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"We're not going to make the same mistakes this time. Sure, we'll probably make new ones. But not the same ones. I may not be the best person to offer help... yet I'm someone who can help, all the same."
Col. Alexander Reiner

SPECTRUM is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic by Team Spectrum, a group of authors comprised of Alternate-TCB members and led by TheIdiot. Comprising the team are Carpinus Caroliniana, Doctor Fluffy, Kizuna Tallis, ProudToBe, RoyalPsycho, Sledge115, TB3, and VoxAdam, as well as formerly Jed R and The Void. Following the discontinuation of The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum, it serves as the main story in a Continuity Reboot of the Spectrumverse.

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On a beautiful day of sight-seeing in the Everfree Forest, Lyra Heartstrings stumbles across the Tree of Harmony and witnesses a magical portal release a creature such as she has always wished to meet - a human. Yet wonder soon gives way to fear as the human, a soldier named Alexander Reiner, reveals that his homeworld of Earth is under threat... by Queen Celestia, and a corrupted Equestria.

Upon learning that the human race is faced with the Sadistic Choice between extinction or the total enslavement that is conversion and ponification, Princess Celestia, Lyra Heartstrings and the Bearers of Harmony vow to come to the aid of the alliance between mankind and human sympathizers, and hopefully, uncover the source of the madness which has taken hold of the fallen Celestia...

Side-stories in this 'verse include:

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  • A Sun in Winter by Sledge115 and VoxAdam. A distant prequel to the series as a whole, recounting the childhoods of Celestia and Luna in the Reindeer Kingdom of Adlaborn.
    • Joy to the Worlds by VoxAdam, TB3 and Sledge115. The tale of a fateful battle on the last Hearthswarming Eve and the destruction of Adlaborn on Imperial Equus.
    • Snowbound, by DoctorFluffy. In the wake of Joy to the Worlds, PHL troops investigate the source of a mysterious signal in Alaska.
  • Story of the Asian Front by Kizuna Tallis. The reboot of the Asia Side-Story of the original Spectrum.
  • The Slow Mutants by DoctorFluffy. A converted human, gradually losing their identity, goes on a search for salvation.
  • The Light Despondent, Remixed by DoctorFluffy. A rewrite of the original Spectrumverse side-story centered on Viktor Kraber's defection from the HLF.
  • Starvation by DoctorFluffy. A horror tale about starving refugees in Brazil.
  • The First Second of Eternity by Sledge115. Another distant prequel to the story, telling the story of a lonely watcher and her centuries-long vigil over Equestria.
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A timeline of 'Prime' or 'Sunny' Equestria can be found here, with unmarked spoilers up to Act Two's ending. You have been warned.

Tropes (beware of unmarked spoilers):

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     Main Story 

First Published: May 26th, 2017

  • Adaptational Badass:
    • Princess Celestia, compared to her less calm and collected depiction in the original story, with the authors themselves stating that one of the first changes they made while conceiving the reboot was to avert the less-than-flattering treatment given to her in the classic Spectrum.
      Doctor Fluffy: You know how I always complained about Celestia's characterization in the original story, and you probably did too? Well, not anymore! Coming in this fic, a new and better version of her! Written by people that actually like her! With depth, and resemblance to her show persona! WOW! I have consistently told my friends that if there was anything I could change about the main story, it would be that. And now I can!
    • The Solar Empire in general is much more cunning and competent compared to its depiction in the original story.
    • Archmage Twilight is considerably more competent and dangerous compared to her original story counterpart, and despite ultimately losing the fight, still manages to hold her own against and injure Luna.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: The final part of Act One, which steadily introduces more and more elements familiar to the show-watchers post-Season 3. In the space of several chapters, Ember, Thorax, Pharynx, Queen Novo and the hippogriffs, and the Abyssinians are all introduced and play a role in Chapter Thirteen.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • For all the good it's done for her, Diamond Tiara is briefly mentioned by Cheerilee as having attempted to organize a resistance against the Empire.
    • Prime!Blueblood is also given this treatment, being given an important role to the story and a much less obnoxious characterization from the get-go.
    • The HLF this time around is much more friendly and heroic. Justified, in that there are a few HLF splinter groups, and the ones Luna and Cadance encounter happen to be the friendly, Spader-aligned HLF.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: A downplayed example. In contrast to how Megan was in the original story with regards to Marcus, Reboot!Megan has a much frostier relationship with Alex.
  • Adaptational Name Change: The Crystal Empire here is renamed the Crystal Realm.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Not that he's a gentle flower, but Alex can best be described as Marcus with the rough edges and vicious streak toned down. This was very much intentional.
  • Adaptational Villainy: TCB!Redheart is one such case. Word of God says that this, and any other cases of it that appear in the story, were done due to Rule of Drama, as a reminder of how seemingly good people can join evil causes. Fluffy relates one brainstorming session describing this reasoning as such:
    Fluffy: But please, for the love of god, we cannot let the PHL get all the background ponies and one episode wonders that everyone likes. It was like a minor itch compared to several broken bones but it still annoyed me.
    Sledge: (Sarcastically) They have a name, ergo, they must be good.
    Fluffy: I don't know how I can respond to that. But it dampens the effect of EEEEVIL coming to Equestria if only the nameless faceless masses fall in line, the jerks seem to have always stayed, and the mane cast (and celestia) are there because brainwashing. Anyone can fall victim to the lies of an evil person. It's not just people you don't care about, it could even be your friends.
    • Queen Celestia mentions zebras, crystal ponies and hippogriffs among her Empire's ranks. And unlike the original, the Crystal Empire isn't said to be a dystopian nightmare - the prevalence of crystal-based technology imply that they are instead willing collaborators and the key reason why the Empire has magitek superior to humanity's.
    • Chapter 16 reveals that Spike is in service to the Empire, though possibly not by choice.
    • In the original story, Sombra was portrayed as a student of Luna's who grew to be resentful thanks to his Unrequited Love for her. Here, he killed her descendant, Princess Amore, and wiped out most of her family. This resulted in Luna's transformation into Nightmare Moon, thanks to a combination of jealousy over her sister and her grief over her family's destruction.
  • Adapted Out:
    • The main human character of the original Spectrum story, Marcus Renee, has been cut out of this new continuity, partly due to the authors figuring it would be in poor taste to use a character that was clearly important to Redskin122004 after having split from him on acrimonious terms and partly because some (especially Jed and Fluffy) were just tired of writing him. He's replaced with Alexander Reiner.
    • The story overall tones down the use of crossovers, relegating them to Shout Outs for the most part - as an example, there's no indication that Time Turner is the Doctor. Another case is the crew from Grand Theft Auto V, due to the authors feeling that their inclusion didn't fit the overall tone of the story.
    • Jacqueline Dionna Reitman, the founder of the PER in the original Spectrum, will be cut out as well. Replacing her will be a pair of Decomposite Characters in the form of Dr. Caitlyn North (the doctor who made the ponification potion available for public use) and Felix Nichols (a radical environmentalist who rallies similar-minded individuals to his cause for aiding the Empire).
    • Related to the removal/rewriting of Marcus Renee, his brother Jacob has been removed as well. The Archmage here instead has (implied) feelings for Princess Luna.
  • A Day in the Limelight: While Lyra is the main protagonist, the story progressively shows more and more POV segments from various different characters. Princess Luna in particular takes center stage in Act Two. See Ensemble Cast below.
  • Aerith and Bob: Among those who attend Ambassador Heartstrings' speech to establish the Greater Pan-Equine Co-Harmony Sphere, we have Queen Novo, Malikah Ylam bint-Karistal, Princess Cadance of the Crystal Realm, Duke Nibiru and Duchess Silili, Lord Arthax, Queen Zolomare... and Gertie of Griffonstone.
  • Always Someone Better: TCB!Cadance (who's a "Lady" rather than a princess) initially isn't too thrilled that Prime!Cadance is everything that she is, and significantly more, as she's just a pegacorn while the Princess is a full-fledged alicorn.
  • Alternate Universe: Both Imperial and Prime timelines. The Prime timeline in general seems to generally follow the show canon with several Broad Strokes that makes it an amalgam of the show, the comics, and even the chapter books. The Imperial timeline, meanwhile, diverged from the Prime timeline at an unknown point, sometime before Season 2. It's strongly hinted that it's all because TCB!Cadance never ascended to become an alicorn.
  • Anachronic Order: "Child of Crystal", the second Interlude chapter, takes place before Act Two.
  • And I Must Scream: Zig-zagged. On one hand, the Archmage seems to be oblivious to what actually is going on in reality, living an idyllic life in her mind. Show her the truth, however, and this trope starts to kick in as she becomes aware of the truth behind the Empire.
  • And Now For Something Completely Different:
    • Chapters Four and Five take place on Earth instead of Equestria, from two new viewpoints - Cheerilee and Ana Bjorgman.
    • Act Two, appropriately titled Moonrise, shifts the focus to Princess Luna, moves the setting to Boston, and is in general a much more fast-paced arc compared to Act One.
    • "Child of Crystal", the interlude to Act Three, is written in the style of a fairy tale, framed by Cadance telling Alex the story of how she became an alicorn.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: Archmage Twilight wasn't exactly happy to see her Lyra or Luna defect from the Empire - but she still mourns their death and Taken for Granite fate, respectively.
  • Anti-Magic: Orichalcum metal, rare enough as it is, is forged by the Empire into anti-magic weapons to negate powerful magical users. They are so rare only high-ranking Imperials wield them - The Archmage and Weaver each carry one sword, in order to dispatch Princess Luna and TCB Sint Erklass, respectively.
  • Apocalypse Anarchy: Boston is a far cry from its pre-war self, being turned into a desolate warzone contested between humanity (represented by UNAC) and the Solar Empire.
  • Arc Villain: Each Act has one, with Queen Celestia as the overall Big Bad:
    • Act One has Redheart.
    • Act Two, meanwhile, has Archmage Twilight taking on the role.
  • Arc Words: Luna's promise to the Archmage sums up Prime Equestria's plan and commitment; "We'll make it right."
  • Ascended Extra:
    • The Prime!Mane Six (especially Twilight) and Lyra play a much bigger role in this story than they did in the original.
    • Ana Bjorgman was a fairly prominent, but ultimately supporting character in the original story's Hostage Crisis arc and a minor side character from the side story Adrift. Here, she's the second human POV character to appear.
    • The Archmage was once just one of the Dragons for Queen Celestia in Boston. Now she's the primary antagonist of the equivalent arc.
    • Princess Cadance suffered from a case of Out of Focus in the original. Here, not only does she play a crucial role in defeating the Empire at Boston, she's also the first Prime Equestrian to deal in diplomacy with mankind, and as it turns out, her counterpart's lack of alicornhood may be the single key difference between their worlds.
  • Bad Omen Anecdote: Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy shares an anecdote about a 'death tree', explaining the legend of a group of pegasus soldiers who rested near it and were never seen again. A few moments later, Alex Reiner shows up.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • A human, almost identical in description to Marcus Renee, is sent to Equestria. Except he's not Marcus.
    • A mysterious Eldritch Abomination is confronted by Discord, but the identity of it isn't the big reveal of Chapter Six, in contrast to the original story. Rather, it's who comes after that's the big one - Celestia and Luna's missing sister.
    • Luna and Discord find themselves 'invited' as guests of Queen Celestia. Instead, though, they meet with Archmage Twilight.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Celestia, who almost single-hoofedly shut down Alex in his tirade while he's threatening Fluttershy. It worked.
  • Big Bad: Queen Celestia returns to this role.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: Much of Act Two shows the Battle of Boston.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In Chapter One, Rainbow Dash laments her book order arriving late. Come Chapter Eight, she comes back to Ponyville to retrieve the order, and ends up being the deciding factor in Redheart's defeat.
    • In Chapter Two, Celestia trusts Luna to be The Cavalry if things go wrong in Ponyville. In Chapter Seventeen, it's revealed that Luna did come to their rescue in the TCB version of the Wedding Invasion.
    • In Chapter Two, Pinkie muses about the musical numbers in the show. Come Chapter Nineteen, and Luna almost breaks into song twice.
  • Book-Ends: The second memory Luna views in the Archmage's mind shows TCB!Papillate treating with the Elements. The last of the apparitions in Twilight's mind to disappear is Papillate.
  • Bottle Episode: Chapter Seventeen, apart from the beginning and end, only has Luna and Twilight in most of the chapter.
  • Bread and Circuses: The xenocidal, hyper-nationalist Solar Empire has popular domestic support and steadfast equine allies because they provide their subjects and allies with security and stability, as well as unprecedented technological advances.
  • Breather Episode: Chapters Ten to Twelve winds down a little, building up to the Concordat. Twilight's plotline in these chapters in particular exemplifies it, as she's trying to reconnect with Moondancer.
  • Call-Back: Celestia briefly reminiscences about her early childhood in Adlaborn, three thousand years ago.
  • Call-Forward: The story makes references to the future seasons that have yet to occur in SPECTRUM's time, such as:
    • Twilight trying to approach Moondancer and rekindle their old friendship in order to make up for her snubbing. Unlike canon, however, it doesn't quite work out.
    • Luna's fondness for gardening (shown in Season 7's "A Royal Problem") and subsequently Pharynx's attitude towards decorative plants.
    • Ember and Thorax bonding (shown in Season 7's "Triple Threat").
    • Gallus and Silverstream's Ship Tease throughout Season 8 is implied by the Archmage.
    • Princess Luna is just as fascinated by an email as she is by the post office.
  • The Cameo:
    • Kraber makes a brief appearance in Chapter 4, and is mentioned twice in the same chapter. He makes a full appearance in the next.
    • The Changeling trio introduced in Chapter Thirteen (Thorax, Pharynx, and Aphid) briefly appear in a flashback to the Canterlot Wedding Invasion in Imperial Equestria.
    • Terramar appears as one of Archmage Twilight's personal guards.
    • Silverstream is mentioned in Chapter Nineteen, as the Archmage gives Captain Gallus some tips in wooing her.
    • The Sunburst of Imperial Equestria appears as Twilight's colleague and fellow researcher, first in a flashback, then in person.
    • TCB!Pipsqueak appears at the very end of Act Two, to Luna's surprise.
  • Call-Back: Act Two frequently refers back to both the series premiere and the Season Two episode "Luna Eclipsed", from Luna encountering Archmage Twilight on opposing sides, only this time their alignments are flipped around, to Luna reminiscing about the events of Nightmare Night, and finally, the penultimate scene of the Act, where Luna meets the counterpart of Pipsqueak.
  • Cassandra Truth: The Archmage insists that she had nothing to do with the fate of Adlaborn, something Luna scoffs at. Chapter Seventeen strongly implies she really was unaware, having her memories suppressed and compartmentalised.
  • Catch a Falling Star: Luna pulls this off during the Battle of Boston, managing to rescue Cadance as the latter, unconscious, falls from the Great Equestrian.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Archmage Twilight has an unseen appearance in Chapter Eight, giving the order to Redheart to retrieve Alex's locket by letter. She has a much more significant role come Act Two, serving as the primary antagonist for that Act.
    • Prismia is mentioned briefly in Chapter Thirteen as an important factor in how Cadance became an alicorn. This comes back in Chapter Nineteen, when it's revealed that Lady Cadance doesn't even know Prismia. Then, the second Interlude chapter, "Child of Crystal", explores Cadance's past and explains Prismia's involvement with her. Here, it's revealed that Prismia is none other than another alicorn, even older than Galatea is.
  • Cerebus Retcon: The original Spectrum used Nightmare Moon as a power boost Superpowered Evil Side for Luna in battling the Tyrant's clone, and had Sombra as former student of hers that turned evil because Luna didn't return his feelings. Here, Sombra murdered Luna's family in the Crystal Realm, something that indirectly led to Luna turning into Nightmare Moon out of her jealousy towards her sister and her rage and grief over losing her family.
  • Condescending Compassion: Chapter Seventeen reveals that this is why major environmentalists and environmental organisations didn't support the Empire, then-Equestria, before the war began. Equestria's offers to provide another world for them to live in is taken as a slight, because it meant that they would have to abandon the cause they championed in favor of an easy way out that doesn't really solve the entire issue in the first place.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: Alex, though he's more cool-headed than Marcus was. Unlike the original story, however, none of the ponies are driven to becoming a sobbing mess like Celestia was then, even if they're still horrified by it. Luna also doesn't turn into Nightmare Moon after viewing Twilight's memories.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Twilight is researching the Alicorn Amulet at the start of the story.
    • Luna's 'Claire de Lune' persona and disguise is her Season 1 appearance.
  • Continuity Reboot: Of the original Other Side of the Spectrum.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The Solar Empire, obviously. A widely-beloved alliance between the various equine people of Equus, built on the basis of technological advances, mutual corporation, and genocide. Prime Equus, on the other hand, is a lesser case. Equestria is a Sugar Bowl, but the rest of the world varies from place to place.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: The Krampus and Kontagion are mentioned by Sint Erklass - and Kontagion, whatever it is, is referred to in the present tense three-thousand years later by Celestia. It's a Sealed Evil in a Can who may know what is going on behind the scenes of Imperial Equus.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: In that it's incredibly grotesque; the necrotic spell used by Imperial Guards is said to be this, to the point that Prime Equestria forbid it from being used by non-Guards.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Alex has a less-than-stellar relationship with his mother due to him reminding her too much of her late husband and playing obvious favorites with his half-sister, and Chapter Six shows he's done some unsavory things throughout the war that weight heavily on his conscience.
  • Dawn of an Era: The end of the Crystal War was this for what would become the Solar Empire, as it kicked off an era of technological progress and peaceful expansion of the Equestrian hegemony on Equus. And then came Earth, and the Conversion War.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: Whereas the original put heavy focus on deconstructing everything, including the show's Sugar Bowl setting by liberally applying Reality Ensues and Darker and Edgier takes on the backstory, SPECTRUM takes a slightly different approach, in that Prime Equestria acknowledges their inexperience with war and some Reality Ensues still applies, but then proceed to embrace their idealism anyway, and also has a closer-to-canon emphasis in the backstory.
  • Demoted to Extra: Downplayed; Alex is still the main human character, but he plays a Supporting Leader role, appearing only once as a POV character. The humans in general, despite being the focal point of the story, take the sidelines in favor of the Prime Equestrians.
  • Despair Event Horizon: A species-wide example. By 2024, with no clear end to the war, most of humanity, as Hanne notes, is on the brink of giving up fighting altogether.
  • Deus Exit Machina: Faced with the Lord of Chaos himself, the Imperials do the logical thing—blindside him with their crystal technology and turn him to stone.
  • Disappointed in You: Prime!Luna is none too impressed with Archmage Twilight taking the Queen's words at face value, directly contrasting her usual scientific methods.
  • Distant Prologue: The prologue takes place centuries before the main story begins properly.
  • Doorstopper: At 420,000 words and counting, and that's just Act One and Two. Chapter Thirteen takes this Up to Eleven, clocking in at more than 40,000 words.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Like in the original, Imperial Equestria feels a lot like Nazi Germany, but a more overt comparison is made to Imperial Japan as well this time around, with the 'Greater Pan-Equine Co-Harmony Sphere' as a cornerstone of the Empire.
    • Imperial!Twilight suggesting that mankind should move to Equestria touches on the idea that humanity should look towards other planets like Mars instead to resettle.
    • A devastating attack on a major city leads to a long campaign of retaliation against the perpetrators that also results in the slow erosion of civil liberties, such as the implementation of mass surveillance on its own populace. The post-Canterlot Wedding Imperial Equestria, or The War on Terror?
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Averted. Chrysalis' use of Thorax as a footstool, while absurd and almost cartoony in its image, is rightfully treated as abuse, and Ember is discomforted by the image.
  • Do You Trust Me?: During Chapter Seventeen; in the Archmage's mind,Luna asks this to her, adding to the quasi-romantic tone of their relationship. the Archmage says yes.
  • Driving Question: A few.
    • How and why did the Empire turn to evil?
    • Who is the Architect?
    • Whatever happened to Megan Williams?
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Deconstructed. Icewind's compulsion to help Redheart is a Tragic Mistake - since he chooses to help TCB!Redheart.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Sunburst appears in passing throughout Chapter Seventeen, before he makes his proper debut in Chapter Twenty.
  • Enemy Mine: Queen Chrysalis sets aside her hostilities with Equestria to attend the Concordat. Doesn't stop her from acting like a Jerkass, though.
  • Ensemble Cast: While the story still has Lyra as the main protagonist, it gives plenty of POV segments to many others, including Twilight, who takes a more prominent role as Deuteragonist while her Evil Counterpart serves as Act Two's Arc Villain, and Princess Luna, who is the central (and titular character) of Act Two.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Upon finding Redheart unconscious at her home, Bonbon puts two and two together, takes aside Icewind that she's come to the conclusion that they have a Changeling situation. The actual situation is... a bit more complicated than that.
  • Exposition Cut: In Chapter One, Twilight's explanation of the Alicorn Amulet is interrupted by a scene of Lyra, and we only see the end of it.
  • Expy: Alexander Reiner replaces Marcus Renee as the Commander of the PHL although according to the authors, he will be playing a different role overall.
  • Extremely Short Timespan:
    • Act One, approximately 270,000 words long, takes place over two weeks. Chapter Thirteen, approximately 40,000 words long, takes place over four days.
    • Act Two, approximately 150,000 words long, takes place over two days.
  • Faeries Don't Believe in Humans, Either: Except for Lyra and a few other eccentrics, no one in Equestria saw humans as anything other than creatures of legend... then the story begins.
  • Fallen Hero: The entire Solar Empire and the Co-Harmony Sphere they lead. It started off as a well-intentioned alliance against figures like Chrysalis and Sombra, while championing a technological Golden Age in Equestria. By 2024, however, they're locked in a xenocidal campaign against humanity, becoming the very villains they swore to destroy, and deep down, they've been subjected to heavy mental manipulation, or at least people like Twilight Sparkle to force them to commit atrocities.
  • Famous, Famous, Fictional: Chapter Four, "Nightfall Over Boston", has this dynamic regarding the people announced. You have figures like Vladimir Putin and the real-life UN Secretary General mentioned alongside Spectrum figures like Jack Davis and Rebecca Kleiner. Chapter Fourteen, "Silent Night", takes this up further by introducing even more real life figures, including those who don't actually hold the office they're holding in real life.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Empire isn't exactly fond of humanity. Even the more benign Imperials, like Scootaloo and Whistle Stop, couldn't help but laugh at a racist joke made at their expense.
  • The Federation: Imperial Equestria used to lead one of these, consisting of many equine nations. Nowadays, while their allies remain, it's more of The Empire with a Federation paint job.
  • Final Solution: The Empire's ongoing war against humanity is centered on one, and they've already wiped out the Reindeer.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Luna aggressively demands to know Imperial Spike's fate to Twilight, before he emerges to join the battle by Twilight's side
  • For Want of a Nail: The Imperial Equestria's timeline is drastically altered thanks to a few pivotal events. Chapter Nineteen hints it all stemmed from TCB!Cadance having never ascended to alicornhood.
  • Future Badass:
    • Ambassador Lyra Heartstrings is one to Lyra, having been one of the chief architects in the Co-Harmony Sphere, led diplomatic efforts on Earth, and finally became the leader of the PHL movement.
    • One of the Royal Guards in Chapter Seven would go on to serve the Empire and die a heroic death on Earth, according to TCB!Redheart.
  • Genre Roulette: The story, though essentially an epic war fantasy, frequently changes genre, with the shift being subtle at times, and others, not so much. Act One is primarily a fantasy drama, but it has dabbled in both slice of life and war drama. Act Two meanwhile takes the setting to Earth, and flips between fantasy (Luna's arc) and war drama (the human side), and touches on the political drama as well (Chapter Fourteen's first half). Chapter Seventeen meanwhile slips into psychological horror in the veins of Amnesia: The Dark Descent and The Shining.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: Celestia makes the decision to call on the leaders of all the other species and nations on Equus in order to prepare for the war. The meeting in full is shown in Chapter Thirteen.
  • Good Counterpart: The Concordat is shaping up to be one, formed in response to the Solar Empire and their Greater Pan-Equine Co-Harmony Sphere.
  • Great Offscreen War: The Crystal War is oft-mentioned as a crucial stepping stone in Equestria's transformation into the Solar Empire. In a spin of this trope, the war itself is overall a much smaller affair than the ongoing Conversion War.
  • Happily Married: To Luna's pleasant surprise, TCB!Pipsqueak has grown into a cheerful stallion and married to TCB!Dinky, with a two year old son. It drives her to shed Tears of Joy.
  • Happy Ending Override:
    • Poor Lady Cadance's marriage with Shining Armor is torn apart by the war.
    • For Megan Williams. After she grows up, Megan meets and marries a soldier, who gets killed during the Gulf War. She remarries, but has a strained relationship with her son Alex, favoring her daughter Maxine. Now, with Imperial Equestria's appearance on Earth and the war, she has since disappeared to parts unknown, leaving her son and daughter wondering what became of her.
    • The end of the Crystal War and the Golden Age that followed is seemingly Equestria's own happy ending... then came Earth, the war, and the Empire.
  • The Heavy: TCB!Redheart serves as this role for Queen Celestia and the Empire as a whole, at least at the start.
  • He Is All Grown Up: Non-romantic example. Luna discovers, and is moved to tears, by a grown-up Pipsqueak, alive and well, raising a family together with Dinky Hooves in the PHL.
  • The Hero: Prime!Lyra Heartstrings, in contrast to Marcus for the original story.
  • Hopeless War: By 2024, things really aren't looking good for humanity, with society being on the brink of collapse due to the ongoing refugee crisis and still no closer to destroying the Barrier. All the Empire has to do is sit behind it and wait.
  • Hope Spot:
    • TCB!Redheart seemingly comes close to a Heel–Face Turn in Chapter Seven, but the moment passes and she resolves to kill Alex.
    • Luna gets really close to convincing the Archmage to defect. And then Reality Ensues; since the PHL weren't informed of her plan, Ana ends up nearly killing the Archmage and ruins the entire plan on accident.
  • How We Got Here: The first half of Chapter Fourteen begins forty-five minutes before the second half.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Despite the drastically altered timelines, some canon events still happen, just out of order;
    • Thorax and Ember still meet as they did in Season 7 and befriend one another.
    • In Imperial Equestria, Gallus still becomes a Guard, though serving the Empire this time around, and he still gets to know Silverstream.
  • Internal Reveal: Chapter Thirteen, "Concordia Maxima", reveals to every assembled Concordat the true scale of the war and Alex's story.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: While, obviously, Luna is faced with the idea that her sister could turn evil, the centerpiece of Act Two is the dynamic between her and the Archmage, who is closer to her counterpart than she is to her Twilight. This leads to both of them trying to capture the other and turn them to their side, hoping to convince the other of their ways.
  • Kill and Replace: Subverted. TCB!Redheart simply incapacitates her Prime counterpart before taking her place.
  • Kill 'Em All: The fate of the Reindeer in Imperial Equus is that of genocide and the destruction of their homeland, for reasons yet unknown. The way the Archmage talks about it, or rather, how she skirts around the topic implies that not even she knew why it happened or what happened in the first place, insisting that the Reindeer simply closed themselves off.
  • Lensman Arms Race: By 2024, one of these is ongoing in the war. The human-aligned forces possess magitek weaponry and Magic Knight soldiers among their ranks. Meanwhile, the Empire has developed advanced Newfoals, sophisticated potion grenades, and powerful Wave Motion Guns capable of destroying human armored vehicles. Chief Engineer Awesome Fire also reveals that the Empire is in possession of an even larger one.
  • Like Reality Unless Noted: Earth has this general feel, with the point of divergence being 2016. Also, while Vladimir Putin is seemingly still the Russian President, Jack Davis replaces Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States.
    • Chapter Fourteen showcases this, with a lot of real life figures mentioned in office, just not the ones they have in real life. For example, while Putin and Xi Jinping remain leaders of Russia and China, France, Great Britain and the United States each have either fictional leaders or their leaders don't actually hold the office they have.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the original, as best demonstrated by Chapter Seventeen, the rough equivalent of the original story's "For Whom the Bell Tolls". This time around, the story uses significantly less Body Horror and Gorn imagery in favor of Nothing Is Scarier and Psychological Horror.
  • Long-Lost Relative:
    • Princess Cadance is actually a descendant of Luna, found by Celestia in a far away village.
    • Chapter Six ends with The Reveal of Celestia and Luna's previously unknown sister Galatea.
  • Make Them Rot: A necrotic spell is used liberally by the Imperial Guard. The effects on the human body is not so pretty.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The ethereal reindeer dancing in the campfire, in Chapter Five. It baffles absolutely everybody who sees it.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Pinkie senses that something is wrong in Chapter Three. She should be, because it's not the Nurse Redheart they knew.
  • Mood Whiplash: Chapter Nineteen has Luna disguise herself, and it involves her acting like a huge dork - a huge contrast to the previous chapters in Act Two.
  • Mook Horror Show: Chapter Eighteen showcases a battle between UNAC and Imperial forces, from the latter POV. It's not a pretty sight. On the flipside, though, they actually turn the tables once they reach friendly positions.
  • Moral Event Horizon: In-Universe, Galatea considers the destruction of Adlaborn and the slaughter of its people to be the Empire's worst transgression, and so seeks to correct it by bringing Alex Reiner to Prime Equestria.
  • Morality Kitchen Sink: While the story, being an Anti-TCB deconstructionist story, falls squarely in the camp of "Conversion is bad and wrong" in its portrayal of the central conflict, factions and characters may range from one end of the spectrum to the other.
    • True to the source material, Equestria's Royal Family and the Element Bearers are presented as the most unambiguously "good" characters. Some form of Reality Ensues, though, in how obviously out of their depth the Element Bearers and Lyra are in the face of a global conflict. As such, expecting the show's heroes to solve the crisis on their own is never even suggested – instead, Princess Celestia chooses to call on international support. Not all of the Equestrians are inclined to side with humanity, as shown with Catseye and Icewind. And while Princess Luna and Prince Blueblood are on the side of good, both are still shown to carry around a lot of emotional baggage. The closest thing to a straight up Messianic Archetype is Princess Cadance.
    • The people of Equus who gather at the Concordia are morally all over the place, but more guided as a rule by personal interest than by altruism, with the noteworthy exception of the Reindeer and Minotaurs. Both the griffons and Kirin have mercenary tendencies – literally for the former, whose representative is a throne claimant in search of legitimacy, while the Kirin are an aloof Proud Merchant Race. As represented by Princess Ember, the dragons are capable of diplomacy, yet even the "nice" Ember treats raiding as just a way of life. Finally there are the Changelings, who are led by the despotic Queen Chrysalis, but include good and honorable drones in their ranks.
    • While humanity is unjustly beset by the threat of annihilation and fighting for its right to live, individual people respond to the dire situation in a variety of ways, prone to the same failings as before the Conversion War. As an alliance of human nations, UNAC is the main force for good on Earth, yet it's hinted the old power divides subsist, even after half the West has been consumed by the Barrier. Operating outside governmental oversight are various militias who identify as HLF, who are largely benign yet often substitute being government stooges for corporate stooges, and whose image is tainted by a highly-visible minority of xenophobic fanatics.
    • The PHL were founded by Ambassador Heartstrings as a humanitarian organization and to promote harmonious co-operation between Earth and Equus. Over time, however, especially following the Ambassador's death, its paramilitary branch has grown in size and influence, to the point the PHL's detractors claim it has gained too much traction as a minor N.G.O. Superpower and is neglecting the search for a potential counter-agent to Conversion. Incidents such as the towns of Nipville and Defiance paint the PHL in an overly gung-ho light which it tries to keep hushed up. Nevertheless, the PHL retains a strong core of true, if jaded believers in the cause of harmony with humanity.
    • Finally, the Solar Empire is an expansionist super-power guilty of xenocide... Yet the story never lets the readers forget that, at the end of the day, these are still the Equestrians from the show, only twisted fifteen years later by external circumstances that include the toll of war and Mind Control. The Co-Harmony Sphere is essentially an alternate incarnation of where Equestria's enterprise of world-wide harmony could lead if taken over by an equine-supremacist ideology. Many individual characters on the side of Imperial Equestria are depicted sympathetically, giving back their loyalty to what they perceive as a nation that has been loyal to them.
  • More Than Mind Control: How the Empire gains both popular support at home and in the other equine nations. In contrast to the original story, the Empire here has a softer and more subtle way of controlling its subjects, being more of a suggestion than forcing them to do anything and by twisting well intentioned ponies to do things in the name of what they believe in, Like the Archmage.
  • Morton's Fork: The Solar Empire's choices for humanity; either they submit to Equestrian rule, stripped away from everything that makes them human, or they can die with the Barrier.
  • Musical World Hypotheses: Discussed briefly. Pinkie wonders if the musical numbers in the show are thanks to thaumaturgons.
  • Myth Arc: Parts of Act One is dedicated to building up one, all revolving around an enigmatic figure only referred to as The Architect.
  • Mythology Gag:
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Played With. Ana follows her orders to the letter, and she ruins Luna's attempt to redeem the Archmage. See Poor Communication Kills.
  • Nice to the Waiter:
    • TCB!Redheart treats both Royal Guards guarding Alex's room pretty well, and flirts back with one of them.
    • Likewise, the Archmage is cordial towards her Guards, and know them by name.
  • Not Himself: The conversion serum completely takes away the victim's original personality. This trope is also central to why Luna wholeheartedly believes something isn't quite right with Celestia, as all hints point to something pulling the strings.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Fluttershy is, of course, the kindest of the ponies towards Alex. Doesn't stop him from holding her by the neck in a fit of rage, though thankfully Celestia was there to stop it.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • Apart from their voices, we never actually do see the Imperials in Chapter Four. At least until close to the end, and even then it's a corpse. Later, in Chapter Thirteen, The Solar Tyrant herself appears through text, not in person.
    • Chapter Seventeen, "Thus, Lift Me Up". There's a whole lot of nothing in the first half of the chapter, Luna notices. Until everything unravels.
  • Not His Sled:
    • As it turns out, Discord isn't the reason Alex is transported into Prime Equestria.
    • The Imperial leader that meets with Luna and Discord in Boston isn't Queen Celestia clone, but Twilight Sparkle.
    • The Blue Spy never rescued Spike, leaving him under the Empire's control.
    • The reason the two Equestrias diverged wasn't because of Ambassador Heartstrings finding the Bag of Tirek, but because Lady Cadance never became an alicorn.
  • One-Man Army:
    • As Ana ironically observes, the PHL is mentioned to have this reputation by the Empire, although conversely, their influence has been reduced compared to the United Nations Allied Command.
    • Princess Luna, when she lets loose, is a formidable foe against the Imperial Guards - the only Imperials who even came close to going toe to toe with her are the Archmage and Spike.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Luna learns this the hard way when Ana shoots the Archmage, as the PHL is completely unaware of her attempts to redeem the Archmage.
  • Precocious Crush: Featherweight has one on Sparkler. She's seemingly unaware of it, to his dismay.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Act Two reveals that a lot of Imperial Guards and their allies aren't fanatically devoted; just normal soldiers following their orders, like Whistle Stop.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • The staff of Ponyville Hospital initially can't do much about Alex or his injuries, because they're unfamiliar with human physiology.
    • In the face of a world war, it's immediately clear that for all their exploits before, the Element Bearers (and Lyra) are out of their depth - and Princess Celestia takes charge immediately, calling for international help.
    • Despite fighting a world war and xenocide targeted at them, UNAC still consists of many separate nations with their own national interests, as Hanne notes, with command being decentralised alongside old alliances and blocs such as the US with Canada on one side and China and Russia on the other.
    • While the UK, France, and Russia are all still on the Security Council, it's noted that they're really only there because of their legacy and historical power. Russia is specifically noted to be a shadow of its former self, thanks to the destruction of European Russia where most of the population resides.
    • Despite seemingly performing well on a rank and file basis and with a tech gap mostly in their favour, humanity is losing the war on a grand strategic scale simply because nothing man-made can destroy the Barrier, and by this point the Empire simply needs to wait for the Barrier to destroy the remaining UNAC-held territories.
    • It turns out not communicating your plans to your allies will inadvertently screw you when their plan interferes with yours. The PHL, not knowing Luna is trying to redeem the Archmage, gives the order to shoot the latter.
    • Despite Kraber's medical experience and willingness to carry it out, his cavalier attitude and complete lack of bedside manner puts off actual medical professionals - and Harwood in particular isn't thrilled on the idea of him taking care of a prisoner.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Chrysalis gets away with keeping Garble in a cage because she tells everyone, point-blank, that he's afflicted with a dangerous disease. Hardly anyone questions it, because it really isn't everyday that one sees a dragon kept in a cage.
  • The Reveal: Given the nature story, it's got plenty;
    • Chapter Three, "They Are Us", reveals to the ponies exactly who humanity is fighting; themselves.
    • Chapter Six ends with the revelation that Celestia and Luna have a sister they never knew about.
    • Chapter Thirteen brings a lot to the table; Tirek's involvement as well as Megan Williams' involvement for one.
    • Chapter Seventeen drops these left and right, with the most prominent being the Archmage and the Empire being Brainwashed and Crazy to an enormous extent.
    • Chapter Nineteen, "When The Dust Settles", reveals that Lady Cadance doesn't even know Prismia.
    • The second Interlude, "Child of Crystal", is a tale of how Cadance ascended to alicornhood... and also reveals that Prismia herself is a very, very old alicorn, and that the Storm King murdered Cadance's birth parents.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Hinted at between Imperial Twilight and Imperial Luna, broken when the latter took Lady Cadance with her and fled the Solar Empire.
  • Rotating Protagonist: Lyra is the main protagonist, but as mentioned in Ensemble Cast, she isn't the only protagonist, with various POV segments from many different characters. Princess Luna takes central stage in Act Two, and Word of God says Lyra returns to this role for Act Three.
  • Schrödinger's Canon: A lot of the previous Spectrumverse elements are in limbo regarding their canon status, though gradually elements of it are being reintroduced.
    • The Prologue opens on the destruction of Adlaborn, as witnessed in Joy to the Worlds.
    • "They Are Us" directly references Celestia and Luna's childhood in Adlaborn, as seen in A Sun in Winter. When prompted about whether she knows anything about humans, Celestia says that she vaguely remembers hearing tales of them from an old pegasus called Firefly.
    • "Nightfall Over Boston" re-canonizes Starvation (with some alterations), while the mentions of Stephan Bauer and the Dragons of the East confirm Europe and Asia (which has been rebooted) still exist.
    • DoctorFluffy has confirmed that he's going to be working on reboots of Light Despondent and Snowbound. Kraber's and Johnny C's appearances in Chapter Five supports this.
    • The exact canonicity of Last Train From Oblivion is in fluctuation, but it's been hinted that Pretty Privates do exist in this version of the Spectrumverse.
  • Setting Update: The story now takes place during Season 3 of the show, instead of between Seasons 2 and 3. However, there are mentions of locations and races only introduced in future seasons. In the first Earth chapter, it's confirmed that first contact occurred in 2016, setting it firmly in a different timeline compared to the original. It's finally confirmed in Chapter Fifteen that Imperial Equestria is fifteen years ahead of Prime Equestria.
  • Sherlock Scan: Rarity deduces that Alex came from an advanced civilization just by taking a look at his garments.
  • Shout-Out: As to be expected. Word of God however states that they will be toned down compared to the original.
    Princess Luna: Have no fear, people of Earth. For we are here.
    Princess Luna: Now for a lesson. You may have heard it before, Archmage, but in time I’ll teach you what Harmony really means.
  • Single Line OF Descent: After fifteen-hundred years and a purge by Sombra, Cadance is apparently the last living direct descendant of Princess Luna.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: King Sombra is long gone in Imperial Equestria, but the six month Crystal War he instigated led to the rise of the Solar Empire. His slaughter of Luna's family in the Crystal Realm also significantly contributed to her fall to darkness.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Veers more on idealism than the original story. While the war is just as bleak as the original, both Prime Equestria and the Empire are portrayed closer to how their canon versions are; Prime Equestria is portrayed as the living symbol of hope collectively (especially Cadance), while the Empire isn't the borderline-Always Chaotic Evil they were portrayed as in the original, leaving the door open that they can be redeemed.
  • Start of Darkness: The Empire's downward spiral from a benevolent kingdom to a dictatorship began with the Canterlot Royal Wedding and the Crystal War.
  • String Theory: Lyra's living room has one of these, to Bonbon's annoyance.
  • Swapped Roles: Luna first met Twilight Sparkle as Nightmare Moon, and she was freed from darkness thanks to Twilight and her friends. In Act Two, this time, Luna meets the evil counterpart of Twilight, and this time around she resolves to redeem her in return.
  • Swiss Army Tears: Celestia's pet phoenix, Philomena, has healing tears, though it's only stated to work once on each person it's used on. Philomena uses her tears to heal the Archmage's missing ear, though it's too late to regrow it.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: It helps that the devil in this case is a well-meaning Fallen Hero. Luna feels a strong sense of sympathy for the Archmage, having seen just how far she's been manipulated and twisted by Queen Celestia.
  • Take That!:
    • The yaks are conspicuously absent from the Concordat. Several chapters before then, Twilight's inner remarks encapsulates what a lot of the fandom felt about them initially;
    "Twilight didn’t know what exactly her fascination was with humans – as myths went, Twilight found them rather one-note and featureless, not unlike the myths about belligerent Yaks in the Frozen North."
    • Pinkie and Rarity's discussion on what makes magic, well, magic, is a veiled one towards midichlorians:
    Pinkie: The way Granny Pie told me, without the thaumaturgons, life could not exist, and we would have no knowledge of magic. They continually speak to you, telling you the will of Harmony.
    Rarity: Actually, it kind of takes away all the mystique when you put it that way.
    • Cadance mentally compares Xi Jinping to a bear, something he infamously isn't happy about in real life and consistently mocked about.
    • TCB!Equestria managed to recruit plenty of test subjects from the United States (and the Bureaus are widespread, too) because there happens to be plenty of people who couldn't afford the infamously expensive healthcare costs in the country.
  • Tank Goodness: A Challenger 2 appears in Chapter Eighteen, pining down an Imperial outpost. Then it turns out that the Empire has figured out a counter to human-made vehicles; genetically engineered Newcalves, a hulking brute of a Newfoal.
  • Tears of Joy: Luna breaks into tears when she sees a grown-up Pipsqueak among the PHL's ranks, raising a son with his wife Dinky, and just as enthusiastic as he was when he first met Luna during Nightmare Night. It's just about the first bright spot she has, after having seen the other Celestia, Twilight, and Scootaloo all siding with the Empire.
  • Terminator Twosome: With Alexander Reiner and an evil version of TCB!Redheart. In Fluffy's own words, it was made to set the reboot distinctive from the original.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Initially, Luna is none too happy about just how far the the Archmage and the Empire has fallen, and comes close to outright killing her in retaliation. Until she sees how afraid she is, and takes pity on her. And then she also finds out just how and why the Archmage fell to evil.
    Princess Luna: We, are going to burn this atrocity you’ve perpetrated down to ash. Inch by inch.
  • Time Skip: The Prologue begins sometime in the distant past, and ends with the aftermath of Adlaborn's destruction and Sint Erklass's death thousands of years later, in Imperial Equestria.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: The Reindeer of TCB Equus. The fact that their genocide is covered up by the Empire implies that the other members of the Co-Harmony Sphere wouldn't take kindly to the revelation.
  • Ultimate Universe: Word of God states, as of "Child of Crystal", that Spectrum is intended to be this, weaving in the show's canon, the comics, and Spectrum's original lore into one cohesive continuity, while remaining mostly true to canon in a Broad Strokes manner. The Sunny Equestria timeline also highlights this, with the backstory being based off what the show presented and the original Spectrum's concepts.
  • Uncertain Doom: By the time the story kicks off, the hippogriffs of Imperial Equus is ruled over by Queen Skystar, and no mention is made of the fate of her mother Novo.
  • United Nations Is a Superpower: While individual countries are mentioned, the United Nations Allied Command, or UNAC, is mentioned as the chief organization for humanity's war against the Solar Empire, replacing the vaguely-omnipresent reach the PHL had in the original Spectrum.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: Faust parts ways with Sint Erklass after having a conversation to this effect in the prologue.
  • Villains Out Shopping: The penultimate scene of Chapter Nineteen has a brief glimpse into the Archmage's daily life; reading books in the Canterlot Palace Gardens. It also has her give Gallus some tips in wooing Silverstream.
  • A World Half Full: Earth is in the midst of an apocalyptic war, and humanity comes close to the brink of collapse in the face of a genocidal Empire. But as the story starts to show, the spark of hope from another world, where said enemy never turned evil, starts to give hope that the war can be won after all.
  • We ARE Struggling Together:
  • We Can Rule Together: Archmage Twilight tenderly offers Luna that she can join them in the Empire's cause. Luna ultimately decides on letting her know where she can stuff it.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "They Are Us", which definitively shows the Solar Empire as the enemy force fighting to eradicate humanity. While this could count as a Late-Arrival Spoiler given the story's reboot status, what makes it a Wham Episode is how the reveal is presented.
    • "Understanding Dawns", which begins innocuously enough and serves to characterize Reiner further, swerves into this when it reveals Celestia and Luna's other sister.
    • "Concordia Maxima", the concluding chapter of Act One, reveals Tirek's involvement and Alex's familial bond with Megan Williams, and ends with Redheart's death and Queen Celestia acknowledging the Concordat as a potential foe.
    • "Two Faces", the second chapter of Act Two, ends with Discord being petrified by the Imperial Elements of Harmony, taking him out of commission.
    • "Thus, Lift Me Up" in spades. Luna's mind delve into the Archmage reveals a lot about how the Empire came to be, how their world differs from Prime Equestria, and just how far gone Twilight Sparkle truly is.
    • "Child of Crystal", the second Interlude, is a seemingly innocuous fairy-tale-esque chapter about how Cadance earned her alicornhood, and Prismia's involvement. It ends simple enough, with Cadance retelling the story to Alex and Shining... then it keeps going past the ending, revealing that Prismia is an alicorn, and far, far older than anything else alive on Equus, and the Storm King orphaned Cadance.
  • Wham Line:
    • The ending to Chapter Six: "Understanding Dawns":
    Galatea: I am the Scribe of the Stardust, keeper of the plan of our existence. I am your sister and keeper both, Celestia. My name is Galatea. And I need your help.
    • Early on in Chapter Fifteen: "Two Faces", crucially establishing the time gap:
    Archmage Twilight Sparkle: (To Luna) We... first met eighteen years ago.
    • Chapter Nineteen's ending, where Princess Cadance asks Lady Cadance about the Alicorn Amulet and Prismia:
    Princess Cadance: Could you have… done something wrong when you got (The Alicorn Amulet) off Prismia?
    Lady Cadance: Who?
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Amethyst calls out the PHL leadership for being too cynical regarding Prime Equestria, spurring them to formally establish relations through Princess Cadance.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Played with. Luna admits that she has no idea what a mortal life is like, and wonders if she truly is immortal.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Reconstructed. Princess Cadance and by extension the whole of Prime Equestria, lampshaded by Lady Cadance, are all comparatively idealistic. However, she doesn't necessarily say their relative innocence is a bad thing, and even warns the Princess about losing her innocence in the war. Afterwards, Commandant Cheerilee rebukes Putin for his pessimistic outlook on the war during the meeting with Princess Cadance, having regained her confidence thanks to the presence of an Equestria that wasn't corrupted.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Icewind, who believes himself to be the hero uncovering the Awful Truth of his world inevitably tumbling towards subjugation and war-torn devastation. It's a bit more complicated than he thinks it is.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: As Hanne reflects in Chapter Fourteen, Europe is gone, leaving her and her fellow Europeans without a homeland.

     A Sun in Winter 
First Published: Dec. 27th, 2016

  • Action Prologue: The prologue takes place from the viewpoint of Lilja, a doe mage tasked with retrieving the infant alicorns Celestia and Luna.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Expands greatly on Celestia and Luna's past as Elsa's charge.
  • A Day in the Limelight: For Anna Erklass, especially since the previous two Christmas Episodes focused on her sister and her grandfather.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Subverted; Anna strongly mistrusts ponykind, and initially begs Sint to send Celestia and Luna away from Adlaborn.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The prologue feels more like a conventional epic fantasy, before the story switches over to Anna, taking a more Slice of Life tone.
  • Big Bad: The Krampus, a genderless, satanic entity imprisoned by Sint Erklass, and the figure behind the intensifying predatory attacks.
  • Christmas Special: The third one.
  • Distant Prologue: An extended one for Joy to the Worlds and the whole of Spectrum, taking place in the distant past.
  • Fantastic Racism: Ponykind's conflicts have painted a less than stellar image for them - but the birth of Celestia and Luna throws any prejudices out the window for Sint Erklass.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Though the story takes place before things get rolling, a few things stand out, namely that Anna will become Elsa's first host after she was cursed, and the genocide is still yet to come.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Adlaborn, the Reindeer homeland, and its main city Vologda.
  • Lighter and Softer: The most lighthearted story in the entire Spectrumverse - contrast The Light Despondent and Last Train.
  • Predators Are Mean: The Krampus' underlings are shown to consist of predatory animals, such as wolves and polar bears. Even the demonic Windigos are implied to consume flesh as well.
  • Properly Paranoid: Anna is terrified of the possibility that outside forces will come for her homeland, with the foals inside. Given that Lilja was nearly killed in her mission, she may be right.
  • Screw Destiny: Sint Erklass denounces the idea that Celestia and Luna shouldn't be taught how to lead, in favour of nurturing them instead.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Krampus is imprisoned in a magically reinforced snowglobe, with enchanted snow keeping him from breaking free.
  • Something Completely Different: A... fairly light-hearted fantasy tale in the past, compared to the main story's contemporary tones.
  • Take That!: Sint's above statement is this to the idea that Celestia and Luna were never meant to lead, as espoused by Discord in the original Spectrum story.

     Joy To The Worlds 
First Published: Dec. 25th, 2014

  • A Day in the Limelight: For Sint Erklass.
  • After the End: Takes place just after the extermination of the reindeer.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The bad news is that Sint perishes at the end, and the reindeer almost completely exterminated. The good news is that Elsa survives (although being a piece of cloth, she can't do much unless she possesses a host), as well as the siblings Eadmund and Lucie. The story ends after he blesses the two with his powers and sends them off to Earth to aid humanity, finally passing away.
  • Christmas Episode: Well, a Hearthswarming Episode, technically. And a far darker and sadder example than others.
  • Continuity Nod: Frost Wind, the little colt that finds himself missing the Reindeer on Hearthswarming Eve, knows Aquamarine Glimmer and Comet Tail from the Asia Side Story, and is the cousin of Stellar Wind from Adrift.
  • Culture Chop Suey: Hearthswarming incorporates elements of both Christmas and Hanukkah.
  • Defiant to the End: Sint Erklass refuses to go down without a fight.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Weaver successfully kills the oldest living being in Equestria.
  • Foregone Conclusion: TCB!Sint Erklass was mentioned to have been killed in the main story, while the reindeer were exterminated.
  • Genocide Backfire: Despite their efforts, the Solar Empire didn't totally exterminate all of the reindeer, and it's clear that the survivors will make them pay for what they did.
  • Last of Their Kind: For the reindeer of TCB!Equus, there's Elsa (whose soul is bound to a cloak), and two orphaned siblings named Eadmund and Lucie.
  • The Magic Goes Away: What Frost Wind feels about Hearthswarming without the reindeer.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Weaver, Sint's assassin, tells him she doesn't like what she is ordered to do, but will carry out her Queen's will.
  • Stay with Me Until I Die: Inverted. TCB!Elsa decides to stay with her dying grandfather rather than be worn by one of the two orphans.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: Frost Wind's older brother promised that he would be back by Hearthswarming. As he serves in the Royal Guard and going by their mother's evasive reluctance to talk about it, it's more likely than not that he was killed in action.

     Snowbound 

First Published: Feb. 05th, 2016
Rebooted: Dec. 03rd, 2017

  • Absent-Minded Professor: Kgalakgadi.
  • Alaska: The setting of the story. Word of Fluffy is that it was inspired by the long list of abandoned things one can find out there - be it abandoned trains, abandoned military installations, or wolf puppies.
  • Body Horror: Johnny C claims to have seen a man's artificial hip exploding out of his body as he was being ponified.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Johnny C, to the point of forgetting to wear a winter coat when getting out of an airplane.
  • Cool Train: The 501, a large 2-8-0 steam locomotive made for hauling cargo that debuted in Light Despondent, returns!
  • Creator Provincialism: Yes and no. While New Hampshire, and the author's family farm show up, it's very much not the focus of the story.
  • Description Cut: Henri Bartholomeaux explains how sensitive the information in his decoy briefcase is, and how it's probably safe. Cut to a PER spy screaming about something in their eyes.
  • Hand Cannon: Johnny C carries a revolver so massive it's described as "almost the length of his forearm" and he holsters it on his back.
  • Holy Is Not Safe: Sint Erklass' corpse in Alaska. When a PETN/PER expedition finds it and tries to retrieve it, the latent magic starts to sabotage their work using Cosmic Horror Story tactics.
  • In Medias Res: Combines with Distant Prologue - the story starts sometime before the Distant Prologue to Light Despondent, flashes back to pre-war, then settles in early 2022 of January.
  • Noodle Incident: Kraber claims, in the Distant Prologue, to have died before, claiming that "it hurt".
    • The story itself is an explanation of one - it was alluded to as early as March of 2015, with a mention of Johnny C, Fiddlesticks, and several others having recovered a totem-prole from Alaska. The specifics were vague, but Fluffy physically couldn't keep himself from writing it.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The incredibly irritable characters we see introduced early in the story? They end up being sent to investigate the mysterious signal found up north.
  • Rescue Romance: Suggested to be between Johnny C and Fiddlesticks, as the former shot HLF attempting to kill Fiddlesticks on the grounds of his family apple farm.
  • Shown Their Work: Fluffy did a lot of research on Alaska for the story.
  • World of Snark: Everyone has a witty comment in response to everyone.

     Story of the Asian Front 

First Published: Dec. 29th, 2017

  • Continuity Reboot
  • Framing Device: The prologue shows Yon-Soo being interviewed, recalling the early days of the war on the Asian front and the formation of the Dragons of the East.

     The Slow Mutants 

First Published: Feb. 27th, 2017

  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Or, rather, prequel main character. While Kraber wasn't exactly a stranger to tricking his way out of situations, Hope is much less combat-oriented and more prone to sneaking out of bad situations.
  • Emergency Transformation: Like many pre-war newfoals, Hope took the potion to save herself from an advanced case of terminal cancer. She wishes she hadn't now.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Hope is a newfoal trying to preserve her identity and find her cutie mark. We already know she's going to fail.
  • Fridge Logic:invoked Stated by Word of Fluffy to be his main reason for writing this story:
    Fluffy: If newfoals were so obviously barely functional zombies, how did anyone ever think this was a good idea?
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Enforced. Even thinking swear words is like pulling teeth for Hope at times.
  • Villainous Rescue: The first chapter ends with Hope being rescued from an angry mob (consisting of both PHL and HLF personnell who assume Hope is a PER spy) by members of the actual PER, who kick off the second chapter by potioning a roadblock. Hope has to contain her horror through the Mother of All Poker Faces to keep herself beneath suspicion.

     The Light Despondent - Remixed 

First Published: Dec. 27th, 2017

     Starvation 

First Published: Nov. 08th, 2013
Rebooted: Oct. 27th, 2017

  • Apocalyptic Log: Much of the story is this, being a record of Acevedo's recollections of his life and experiences during the war.
  • Body Horror: Isaac Acevedo claims that he's become skinny enough for his ribs to start showing through.
  • Crapsack World: Most of Earth has devolved into this. Brazil specifically is overcrowded with refugees, most people are going hungry due to the barrier covering a large chunk of the Earth's landmass, and the Apocalypse Anarchy has gotten so chaotic that Acevedo considers it a bad idea to go outside without wearing his armor and carrying at least one gun.
  • Fling a Light into the Future: What the characters expect the broadcast to be, to tell any sapient aliens elsewhere in the universe of humanity's existence and the war that wiped them out.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: Some people have resorted to cannibalism, or at least making a meal out of the newfoals, due to the lack of fresh food. Acevedo ate a newfoal shortly before he made his broadcast, and he's utterly disgusted with himself for it, although his friends try to reassure him that he did what he had to do.
  • Race Lift: Acevedo in this version is mixed race (half black and half white) though still ethnically Brazilian.

     The First Second of Eternity 

First Published: May 1st, 2020.

  • A Day in the Limelight: The story is focused on Galatea, and her life before the events of Spectrum proper.
  • Arc Words: Mother's commands to Galatea, the first words Galatea ever hears, and the only things she says until the very end of Chapter One, as a Badass Creed.
    Galatea: I am Galatea, Scribe of the Stardust. I am the bastion of rationality and memory. Where chaos rules, I shall preach order. Where the plan goes astray, it is mine place to correct it. I shall watch, I shall learn, and I shall protect.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: After having spent centuries doing exactly as she was told, it finally occurs to Galatea that there is nothing quite like her on the planet. At first, she recites the words her Mother told her, to reaffirm her duty. Then she asks herself a question, the only words other than her Mother's orders spoken in the first chapter.
    Galatea: ...Who am I?
  • God in Human Form: Galatea, like her sisters, is capable of shifting into a mortal guise in the form of one of the three pony tribes. In her case, she chooses to be an earthpony.
  • Homage: To the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, The Shepherd Boy - in that, much like the bird in that tale, Galatea spends time chipping away at a mountain.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Within the first few paragraphs, it immediately spoils the main story plot point that Galatea is an alicorn.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to most of the other side-stories, and its parent story.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Galatea needs a way to keep track of time. So naturally, her solution is to punch a mountain, chipping away at it over centuries.
  • Mundane Object Amazement: Galatea is unusually fond of worms, snails, and bees - worms for their elusiveness and benefits to the soil, snails because of their slowness, allowing her to watch them carefully, and bees, for their commitment to a duty together.
  • Random Events Plot: It's really a series of vignettes in Galatea's life, connected by the overarching theme of her duty as watcher.
  • Scenery Porn: What most of the first chapter consists of - Galatea's travels through the wilderness and her observations.
  • Time Abyss: No mention is made as to how long exactly Galatea has been doing her duty, by the end of the first chapter, but it's inferred that many thousands of years have already passed by the time Galatea asks herself a question.
  • We Are as Mayflies: Centuries pass in the span of a paragraph or a few sentences, from Galatea's point of view. She sees a tree grow from a sapling, adulthood, and finally to its death over decades the same way she would watch a little bird from hatchling to death.

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