan.
    Pinkie: No offense you two, but you both are pretty big and imposing!
    Rainbow Dash: Uh, Pinkie. That’s kinda their job.
    Swift Dawn: No offense taken, and Rainbow Dash is right. (taps Bastion's breast plate) Hear that, you’re imposing.
    Bastion: My day is now complete.
  • Dissimile: When Twilight first sees Jessica's x-rays, she notes it looks like a diamond dog, except for the muzzle missing. She then redacts her statement about it looking like a diamond dog's.
  • Enmity with an Object: A running gag, with Jessica swearing vengeance against various objects — a tree that she bashed her shoulder into, stones on the path that she stepped on in bare feet, a staircase (again, due to her bare feet), and her own brain, after getting a headache from her attempts to rationalise the world around her.
    Jessica: (What next, I pledge a personal vendetta against a toaster?)
  • Fantastic Slur: Jessica's arrival coincides with a series of inconsistent rumours of an unfamiliar monster around Fillydelphia. Flim and Flam pass her off as the "Foal-Hunter", and the nickname takes a while to shake off, even long after she's proved she's sapient and not a threat to anyone.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Ebony with Rainbow Dash and Applejack.
  • Freeze Sneeze: Jessica, while showering in the rain shortly after her escape from Flim and Flam.
  • From Bad to Worse: Discussed right before Twilight says "How can this day get any worse?" in the beginning of "Choices".
  • Go Through Me: When Flim and Flam, along with a mob of ponies, attempt to recapture Jessica in Baltimare, Rainbow Dash and Ebony — whose relationship until that point had been at best adversarial, with Rainbow not trusting Jessica either — both place themselves between them and her.
  • Heroic BSoD: Jessica when she learns why she arrived in Equestria and her biggest clue to get back to Earth is Star Swirl's book, which is still on Earth.
  • Hypocritical Humour: When Sweetie Belle smells Jessica's unwashed clothing, she compares it to Scootaloo's cooking.
  • Indy Ploy: Ebony tends to do this a lot. "Deceit" stands out, with her constantly looking for any opportunity to get Jessica away from the Elements and lead her to the hive, impulsively settling on the train to Baltimare.
  • Insane Troll Logic: This exchange, much to Ebony's derision:
    Flam: Flim… an idea occurs to me. What exactly do we know about the beast?
    Flim: Other than the obvious we already discussed, there were several rumours we heard. Its shoulder was injured when fleeing from the authorities, it stands between ten hooves or thirty seven hooves, it has scales, it has fur, and it has feathers. Then there are the ponies who said it had fangs, or a tail, or wings, or…
    Flam: You see Flim, no-pony could agree on what it looked like. Who is to say what we have back there is not the Foal-Hunter?
    Flim: Brother of mine, you always did have the brains of the family. So by the process of elimination, this must be the Foal-Hunter… I am not quite sure why it looks that way or why it wears clothing, but that’s how monsters work.
    • Later it's revealed that was a subversion: they meant it as, since there are no consistent accounts of the Foal-Hunter, nopony is going to challenge Jessica being such creature. Any strange or apparently sapient behavior can be explained as being part of the show.
  • Interspecies Friendship: Jessica and Ebony, with each subsequently befriending most of the ponies they meet in Ponyville and Canterlot. It leads to a major peace agreement between the Equestrians and the Changelings.
  • Interspecies Romance: Defied, when Jessica finds out that Iron Will is attracted to her. Later played straight with Bastion and Minder.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: Ebony uses one to get Jessica on the train to Baltimare.
  • Jerkass Realization: Downplayed in "Mystery" when Twilight realises that her curiosity had distracted her from the fact that Jessica is a scared girl lost in a strange land.
  • Language Barrier: The language gulf between human and ponies is a main drive of the story. Only after half-a-dozen chapters does Jessica learn more than a handful of words in the pony language.
    • Luna has been learning English through Jessica's dreams, and Jessica is teaching Twilight as of "Preparations". In addition, Starswirl became fluent in English during his time on Earth.
    • Jessica is finally able to understand and speak Equestrian passably in the last chapter. It's also noted that Minder and Bastion have started to pick up a few words of her language.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Later chapters of AVATS reveal that Ebony has been the new Changeling queen since shortly after the invasion of Canterlot, and that her Changeling name is Chrysalis as well. The first chapter of ASATV, from Ebony's point of view, does not attempt to keep it a secret.
  • Like Brother and Sister: At one point Jessica describes Swift Dawn and Aurora Blossom as such, only to be told that they are.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Jessica's reaction when she realises her anger is physically hurting the Changelings.
  • My Greatest Failure: Downplayed, but Swift Dawn keeps his scar to remind him of how he almost failed to protect Jessica in Baltimare.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Twilight and the other Elements sent the chimera back into the Everfree Forest, and if their timing had been later Dinky might never have encountered it. On the other hand, this might also have kept Jessica from stumbling into Ponyville, and the consequences would have in all probability been worse for her.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Apparently there was an incident with "...Luna, Celestia’s pet phoenix Philomena, and several pairs of newly charred socks..."
    • Jessica and Fluttershy were able to bond after an incident with a squirrel. Jessica doesn't want to think about said poor squirrel.
    • Aurora Blossom brings up how Jessica reminded Bastion of his sister, but clams up when Jessica asks about her. "She's a nice filly, you two would get along but it's really Bastion's place to say."
  • Not So Above It All: Princess Celestia and Princess Luna will participate in the ongoing Pillow War every so often.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Ebony's response when Twilight and Spike walk in on her tickling Jessica on their couch.
  • Obliviously Evil: The Flim Flam brothers were unaware of Jessica's sapience when they captured her, though they later seem to wilfully ignore several obvious signs of it, which Ebony calls Flim on after she breaks Jessica out.
  • Oh, Crap!: Ebony, after tricking Jessica into boarding the train to Baltimare only to realise that Dinky, Applejack, Swift Dawn and Bastion have followed them. Jessica herself, moments later, when she realises she's on the wrong train.
  • One-Steve Limit: Subverted: Queen Chrysalis seems to name drones who do exemplary work for the hive after herself. The changeling Jessica dubs Ebony was one such changeling.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Jessica has two bracelets she inherited from her mom. They contain the names of her female ancestors, to be given to her daughter. She later has them changed for the foallings, as she now sees them as her children. Rarity also makes replacements for Jessica, with the names intact.
  • Owls Ask "Who?": There's an off-screen incident between Spike and Owlowicious, with Spike only realizing later that he fell into the same trap as always. This one is noteworthy because it happens in a story where the Equestrian language explicitly sounds nothing like English.
    Twilight: We would have been here sooner but Owlowiscious and Spike got into an argument over who was cleaning up later today.
    Spike: Hey, it's not my fault he kept asking who was meant to... be... doing—... argh.
  • Puny Earthlings: Dr. Carehoof quickly demolishes the theory that Jessica is a foal-hunting predator.
    Dr. Carehoof: Her teeth alone create an argument against the foal eating theory. Aside from the canines they appear to be more used for crushing than tearing. Honestly, just from what I have looked at so far, they resemble our own teeth much closer than those of say a wolf or other predator species. But… upon saying that, while healing her body I discovered her bone structure appears far less resilient than that of a pony’s. Alarmingly, even her skin appears to be softer and less durable, and I would presume easily damaged. In essence what I am trying to say is, while she could conceivably hunt foals she would be like the dog that chases the metaphorical carriage. A kick, even from a young pony, would very likely cause a nasty injury.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The changeling foals are absolutely adorable in appearance and actions to most everyone, but especially to Jessica.
  • Running Gag: The never ending Pillow War and accidental breaking of expensive items while Princess Celestia tries not to react.
  • Sanity Slippage: Jessica thinks she's having one when she starts seeing a male unicorn with a beard following her around.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • Starswirl's book was left behind, meaning that some other hapless human might end up in Equestria.
    • It is also mentioned that at least one of Jessica's letters made it to Earth, along with a photograph.
    • The reference to Bastion's sister is likely setting up something for Tystarr's planned side-story about the guard trio.
  • Shaming the Mob: Applejack first calls out the Ponyvillians for assuming the worst about Jessica (reminding them of thow they reacted to Zecora), then apparently does the same in Baltimare after Jessica is almost recaptured. Twilight does the same when they leave the hospital, attempting to make them realise that Jessica is more afraid of them than they are of her. It still hasn't quite sunk in by the time they return to Ponyville.
  • Share the Male Pain: When one of Iron Will's goats starts eating a specific pillow, Octavia is not happy. When leaving the train, one of the goats is limping, with Swift Dawn putting his legs closer together. This action confuses Jess.
  • Spoiler Title: Homecoming. Subverted — it's a homecoming for Starswirl the Bearded, whose spirit had been trapped within the book Jessica found for centuries, as part of a desperate plan to get back home from Earth.
  • Stalker with a Crush: An as yet unnamed pegasus Guard who has been pursuing Aurora romantically ever since their families tried to set them up. He shows up several times in "Acceptance", but doesn't get the hint no matter how many lightning-filled clouds Aurora and/or Rainbow Dash throw in his direction. Iron Will also comes across as one for Jessica, but he did seem to take her rejection pretty well.
  • The Stoic: Bastion, hence Jessica's nickname for him. He later proves himself Not So Stoic on several occasions, but the nickname sticks until she gets into the habit of remembering his real name. Jess also thinks Swift Dawn is this initially, but he starts opening up to her more in the Baltimare chapters, and he comes across as more of a goof to the characters who can understand him.
  • Taking the Bullet: Swift Dawn, one of the royal guards watching Jessica, stepped in front of her when she was going to be whipped and ended up with a wound on his face. Jessica later names him "Scar".
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Twilight walks into the library after a stressful morning to be met by an explosion in the kitchen. "How can this day get any worse?!" Rather hilariously lampshaded in the narration:
    Seven words, seven innocuous words that when separated are as common as night and day. Many of the brightest minds had spent years researching the mystical power inherent when the words go together in the exact right order, and yet, none had ever come to a conclusion. It was even rumoured Clover the Clever had spent some of her years delving deep into their mystery but all to no avail. Twilight Sparkle, with all her past experiences really should have known better; at the end of the day she had no-one to blame but herself.
    • Discussed in the narration when Jessica compares Aurora's stalker to Iron Will's crush on her, and expects him to suddenly appear out of nowhere. He doesn't.
  • The Nicknamer: Jessica, at least until she is able to actually learn their names and how to pronounce them. She will still sometimes refer to ponies by their nicknames in her own thoughts. The nicknames are usually based upon a pony's cutiemark or how they look or act, and most of them are pretty close to translations of their actual names.
    • Jess and Ebony start naming the changelings. For a changeling to have a name given to them is a great honor: Ebony once was named by Queen Chrysalis with… Chrysalis. It should be noted that Jessica is a bit kinder to what she names them. Ebony… not so much.
  • The Prankster: Aurora Blossom, leading to her becoming fast friends with Rainbow Dash.
  • This Is Wrong on So Many Levels!: When another bit of pony anatomy confuses her, she wonders if the ponies are confused by some part of her appearance:
    Jessica, thinking: Beware my evil bosom. Oh, now that's just wrong on so many levels, Jess.
  • Title Drop: "She was no longer just a lone voice stranded amongst strangers."
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Jessica used to love fish, but the unicorn brothers that captured her spoiled it for her. She later smells some well-done fish in Canterlot Castle and greedily eats some.
  • Tranquil Fury: Bastion's reaction after Blueblood seriously injures one of the changeling foals, which is described as such in the narration.
  • Translation Punctuation: Equestrian words and phrases Jessica learns to understand or speak are wrapped in tildes, starting with, "~Let home be where your heart lies.~". The same is done to certain English words that the Equestrians pick up from Jessica, such as "~Ebony~".
  • Translator Microbes: Subverted. Twilight uses multiple scrolls with translator spells on them, but none of them are languages that Jessica recognizes.
  • Trapped in Another World: Jessica in Equestria, Starswirl the Bearded on Earth.
  • Tsundere: Ebony towards Jessica.
    Ebony: You're a pain in the butt, you know that? You make me do the most inane things, but… But you’re my pain in the butt. Now, don’t go thinking it’s because I like you or anything.
  • Wham Line: When Pinkie visits Ebony in hospital in "Solace", she asks, "Why haven't you gone to meet your friend yet?" tipping Ebony (and the reader) off to the fact that she knows Ebony has some connection to Jessica.
  • "Where? Where?": A variant: while trying to get her sister Amethyst Star to come and help Jessica, Dinky overhears Lily starting a panic among the town about the "Foal-Hunter". This just increases her fear for Jessica's safety, until Starlight has to explain to her that Jessica is the "Foal-Hunter".
  • Who's on First?: Happens offscreen between Spike and Owlowicious, with Spike only realising later that he fell into the same trap he always does. Note that this happens even though it's been established that English and Equestrian sound nothing alike.
    Twilight: We would have been here sooner but Owlowiscious and Spike got into an argument over who was cleaning up later today.
    Spike: Hey, it's not my fault he kept asking who was meant to... be... doing-... argh.
  • Why Did It Have To Be Unicorns?: Jessica's reaction to Doctor Carehoof, a unicorn stallion like her captors the Flim Flam brothers. Dinky doesn't trigger the same reaction from her, though, and she manages to get over it thanks to interaction with Twilight over the course of the chapter.