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Fanfic / Skyreach

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Part of The Weedverse, Skyreach by Kudzuhaiku tells the story of Rainbow Dash, Daring Do, Vinyl Scratch and Tarnished Teapot as they seek out the mythical Skyreach, in defiance of Princess Celestia's advice that some things are better left buried.

Upon arrival, their airship crashes due to an anomaly around Skyreach that prevents them calling for help or leaving easily, and the four are left stranded, with their only chance of escape being to uncover Skyreach's secrets.


Skyreach contains examples of:

  • Affectionate Nickname: In her diary, Vinyl refers to Octavia as her "Smelly Melly".
  • Always Accurate Attack: Tarnish trusts Vinyl's shots to be this, due to her facility with targeting spells.
  • Apocalyptic Log:
    • The heroes find a crystal recorder on the corpse of a pegasus who was part of an expedition to Skyreach. It describes how the automatons were reprogrammed to process everyone, pureblood or not, the pegasi had gone mad, and a pony called Spear Breaker activated the defenses, trapping them all. The speaker blames eating meat for the madness. Later logs are discovered with other corpses, revealing more of what happened. Spear Breaker, before her madness, was a brilliant pegasus who initially activated the mechanisms to bring prosperity. She also brought unicorns that at least some of her fellows didn't trust. At least one log suggests that they began consuming earth pony slaves' souls for power. One log claims Skyreach was a god factory, and blames Spear Breaker's madness on discovering that earth ponies were part of the process. Notably, at least one log isn't discovered, and neither protagonists nor readers learn what it contained.
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    • In the "The tomb of sensibility" chapter, the heroes find a journal owned by a Twilight Sparkle who came from a timeline where Nightmare Moon succeeded in bringing about Eternal Night, with Sunset Shimmer being one of her loyal followers.
  • "Ass" in Ambassador: Ambassador Thames is an arrogant snake who doesn't treat the heroes very well, and demands that they relinquish the key to Skyreach to the Grittish Crown, claiming it as property. It takes Doctor Caballeron being shot in the ass for him to let the heroes go without further trouble.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Terra Firma threatens to kill Pale if he crosses her by refusing to let the heroes into Skyreach, destroying the graves he draws power from.
    • Later, Tarnish receives one from Eternity/The Nameless One in a vision: I am the star that will forever sparkle. I am Twilight Sparkle, Light of Friendship.
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  • Blessed With Suck: Being a druid and follower of Terra Firma gives Tarnish control over plants, and the ability to telepathically communicate with animals. But his body is ill-equipped to handle such power; the story describes it as his Poison Joke cutie mark's "last laugh".
  • Big "NO!": Meets Punctuated Pounding when Tarnish takes a wrench to a gulguthra.
  • Body Horror: Frequently, between the experiments, and the aftermath of the magical conflict. Special mention goes to the poor unicorn who died while encased in molten glass, and the "manipede" Tarnish's group finds later in the swaps.
  • Bring Me My Brown Pants: Tarnish, upon realising that the centaur automaton he's just violently deactivated is being maintained by someone.
  • Call-Forward: While exploring an area of Skyreach particularly badly ruined by magical warfare, Vinyl comments that the amount of power being thrown around was very high, and that either all the most powerful unicorns in the region came together or powerful unicorns were much more prevalent back then, but she dismisses both options as neither really makes sense at the time. As revealed in Trixie Lulamoon And The Horrendous Hypothesis and Princess Twilight Sparkle's School For Fantastic Foals, the second option is correct, unicorns have been getting weaker over time due to a higher population spreading the magic more thinly and Grogar's corruption reducing the magic available.
  • Camp Gay: Kartoffel acts quite flirtatiously towards Tarnish.
  • Closed Circle: The protagonists are stranded in Skyreach by something that causes their airship to cease functioning and interferes with magic in specific ways, preventing communication to call for help. It's possible that this was put in place by Pale, who wants to keep Skyreach's secrets a secret, and it is known that the characters' presence was engineered by Terra Firma, who thinks they can resolve whatever happened there in order to restore balance to nature.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Tarnish's tendency to do things like throwing villains to crocodiles and generally ignore what Daring Do calls "Professional Courtesy" are getting him a dark reputation.
  • Combat Tentacles: There is an encounter with a gulguthra that has long, acidic tentacles.
  • Cool Airship: The Endeavour. It crashes once the heroes reach the magic-killing barrier surrounding Skyreach.
  • Crippling Overspecialisation: Most ponies are this, focusing on their cutie mark talents exclusively, and while high on opium painkillers after Bellringer's detonation Vinyl muses on how much she dislikes this tendency, and how glad she is to have a group of friends who don't follow it.
  • Cruel Mercy: When Tarnish initially hears how Daring Do has been treated by Caballeron, he plans to kill him. Daring says that he shouldn't, so he plans this trope instead. Daring, aware of how he thinks, tries to shut down that line of thought as well.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: When Tarnish accidentally animates an ancient tree and sets it on a group of mechanoids. The tree wins.
  • Deity of Human Origin: Skyreach is designed as a factory for gods. It failed spectacularly.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: While Daring stalls Ambassador Thames, Tarnish sneaks up on Doctor Caballeron and announces himself this way.
  • Dreaming of Times Gone By: Tarnish dreams of the fall of Skyreach and Spear Breaker's ascension after linking wills with a Shambler, a diseased plant abomination that was there at the time and merged with a unicorn casualty.
  • Driving Question: What is Skyreach? As the story goes further, it's implied that Skyreach was founded by the centaurs with good intentions. But gradually, thanks to racism and Grogar corrupting the artificial ley lines in Skyreach, the place became a hellhole of horrific experimentation and insanity, with attempts to create alicorns without the earth pony parts.
  • Due to the Dead: Rainbow wants to do something about the corpses in Ol' Gertie, but Daring says that they can't afford the calories.
  • Emotion Bomb: The artificial ley line running through Skyreach contributed to the decay in sanity of the inhabitants. It's implied that Grogar corrupted it to kill the centaurs.
  • Explosive Overclocking: How Bellringer is destroyed, Tarnish overpressurises it and drops in the middle of a room full of giant spiders.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • The pegasi dominating Skyreach were very keen on putting the other tribes "in their proper place". The earth ponies were hit with this the most. It's implied that earth ponies were inducted as slave labor, cannibalized by the pegasi in an attempt to draw power from their souls, and when it was discovered that earth ponies made up part of the alicorns' heritage and magic, they reacted quite violently by hacking several earth ponies to death, refusing to rely on "filth" to ascend.
    • Rainbow reveals that this trope is why she left Cloudsdale to live in Ponyville, as the pegasi there are fixated on blood purity and look down on those who are "polluted". She mentions that Fluttershy was one pegasus who received such bigoted treatment
  • Fashions Never Change: In a park in Skyreach, a centaur statue is found wearing a suit that wouldn't look out of place in modern Canterlot.
  • Fastball Special: Tarnish is hurled at a centaur automaton by Vinyl, shield first. It's apparently standard procedure, as hitting them hard and fast is the most reliable way of taking them down.
  • Futureshadowing: While recovering from getting lost in the Shambler's mind, Tarnish meets the "Twilight that will be", the result of Tarnish recovering Eternity's book and allowing Twilight that is to repair the damage from the Nameless One's corruption.
  • Giant Spider: The Skyreach spiders, with the addition of metal legs and crystals on their backs. They were originally made as biological factories for crystal fibre.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: One of the logs claims the pegasi went mad when they discovered that earth ponies were part of the alicorns' magic. This is confirmed when the heroes happen upon the corpse of a bunch of earth ponies that was hacked to pieces, with wall graffiti saying, "Our gods will not be made from earth ponies!".
  • Green Thumb: Tarnish is a druid, and has several powers in this vein, ranging from asking plants for shelter to Invoking When Trees Attack. It later bites them when he links to an ancient plant that had merged with one of the unicorn casualties of the battle and begins reliving Spear Breaker's ascension.
  • Hand Cannon: The coach gun (later named Almighty Alicorn Sisters) Tarnish picks up.
  • Healing Potion: The Caretakers are trees altered to pull up organic compounds and produce useful alchemical compounds in their fruits, turning them into this. Their fruits, however, aren't exactly edible and they taste like "pussy".
  • The Heart: Tarnish, as the "moral officer", is responsible for the group's emotional well-being, as well as making sure that Vinyl is heard and not taken for granted by the other mares.
  • Hero Insurance: Averted, the characters receive several lawsuits for their actions prior to the story (and it's only Twilight's influence that ensures they aren't prosecuted for the damage).
  • Heroism Incentive: Blueblood ensures that dangerous artifacts find their way to him, and not anywhere else, by making it clear that he will pay appropriately. As he represents the government, he has very deep pockets. And as a sign of goodwill, he gives Tarnish a sizable check that'll allow him to pay the bills for property damage caused in Manehattan.
  • I Call It "Vera": Tarnish's steam cannon is called Bellringer, and the backup coach gun is Almighty Alicorn Sisters. Vinyl's gun is called The Army Cannon.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: At least some of the inhabitants that went mad began eating parts of other ponies in an attempt to devour their souls, as evidenced by the graffiti they left behind from their discussions of where exactly the soul resided.
  • Hurricane of Puns: While fighting Giant Spiders in chapter 48, Flamingo makes long series of spider jokes.
  • It Tastes Like Feet:
    • The 4K Ration Bars are described as smelling like semen by Tarnish, and Rainbow confirms that they taste like it too.
    • The apples produced by Skyreach's Caretaker trees aren't much better. Rainbow describes them as tasting like "pussy".
  • Indy Ploy: Tarnish's attempt at this in chapter 48, detonating Bellringer to destroy a horde of spiders backfires spectacularly, horrifically scalding all of them and bringing portions of the ceiling down. The mares in his group don't begrudge him for it, as the move was necessary and that everyone makes mistakes in their lives
  • I Owe You My Life: Maldrago has this attitude towards Lichen, after Lichen won him in a card game and tried to set him free. He got a bodyguard instead.
  • Kill It with Fire: Daring Do says this exact phrase upon being faced with a Skyreach spider, and Vinyl is glad to oblige.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The not-quite Tree of Harmony painting cannot be clearly remembered by anyone for very long after looking at it. Rainbow mentions that she can only remember that she saw a lot of cutie marks.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Caballeron had Tarnish shot in the ass, so Tarnish returns the favor when he gets the opportunity. It's telling when Daring, despite her displeasure, doesn't really stop him, while Celestia praises him for his action.
  • Magic Misfire: The fall of Skyreach left the scars of many of these.
  • Magitek: Skyreach contains large amounts of this, but the wetware network between the plants of the facility is explicitly described as being closer to technology than magic.
  • Magnetic Weapon: The arm cannon Vinyl uses works by amplifying the electrical field of a small spark of magic in a pulse to propel a bullet. It's extremely efficient (crucial when Casting From Calories in a survival situation) and, if you don't overdo it and break the sound barrier, very quiet.
  • The Magnificent: Tarnish got a title (Spider's Bane) when he became hero of the realm. When Rainbow comments that she didn't, getting a medal and not a lot else, Tarnish suggests the title "Wind-Breaker". Rainbow is unimpressed.
  • Marry Them All: As mentioned below, Cloudy wants Tarnish to marry Vinyl and Octavia and turn them into good mares. Tarnish feels rather uncomfortable with how upfront she is about it, as he are close to them but not in the way he's close to his wife. Not to mention that Vinyl and Octavia are lesbians.
  • Martial Pacifist: Flamingo's distaste for blood and being a sapient Absurdly Sharp Blade means that she generally fights by carving through the weapons of their opponents, rather than literally disarming them.
  • Mushroom Samba: Tarnish has a brief one after taking opiate painkillers, involving an odd conversation with his daughter (at the time, only a few months old, and quite a long way away) that apparently gets hijacked by something else (probably Terra Firma).
  • Mutually Assured Destruction: Part of the research done at Skyreach was an attempt to create this scenario by developing a weapon that could only be survived by a sufficiently harmonious society. It's pretty certain that this weapon is the Windigoes.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: How the incident in Manehatten is treated as such. Tarnish, Rainbow, and Daring were dealing with a mafia hitman who was chucking dynamite at them; though there were casualties, they did manage to save more from dying. As a reward for their efforts, the heroes were saddled with a huge property damage bill. Twilight agrees with the actions of the local authorities, blaming herself for abusing her authority to prevent the heroes from going to jail, and claims that Rainbow, the last to handle the bombs, wasn't responsible with them. Octavia is livid at both Twilight and the complete unfairness of it all, and storms off suggesting that the heroes should sit on the sidelines next time a crisis happens if people continue acting ungrateful.
  • Not So Different:
    • Celestia praises Tarnish for shooting Caballeron in the ass; as she also detests Caballeron, she would've done the same thing if she were in Tarnish's shoes.
    • Rainbow sympathizes with Tarnish's angst over being forced to grow up too fast, bringing up the fiasco with the Wonderbolts and Lightning Dust.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Cloudy has misinterpreted the use of "an old Trottingham tradition" (where Tarnish, Maud, Vinyl and Octavia innocently share a bed), and believes that Tarnish should just marry Vinyl and Octavia already.
  • Operation: [Blank]: Project Eternity.
  • Organic Technology: Significant portions of the Skyreach tech uses this, including the Caretakers. Tarnish gets blueprints for most of it uploaded into his brain when he interfaces with the neural network, allowing him to create a variety of interesting and useful fauna in later stories.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Tarnish shoots Caballeron in the ass for doing the same to him.
  • Power Incontinence: Tarnish hasn't entirely managed to control his magic, especially when supplies of Poison Joke run low, resulting in occasionally dramatic effects.
  • Privateer: Lichen is in negotiations to become this for Equestria, after getting rescued from slavers by Tarnish.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Getting shot in the ass brings its own physical health problems, such as being unable to sit or poop properly. When Tarnish is injured this way and later returns the favor to Caballeron, it's described as painful.
    • Cloudy Quartz's desire to spoil some foals is understandable, but rather rude and off-putting. Tarnish is left rather uncomfortable by the pressure as he's close to Vinyl and Octavia in a platonic way, and resorts to lying to get Cloudy off his back.
    • Tarnish, despite being Happily Married with a lot of accomplishments on his belt, feels like he was forced to grow up too fast and angsts over it. Rainbow sympathizes with him as she had growing pains, too.
  • Saved by Canon: All four main characters have appearances in chronologically later Weedverse stories, so they must survive and escape this one, no matter how bleak it may appear.
  • Screaming Birth: By Maud standards. She said "Ow" in deadpan a lot.
  • The Siege: One that lasts between twelve and twenty hoursnote  occurs when they become cornered by automatons in Skyreach.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong:
    • Terra Firma secretly engineered the heroes' passage into Skyreach against Pale's wishes, because she wants them to discover what happened and restore the balance of nature there.
    • The book from Moochick's study will allow Twilight Sparkle that is to go back in time and repair the damage from the corruption of The Nameless One, allowing Twilight Sparkle that will be to replace her.
  • Shipper on Deck: Rainbow finds the tendency of other ponies to look at her friendships with Shipping Goggles annoying, but admits she's guilty of the same thing, shipping Twilight with Fluttershy.
  • Shoot the Medic First: The group actively try to defy this, as if Tarnish is taken out, none of the others have the medical skill to fix major injuries.
  • Shot in the Ass: One of Caballeron's goons shot Tarnish before the story on the Doctor's orders, leaving Tarnish unable to sit down or poop properly. This left Tarnish so angry that he later returns the favour once Caballeron's in a vulnerable spot. Celestia remarks that she would've done the same thing in his shoes, as she also detests Caballeron with a passion.
  • Sky Pirate: Lichen.
  • Slave Race: Earth ponies, in Skyreach. The heroes find what look like an auctioning area in Skyreach's local market place
  • That Man Is Dead: The Power of Magic refuses both the title of The Nameless One and her old one, "Eternity", as she has been replaced by Twilight Sparkle that will be.
  • The Team Benefactor: Twilight Sparkle and Night Light fund the expedition, over Celestia's objections.
  • Tomes of Prophecy and Fate: The book they find in Moochick's study is Eternity's book, and will allow/has allowed Twilight Sparkle to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • Translator Microbes: Tarnish has glasses that can read any language, looted from a Centaur vault.
  • Unreliable Narrator: None of the Apocalyptic Logs can really be trusted, as all the speakers were directly invested, and more than a few were utterly insane.
  • Victory by Endurance: Tarnish once beat an entire army by running into the jungle, and keeping running while conjuring water, until all his pursuers keeled over from heatstroke.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Rainbow Dash, upon discovering that the pegasi of Skyreach may have begun consuming the souls of their slaves.
  • Wetware CPU: The group have previously encountered a (hopefully malfunctioning) automaton that was taking ponies, puréeing their brains and using the neurons to support its own deteriorating functions.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Tarnish, and Vinyl loves him for it.
  • What Were You Thinking?: Played for Laughs by Rainbow calling out Vinyl for giving Tarnish a steam bomb to try and cheer up the group after the Indy Ploy backfired. It works.
  • Wham Line: At the end of Chapter 47, both with what is said and who says it.:
    The Power of Magic: I am the star that will forever sparkle. I am Twilight Sparkle, Light of Friendship.
  • Whip It Good: Tarnish's weapon of choice.
  • Winds of Destiny, Change: It's implied Skyreach was partly founded to study cutie mark magic in an attempt to give ponies free will, while controlling their destinies to some extent. Daring is disgusted by the implications, stating that she couldn't tell if doing so is the action of a loving parent or a benevolent tyrant.
  • Wrench Wench: Vinyl rigs up a Tarnish-powered steam cannon from spare parts. Engineering is not an optional course at the School For Gifted Unicorns.
  • Wrench Whack: Tarnish takes up a centaur-steel monkey wrench at one point.
  • Wretched Hive: Subverted by the "Unnamed Pirate Port" run by Lichen, to Daring and Rainbow's discomfort.
  • You Can See That, Right?: Rainbow requests confirmation that Tarnish is indeed seeing the boxing deernote .
  • Your Soul Is Mine: One of the Apocalyptic Logs has somepony suggesting that this be done to the earth pony slaves, and given the depravities of Skyreach's fall, it's not unlikely the plan was carried out.


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