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  • Beta-reader and co-writer AnonEMouseJr is quite fond of shout-outs, and is responsible for most if not all of the ones in this fic (though Evilhumour has some too). By chapter, they are:

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    The Pieces Lie Where They Fell 
  • Chapter 3:
    • Male ponies' Cutie Marks are always referred to as "talent emblems" (the term appearing for the first time in this chapter); the term comes from The Ballad Of Echo The Diamond Dog. (This one was all Evilhumour's idea.)
  • Chapter 7:
    • The name of Xvital's native language, Burroñeso, comes from the Berylverse.
  • Chapter 21:
    • Violet Lulamoon is mentioned as having published a nonfiction book, A Free Inquiry into the Properties of Magic Amulets, and Page Turner describes one of the amulets mentioned within it. The title is the same as Florence Zimmermann's college dissertation from the Lewis Barnavelt series, and the amulet described comes from a later book in the same series. The character herself, including her talent, is also somewhat based on Mrs. Zimmermann.
  • Chapter 22:
    • The scene with Vix-Lei's having a large rubber lizard with her is inspired by a similar scene in the Bruce Coville book The AI Gang #3: Forever Begins Tomorrow.
  • Chapter 23:
    • A discussion is held on caves with unusual features, like ones that shift around on you or try to fool people with optical illusions to lure them off the path, respectively referencing the Caves of Fire and Night and the Caves of Chance from The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, along with methods of getting out of them (one also from the ECF and one from the book The Battle of the Labyrinth). A cursed pool that would pull you under and trap you if you touched it is also referenced, a shout-out to the one from Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure.
    • During a discussion on the last two original Bearers, it's said that "the Warrior was known for leading her thunder warriors into battle". The name "Thunder Warriors" (while referring to an element of MLP canon) references the genetically-created supersoldiers of the same name from Warhammer 40,000, who were the precursors to the Astartes, or Space Marines. (This is one shout-out that was entirely Evilhumour's.)
  • Omake (between chapters 25 and 26):
    • Anon e Mouse Jr.'s contribution includes Evergreen Road looking in a mirror and seeing his face has been marked with a hoof print and a crescent moon in its center, right where Luna's spirit had struck him. This references the Night Mares of Xanth, who are tasked with bringing bad dreams to people and can leave similar marks beside them.
  • Chapter 27:
    • The group’s skimmer, used to escape from Canterlot, is identified an XJ-6 model. This was the model number of the airspeeder Anakin Skywalker used during the Coruscant chase scene in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
    • Rex mentions the Everfree Forest is divided into the Outer Forest and the Deep Woods. This is also the case with the Enchanted Forest in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles.
    • Rex mentions a past encounter with members of a race of starbeasts known as Scorpios, which also appeared in Past Sins.
    • Rex’s line “How a swarm of arachnid starbeasts ended up in our tunnels, we’ll never know.” is inspired by Groucho Marx’s famous misquoted version of his own line in Animal Crackers:
      Correct version: "Once I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don't know."
      Misquoted version: "Once I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I’ll never know."
    • Wind Breaker mentions an individual named Barricade who made Special Five-Alarm Chili that nearly burned his beak off until he downed a bucket of ice. This is a reference to the X-Men: Evolution and G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero fic Football Fiasco, in which G.I. Joe member Roadblock made the exact same thing (and Wolverine also needed ice to cool down after one bite).
    • Rex mentions a project involving proximity wards that were set up using runes carved into wood. A similar device (made via technology rather than magic) appeared in Bruce Coville's Aliens Stole My Body.
    • As they set out in the morning, Vix-Lei hums a song under her breath. While the lyrics are not given, Rex recognizes it and his thoughts indicate it to be The Greatest Adventure, which (out-of-universe) originated from the 1977 animated version of The Hobbit.
  • Chapter 28:
    • Memorizing Gaze, using the alias Gladstone, and his five subordinates - using the aliases Mitta, Grey Hoof, Roneo, Starlet and Three Leaf - launch their ambush of the new Bearers out of Sunny Town. And Mitta’s real name is later revealed to be "Ruby" Shell. All of these names, and their disguised appearances, are references to the characters and settings from the fan game Story of the Blanks. Most of this shout-out was Evilhumour's idea; Anon e Mouse Jr. came up with the name Ruby Shell to continue it.
  • Chapter 32:
    • The Questioning Order uses an airship with twelve engines, including a "massive turbofan in the center of the airship"; this detail is inspired by the Destiny Explorer, an airship featured in the novel Godzilla At World's End, which had the same number of engines (including the turbofan engine in its center).
  • Chapter 33:
    • In further reference to Godzilla At World's End, Vix-Lei mentions an airship that her father made, this one actually named the Destiny Explorer, which went to the South Pole and back (multiple times).
    • Vix-Lei mentions that there are two things she and her father have never believed in: coincidences and Kallikantzaros. This references the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode Faith, Hope & Trick, in which Buffy Summers states that there "are two things that I don't believe in: coincidence and leprechauns."
  • Chapter 35:
    • Night Blade's experiences with history-based board games are based on Evilhumour's own experiences with Crusader Kings II.
    • In one scene, Page and Xvital find a pony-based armor that turns into wolf-based armor when poked, which Page identifies as having belonged to a pony named Quick Thought, who was tricked and turned into a wolf until he figured out how to make the one responsible turn him back. This is based off the legend of Melion, one of the Knights of King Arthur (the name Melion apparently means "quick-minded, versatile, and very expressive", hence his name).
    • Another item found is an enchanted frying pan mistakenly created by an inept magician, which can turn somepony into a giant poached egg if used by the rightful owner (if anypony else tries to use it, it turns them into a giant poached egg). The story of its creation and its effect are much the same as those of the Frying Pan of Doom from the short story "Utensile Strength" in The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (the main difference is that the ECF frying pan only transformed people when in the hands of the rightful wielder; to anyone else it was just burning hot and could be safely handled by anyone wearing an oven mitt).
    • It’s mentioned he was also trying to enchant a sword made by a pony named Masamane, who’s named for the legendary swordsmith Masamune.
    • Wind Breaker recounts part of a story from his childhood, which involves a large, nearly-unstringable bow and is basically the ending of The Odyssey.
  • Chapter 36:
    • Since this arc adapts the first My Little Pony: Equestria Girls movie, there are multiple scenes, including Night Blade stumbling as he tries to climb the stairs, that refer to similar scenes in the film. Mentions are also made of events from Equestria Girls canon, such as Sunset working for the school newspaper, interviewing the Humane Five (both details from the IDW My Little Pony 2013 Annual), their breakup not long after, and a student running against Sunset at her second Spring Fling dance, only to be humiliated after an embarrassing video of her was posted (an event only briefly referenced in the film but elaborated on in the novelization). The scene with Trixie and the vending machine also gets adapted.
    • Wind Breaker mentions he's been assigned to do props and sets for a play called The Heart That Stays True, which he suspects is a romance. The Heart That Stays True is a play and song from the Bruce Coville book The Ghost in the Third Row, in which the book's title character died fifty years before the present day when a chandelier was dropped on her during a performance of the play's title song.
  • Chapter 37:
    • A Dewhoof Decimal System is mentioned in the library scene. This name for an Equestrian version of the Dewey Decimal System was previously used in the works of Ralph Hayes, Jr., also known as RealityCheck.
    • Vix-Lei and Bulk Biceps' "flex-off" references the similar scene between Major Alex Louis Armstrong and Sig Curtis in Fullmetal Alchemist.
    • During the wood shop scene, some of the projects that the students are doing are based on ones that Anon e Mouse Jr.'s father mentioned having during his own Wood Shop classes.
    • At the end of his class, Professor Bill Neigh exclaims "Now if you'll excuse me, I have some square roots to calculate. See ya!" This is his quotation on multiple cards in the My Little Pony Collectible Card Game.
    • The human Crusaders, after leaving their class, go to the library to "check on our video again!", referencing a scene from the original Equestria Girls film.
    • In addition to their staff from Equestria Girls canon, CHS's staff includes five characters who, at the time of writing, only have Equestrian versions in the official material: Iron Will as shop teacher, Ms. Teddie Safari as Spanish teacher, Professor Bill Neigh in a science class, Mr. Spearhead (in canon, a member of the Royal Guard who retired and switched to art) teaching gym, and Nurse Redheart as the school nurse.
    • Night Blade mentions a "Miss Winds" during Rainbow Dash's gym class. This refers to High Winds, a girl who, in Equestria, was one of the Wonderbolts and nicknamed "Hoof-in-Mouth". In the IDW 2013 Annual, she's shown as a member of the CHS soccer team (along with some of the other Wonderbolts).
  • Chapter 39
    • Human Fluttershy's reaction to Page's pony form is about the same as how she reacted to Sunset Shimmer's pony form in MythrilMoth's Oops! I'm Equine Again.
    • At one point, Pony!Fluttershy mentions that "he has a lot more living to do", referencing the Gordon Lightfoot song Salute (A Lot More Living To Do).
    • Pony Pinkie gives Human Pinkie a cupcake made with Tabasco sauce filling. Something similar, except with Tabasco sauce frosting, happened to Twilight Sparkle in RealityCheck's The Great Alicorn Hunt.
    • Night Blade quotes Professor Ignatius Mendicant Dubious from Nyx's Family when he says "I immediately regret this decision".
    • The term "mach cone", within the context of a Sonic Rainboom, comes from Tatsurou's My Little Titan.
    • Vix-Lei describes how her people and their gods went from wilder to more disciplined and militaristic. This is inspired by the Greek/Roman gods' changing to their different aspects in the The Camp Half-Blood Series.
  • Chapter 40:
  • Chapter 41:
    • Night Blade's thoughts indicate that Flash's band had, at one point, played the ZZ Top song Sharp Dressed Man.
    • Bulk Biceps wears the same outfit he did in Legend of Everfree. Maud Pie wears the same outfit her pony counterpart did in Make New Friends But Keep Discord.
    • Fluffle Puff's "Puchuu!" noise comes from Harry's Little Army of Psychos. The author of said fic admits they got it from Excel Saga.
    • Vix-Lei and Night Blade’s exchange about "foiling" references the Ranma ½ fic Guardian, with dialogue taken almost entirely from an exchange between Lt. Ken “Snake” Yakata and Ranma himself.
  • Chapter 44:
    • Rex's alarm, which sounds like an extremely loud foghorn, is inspired by the foghorn button on Jeremiah Cross's transceiver in the One Piece fic This Bites!.
    • Night Blade's battle cry, and the following description of it (up to the word "bellowing"), are word-for-word references to a scene from late in the John Bellairs book The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull.
    • Vix-Lei's oldest and third brothers Herakles and Argus are named after figures from Greek mythology (Heracles and Argus Panoptes, respectively - the latter was a many-eyed giant who served Hera as a watchman.) Averted by her other brothers (second brother Eusebios; fourth brother Baltsaros; fifth brother Marinos; sixth brother Pyrrhus; and seventh brother Yanni), whose names are all legitimate Greek ones but weren't named after anyone in particular.
    • While meeting Vix-Lei, Herakles tells her to give their enemy “a couple of good wax”, while holding out some candles. Nearly the same pun was used in the Clue book Danger After Dark in a chapter featuring a valuable candle (the candle changed hands multiple times; the line - "Why don't you let me take that off your hands before I give you a few wax?" - was said by one of the thieves who was holding a blunt instrument while threatening another thief).
    • Vix-Lei's remark of "The laughter is strong in you" references Star Wars.
    • Rex's former packleader, Jeb, is named for and inspired by the redbone coonhound of the same name from VR Troopers.
    • Jeb's four comrades in this chapter, Slug (based on a pit bull), Scorn (a black great dane like Ace from Batman Beyond), Slash (a German Shepard) and Snarl (a dachshund) are named for four of the Dinobots from the film and toyline of Transformers: Age of Extinction, while acting like the G1 cartoon versions.
  • Chapter 45:
    • Vix-Lei's opening lines are straight from Bill Engvall at the start of Blue Collar Comedy Tour: One For The Road.
    • Vix-Lei also mentions her skimmer being "faster than the speed of dark", reminiscent of this Garfield strip.
  • Chapter 46:
    • Vix-Lei says she has a crazy idea. Rex's response of "Sometimes, crazy works" is straight out of Optimus Primal's mouth.
  • Chapter 47:
    • Some of Death's many names are straight out of Discworld, such as the Stealer of Souls, the Defeater of Empires, the Swallower of Oceans, and the Thief of Years. "The Keeper of the Keys at the End of the Universe" references a line by Death of the Endless, who claims that after the last living thing dies and her job is done, she'll "put the chairs on the tables, turn out the lights and lock the universe behind me when I leave."
  • Chapter 48:
    • In the aftermath of the battle, Page says "Meesa likes" about the scar over Night Blade's eye. This is Evilhumour's tribute to Anon e Mouse Jr., who has a tendency to say it in conversation... and admits he picked up the habit from another source.
  • Epilogue:
    • The governors of the Canterlot Lower section (Fer De Lance, Codex Writer, Fire Streak and Copper Springs) are references to four of the story's regular reviewers - SolipsistSerpen from Spacebattles and nickle241, Joeyjambo122 and Copper Springs from FIMFiction, who all supplied the names for the characters referencing them.
    • Bright Pledge, on the other hand, is named after Gilbert Huph, a jerk from The Incredibles - the name "Gilbert" is derived from elements that mean "pledge" and "bright". Fitting that someone who votes against a good thing be named for a man who runs an insurance company that also tries not to support people.

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    Picking Up the Pieces 

  • Chapter 2:
    • This little exchange was inspired by the "What, do you go through my trash?" / "Please... I go through everyone's trash." scene from the Justice League episode ''Fearful Symmetry":
    Sweet Surprise: “I did not realize that you had Guards in my headquarters.”
    Memorizing Gaze: “Please... I have Guards in everypony’s headquarters. It’s part of my job.”
    • Continuing the theme of Violet Lulamoon drawing inspiration from Florence Zimmermann in the Lewis Barnavelt series, her lieutenant Lunar Light, nicknamed "Weird Beard", is inspired by Florence's friend Jonathan Barnavelt (uncle of Lewis). So is their relationship, being strictly friends and fighting partners.
  • Chapter 4:
    • Gentle Step's lieutenant, a stallion named Mist Flight, is introduced in this chapter. Word of Anon e Mouse Jr. is that his initials were purposely chosen as a shout-out to a certain character from one of the TV series he follows.
  • Chapter 5:
    • When explaining the difference between cooking and baking, Rex explains that in the simplest terms, “food plus heat equals cooking” and “Food times mixing plus heat equals baking.” This references the titles of two of Alton Brown's books, I'm Just Here for the Food: Food + Heat = Cooking and I'm Just Here for More Food: Food × Mixing + Heat = Baking.
    • The contents of the first tray of treats that Xvital brings out into the other room are lifted straight from the last chapter of John Bellairs' book The Curse of the Blue Figurine. Said chapter also includes a Sacher Torte (the type of cake for which the hotel's head chef is named) being served.
  • Chapter 7:
    • Deep Blade refers to some of his art as “waterfall filly” paintings, referencing the ones from Drifting Down the Lazy River. (This was Evilhumour's idea.)
    • In conversation with Deep Blade, Crooked Blade mentions that his sister Hidden Dagger has "the necessary enthusiasm, the inventiveness, the experience… I have the resources and training of the Royal Guards,". This is based off a line from Star Wars - X-Wing: Solo Command, in which Wedge Antilles says nearly the same thing of Wes Janson and himself.
    • Blade manor has the siblings enter through the foyer, then head left to the drawing room. This placement is identical to the Hall and Lounge (which are the same types of rooms) in Boddy Manor from the Clue game and books.
  • Chapter 8:
    • Sweet Surprise's disaster area of an office, shown in flashback, draws quite a bit of inspiration from Professor Childermass's study in The Curse of the Blue Figurine and its sequels.
    • The name of the first bar that Gentle and Memorizing go to, The Old Terminal Bar, is from the Supernatural episode The Magnificent Seven, in which all of the namesake bar's patrons (who are possessed by demons) don't take kindly to a couple of new arrivals (who are demon-hunters) and act like racists towards them.
      • Its head chef, Broad Clearing, is named for the translation of the name "Bradley", associated with two characters also associated with the sin Wrath (the Supernatural version of Wrath was possessing the bartender at the above mentioned bar): the character played by Brad Pitt in Se7en and the Homunculus Wrath in Fullmetal Alchemist and its second anime adaptation, whose real identity is Fuhrer King Bradley.
    • The name of the second bar (The Blue Mountain) that Gentle and Memorizing go to is a combination of the names of two real-life bars in Wales, The Skirrid Mountain Inn from Abergavenny and The Blue Anchor Inn from Barry.
    • Both bars are located on Canterlot's Bourbon Street, which is named for the one in Louisiana, famous for its own bars and nightclubs.
  • Chapter 9:
    • Night's gym, the Third Star, is named for a real-life gym that Evilhumour went to for karate.
    • The building's pool having been dyed purple (while the whirlpool and gym were unharmed) references the 1994 book The Mystery of the Purple Pool, in which those same events (and then some) occurred in a hotel being targeted by a prankster who was trying to make the hotel manager look bad so she'd be fired and he'd get her job.
    • Crooked Blade is mentioned as having graduated from Wing Point, a reference to the real-life West Point Military Academy and to RealityCheck, who previously used the Wing Point name for West Point’s Equestrian counterpart in The Great Alicorn Hunt.
  • Chapter 11:
    • Blazen Sun mentions a nephew who's working at the Mount Phoenix Roost observatory as an astronomer, and he and his wife (who'd been his closest friend) are just a few months from having their fortieth wedding anniversary. This is yet another reference to the Lewis Barnavelt series - Lewis himself has a female best friend, and it was established in the very first book that he would, as a grown man, work as an astronomer at Mount Palomar (its name means "pigeon roost").
    • Internal Affairs namedrops "600-20, paragraph 4-14", which is the real-life Army Regulation against "inappropriate leader-subordinate relationships" (which basically precludes becoming friendly in any way since it could lead to failure to maintain impartiality and ultimately cause problems).
  • Chapter 11 - non-canon omake:
    • Continuing the references to John Bellairs, Reel refers to Violet Lulamoon as an "enchantrix", an alternate term for a female magic-user that her inspiration Florence Zimmermann is mentioned as preferring rather than "witch".
    • Reel mentions “Chrysalis’ Folly” as a term that one universe used for the Changeling invasion, in reference to a scene in Nightmare Night and Nyx from RealityCheck's Nyxverse.
  • Chapter 12:
    • The names "Sound Record" (for the Sage's Protector) and "High Finish" (for the Hivemind Protector) are rough translations of the names "Fumine" (as in Fumine Sonozaki, AKA Shroud) and "Ender Wiggin", both characters who are associated with protecting a source of knowledge and the source of a hivemind, respectively.
  • Chapter 13:
    • At one point, the narration refers to a large "hustle and bustle and assorted commotion". This phrase was also used to describe Agrabah at the start of Aladdin and the King of Thieves.
  • Chapter 14:
    • The Blade family's skimmer is identified as a ZRX-29 Nova; as with the XJ-6 from the first story, the model number comes from an airspeeder in Star Wars, specifically one that was mentioned in the novel Star Wars: I, Jedi. The "Nova" designator references a restaurant, Nova Nova, that appears in the same book.
  • Chapter 15:
    • IA’s Deputy Commissioner Iron Gates is named for, and has a personality based on, Victoria "Iron" Gates, a former IA agent and second Captain of the 12th Precinct in the series Castle.
    • The name of her superior, Hardy Rule, is a rough translation of the name "Richard"... as in the first name of jerkish FBI Agent Richard Boughton from The Dresden Files. (Attempted translations of the name of another character from the same series, an actual Internal Affairs agent, didn't quite fit.)
  • Chapter 16:
    • The incident with the Sages, and their second reasoning, is inspired by a scene from Star Wars - X-Wing #8: Isard’s Revenge in which Borsk Fey’lya tries to get one of Rogue Squadron's pilots to break off her relationship with someone not of her own species, out of his belief that she’s setting "the wrong example" for younger Bothans - the Emperor had claimed aliens were automatically inferior to humans and Fey’lya claims that by choosing a human as a partner she was propagating this belief. (Though unlike Asyr, Page outranks the ones suggesting this, and quickly shows that she’s not going to tolerate their bigotry.)
    • The three cops that Wind Breaker meets are all named for famous fictional cops - James Gordon, Philip Gerard, and Steve McGarrett.
    • The two griffonesses at the orphanage are likewise named for famous fictional villains - Grendel and Gothel.
  • Chapter 17:
    • At least part of the name Polished Spring (Dean of Alchemy at the Canterlot Academy) comes from a translation of the name “Izumi” - as in Izumi Curtis, mentor of the Elric brothers in Fullmetal Alchemist.
    • Summer Nights, a sergeant in the Cadenza Guard, is named for a song from Grease. Her sister Summer Heat is named for a line from the same song.
    • Xvital, while discussing her magic lessons, mentions that they've got her practicing a technique that involves focusing and imagining a flower. Deep Blade in turn mentions that he's familiar with the technique, and says the usual variety is picturing a flower or a flame, but one of his exes taught someone who had an easier time when it was put in terms of finance. These lessons refer to the magic training methods used in The Wheel of Time. (This was Evilhumour's idea.)
  • Chapter 18
    • There's a scene with Vix-Lei, Night and Wind discussing weddings and wearing white. Vix-Lei mentions an old classmate of hers from back home, who had an experience with her tailor similar to Derpy's discussion with Rarity in chapter 29 of Where Is My Love?.
    • As Chief Constable Gordon was named for James Gordon of Batman, he is noted as having two children, a boy and a girl (who's a librarian). Word of God is that Chief Gordon's son is nothing like James Gordon Jr. (who went supervillain) though.
    • The griffon doctor treating Night is named Gregory, after the title character in House. (This one was Evilhumour's idea.)
  • Chapter 19:
    • Once again, Violet Lulamoon draws inspiration from Florence Zimmermann, including her husband dying young, her published book being her college dissertation, and her doing most of the cooking for her lieutenant Lunar Light. The latter draws inspiration from Jonathan van Olden Barnavelt, including the hair and beard, being permanently single from being jilted by a girl when he was younger, the inherited clutter on the top floor of his house, and Mrs. Zimmermann doing most of his cooking, since his is barely edible. His name is also a reference, as Jonathan is known for specializing in illusions (up to and including creating a magical lunar eclipse) and referring to himself as “more of a parlor magician”, yet being capable of some really strong stuff when he really wants or needs to be.
    • Emerald Forte mentions an incident where somepony Deep knew had to call on a stallion who was skilled at impersonating a mare, in order to create a distraction so the first pony could smuggle a mare out of his home. This was inspired by a season 2 episode of The Nanny, in which a male Cher impersonator was needed to distract the press, allowing the real Cher to sneak out without getting seen.

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