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Fanfic / Tantabus Mark II

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Tantabus Mark II is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic by Rambling Writer, released in Feb 2016.

After the events of "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?", Princess Luna constructs a Tantabus-type dream construct with the opposite goals to the original: to bring good dreams and help her in her duties. The story begins shortly after it calls Luna 'Mom' and she decides to seek Twilight's help in deciding what to do with the creature.

It currently has three sequels:

  • Aunthood Issues, in which the Tantabus says hello to Princess Celestia. Unfortunately, Luna had neglected to tell her about it, and curious interrogations follow. Complete.
  • Tantabus Communication Protocol. Following the final joke of Aunthood Issues, a reporter who believes that Luna has had a child, but not the explanation that it's a dream construct, decides to hound Luna until she gets the truth. This annoys Luna, and attracts the attention of the Tantabus itself. Complete.
  • How the Tantabus Parses Sleep. Now free to explore the dreamscape on its own, the Tantabus begins to learn more about Equestria, test its abilities, and have fun messing with a few ponies along the way. In progress.

Tantabus Mark II contains examples of:

  • Air-Vent Passageway: How Bon-Bon enters Lyra's dream.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Fluttershy's plan for defeating the dragon involves kicking his throat, due to the softer scales. Fortunately, this is enough to dislodge the metal lodged in its larynx.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Fluttershy's nightmare involves a massive dragon trampling everything.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Several characters point out that the Tantabus would make a terrifying spy. At one point it stumbles on a bank robber dreaming of his next heist and is easily able to pass that information on to the royal guard.
  • Big Red Button: Onatrott, the villain of Lyra's dream, has one for launching her missile.
  • Blatant Lies: Luna definitely didn't recognise Bon-Bon and call her by a different name, she just resembles someone Luna used to know. Honest.
  • Born of Magic: Like the original, the Tantabus is a creation of Luna's dream magic.
  • Brain Bleach: Twilight's reaction to the end of Lyra's dream.
  • Brick Joke: Tantabus briefly muses about Fancy Pants' name, as he doesn't wear pants, so a better name would be Fancy Jacket. At the end of the story, Coranto is approached by a smooth dreamboat named Fancy Jacket.
  • Camp: Dreams created or manipulated by the Tantabus have a definite pull in this direction, although as it matures, it improves considerably.
  • Censored for Comedy: In-Universe, The Tantabus runs a censor beep for comic effect over its Cluster F-Bomb during Tantabus Communication Protocol
  • Chewing the Scenery: Everyone in Rainbow's dream.
  • Closet Geek: Both Twilight and Luna are surprised the other recognises the Silver Age of comic books, and embarrassed by their own recognition.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The Tantabus. After telling Coranto she shouldn't swear in front of it.
  • Creating Life Is Awesome: The Tantabus is definitely good.
  • Creating Life Is Unforeseen: Luna didn't forsee the Tantabus becoming a true intelligence, and becomes somewhat panicked upon realising it happened.
  • Celestial Body: The Tantabus looks like it is made of a piece of the night sky.
  • Damsel out of Distress: While Lyra's dream is primarily getting rescued by Bon-Bon, she does break herself out of the restraints.
  • Deus ex Machina: Discussed with Daring Do's dream. If Moondog is the protagonist, then it showing up to save Daring from being Mind Raped is perfectly fine, because it fits with how the story flows and Moondog's known capabilities. If Daring is the protagonist, then it's a horrible Deus ex Machina because a new character appeared out of nowhere to save her from a situation that had already been established to be impossible for her to escape on her own. With Moondog's help, Daring finds a solution: Rewrite earlier chapters so that Princess Luna was the one who sent her on the mission, has been checking on her in her dreams since, and therefore is in a good position to jump in to help when she gets attacked.
  • Double Take: While waving to an adoring crowd in her dream, Rainbow takes a second to notice that Princess Luna is both cuddling onto her leg, and watching (along with Twilight) from the crowd.
  • Dream Walker: Both Luna and the Tantabus.
  • Dream Weaver: As with Dream Walker, both Luna and the Tantabus have this power.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Onatrott has one in Lyra's dream.
  • Erotic Dream: The end of Lyra's dream, and Implied to be the ending of Tantabus Communication Protocol, at least if Coranto can get past the Tantabus' sense of humor (see Brick Joke, above).
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Tantabus has no other name until the end of Aunthood Issues, when Celestia suggests the name Dreamcatcher. The Tantabus turns it down because dreamcatchers already exist and it doesn't want to share a name with them. In the first chapter of How the Tantabus Parses Sleep, it names itself Moondog after an insult by King Sombrero.
  • Evil Gloating: Daring Do says that everyone loves a good monologue, which is why villains still do it and authors still use it even as they're lampshading the absurdity.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Even while talking to the Tantabus, it takes Coranto a while to believe that it actually exists.
  • Fun with Acronyms: With the story titles:
    • Aunthood Issues: AI, a.k.a Artificial Intelligence, which is basically what the Tantabus is.
    • Tantabus Communication Protocol: TCP: Transmission Control Protocol, which governs how computers communicate to each other.
    • How the Tantabus Parses Sleep: HTTPS is the acronym for the "Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure" that connects computers across the internet, securely.
  • The Gadfly: The Tantabus isn't cruel, but does enjoy teasing ponies sometimes. This gets it in trouble when Luna finds out about the time it took an acrophobic pony skydiving.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: After tiring of Coranto's screaming, the Tantabus slaps her to force her to calm down.
  • Gilligan Cut: One occurs in HTTPS chapter Magfault, when Moondog begs Luna to tell her that thanking Meadow in person won't involve her going outside.
  • A Glitch in the Matrix: An ever increasing number of these during Coranto's dream (including Luna using the term "faffing about", everyone erupting into song, an unknown alicorn addressing her...) reveal that she's not actually in the Night Court.
  • Great Gazoo: The Tantabus, when within a dream.
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band: "Spider Sinew". Of course, with the person saying this being a Dream Weaver, it can arrange a band with this name (and leaves to do so).
  • Happiness in Slavery: Technically, the Tantabus is Luna's slave, something she angsts over, but its true happiness with its state quashes her fears.
  • Hypocritical Humor: The Tantabus says that Coranto shouldn't swear in front of it as it's only a few months old, with a swear. When called on it, it says that it doesn't hurt anypony, and launches into a Cluster F-Bomb to make its point.
  • I Am Very British: The Tantabus makes the dragon less threatening by giving it a very strong accent.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Coranto.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing:
    • Discussed. Celestia worries that Luna is treating the Tantabus as a thing due to using the pronoun "it." Luna points out that it's an amalgamation of magic with no ability to reproduce, so gender doesn't really apply. They ask the Tantabus what it thinks, and it declares itself "epicene."
      Tantabus: It's a term that means lacking distinction between male and female. You learn amazing things in the dreams of linguists! Did you know that some languages have a special verb formation to show that the speaker is surprised? It's called mirativity!
      Celestia: So... genderless.
      Tantabus: If you wanna be boring, sure. Epicene sounds way cooler.
    • Discussed in a different direction later, when Moondog casually suggests Sunburst think of it as female to make his writing easier. Twilight is deeply offended at the idea of a creature allowing others to define its identity so easily, but Moondog really doesn't care.
  • Kill It with Fire: Sometimes, the difference between a good dream and a nightmare is the addition of a flamethrower, as Rainbow discovers during a repeat of the happy flowers dream.
  • Large Ham: The Tantabus has an appreciation for the trope, and its first few dreams are seriously prone to this. It outgrows it somewhat.
  • Literal-Minded: The Tantabus, upon being told to introduce itself to Celestia as if they'd not met, does exactly what it did first time: yell "HI, AUNT CELLY" at the top of its lungs.
  • Magic Countdown: Justified by it being in a dream that requires a happy ending. Also Lampshaded by Twilight.
  • Mirror Character: As established in HTTPS, Moondog and Discord may hate each other, but even before Discord gave Moondog access to Chaos Magic they had very similar power sets and senses of humour. Apparently, with the same kind of great power comes the same kind of insanity.
  • Musical World Hypotheses: The "alternate universe" version (common in MLP fics) is used, with a Bait-and-Switch lampshade.
    And then, finally, Coranto remembered that, no matter how much she liked to think otherwise, famous members of high society did not spontaneously break out into grandiose, show-stopping, Bridleway-style song and dance routines like this. It was the commoners that did that.
  • No Biological Sex: The Tantabus is an epicene, neither male nor female. Apparently it learned a lot of fun words from the dreams of linguists.
  • No Social Skills: The Tantabus doesn't exactly have no social skills, but it's much more used to acting from the shadows than directly interacting with ponies.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: In Daring Do's experience, villains with stupid names are either so ridiculous that they can barely walk without tripping over their own hooves, or terribly effective. There's no way to tell the difference until they've got her tied up and she realizes that she's going to have more trouble escaping than usual.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Lyra and Bon-Bon have to flee the hangar before the missile launches.
  • Overly-Long Gag: The queue at the Grand Galloping Gala of Celestia's dreams is accurately conveyed via the word 'long' repeated 50 times. Later on, Coranto's panic at suddenly being in a falling dream and the Tantabus' attempts to calm her go on for quite a while.
  • Painting the Medium: Bits of computer code, offset from the main text and in a different font, are sprinkled throughout How the Tantabus Parses Sleep, indicating the Tantabus' mental processes and the changes it makes to ponies' dreams.
  • Pass the Popcorn: The Tantabus passes some round during Rainbow Dash's dream.
  • Pronoun Trouble: Occasionally, with the Tantabus. It settles on 'it', but doesn't care that much.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Lyra lands a good hit on Onatrott's side. Onatrott doesn't even flinch.
  • Rampage from a Nail: The Tantabus fixes Fluttershy's nightmare by making it an example of this via Retcon.
  • Rapid-Fire Descriptors: From How the Tantabus Parses Sleep - Robbery, He Dreamed: When Moondog is talking about themselves in Coranto's dream, there is a phrase with a long string of adjectives:
    Such a smart, pretty, clever, funny, and all-around awesome tulpa, don't you think?
  • Rescue Romance: Implied in Rainbow's dream with dream!Celestia and dream!Luna, to the real Luna's annoyance.
  • Rescue Sex: The ending to Lyra's dream, leading to the main characters making a rather hasty departure.
  • Rule of Fun: How the Tantabus' dreams work. Any time Twilight points out a flaw in logic (such as the fact that the rocket should have exploded long before anyone could escape), the Tantabus just rolls its eyes and says it's more fun this way.
  • Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: Due to the very specific purpose Luna programmed The Tantabus for it came out a bit like this. Note that The Tantabus itself sees no difference between having something having been explained to it and it having been built into it during this initial period before Luna discovered it was sapient.
  • Say My Name: Sombra and Rainbow briefly get into a loop of this.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: Exploited by the Dream Weavers. Nothing in a dream is fixed, especially the things the dreamer (and the reader) don't know yet.
  • Shout-Out:
    “I, I’m sorry, can we go back a step?” said Moondog, making a flicking gesture. “Something about me not having a reflection? I’m not a vampire, you know! Not at the moment, anyway. I’m too…” She looked at her starry leg. “…sparkly.”
  • Skewed Priorities: After Moondog saves Daring Do from getting Mind Raped, Daring has a nightmare... because she can't finish her book without providing a good explanation of how she escaped. It's implied that she's subconsciously focusing on her book so that she doesn't have to think about the much more serious trauma.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: When Luna is trying to figure out what the Tantabus is feeling (or if it can feel), Twilight suggests she simply ask it. She then makes a habit of this through the rest of the story, short-cutting finding it by calling for it, amongst other things.
  • Stellar Name: The Theme Naming for most of the powerful female unicorns in this story and the source work, as said in How the Tantabus Parses Sleep: "Arcane Postmare Interface":
    “I just noticed… If you give a pony a stellar name,” Astral asked, “do they automatically become a prodigy?”

    Hundreds of miles away, Sunburst suddenly felt so incredibly inadequate he dropped Flurry Heart. (She thought it was great fun.)
  • Talking Appliance Sidekick: When Twilight brings Moondog through the portal into the human world to help sort out Sunset Shimmer's bad dreams, Moondog emerges as a smartwatch. At first, they have to plug in a speaker or a set of earbuds to hear her, but Sci-Twi figures out how to enable the watch's built-in speaker. Moondog speculates that because Luna created her as a sort of machine, the portal turned her into a literal one.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: The Tantabus has no way to interact with the physical world (and doesn't want to have one), so this is the only way to interact with it.
  • Tempting Fate: Onatrott says that no-one and nothing is coming to save Lyra. Cue Bon-Bon's arrival via Air-Vent Passageway.
  • Trademark Favorite Food:
    • Celestia is rather fond of cake.
    • Moondog loves peppermints.
      Moondog: [defensively] They're okay. Not great.
      Twilight: I'm still working on the source of her shame of her love of peppermints.
      Starlight: Why is she ashamed of liking peppermints? Peppermints are great.
      Twilight: My guess? She's closely based on Luna, Luna doesn't like peppermints, and so Moondog feels like she shouldn't like peppermints.
      Starlight: Luna doesn't like peppermints?
  • Tuxedo and Martini: Lyra's dream is the climax of one of these sorts of stories.
  • A Twinkle in the Sky: How Sombra leaves Rainbow's dream.
  • Voice of the Legion: The Tantabus takes on this voice when making a Badass Boast to Celestia.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The Tantabus can appear however it wants in a dream.
  • What Measure Is A Non-Pony?: The Inversion is of concern to Luna. She has no doubt that the Tantabus is a unique creature capable of independent thought, and is bothered about her actions prior to the realisation, as if done to a pony they would easily open her to accusations of Mind Rape or slavery. The Tantabus doesn't have any concerns, as it isn't a pony, and what she did was reasonable under the circumstances.