• Member Since 14th Mar, 2012
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Ether Echoes


A star drifting through the cosmos.

T
Source

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"They" are the shadowy figures lurking just beyond the corners of your eyes, pulling the strings of reality and shaping it to better suit their intentions. They are the celestial bureaucracy, ensuring that everything works together orderly, smoothly, and harmoniously. And, in order to do that, They sometimes have to change a few things.

Rainbow Dash is one of Their victims, but she's learned how to fight back. Now she must trace Them down to Their own world before she forgets who she truly is, or is cast into a bleak oblivion from which there is no return.


An authorized continuation of Them by Chaotic Dreams. A special thanks to him for continuing to consult and advise as well.

Warning! Contains heavy doses of Gnosticism, Buddhism, and Hindu mysticism! Consult your doctor before use. :pinkiehappy:

Chapters (12)
Comments ( 361 )

4123325571!

Nice to see the story continued and excellent chapter overall. Can't wait to see more.

2994628
Strange random numbers!

Yeah, I didn't want to see this just die. And now I get to put my own spin on it :pinkiehappy:

Woot Woot! back to this epic story to catch my attention yet again and to re-read it twice.:derpytongue2::eeyup:

this is good cant w8 for more

2995401
2995426
Great to see you guys are excited. :pinkiehappy:

I'll probably pound out another chapter by the end of the week, if I can.

Another chapter? Awesome! I'd almost given up on this story!

The scene where RD--er, Cloud--had to break it to Scootaloo was very harsh! I almost couldn't take it! I also have to grudgingly admire how crafty They are. Actually making Cloud a Wonderbolt? They're dangling Cloud's dreams in front of him to keep him "in line," so to speak. Plus how They're willing to give him back Scootaloo if he'll only just marry Big Mac for Them...

I do have to wonder what sort of insidious scheme changing Berry Punch's bar to a tea shop is, though. Ah well.

(And one final note, it's been a bit since I read the early chapters...was Their presence announced via shadows back then as well?)

2997698
Nope! She could hear Them before, but now They are suspicious of her - but still cannot totally hide.

Good to see this story continuing. The idea of a character rebelling against canon and having "Them" try to force the change is just too good of a plot to let die (or at least, that's how I see the plot). It's a little more comedic then the previous version, but that's kind of a good thing. A little comedy helps the [Dark] pill go down a little easier.

3005141
There's always something inherently hilarious about Rainbow Dash, even when creepy shadows are threatening her.

3006727
Nice to see some approval of the change :twilightsmile:

I noticed some people downvoted today! I can only assume they are vile demons, for they did not post why they didn't like it.

It lives! Huzzah! :yay:

Part of me wants to see Dash try to hold a conversation with Them, try to understand Their motivations and goals as seen from Their perspective.
The rest of me knows that, stallion or mare, it would be grossly out of character.

In any case, looking forward to more.

3007892
Not while she's in this world, certainly. :trixieshiftleft:

2995527 2 weeks later, still no update.

Though I'll take quality over quantity any day.

3067053
I did say if I can. Real life intervenes.

aww i was hoping for dash to adopt her but still good chapter

3138690
What, a good thing happening to Dash? Perish the thought! :trollestia:

3138749

I have to say that I really like the introspective aspects of this chapter.

Though, if I were Them, I would probably have let Dash adopt Scootaloo. Time spent with her little sister is time she can't spend looking for a door, and she's already slipping in her own way. You catch more flies with honey and all that.

3139604
You win some, you lose some.

3139604 Well, do recall that They make mistakes. Rather glaring ones in some cases. They slip up, and this is one of their bigger misjudgments.

3139877
Perhaps more specifically, They also have a Plan They need to follow.

Man, this story demands a lot of unnecessary capitalization. I feel like I'm writing an Exalted fic half the time.

3139882 Or at least it would be in most stories.

My biggest question is where Them falls on the morality scale. But given how cruel they can be, I'd have to guess they're obliviously evil or well-intentioned extremists at best. I guess we'll find out as the story goes on. Can't wait!

3139882 I'm seeing something along the lines of the Reapers from Mass Effect in this, if only in the concept that there is a flawed program following orders from a force that succumbed to its own hubris. The thought processes They have follow the lines of a computer. Their Plan, seems to follow lines of enforcing some kind of happiness, or something of similar effect. They seems like automatons of some sort that were given a mission to enforce harmony, but the mission givers were either too vague or did not grasp the true meaning of harmony and thus They are incapable of fulfilling true harmony. The fact that their manipulations do just as much harm as they do "good" lends credence to this. I really look forward to the actual meeting of Them. :3

3140097
And we will! In a coupla chapters.
Wait and see~ :ajsmug:

...man! You really suckered me in again!

I feel awful for Big Mac, having to deal with a mare's mixed signals only for her to force herself on him. I feel bad for Firefly, who's trapped in a void with only two ponies she can talk to. What They did to Lyra and Thunderlane was just sickening, and that's not touching what Vinyl Scratch went through. Holy balls, that is a scary thought.

And poor Dash! He (still using Cloud Buster's original gender here, until the point where Dash/Cloud stops thinking of himself as a stallion at heart) not only has to deal with unfamiliar friends and complicated biological signals, but yet again They snatched his sister away from him.

I actually really feel for Dash here; my family once fostered a young girl and was going to adopt her, and she stayed with us as my younger sister for almost a year. But her original mother, who was an addict who didn't even seem to care for her daughter, suddenly expressed interest in raising her again. She cleaned up and got a job, and so my little sis was returned to her mother. Now almost a decade has passed and I appreciate that that was probably the best thing to do: her mom stayed clean for her sake, and they lived well together.

But spending so much time with her only to suddenly lose her just tore at me. I was a teen at the time, and I remember one of our last nights with her; we threw her a big party. She was so excited, but she didn't understand why she was getting a party. Every member of the family was so sad and trying to act happy and enthusiastic for her sake, because we didn't want her to know that anything was wrong. I eventually couldn't take it; I ran downstairs to my room and I buried my head in my pillow and just cried and cried for hours. At one point my mom came down to comfort me; she just stayed there, silently hugging me, crying herself as well.

I really empathize with Dash here; I'm a big brother who suddenly lost a sister. It was a giant hole that ate up my life for a month afterwards. I was just too depressed; I couldn't bring myself to be happy about anything. The worst part was the powerlessness; knowing that it was coming and being utterly unable to do anything about it.

...And jeez that's way more information than I ever intended to post on the internet. :twilightoops: Feel free to ignore this if you like; Dash's plight just resonated with me. So don't give up! Bring this story to a close.

Detailed analyses of the story are especially appreciated.

I'm going to assume that means "post your wild crazy theories" so here it goes. Aside from the "They = Hasbro/DHX" one from last chapter, there's also the more likely and less meta "They = Celestia, Luna, Cadance, and, for the big plot twist, princess/Them in training, Twilight". They are, after all, the only ones unaffected/not giving a shit about Their changes. Something's definitely fishy about that.

As such, the "Door" is in Canterlot. Knowing Celestia, it's probably something completely innocuous and hidden in plain sight, like a janitor's closet door or something, in a castle filled with thousands of doors.

3139981
I'd disagree, considering They seem like Eldrich Abominations. If anything, it would either be morality of the Blue and Orange variety, or disregarding morality entirely. They're like us fanfic writers. We don't care about "morality". All We care about is Our Plan.

3143424
Interesting. Not going to say you're right or wrong, just interesting. :pinkiehappy:

3143363
:fluttershysad: :fluttershbad: :fluttercry: :raritydespair: :applecry:

That is super-depressing and super-touching. I'm really glad to hear that I've managed to impact someone so hard. That's really one of the things an author cherishes - though usually we look for less depressing emotions! I hope I can carry you through to some sort of happy conclusion at least. Thank you!

3146040
That's exactly why I like it, too. It's the chance to show people living a life very different from their own - one they may find strange and alien, despite it being the preferred mode of a fair portion of the species.

The one thing they can't change? I think that was already stated as being the Princesses. Though given the nature of temporal paradox and just how far back the Princesses and associated events, persons and timelines go, the localized changes seen here would probably have small, possibly even unnoticeable effects. Also, if you consider the brainwashing to be under the category of "changing", then it's also likely that they are not the solution to this puzzle, but potentially the instigators and puppeteers of Them, reaching Harmony whether you like it or not.

Forgive my rambling, it's 0230hrs, I'm tired, and you have seen a small portion of my suppositions on the matter.

0

Most "continuations" fall short in conveying the original meaning, this does not. Good work, even though the little fact you made them look like omniscient and yet fallible stands a bit, reasonable because without it there would be no story, would like to see how you develop that.



...unless it is a tragedy which it’s also interesting. Damn you ananke, heh, necessity.

I think I know who They are, they are story editors. After reading your A/N, in part where you said that your plot direction won't always be identical to Chaotic Dreams's. It felt to like you just did something, They are doing.

3168140
Next chapter is going to be about them sorting that out. Been working on it as we speak!

3168177
Truly omniscient villains are boring as hell. I perceive them as seeing the world Through a Glass Darkly, as it were.

3168456
Little do you know, Mark, but you haven't always been a brony. They are out there, and They've meddled with your life.

You're just a rat in a cage.

:trollestia:

Yep, totally hooked. I'll be looking forward to the next chapter.

Congratulations RD. When your friend needed you most, you denied knowing her. :facehoof: Now you'll only have Firefly to help you from succumbing to them's intentions. Good job hero. Maybe you can get him back when you find them.

3182198
Yes, yes, come into my web!

3182302
It's a rough life, lemme tell ya.

3182302
Honestly, I'm torn about that. On one hand, she wasn't loyal to her friend when she needed her... but if she stood up to 'Them' and was erased as well, then who'd find the entrance and change the book/confront them? Potentially she'd be even more loyal by making that tough call and solving the situation all by her lonesome, saving Vinyl/(male counterpart name I can't recall... damn 'THHHHEEEEEEM'!), Firefly, and everypony else at the end. This is assuming that this isn't a tragedy, and if it is I'm going to be rightly pissed after everything that happened with Scootaloo. Seriously, my feels are bleeding here.

3182731
And I'm serious about the Scootaloo comment. That was a tough emotional blow, which by all means you should be free to milk the feels... just be reasonable about it man!

3182802
*pushes a milk pail your way*

3182802 I have to admit that I'm a bit torn to. Though, what if that was all just a gambit by Vinyl and she hasn't actually succumbed (yet). (Yay for Wild mass guessing!)

3182932
Hah! No. She is toast. Toaaaast.

3182968 Mmmmm...Toast.

In all seriousness, I'm not sure if I should believe you when your Through the Well of Pirene teasers tend to be misleading and many authors are known to outright lie to hide big spoilers...:derpytongue2:

But that doesn't really matter so long as the story is good. Can't wait for more.

3183052
I can promise that the next episode will clarify some things.

That. Was. So damn creepy.

Can't wait till next chapter!

3183111
Awesome, I'm glad I managed to creep you out. :twilightsmile:

New crazy theory (I'm still saying the Princesses are Them, regardless as to your attempts to dissuade me.) time:

They are actually the Wormhole Aliens from DS9. And by that I mean They're actually... Rainbow Dash and everypony else in the far future who have transcended the boundaries of space and time and become non-corporal. Since They don't exist in linear time anymore, They realize that the past is vastly different from the future and so set out to correct things (the Plan) so that the timeline doesn't implode in on itself from inconsistencies. Much time travel mindscrewery ensues. Since one of Them is actually Dash, They must proceed by a certain path so as to insure that the Stable Time Loop is maintained.

Alright, time for some answers!

3183901
Yes, yes, more theories for the pile!

3183901

Really, there hasn't been any good solid evidence one way or the other on whether Celestia and Luna are the chessmasters or just important chess pieces. They very well could be affected by the changes, and we'd likely never know it, given their tangential dealings with the town as well as physical distance. I liken Ponyville to a small fish pond, where everypony and everything is on the surface of pond, and each change is a pebble tossed into that water. Now an observer who is randomly place on that pond, in this case Cloud Buster/Rainbow Dash, would see the ripples on the pond pretty much wherever they happen. Now Equestria as a whole? That ain't no fish pond. That's a big damn lake. Any randomly placed observer is unlikely to notice the ripples that occur from the pebbles being tossed in or even from a nice sized rock, what I would liken what happened to Cloud Buster to being. Now, to my point; given physical and relational distance from Ponyville, most of the changes we've seen might as well be pebbles tossed into the other side of the lake from Royal Sisters. Any changes they would experience would so small and so general as to be unnoticeable. We can certainly not say that Alicorns are capable of being unaffected by Them, as we have evidence in Twilight Sparkle to the contrary, though given the circumstances of her ascension, there may possibly be some difference between her own Alicornhood and that of the Royal Sisters. Thus, we cannot say with any certainty that the Royal Sisters are any more the puppeteer than the puppets.

My new supposition on the Identity of Them is thus far the one item that has not changed, and in fact has seen the greatest lengths taken to ensure proper use. The Elements of Harmony. We have seen change after change, directed at molding Cloud Buster/Rainbow Dash into the shape that is required to use the Elements of Harmony, not the least of which is nullifying the existence of another mare along with the combined identity death and transfiguration of Cloud Buster. Why not just alter the Elements to fit the ponies instead of going the much longer and harder road? Because I believe They cannot. In no instance stated have the Elements been affected, even though they are easily in a very malleable position storywise and within the bounds of causality, and this has led me to believe that they cannot be changed. This is where the game gets interesting, since this means the Elements could be both Them and the Door, the highway into hell and the path to salvation at the same time. Tread carefully Cloud Buster, because you've most likely only seen Them annoyed. You won't like Them when you know the truth.

3186932
Not bad, not bad. You've hit nearly all the nails on the head. I won't say which ones you missed, but you're more right than you are wrong.

Gold Star~! :twilightsmile:

This is exactly the sort of deep analysis I love to see, keep it up!

:duck:A like, favorite, and a follow.

GREAT STORY:pinkiehappy:

3194756
"And those are some of my favorite things~" :raritywink:

3200773
This is why I kept Them nice and sheathed until a big climax.

I'm afraid Vinyl has indeed been lost – but in Their world, not all is as it seems.

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