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Fanfic / Spectrum Count Down To The Final Battle

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     Calm Before the Storm 
First Published: Jan. 14th 2014

  • All Animals Are Domesticated: Very much averted. The predatory animals living in the parts of Earth that the TCB!Equestrians are trying to colonize are giving them a hard time. Africa in particular is especially brutal.
    • In universe, there's a rumor going around that a group of zebras, ponies, and a few humans actually placed a spell on the African continent so it would forever be a Death World to Celestia's forces. While there certainly was a ritual to create this spell, it's left ambiguous as to whether it worked.
  • Apocalypse Anarchy: It's already well known that Earth in general is spiraling down the toilet in the face of the apocalypse, but in the "Who Am I To Stand Still" segment, we actually see it go down ourselves. Or at least, we see some of it on the news. There's mentions of HLF suicide bombers, the PER hijack a train, there are riots over food in New Orleans and North Dakota, and one National Guardsman is quoted as saying "It's like looking into the gates of hell" in response to a question about a food riot.
    • And there's also the Fu'an riots, in which the protesters have guns - it's described as not so much a riot in as much as an all-out war.
  • Ascended Fanon: In-Universe - the "Thaumic Absorbent Runic Missile" or TARM was originally proposed by Spudrum, a reader whom Doctor Fluffy likes.
  • Asshole Victim: PER member Freddy's first victim was a "violent racist".
  • Author Appeal: Welcome to Night Vale, second-person writing, and the works of China Miéville and Jeff Vandermeer (the author of Ambergris) were all huge influences.
  • Author Filibuster: In-Universe, as Enitan takes a break from her broadcast to rant about how TCB!Celestia has a case of It's All About Me and only cares for the acquisition of power.
  • BFS: Fancy Pants aka "Five Blade Fancy" wields that amount of swords at the same time.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: Two notable examples in "A Story About Them". First, there's a mention of Beyer-Garratt steam locomotives being used to evacuate refugees. Another is a mention of a man using an STG-44, a Nazi assault rifle that would, at this point, be eighty years old, and is seemingly a case of Improperly Placed Firearms. However, both are Truth in Television – STG-44s are fairly common in Northern Africa and were in fact used in the Libyan Civil War, and Africa does in fact still use steam locomotives.
  • Break the Haughty: Part 3 of Chapter 3 is not kind to Fleur. Justified, considering her entire life was upended overnight and finding that everything she'd ever believed in was wrong.
  • Call-Forward: In a recorded quote during Chapter 3, Fiddlesticks Apple claims in 2020 that TCB!Equestria will be "an unrecognizable shithole" within a couple years. This being immediately after Chapter 2, which showed us just how terrible TCB!Equestria is.
  • Canon Immigrant: Desert Wind, Alexander Redmond, and other characters from The Avatar Of Albion appear in "With Dignity", the fourth segment of Chapter 3. Which, fittingly enough, was written by Avatar Of Albion's author.
  • Crapsaccharine World: TCB!Equestria, though the story takes it far enough that it almost seems like a straight Crapsack World.
  • Dead Alternate Counterpart: TCB!Octavia died on the night the war broke out, which sends Prime!Octavia into a brief existential crisis.
  • Deconstruction Fic: The second chapter specifically is dedicated to deconstructing a point of Fridge Logic with the Conversion Bureau genre - how is Equestria able to support both a war against humanity and a sudden influx of millions to billions of newfoals? The story has a clear answer: they can't. For one thing, they're forced to rapidly industrialize and destroy their own environment to produce enough materials to just stay afloat in the war, making them Not So Different from humanity in that regard. There's also nowhere near enough jobs or food to support this explosive growth, and their economy has grown dependent on the mass exploitation of newfoal slave labor, screwing them over even more in the long run. On top of that, thanks to the barrier, they've destroyed all the infrastructure and materials they could have possibly used to support their war effort and make colonizing Earth easier, so they've only made things harder for themselves. And it also shows that having zombie-like citizens obedient to a fault is pretty bad, culturally, given that they are explicitly mentioned to work themselves to death if they aren't told to take a break, and they make the perfect prostitutes because they literally can't say no to anything.
  • Dedication:
    • Chapter 2 is dedicated to Doctor Fluffy's friends Heather and Miranda.
    • Chapter 3 is dedicated to Spectrum's various co-authors and editors.
  • Dystopia Is Hard: Thanks to the Barrier, ironically enough. Though specifically, it's more a case of "wartime dystopia is hard". It's proven to be a herculean task to keep TCB!Equestria's collective heads above the water, thanks to the Barrier destroying any resources the TCB!Equestrians could have used to support their war effort and population growth.
  • Expy: Enitan Adebayo is a black, female Nigerian expy of Cecil Gershwin Palmer.
  • Fascist, but Inefficient: This trope perfectly sums up the situation in the Solar Empire.
  • Fictional Document: Every segment is prefaced with at least one in-universe quote.
  • Foreshadowing: It's practically telegraphed that something bad will happen to the Beneficence. Lampshaded by Doctor Fluffy in the comments:
    Fluffy: I don't want to give spoilers but Oh, the Humanity!.
  • Genre-Busting: As a result of the format, the genre can change at the drop of the hat.
  • Gun Porn: The focus of chapter 4.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Obayana has his moments of this.
  • Heel Realization: Freddy, the main character of "PERtinent Knowledge", is forced to question his allegiances and the righteousness of his cause when news of the second Equestria goes public.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Barrier and the Newfoals serve as this for the Empire. The Barrier is the ponies' best weapon against humanity, and they would have been obliterated within a week had it not been there. But it's a double-edged sword, and it's been slowly but surely screwing the Solar Empire over because it destroys all human-made materials and infrastructure, including the stuff necessary to actually make use of the conquered land. And the Newfoals may be good shock troops and provide plenty of easy slave labor, but they only exacerbate the problem as Equestria simply does not have the resources available to support all of them while trying maintain their massive war effort, and the constant ponification action means the Newfoals' numbers just keep increasing and adding ever more strain on already very limited resources.
  • Homemade Inventions: "A Story About Them" features mentions of homemade rifles, gunpowder, and claymore mines. Angus Reid also points out that the HLF's "home-brewed cannons and pipe guns" are nothing compared to the PHL's magically enhanced superweapons. Several homemade weapons, such as a .50 BMG open-bolt rifle, appear in Chapter 4.
  • Hope Is Scary: All but named in the Chapter 6 segment "Finally a Tomorrow", when pony refugee Maple Glaze surmises that since everyone had been so used to things going badly for so long, the very news of the second Equestria's existence initially caused anger and shock to some simply because they weren't used to hearing any good news.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: The Apple family, according to Fiddlesticks (the fiddle-playing Palette Swap of Octavia from the Apple Family Reunion episode), is a shadow of its former self:
    Fiddlesticks: It's turned into a nightmare, half my family isn't on speaking terms with each other! Half of them left for earth, almost none of them want to talk to Applejack, a quarter of them can barely work the farms they grew up on or meet any of the quotas, they use slave labor, and they're actively celebrating turning people into unthinking zombies!
  • Human Resources: There's a mention of scientists harvesting the alicornal tissue in newfoals in Chapter 3 to use its magic.
  • Hypocrite: The Imperial ponies' hypocrisy is explored in great detail. For starters, to keep the war effort from destroying them and to provide jobs to the massive number of Newfoals coming in, the TCB!Equestrians have gone through rapid industrialization that is destroying their environment and Newfoal workers are exploited as slave labor. TCB!Big Macintosh even muses that for all the Empire's railing against humans for engaging in slavery in its history, the Empire is doing far worse because of the horrific brainwashing it does to the Newfoals. TCB!Fancy Pants also points out how disingenuous it is to claim that ponies are peaceful and Equestria is a paradise when they're using the Newfoals as Cannon Fodder and exploiting their passivity. Doctor Bowman also calls out Freddy for his own self-righteousness, judging the whole of humanity for its sins yet thinking himself better than all the rest for being PER.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Implied in TCB!Big Mac's comment about giving Diamond Tiara food poisoning.
  • I Have No Son!: Freddy's mother disowned him for joining the PER.
  • Just Before the End: Special mention for pointing out that they're at the point of no return - as soon as the Barrier eats up most of North America, everyone is done for.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • Plenty from Fancy's chapter, which pokes fun at numerous things, such as the ease with which problems are often solved in the show.
    Fancy: If we were living in the same Equestria where problems could be solved within thirty minutes and capped off with a speech...
    • The propensity of the authors for writing speeches.
    Fancy: You can debate the morality of it with humans. They do seem to love their moralistic speeches...
    • And how out of character "Xenolestia" needs to be for a Conversion Bureau fanfic to work.
    Fancy: How is any of this even remotely in-character?! It's like something derailed her character, and forced her to become some evil tyrant!
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Fancy Pants actually manages to cause this effect with swords, and the description of the aftermath is grisly.
  • Meaningful Name: Enitan Adebayo's first name means "person of stories," or "sum total of all the myths, songs, histories and other cultural concepts which make up religion and society" in Yoruban. And she's a storyteller who narrates most of the "A Story About Them" segment of Chapter 3.
  • Moral Event Horizon: In-Universe. The Prime!Mane Six and Lyra consider the PER and Newfoals' infiltration of a maternity ward to convert helpless newborn humans to be this. Prime!Fluttershy is also disgusted with the Barrier and the Newfoals, which she considers an "affront to all life" (and since she's a Friend to All Living Things, it's no surprise).
  • No Ending: "PERtinent Knowledge" ends with Freddy debating with himself whether to drink the potion he has while the PHL are killing off his comrades.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Doctor Fluffy made a brief aside in the author's notes to point out that the BFG .50 BMG open-bolt rifles he'd mentioned were real.
    • At the end of "PERtinent Knowledge", Fluffy momentarily put up a disclaimer to point out the PER member main character's quote about The Right of a Superior Species is again lifted right from Chatoyance's quote that states that ponies are allowed to do morally questionable acts because they're better than humans.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: Doctor Bowman makes these during "PERtinent Knowledge" to Freddy, calmly refuting the latter's cynical views on humanity.
  • Readings Are Off the Scale: Invoked, discussed, and parodied.
    He couldn't have imagined that his Queen had enough magic power that it beggared belief, enough that thaumic classifications were useless and would, in all likelihood, reduce ponies to grasping thaumoemotive indicators in their mouths or telekinetic fields, screaming madly about the impossibly high readings while crushing their instruments.
  • Reality Ensues: This story (or at least, its second chapter) illustrates the consequences of what would happen to a country if it had a sudden and enormous population boom in wartime, and inadequate resources. TCB!Equestria is suffering from food shortages and rapid industrialization that is ruining the environment. Arguably, the only thing they have plenty of is space, but due to the lack of adequate infrastructure to support all the Newfoals coming in and the barrier destroying everything they could have used to make shouldering the burden easier, they're unable to use it well, forcing the Newfoals into the cities to work on machines and weapons for the war. And a prolonged war with innumerable casualties that are by now in the millions is bound to completely destroy the fabric and the general morale of society, so much so that in the end only terror and fanaticism can hold it together.
  • Rousing Speech: As Enitan points out at the end of "A Story About Them", the main characters have more to live for since the Battle of Boston than they have had in the last four years.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying!: The so-called "Last Resort" in New Zealand is a place where people have gone to party until they've dropped to distract themselves from the horror of the war.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Big Macintosh in Chapter 2. He's simply had enough of TCB!Equestria.
  • Ship Tease: A little between TCB Big Macintosh and Carrot Top.
  • Shown Their Work: The third chapter has the CEO of Crowe Labs go off on why escaping Earth and going up to space is utterly impractical.
  • Straight Gay: Enitan, evidently, given her mention of a wife.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Fancy Pants makes a Last Stand against a horde of newfoals in his mansion while Fleur de Lis escapes through a secret passageway. Awesome to be sure, except that by Fancy's own admission, the passage is well hidden, and it took a long, long time for the Newfoals to break down the barricade leading into the room. Couldn't he have just as easily followed Fleur down the passage and given them the slip? Maybe even break open a window to make them think they escaped in a different way?
  • Take That!
    • A lot of mentions are made in the "Exhibition" segment of the Equestria chapter of a unicorn named Catseye. The mentions are not flattering, with her frequently being called a xenophobic idiot. "Catseye" is another way of saying "Chatoyance".
    • Coal Embers calls Dr. Jacqueline Reitman (an unflattering stand-in for Chatoyance) a "horse fetishizing bitch."
  • Too Dumb to Live: The HLF are portrayed this way, one of them having tried to sabotage a PHL-aligned factory.
    • Newfoals are also this - or rather, Too Jingoistic To Live, as a result of the spellwork driving them and their hollow "minds" around making them throw themselves into the line of fire with absolutely no regard for their own lives, as long as they serve Queen Celestia's will.
  • The Unreveal: In Chapter 4, an HLF soldier accuses the PHL of turning Verity Carter into a Newfoal (see Last Train From Oblivion for more details). The PHL say she's "not a newfoal at all" but before they can explain what really happened to her, they're attacked by actual newfoals (whatever happened though, Kraber seemed to think it was hilarious).
  • Voice of the Resistance: Enitan Adebayo serves as this, making radio broadcasts live from combat zones.
  • Wham Episode: "The Empire" Chapter is a double-feature of wham:
    • The readers see Inkwell's segment ("The Worst Day of Your Life") as this. It's easy to see why - before this, readers had only gotten scattered glimpses of TCB!Equestria, which was at the very least implied to be a Crapsaccharine World. This segment, however, took place entirely in there, and showed just how terrible it was, revealing it to be as crapsaccharine as you can get without being a straight Crapsack World. There are food shortages, overpopulation of urban centers and pollution, a total logistic breakdown, mass poverty, deranged newfoals just barely hidden under the veneer of niceness.
    • Second, Fancy Pants dies in this chapter.
  • Whole Plot Reference: The second part of Chapter 3, "A Story About Them" is, according to Word of God, one to the "Balzac's War" segment of Jeff VanderMeer's book Veniss Underground.
    • However, it's also narrated in the style of Welcome to Night Vale. Make of that what you will.
    • Small Reference Pools: Unfortunately, the book Doctor Fluffy was referencing in it was very obscure, confusing many people that responded to his blog posts on the subject.

     Shades of the Unsung 
First Published: Nov. 17th 2014

  • Action Survivor: Inkwell is shaping up into one thanks to the harsh conditions of the prison camp.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Rockwell has one in the filler chapter Rockwell's Travel Through Darkness/A Trek Through Those Broken, where he goes on a journey to the center of the minds of TCB Twilight, Applejack, Rarity, Pinkie Pie and Queen Celestia and tries to save them, but to no avail.
  • The Alcoholic: Rockwell helps to make the prison camp's home-brew and drinks copious amounts of it.
  • Bad Black Barf: Inkwell spies on his cellmate, Rockwell, vomiting up something that gives off the same dark magical vibes as the ponification serum. Turns out that he was exposed to the Bag of Tirek.
  • The Cameo: One in-universe newspaper clipping telling the news that Fancy Pants was a spy for the PHL is revealed to be written by a pony named Flower Pepper. She is the newfoal form of Eun-Hee Lee, The Lost Lenore of Porter from the Asia Side-Story.
    • A newfoal stallion named New Bloom appears in the fifth chapter. He's the ponified form of Jazmin Carter, Verity Carter's transgender mother.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Most of the main characters can count.
    • Inkwell started off as a simple reporter who thought he would be some brave whistleblower exposing the unjust treatment of newfoals. Instead, his efforts to get to the truth land him in prison and branded an enemy of The Empire.
    • Rockwell was bullied in his childhood, in addition to the fact that he came into contact with the Bag of Tirek as well.
    • Soundstorm was one of the organizers of the battleship factory strike and was on the receiving end of some very vicious Police Brutality that has left her both physically and emotionally scarred.
    • The Headmaster also was exposed to the Bag of Tirek, which forced him to carry it to Celestia. He's spent the last three years of the war working to correct this.
  • Data Crystal: Rockwell acquired one to record his encounter with the Homunculi within the TCB!Mane Six and the Bag of Tirek, and recount everything he'd discovered to a chosen chronicler. Inkwell is forced to destroy it once he's done using it.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Sunset Shimmer is disguised with armor and some other changes to her appearance while infiltrating the prison camp.
  • Great Escape: What Rockwell and Soundstorm appear to be planning.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Rockwell is this combined with Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: The head warden of the prison camp, Iustita, is very vicious tempered and an all around sadistic jerkass.
  • Hellhole Prison: As the majority of prisoners are Empire dissidents (or at least suspected to be), the Warden and her goons are especially dead set on breaking them through either physical torture or re-education.
  • Info Dump: In the third chapter, where Inkwell is shown through a magical crystal the truth behind TCB!Equestria's corruption and Rockwell's backstory.
    • In the fifth chapter, the unnamed former Headmaster of Celestia's Academy also recounts Tirek's plot to TCB!Sunset Shimmer.
  • Lower-Deck Episode
    • Prison Episode: As much of it takes place within the largest prison camp in the Solar Empire.
  • Meaningful Name: TCB!Twilight's lab is named Camp 731, named after what was essentially Imperial Japan's Auschwitz.
  • Noodle Incident: No pony in the prison camp knows just why Rockwell's in there, though rumors include that he either killed a stallion with just his left hoof, robbed a bank with only a quill, or helped smuggle TCB!Luna and Cadance out of the Empire.
  • Penal Colony: The entire TCB!Crystal Empire has been converted into one.
  • Police Brutality: Pegasus mare Soundstorm was on the receiving end of this during the Cloudsdale Protest much like Blizzard Flurry was.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Inkwell has this in the fifth chapter.
  • Wardens Are Evil: Warden Iustita is loud, hot-tempered and vicious, abusing prisoners regularly and even being rather abusive towards her newfoal lover.


     The Other Side of the Mirror 
First Published: July 03rd 2015

  • Ascended Extra: The Prime Equestrian counterparts of Frost Wind and his family make a major appearance in the first chapter.
  • Author Appeal: A rather gratuitous amount where music and movies are concerned.
  • The Cameo: The other Spectrumverse authors' original characters make cameos throughout, including Aegis and his foals, Coal Embers, Stellar Wind and Pineapple Cutter.
  • Celebrity Survivors: Trance musicians Markus Schulz, Armin Van Buuren and Ferry Corsten appear in the flashback in "Too Close to Lose" for no other reason besides gratuitous Author Appeal.
  • Cheerful Child/Children Are Innocent: In stark contrast to her TCB counterpart, Prime!Comet is a normal and well-adjusted little girl who dearly loves her family, especially her father, whereas TCB!Comet disowned her own father out of anger and bitterness. Frost Wind counts as well.
  • Disappeared Dad: Nothing is said of Winter and Frost's father. "Woven Within Details" from the main story hints at his disappearance turning Winter into more of an antisocial loner.
  • Fangirl: Prime!Comet becomes a huge fan of all kinds of human music and movies.
  • Future Me Scares Me: Many of the Prime!Equestrians aren't very thrilled with how their counterparts (who are about four years older than themselves) turned out, especially considering how many relationships, families, marriages and friendships were broken apart by the war. Specifically, Prime!Aquamarine is unnerved at seeing her counterpart in battle, and Gale is disgusted with how his counterpart drove his family away due to being under the control of a geis. Inverted with Comet, who thinks her counterpart is a badass hero... which is the very last thing either of her parents want.
  • Good Parents: Prime Aquamarine and Gale, as well as Snowdrop.
  • Lighter and Softer: Much more so than other side stories in the Spectrumverse. There are plenty of reminders of the war and the suffering it's causing, but all in all, this story mainly focuses on the lives of normal ponies, their culture shock with humanity, and reactions to their counterparts' fates. Justified to a certain extent, given that it all takes place in Prime Equestria.
  • Mood Whiplash: The first chapter mostly has Comet Tail and Frost Wind looking around in awe of the foal-friendly parts of the human arts and culture exhibition. Then came the Broken Mirror and Dispatches exhibits...
    • Right after Winter Truce assures Comet about the Guard and Equestria's dedication to upholding harmony, Pineapple Cutter cuts in with a few choice words, seriously creeping out Comet, her family, and the normally stoic Winter.
  • Puppy Love: Between Prime!Comet and Frost Wind. Both of their families have noticed it, with Snowdrop in particular wholeheartedly supporting it.
  • Slice of Life: The closest this story can get, considering it takes place in the Spectrumverse.
  • Shrinking Violet: Frost Wind. It's even more pronounced than his appearance in Joy to the Worlds. Comet helps him out of it, mostly because the little colt is smitten with her.
  • Real-Person Fic: To a very limited extent, due to the appearance of real life musicians Prime!Comet interacts with.

     The Beatification of Lyra Heartstrings 
First Published: December 25, 2015

  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: It's implied that this may have happened to Lyra. Maybe.
  • Christmas Episode: A semi-sequel to 2014's Joy to the Worlds, it revolves around a religious council debating whether or not to beatify Lyra Heartstrings. On the other hand, it serves as a sequel to Joy to the Worlds, in that it revealed the possible survival of one of the Erklass sisters.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: It may be a breather to the tense events currently ongoing in the main story, but it sheds light on the worship of Lyra as a Messianic Archetype and reveals the true nature of both Amethyst Star and Ana Bjorgman.
  • Wham Episode: Not a dark one, but this story does shed a lot of light on Sparkler's past and some curious revelations on Ana's history.

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