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Harmony Theory is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic by Sharaloth.

After the defeat of Chrysalis, Celestia assigns Twilight the task of studying the Elements of Harmony. Over a thousand years later, Rainbow Dash wakes up underground, next to a dead stallion, with no memory of anything that has happened since Ponyville was assigned tornado duty, in a world very different to the one she is used to. Equestria has split in two, the magic of the world has faded, the geography, cultures and languages are not what she is familiar with and the first thing she does gets her in trouble with the Lunar Republic's police force.

After injuring herself, she is rescued by Star Fall/Fallen Star and her griffon bodyguard Astrid, two spies for the Solar Kingdom. Star Fall recognizes the language Rainbow speaks as Old Equestrian, that she is the most powerful and magical pegasus to have been seen in at least eight hundred years and that she is claiming to be the ancient hero Rainbow Dash.

The tensions between the two sides of Equestria only increase with the arrival of a living superweapon and it looks like Nightmare Umbra, the alicorn of war, is set to return. And what does Rainbow's arrival have to do with the activities of the criminal Max Cash?

And how does all this relate to Twilight's disturbing discoveries about the Elements of Harmony themselves?

Harmony Theory used to update every few months, but has not updated since 2018.

This fanfic contains examples of the following tropes:

  • The Ace: Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie. This is due to their vast amount of innate magic, which the ponies of future Equestria have little of. Twinkle Shine even comments that Rainbow Dash was a phenom even by pre-Schism standards.
  • After the End: The Schism was an apocalyptic event which resulted in this.
  • A Good Way to Die: Charisma dies, after an epic battle with her Worthy Opponent and reverts back to her normal form, after which point the power of the Elements start to disintagrating her, while she is still conscious. Despite this, she manages to laugh it off and exchange confessions of love with Trail Blazer, as he comforts her. He also honors her last request of smiling the whole, which she considers is a pretty good last image to go out on.
  • All There in the Manual: Backstory for The Solar Kingdom and Lunar Republic can be found in the authors blog posts.
  • Animalistic Abomination: Continued use of the Elements has turned Max into.. something else. Assuming he was really a regular pony to began with.
  • Armour-Piercing Question: When trying to get Rainbow to understand his view of Charisma, Blaze asks her:
    Blaze: "And you fly fast. How would you feel if you were told ever since you were a little filly that you weren’t allowed to? That it was wrong."
  • Arranged Marriage: The griffons and changelings have eugenics programs. The Solar King also has the power to arrange this. He uses this power to betrothe Star Fall to his son.
  • Ascended to Carnivorism: A variation is revealed in chapter 36; dragons before the Schism could eat meat, but preferred not to, due to the abundance of sapient animals and the fact they could get just as much nourishment from gems. However, this ability was based on the high levels of ambient magic, so after the Schism, they had to revert to eating meat.
  • The Assimilator: Nightmare Umbra can absorb the ashes of the fallen to increase her strength, and she can summon anyone she had absorbed as an undead minion.
    Nightmare Umbra: Burn, Fallen Star. Burn And Become One With Me.
  • Bad Future: What Rainbow Dash finds herself in. While not dystopian, it's still bad compared to her Present Day. Applejack, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy find themselves there, too, whilst Spike is still alive.
  • Badass Boast: Nightmare Umbra gives these a lot. Examples:
    "Beaten? No. At My Weakest I Fought Three Of Your Best, And They Did Not Impress. The Student Who Thinks Herself A Princess? Her Magic Could Not Match Mine. The Soldier Who Forsakes Duty? Her Fury Was But The Wind, Its Might Spent On Empty Bluster. The Hero A Thousand Years From Home? She Was The Only One Who Could Challenge Me, And Even She Fell To My Power."
    "So Be It. If A Thousand Stand Together, Then Together A Thousand Will Fall."
    "There Is No Escape. There Is No Victory. There Is Only Me. And Death."
    "I Am The Destroyer! I Am Nations Brought Low And Cities Made Ruin. I Am The Final Power, The Ultimate Darkness. I Am The Doom Of Ponykind, And Through Me All Things Will Become Ash. I Am Nightmare Umbra!"
    "Heed Your Mentor's Words, Fallen Star, And Hide While You Can. For In The End, There Will Be Nowhere To Run To."
  • Badass Bookworm: Star Fall is a scholar, magic talent, spy and powerful (by modern standards) mage, able to use her abilities in a fight.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: Umbra's attack on the Solar Capital and Cash's siege of Senator Birk's Massion.
  • Big Fancy House: Spike curved his own personnel palace, inside a mountain.
  • Bullet Catch: Max Cash does this, after Traduse and Hard Boiled try to get the drop on him with their guns. Not that he has to...
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • Starfall is the first pegasus on modern record to be born with a magic Cutie Mark. This has lead to her being taken from her family and used as a political tool most of her life.
    • Charisma's Cutie Mark decreed special talent: she's a born assassin. As a result, she constantly "hears" her subconscious not only whispering how she can kill every single being she interact with, but demanding that she does kill them. It goes without saying that this has driven her totally insane.
    • Detective Hard Boiled's Living Lie Detector abilities cause him pain and fatigue whenever he uses them. Being around things that are inherently lies like Changelings and long term illusions is like torture to him.
  • Blood Knight: Charisma's talent actually encourages her to fight. And she really enjoys it.
  • Bullying the Dragon: Max taunts Charisma about her parents after getting to Fluttershy's statue and almost gets her to kill him. Whether there is any reason to this or if it was just For the Evulz is unknown.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: A pony named Melody Drop wants revenge on Max Cash for killing her master. While he vaguely remembers the incident, he doesn't remember who she is.
  • Charm Person: Max Cash, who uses a combination of Armor-Piercing Question and Break Them by Talking to compel his victims into performing, as he calls it, "One. Little. Betrayal." Him using an Inverted Element of Loyalty helps.
  • Civil War: The Solar Empire and Luna Republic ultimately descend from a particularly bloody and brutal war that was fought centuries ago, after the deaths of Twilight's original circle of friends. How bitter was it? Celestia and Luna grew so sick of the two factions who claimed to be operating in their names, but wouldn't listen to either of their "chosen" rulers, that they abdicated and left Equestria in the hooves of Twilight Sparkle. And that was just the start of when things went wrong.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Blaze's speeches are enough to make some fans suspect him to be Pinkie's descendant.
  • Cosmic Retcon: Someone went to great lengths to remove any mention of the Elements of Harmony from the world. Even Twilight Sparkle's book on the subject isn't mentioned in any way even though she's basically the founding figure of modern magical studies. Similarly, no one seems to have ever heard of Discord before.
  • Crapsack World: The future version of Equestria... well, let's see: Celestia and Luna are, to all practical purposes, dead. A planet-wrecking apocalypse has siphoned away so much magic that the sapient races of Equestria either lost most of their powers, were rendered nonsapient, or were driven extinct. Pony civilization has shattered from the peaceful, harmonious unity they were under the Alicorn diarchy into two warring factions, the Solar Empire and the Luna Republic. Cutie Marks can apparently now mentally damage their bearers — and since this world is grim enough it's possible to get Cutie Marks for talents in killing, that just makes it worse. A Mad God is prophesied to return and finish the annihilation of the world. There's a psychopath running around trying to get his hooves on the Elements of Harmony as part of some mysterious plan. Yeah, this world sucks. No wonder Rainbow Dash is less than impressed with the future.
  • Cute and Psycho: Charisma is a pretty pink pegasus who is considered very attractive. She's also dangerously insane.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Astrid telling Star that she regrets becoming an "unstoppable badass" instead of learning "egghead language" shows her to be this.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Being pushed over this by the Civil War is what led Twilight Sparkle to create Nightmare Umbra, hoping that Equestria would finally reunite in the face of ultimate, universal annihilation.
  • Destructive Romance: Charisma and Trail Blazer old relationship is implied to be this.
  • The Dreaded: Charisma is basically considered impossible to beat in single combat and scares just about everyone who knows about her. Nightmare Umbra is even scarier as she's effectively a war goddess ponification of destruction.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Rainbow, Astrid and Star Fall actually manage to chase off Nightmare Umbra. However, Umbra is still regaining her strength.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: A variation. Rainbow does know how strong she is. What she doesn't realize at first, though, is how fragile everypony else is, and nearly kills two police officers by accident. Even the air pressure from her sonic booms are dangerous.
  • Dying as Yourself: After going One-Winged Angel during her fight with Rainbow Dash, Charisma seems somewhat happy that her body reverted back to its original form, as she dies.
  • Easily Forgiven: Charisma lampshades that after Max will get under her skin, she'll barley stop herself from killing him, he would make another snide remark and it will be business as usual... except this time
  • Elite Mooks: The Changelings and Griffins serve as this, for the Lunar Republic and Solar Empire respectively.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Trail Blazer makes his introduction by butting into an argument between Calumn and a bartender, to correct Calumn phrasing: "It's not robbery, it's extortion." He then casually warns his new buddy, that the guide he was about to hire is planning to rob and leave him for dead in the Everstorm, in a very cheerful and casual manner.
  • Eternal English: Averted. Although the languages that the two sides speak are based off of Old Equestrian, neither one can be understood by Rainbow Dash at first. That and, like real languages, Solar and Lunar are different enough that understanding one doesn't mean you understand the other.
  • Fantastic Racism: Most ponies have serious hatred of changelings and in the Solar Kingdom there is a strong belief in the supremacy of unicorns over other kinds of ponies. It leads to some political uncertainties and a lot of angry nobles the moment the king announces that Star will marry one of his sons, who he also makes his heir to the throne.
  • Fantastic Slur: "Insect" for changeling. Also the two sides of Equestria call each other "lunatics" and "sun-heads".
  • Faux Affably Evil: Max Cash can act rather polite and friendly. But it has a disturbing undercurrent. He barely understands friendship and basically is just messing with everybody's heads. While not confirmed by the writer, a lot of Max's actions are similar to the characteristics of actual sociopaths.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Max Cash surviving the hole Hard Boiled put where his heart would be, should clue you in that Astrid ripping out his heart isn't going to work.
  • For the Evulz: Max Cash causes a lot of pain and suffering just because he can.
  • Friendly Enemies: One-sided example with Cash, who half tauntingly expresses admiration for the awakened heroes.
  • From Bad to Worse: The backstory of Nightmare Umbra's creation, as revealed by Spike in chapter 36: the budding Civil War first drove Celestia and Luna to abdicate so that they couldn't be used as figureheads for factions they had nothing to do with. Then, under Twilight Sparkle's leadership, war ultimately broke out. When it destroyed Canterlot, a devastated Twilight created Nightmare Umbra as a way to force the reunification of ponydom, no matter how many lives it took. When it seemed like even that wasn't working, Twilight attempted to stop her creation, which produced the Schism as a mere byproduct of the battle.
  • Genius Loci: The Everstorm seems sentient and malevolent.
  • Genre Savvy: Rainbow has read enough Daring Do books to know to always check the body, when villains like Max Cash are seemingly dead.
  • Genre Shift: Hard Boiled and Traduse's segments have a lot more Buddy Cop Show and Film Noir elements.
  • Genghis Gambit: What Nightmare Umbra is, as revealed in Chapter 36. She was made to unite the warring factions after the Schism.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Needless to say, Twilight's plans for Nightmare Umbra went soundly tits-up, as evidenced by the creation of the modern Solar Kingdom and Lunar Republic.
  • Götterdämmerung: Celestia and Luna are now sealed in their respective celestial bodies, which happened after they voluntarily abdicated the Equestrian throne in the face of the Civil War. Additionally, a magical disaster called the Schism has sucked away the vast majority of the planet's magic, possibly imprisoning it in the form of the Everstorm. See The Magic Goes Away.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Neither the Solar Kingdom or Lunar Republic are exactly bad, both have some unpleasant parts to them and neither is really that wrong for seeing the other as a serious threat. The only black so far seems to be Cash and Nightmare Umbra, a criminal with way too much power and an immortal alicorn that causes a lot of destruction. And it turns out that Nightmare Umbra is literally a living invocation of the Well-Intentioned Extremist trope, having been created to be a force of destruction so terrible that ponies would finally unite against her, as they had been before the Civil War.
  • Harmful Healing: Healing magic (especially if done wrong/by an inexperienced unicorn) caries a high risk of causing cancer, so most avoid using it unless they have no choice.
  • Hermetic Magic: As a pegasus, Star Fall has no horn and so casts spells by drawing magic circles on spell paper.
  • Healing Factor: Nightmare Umbra regenerates almost instantly from injury, assuming you can get through her defenses. Her blood fights back as well. Rainbow also heals extremely quickly to the point that when Star Fall boosted her Healing Factor her wounds began closing up before their eyes.
  • Hellfire: Nightmare Umbra controls Ashfire. One touch and it consumes you until nothing is left but ash, and it is almost impossible to extinguish. It feeds on magic. Star Fall is able to survive it by redirecting her internal magic away from it, so it goes out from lack of fuel.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: After the heroes finally have Max Cash on the ropes, in Fluttershy's temple, both Applejack and-more reluctantly-Calumn, try to convince them that killing Cash while he's defenseless is wrong, whether he deserves it or not. Of course, this becomes a moot point soon after.
  • Immune to Bullets: When Rarity is shot in the head with a sniper rifle, the impact only knocks her unconscious instead of penetrating her skull and killing her.
    • Max Cash is also this... but how is little more mysterious.
  • Impossible Task: The Maul is an obstacle course designed to be impossible to complete which is used in training Solar Kingdom spies. Rainbow completed it, but with a lot more difficulty than she expected as she didn't realise that she'd have to be dodging bullets, missiles and melee fighters at the time.
  • Imposter Forgot One Detail: Max Cash tells a story of a time in his youth when a changeling impersonated one of his friends. He fooled everybody except him. This was because Max had personally murdered the friend via drowning a short time ago. Max then killed the changeling the same way.
  • In Love with Your Carnage: After Charisma sees what Rainbow can do, she seems impressed and starts calling her "Hot Stuff". She is also pleased by Blaze's resistance to torture.
  • Insistent Terminology: In the future, Cutie Marks are now called Talent Glyphs. Rainbow Dash adamantly refuses to use that term and always calls them Cutie Marks.
  • Instant Expert: Rainbow Dash and later Applejack and Rarity learns the modern language well enough to passably speak it in a matter of weeks. It's hinted that something strange might be going with them to let them do that.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Charisma is sometimes turned on by the idea of others being injured.
  • In-Universe Nickname: Blaze for Trail Blazer.
  • I Want Grand Kids: The main reason the king sets up Star's marriage to Regal is the hope that they'll produce an Alicorn grandchild. Even though it really shouldn't work he seems to have had some of his family's mystic visions that suggest she'll be somehow involved in the process of their return.
  • I Want My Jetpack: Rainbow Dash actually asks outright where the jetpacks are early in the story, and is visibly bummed to hear that Equestria doesn't have them. In fact, as Star Fall notes with some disappointment, Rainbow Dash is pretty unimpressed with the future in general. Justified: modern Equestria is a Crapsack World in comparison to the Equestria of 1000 years ago, so it's kind of understandable that Rainbow Dash feels let down.
  • Knighting: Rainbow Dash gets knighted after helping defeat Nightmare Umbra. However this is done not as a reward, but as a political tactic to draw attention away from Star Fall's engagement to the prince. In this universe, knighthood is another form of nobility, and giving the knight an estate to manage is included in the ceremony.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Rainbow is faster, stronger and tougher than pretty much every modern pony. There are modern supersonic pegasi, but they are extreme specialists and only the more powerful earth ponies are stronger or tougher (and probably not both). This is explained as a side-effect of the Götterdämmerung.
  • Living Lie Detector: Hard Boiled's magic lets him function as one of these.
  • Living Statue: Apparently Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Rarity, and presumably the rest of the Mane 6 are animate sculptures who possess their respective consciousness from different periods of time.
  • The Magic Goes Away: The Schism, a mysterious cataclysm that sapped away a large portion of the planet's magic. This had extremely negative effects on the planet. Many species actually went from being sapient to being little more than animals, or outright extinct. Dragons suffered a Depopulation Bomb effect, as the larger ones suffocated under their own weight; those who survive have to carefully marshal their growth, lest they experience the same fate. Griffons have been afflicted by a Sterility Plague, as the low magic levels pose potentially genocidal impacts on their ability to conceive. Even ponies and changelings, who have come through the Schism with the least issues, have experienced a serious downgrade in their natural abilities.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Nightmare Umbra uses the Royal Canterlot Voice as a weapon. Sonic booms can also be weaponized.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Max Cash with a little help from a couple of Elements of Harmony.
  • The Mentor: Twinkle Shine for Star Fall.
  • Mind Control: Both an ability used by the changelings and an ability Max Cash is using the Elements of Harmony for.
  • Motor Mouth: Blaze really seems to like talking.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Downplayed. Calumn has an existential crisis about his identity as a changeling and what that means, but changelings do not seem to be Always Chaotic Evil in this fic. Just different.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: As chapter 36 reveals, it was the bloodthirsty stupidity of the Royalist and Rebel factions that ultimately pushed Twilight Sparkle to create Nightmare Umbra, which in turn led to the Schism as an unintended side-effect of Twilight's attempt to stop her. In a more specific case, Princess/Queen Teneral of the Changelings taunted Twilight Sparkle at the final failed peace talks before open war broke out that Twilight could either force them into obedience, thus becoming a tyrant, or watch impotently as Equestria burned itself to the ground before picking up the pieces afterwards. This planted the seed that ultimately became Nightmare Umbra — and, in an act of Laser-Guided Karma, Teneral is remembered as the last Changeling Queen because one of Nightmare Umbra's first acts of destruction was ripping Teneral to shreds.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Exposure to the corrupted elements has given Max Cash this ability... to the point that tearing out his heart and mauling what's left is only a temporary set back for him.
  • No Body Left Behind: After Charisma is mortally wounded in her second battle with Rainbow Dash, The Element she was using destroys her body. She doesn't seem too bothered.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Charisma gives an epic one to Max, along with a "Reason You Suck Speech", after finally having enough of his crap in chapter 33.
  • No Indoor Voice: Nightmare Umbra uses the Royal Canterlot Voice at all times.
  • Noodle Incident: The beginning of Trail Blazer's story about him and Charisma, discussed in chapter 33 begins with him apparently trying to sell a fur coat, while the store was on fire, because he needed water, and Charisma walking in soaking wet from a pond explosion and being chased by water fowls. We get no knowledge about what happens before this.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: While Rainbow Dash and the other members of the Mane Six are pretty powerful, they are still within the normal abilities of their races. When Dash finds herself 1000 years in the future (eventually followed by the others), where ambient magic has been reduced and much knowledge has been lost, making the inhabitants a lot weaker. For instance, Pegasi have forgotten how to walk on clouds, control the weather, can't fly very fast, and are not strong enough to fly while carrying another pony. Earth Ponies have lost a lot of their strength and speed and their connection with the earth and plant life. Unicorns have relatively weak telekinesis and can't manipulate a lot of objects at once or with fine control. The inhabitants tend to see the ponies of the past as Super Soldiers. Also, the inhabitants are Made of Plasticine compared to the ponies of the past. When Rarity gets shot in the head, the impact of the bullet only knocks her unconscious, while everyone is shocked that it didn't make her head explode.
  • Not Quite Dead: Did you really think Astrid tearing Max's heart out would stop him?
  • Not Quite Flight: Bigwig is a unicorn who can levitate platforms to carry himself at speeds rivaling pegasi (though with worse maneuverability).
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: While the group debate, whether they should finish off Max Cash, while they have him dead to rights and only Applejack and Column beg the others to just take him in, you know this is serious when the normally very forgiving and Friend to All Living Things (even the Jerkasses) Trail Blazer plainly says he with the "kill him now" group.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Inverted. Modern Equestria is both more scientifically advanced and more religious than Rainbow is used to. She considers it strange to think of the alicorns as gods or to pray to them. Twinkle Shine lampshades how this is different from what her class might expect. One possibly reason why might be because of how the depletion of magic has left the general pony population weaker, and thus made once-mundane feats of old now only mythical to modern generations.
  • Painful Transformation: How Twinkle Shine transforms into Nightmare Umbra is... not pleasant. It involves her bones, tendons, and flesh constantly shifting, breaking, tearing, and healing as she grows wings and more than doubles in size.
  • The Power of Friendship: As one might expect for a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic, this turns up. But things are more complicated than you would normally expect from the trope.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Griffins
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: Max Cash can do this to the unconnected.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Charisma is Trail Blazer's ex.
  • Punctuated Pounding: Rainbow does this to the thugs who were torturing Blaze and tried to do the same to her.
  • Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: The cast is slowly growing into this. Lampshaded by Hard Boiled:
    Hard Boiled: So we’ve got a group of heroes from the past, a princess, a Griffin, a Dragon, a Storm Guide, a pair of Changelings, a Senator, an RIA Director [Gamma], and a detective. All in one room. Why do I get the feeling this is all one big joke that I’m not going to get?
  • Reality Is Out to Lunch: The Everstorm induces insanity, creates illusions, moves locations, has variable gravity, logic defying weather, and provides attacks by floating skulls and the occasional crucified zombie ursa major animated by fast growing vines, among other things.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Bigwig is considered a fair employer and is effective in helping calm a potential mob, until Charisma intervenes.
    • The king of the Solar Kingdom genuinely wants what's best for his kingdom and people, doesn't really subscribe to the unicorn-supremacist philosophy that some of his nobles do, understands that he has limits on his power and tries to instill the same virtues on his son. His only flaw is that he also wants Star to give him an alicorn grandchild to help repair the world's political divides even though it's been made clear she can't.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Nightmare Umbra delivers a scathing one to the Solar Kingdom nobility.
    Nightmare Umbra: Silence. To Call Yourselves Noble Is Laughable. You Claim To Worship Celestia, Yet When I Look Into Your Precious, Little, Sun-Loving Faces, I Do Not See Ponies She Would Be Proud Of. Just Look At You Now: You Trample Those Weaker Underhoof In The Hope Of Buying Yourself Another Breath Of Life. Craven Beasts, That Hope Is As Empty As Your Hearts.
    Charisma: if you wanted someone to kill you so bad, you could have gotten literally anyone who's spent more than five minutes with you!
    • Disturbingly enough, even after she breaks his shoulder, he just laughs it off.
  • Red Baron: Charisma is called "The Asskicker" by her enemies. Also, "The Killer".
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Nightmare Umbra's undead minions can only be destroyed by crushing their skulls. They regenerate from anything else, including decapitation.
  • Retcon: In her notes, Twilight Sparkle suggests that the Elements of Harmony are capable of doing this to people and fears that they may have already done so without anyone realizing it.
  • Retired Badass: Bigwig is former military and can fight Charisma.
  • Romanticized Abuse: Zigzagged with Charisma and Trail Blazer. They may have been genuinely in love, but Charisma was still a blood thirsty sadist who enjoyed torture and had a Hair-Trigger Temper to boot, and it is likely Blaze was only ever able to take being with her because he was Too Kinky to Torture.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Charisma does this, after she in Cash get to Fluttershy's statue. See You're Insane entry below, for more details.
  • Secret Identity: Rainbow's is Firefly.
  • Semantic Superpower: Rainbow is able to use her talent of being fast and winning to win a bet and learn how to speak Solar in mere days. Or she might be mistaken after all.
  • Shapeshifters Do It for a Change: Changelings take full advantage of the fact that their Voluntary Shapeshifting let's them switch gender at will. They do have a default gender though.
  • Show Within a Show: Harmony Theory itself and The Magic of Friendship. Both are books written by Twilight.
  • Slave Race: Every griffon is pledged to serve the Solar King, as his magic is keeping their species from extinction.
  • The Slow Path: Spike made it to the future the old fashioned way.
  • The Social Darwinist: Nightmare Umbra hints that she attacks people because she wants them to fight back and prove they are worthy enough to survive. Unfortunately, she's judged the entire world to be unworthy and is determined to exterminate them.
    Nightmare Umbra: I Loathe This Entire World. Filled With Cowards And Fools. Ruled By The Pathetic Wills Of Ponies Who Cannot See Beyond Their Own Petty Wants. A Kingdom Of Friendship? They Will Never Achieve Such A Thing. All They Are Destined For Is To Be Ruled By The Strongest Hoof, Or Ground To Dust Beneath Mine.
  • Super Breeding Program: The Solar King is bent on having powerful Royal Heirs to the point that he wants an Alicorn born into the family. And he believes Star Fall is the key to this. So far, nopony else is in agreement with him, but nopony is able to change his mind.
  • Square-Cube Law: Due to the reduced amount of ambient magic to support their bodies, dragons have to maintain a reasonable size to survive. Max Cash goads a young and inexperienced dragon named Boomer into giving into greed. This causes him to grow gigantic and powerful, but then his body starts to collapse on itself.
  • Straw Nihilist: Max Cash reveals himself to be one.
    Max Cash: I knew someone would come. I knew it not because I had planned for you to be here, or because I'm somehow in control of these grand events. No, I knew it because I hadn't planned for it. I knew it because I'm not in control. This isn't my story. I'm not the hero, but neither am I the villain. I'm just like you, in fact. Just like them. I'm a puppet. I'm just another fucking plaything for the real villains. Freedom is a joke, and choice is an illusion. In the end there's only a hoofful of ponies who can honestly say that they've ever actually had one, and most of them never even realized it. Me? I want to be one of them. I want myself to matter. But I can't ever do that unless those same forces that are pulling the strings want to let me. I am at their mercy, just like every other sucker in the whole damn universe. You know how I feel about that? I hate it.
  • Super-Soldier: How Rainbow is viewed by those in the setting.
  • Tactful Translation:
    Rainbow: Buck you, Bird Brain!
    Astrid: What did she say?
    Star Fall: She says that she's unhappy, but will accept the wisdom of your decision.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Solar Empire and the Luna Republic, as shown in chapter 36, are willing to ignore Nightmare Umbra publicly declaring she's going to kill them all to instead focus on fighting a battle against each other.
  • Torture Technician: Charisma and she enjoys it.
  • Translation Convention: There are at least three languages in the fic. All three are represented by English in the fic. A switch in languages is represented by writing the language which is spoken less in that scene in italics.
  • Unperson: Discord.
  • Unskilled, but Strong:
    • Astrid claims that Rainbow is this. Gamma responds that the problem isn't that Rainbow is unskilled, but rather that she's a Technical Pacifist.
    • Nightmare Umbra has incredible strength and speed, but is a poor flyer, allowing Rainbow to out maneuver her. She also has terrible aim. Still, trying to fight her is nigh impossible since her stamina is unlimited, she can't be hurt permanently, and she can rip out mountain sized chunks of earth and throw them at Mach speeds.
  • Walking Armory: How Bigwig chooses to confront Charisma.
  • War God: Nightmare Umbra is thought of this way. But she is feared rather than worshiped.
  • War Is Hell: Rainbow Dash and the other elements are completely shocked at how horrifying the battles are.
    • Chapter 36 reveals that Nightmare Umbra was created to invoke this, being so powerful and destructive as to end the Civil War through creating a single enemy so horrible that they would be forced to unite together, and then be so sick of battle as to finally make peace.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Spike reveals in chapter 36 that the Schism ultimately came to pass because neither the Royalists nor the Rebels would cooperate with each other to fight Nightmare Umbra; they both fought her, but they kept trying to fight each other at the same time, and so she curb-stomped them.
  • We Have Become Complacent: Nightmare Umbra accuses the Solar Kingdom of this.
    Nightmare Umbra: Eight Hundred Years Have I Waited, Marshaling My Power. Eight Hundred Years Have I Given You To Do The Same. When I Emerged From My Silence I Expected To See Armies Arrayed Against Me! Heroes And Sages Aiding Great Leaders In Battle Against The Only Foe That Will Ever Matter For You. A Worthy Challenge To My Dominion. What Have I Found? The Petty Rulers Of A Broken World, Sitting In Pretty Rows Celebrating The Union Of A Blushing Filly And A Pampered Fop Who You Expect To Be Your Sovereign. Are You Such Fools That You Thought Me Gone Forever? Were You Not Informed Of My Return? Did You Not See The Signs?
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 36, full stop. Spike reveals that Twilight Sparkle created Nightmare Umbra to be a blunt instrument to force the end of a bloody Civil War. When things went wrong, she then caused the Schism by accident. Ever since then, Nightmare Umbra has been patiently waiting for the survivors of Equestria to rebuild to the extent that she can try to repeat her original purpose: waging war on both sides until they form a united Equestrian kingdom once more to defeat her.
  • Willing Channeler: Nightmare Umbra is possessing the willing Twinkle Shine. Except it's a little more convoluted then that... as chapter 36 reveals, they're actually two different personalities sharing the same body; Twinkle Shine is just the identity that the "peace" side of Nightmare Umbra chose to use during this generation.
  • Winged Unicorn: Nightmare Umbra takes the form of a winged unicorn. Spike reveals in chapter 36 that there's actually a difference between these and alicorns: Alicorns are linked to cosmic forces, which makes them far more powerful. Nightmare Umbra is dangerous, but if she was an alicorn, she'd have smashed the moon into the planet and killed everything long before now. Twilight Sparkle wasn't that stupid as to give her that level of power.
  • Worthy Opponent: How Charisma seems to view Rainbow Dash.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Max Cash sets fire to a school for fun.
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Subverted with Astrid, who makes it clear that Cash taking someone she barely knows hostage, is not going to stop her from just running through them both. Good thing Calumn stepped in to save the day.
  • You're Insane!: Charisma of all ponies gives one to Max Cash, after they finally get to Fluttershy's statue and instead of a having coherent plan, Max starts babbling about completely contradictory ideas, that make no sense to her.