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“There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.” - Patrick Rothfuss


Just over a decade ago, two budding entrepreneurs made a major discovery: changelings convert love into power. And that power could be extracted.

Spurred on by the sudden infusion of energy, Equestria has rapidly industrialized and modernized. Transformed, technology and society has advanced by leaps and bounds - all thanks to Flim/Flam Corp and their changeling batteries.

Not every pony is accepting, however. Not every pony is okay with mass-produced changelings kept in tanks to turn Equestria's ambient love into electricity.

After years of leading her rebel organization on a campaign against the changes, the former Princess Cadance has finally made a breakthrough. Though it has cost her dearly, she's found the key to bringing down Flim/Flam, freeing the changelings and returning Equestria to its normal state.

Unfortunately, Shining Armor - her personal Javert - is blocking the only exit.

Written for Imposing Sovereigns III.

Have a helping of Princess Cadance and Integrity.

Or alternately, Shining Armor and Justice.

Featured 10/19/2021 - 10/22/2021!

And reviewed by Reviewfilly!

And listed in Equestria Daily's 25 of the Best Shining Armor and Cadance Day Fanfics on 2/14/2022!

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 60 )

Honestly, there's no other way this could have ended.

Amor aut mortis!

There has to be a sequel eventually?


I half-remember a fic where Discord showed Starlight an alternative Equestria where
Chrysalis´ forces won and proceeded to pod all ponies for energy, Matrix style. Eventually changelings used magic genetics to turn ponykind into fetus-like things which only existed to produce love.

I admit, I didn´t imagine ponies being capable of pulling the same dystopy.

I don't know if I read it somewhere or imagined it myself: "If you can't imagine it happening here, you're either frightfully dull or not trying hard enough."

And this is why Cadance is my best princess.

Oooh, that's a clever ending!

Just a thought: The solution to remove the pony-downsides to this dystopia would be for them to make Windigo batteries.

If Windigoes were there to absorb negative emotions, the ponies would no longer need to be trapped in only having to feel joy.


Cadance, you're incredibly smart.

Javert, Javert... (Googlings)

Damn. I gotta watch Les Mis before I can grok pony fic :facehoof:

Confused, he answered with hesitation. "It's just outside Vanhoover? There was an old pear orchard that's got plenty of land and--"

It just occurred to me that this "Vanhoover pear orchard" was the place Grand Pear relocated to after the events of The Perfect Pear's flashback scenes.

Nice touch, and well done on the story overall!

is the title a ref to this song?

Of sorts? Less a reference to the song itself and more remembering the song and going "Yeah, that's perfect for a story about converting love into electricity."

I wonder if that house was designed by both the government with flim and flam help to designed personally that cute little dark cottage as a big energy generating project? just have to gave it to shiny on purpose on condition to "spare" his wife that he "loves" so dearly to make it all "perfect" just need Candance the most important piece living a "loving" life in isolation on the grace of aunty and husband forgiveness and accept there generous "mercy" living on government property {trapped chrysalis nearby hidden to refine love and bred more changelings} to catapult Equastria with more energy too a better "harmony" a true "golden" age for pony kind!

Also: Hey SirNotAppearingInThisFic.

When you read this for the judging? I made sure to fix all of the em-dashes. Just for you.


This is fantastic. But now I want a sequel of the consequences. No no it needs to be grander. Equestria needs to roll in its own grave, as it realizes the drones had minds. It was slavery, and now they can't get anymore. Cadence might be executed, but she'd die or get sent to tartarus with a smile.

Honestly, I wish this was greatly expanded. As of now, it reads like a climax with no buildup. An excellent climax, admittedly, but still.

And harvesting the power would be simple too. Wind turbines or stirling engines would both be capable of the task.

My only criticism is that it's a little short. As a hunch, I think around 8000 words would have been ideal for this story to be told. A little more at the front and a chunk more at the back.
The intro was great though; contrasting it with our industrial revolution.



It feels like the literary equivalent of edging. Like, this has been fun and all, but seeing it through would have been astronomically better. But hey, just because it ain't perfect doesn't mean it ain't worth reading.

Fantastic work here, and great world-building by the way.


I am so curious about this world, this can so easily be expanded on!!! Wow.... Just... Wow.... This is beautiful!!!

I feel like the same capitalistic force that drove this love economy would also incentivize extreme misery with windegos. If you can't literally be the happiest then it would be more economically viable to put you in some sort of misery gulag. Cadence already pointed out how a love economy would create less productive "second class" citizens. Why would a company settle for minimal misery when they could potentially turn the "unproductive" into just as efficient generators of energy?

Hmm, there might be a point in this Equestria's history where biotechnology could've advanced to a point where Flim and Flam could just make servitor-style changeling clones, completely stepping past half of the basis for Cadence's rebellion.

Something would still need to be done about the emotional requirement though, now that's dystopia.

You say that as if the literal objectification of a race of people wouldn't count as anything less than a genocide. Or that what came before these "servitor drones" wouldn't also count as a genocide. Or is it that Equestria will just allow the changelings back their free will and pretend nothing happened?

Definitely a demonstration that just because something's legal doesn't mean it's right.

I want to see this concept expanded upon

God, I love world building stories like these. I know other people don't because they see it as a teaser at what could be, but I love it BECAUSE of that. There's so much here to think about and question that it makes me want more but also leaves me satisfied with only a one shot.

First thoughts, Trixie in the resistance as a crucial member, I thought it was interesting. You'd think a showboater who makes ponies happy with performances would thrive in an environment like this, but the fact she isn't either says something about her morals or shows us that something else has happened in her career to push her towards a rebellion.

It also leaves a few interesting questions, like how Flim and Flam managed to get their hooves on Chrysalis. One or two changelings, sure, but the Queen and the entire swarm? It makes me think that Celestia did more than just approve their project, maybe she actively helped them get it off the ground. Also, I know not mentioning Luna or Twilight could just be the author forgetting to include them or not thinking about it, but I like to believe that there's something deeper there. Maybe they were part of the resistance too? Maybe they're both all for enslaving the Changelings.

Finally, Amazing world building. You could have just stopped at, "Changelings are batteries and it's wrong," but you took it a step further. You brought up how buildings are designed for optimal joy, how some jobs can fire employees for not being happy enough, exploring ideas I didn't even think to consider in this world. This is truly amazing. 10/10. Would read again.

I'm not a judge for this contest, but out of all the stories I've read that entered, admittedly not all, this one is one of my favorites.


Also, I know not mentioning Luna or Twilight could just be the author forgetting to include them or not thinking about it

In this case it was "let's not start introducing major characters who would logically have impact on the plot if they're just going to make things a lot more complicated and don't actually appear or influence things."

The core of this specific scene is a conflict between spouses, and I thought bringing Twilight (particularly) into it would over-complicate things. It would add to the world building, but it would take away from this specific moment. And I'm all about the moment.

Not gonna lie, this is a fascinating dystopian concept. I would love to read more about how this all came about, what event in particular (if any) pushed Cadence over the line and spurred her into rebelling. Maybe even stories of her and her resistance fighting to reveal the truth of Flim and Flam's corruption.

Whether you choose to do this or keep this story self-contained, this was a fun and exciting short read! Thank you for sharing it!

Fascinating snapshot of a truly disturbing landscape. I can’t help but think that Cadence could easily recruit a new resistance given the sullen, disenfranchised ponies who are disenfranchised because they’re sullen. Heck, this could escalate to full-fledged popular uprising. Celestia’s too savvy to ignore that, especially if Lovebutt takes down Chrysalis first. That might have even been the long-game strategy to begin with…

Great stuff. As has been noted, a bit short on the lead-up, and I am curious about how else the world developed differently given how Thorax, Ocellus, et al. clearly aren’t a thing, but all told, a great heist with a twist. Thank you for it, and best of luck in the judging.

Yeah, that’s one of mine, A Crazed Gleam. I wasn’t expecting the inverse either.

I see that little Undertale Reference in the description. :trixieshiftright:

And my goodness, this story has a magnificently woven world. (In terms of story and character development, not the world's ponies actual lives within said story. Those seem miserable. Which I'm assuming is the point, as this is a dystopian style world here). I love stories that are able to give us an insight view of a well developed and interesting world. Just enough information to get a good picture, but not enough to withhold the readers imagination from running to wild. So many questions and theories can be made for this story, and I'm completely on-board with it.

Fantastic work, one that truly does justice in showing us a whole new picture to see Equestria through.

Comment posted by Cocoa Bittersweet deleted May 10th, 2023

Huh yer before even reading this the au tag makes sense as cadence would never stand for the abuse nor celestia

This is great because ironically ponies became the changelings. All the changelings are trapped in what are basically pods powering stuff just like the changelings we’re going to do to ponies. It also seems they have become very dependent on changelings as well. Beautiful irony.

Well if companies are forced to have both a changeling and a windigo battery, they would no longer need to care about emotions since both sides of the emotional spectrum would be productive

And even there i don't think there would be a need for such regulations, woudn't the most profitable, capitalistic course of action be to have both in the first place, since you would no longer need to spend rescources (or risk rebellion) chasing a specific emotion?


Wrong. Only love and hate would be useful, and the way to harvest the second one would be even uglier than the first. Imagine promoting racial hatred just to fill a quota.

Interesting concept. I liked your delivery, and while more meat to the story would have only made it better, in my opinion, it does accomplish what it set out to.

Considering changelings are my favorite race from the shows, it was great seeing them not as the villains but as the victims, and at least some ponies fighting for them. Reminded me of a story concept I had once; futuristic, two space corporations coming to blows over one of the corp's use of 'numblings', essentially partially lobotomized changelings.

If positive and negative energies were both taken, no quota would need to be filled since all energy would be taken at all time.
And yes, in the story, positive = love and hate = negative, just read the story and you'll see it.

If you can fill the changeling battery with someone eating chips, you can sure as hell fill the windigo one with someone who stub their toe (getting energy from unavoidable things). If you can fill the changeling battery with 99% compatible couples, then the windigo battery would make sure the 1% uncompatibility don't go to waste (and thus remove the ¨need¨ to break the couple). If you can fill the changeling battery with someone being happy at his job, then you can use the windigo battery for when he'll be tired or annoyed at something (Removing the ¨need¨ to fire him).

All of that would make the pony-side of things no longer a dystopia, since ponies would no longer need to be trapped in toxic positivity.

Well, good story, I also wonder what is the side of Twilight and Luna, if they are with Celestia or Cadence, also a little surprised that Flurry decided to betray Cadence, sure she is a teenager but she should know that by doing that she was only doing it worse

How does Chrysalis feel about all of this?

She's comatose in a vat.

I sooo want more of this.

Cadance darted in, planting a quick kiss on Shining's cheek. In the moment he was stunned, she gave a heave of her wings and catapulted him backwards. The glass surrounding the atrium gave no resistance. It shattered — dropping Shining down to the bushes below and giving Cadance an escape route. The folder she fought so hard to gain fluttered to the floor, forgotten as she flew out and up.

Given the tags, he's dead.

I'm not sure this gets as little resistance as you're suggesting. I think 5/6ths of the Elements would be on Candace's side and maybe even all of them. No member of the Apple Family is using or trusting Flim and Flam. Fluttershy will hate it because of how cruel it is. Pinkie while enamored at first, will see how unhappy it's making many. With AJ and Shy on the same side of this issue I think they can sway Dash. Twilight seeing almost all her friends and Candace on the other side might be swayed. Rarity would likely be last, but I think she'd be suspiscious, her emotional mood swings would make the tech inconsistent for her, and I can see someone poking at her investigative instincts too

I believe it's a thing of only extreme emotions are harvested. Love is harvested, not like. Hate would be harvested, not irritation. If you fall in between the two spectrums you're not producing as strong as you could be

Howdy, hi!

I adore this entire story from start to finish. The image of rebel Cadance leading the revolution against her own aunt is so compelling and Shining Armour as the head guard going against her really sells this Carmelita Fox x Sly Cooper dynamic that I have always been a fan of (Cops x Robber pairing).

I really like the complicated ideas put forth about the energy consumption of Changelings. The fic definitely leans heavily against the idea of using them due to them being sentient creatures and of course the forced happiness of ponies working everywhere, which frankly I think is more than fine. You could take a nuanced take, but "don't enslave people" seems perfectly reasonable to me.

The heated conversation between Shining and Candace was also just mwah! It really encapsulated their relationship and stress points between morality and duty. You really managed to capture the little things in their speaking points and the stress they're both going through.

I also love the Flim/Flam like interludes in the brackets throughout the story, I just like to think Cadance is doing her thing then they both randomly show up shouting out their slogans.

Anyways, this fic was fantastic. Thank you for the read~!

A really intriguing world you’ve got here, and you did a great job of fleshing it out with your story. Putting Shining and Cadance against each other was a great way to frame your argument for an against this worlds set up and both of their characterisation were very well handled.
Felt that this fit portrayal of Celestia was a little off, don’t think she’d ever go full Slavery even with equestria’s enemies but this in an AU so it gets a little leeway.
Overall a really great read, great work

Agreed. Whether using love, hate, or anything in-between, they're gonna use it and force people to feel it. Or else. We see that kind of thing all the time in our own society, after all.

Tempest this was a pretty good slice of cyberpunk horror, getting a glimpse of what kind of biotech future this Equestria had descended into. I really enjoyed the concept and how Cadance effortlessly broke down the issues behind it, the results it's had on society. Seeing the way it's split apart Shining and Cadance makes a lot of sense, even if I kind of feel like Shining would've listened to Cadance at some point and joined her. If only because it feels almost wrong for them to ever be at odds.

But while this was a good slice, I will also admit... I wanted to see more. A lot more. I wanted to get an idea of daily life in this society, see what positives it brought to everyone, not just the negatives that Cadance mentions. Obviously this is obscene, and abhorrent beyond belief, a definitive dystopia, but it's one that should have a sugar bowl happy exterior and seeing that exterior first would allow the rest to have greater impact. This still has some impact, but not as much as it could have had.

Still that's all water under the bridge. Sometimes you just want to play around with an idea and not pursue it whole-hog, and I think that's what you were doing here. And for sticking your toes in the water and swishing them around for a few times, this was really great. Well done.

I'm a little bit behind on my reading at the moment for Reasons™, so I haven't decided if I would take the time to leave comments on as many stories as I can yet.

Also: Hey SirNotAppearingInThisFic.

When you read this for the judging? I made sure to fix all of the em-dashes. Just for you.


But, since you've called me out:derpytongue2::

First, happily enough for more writers than just yourself, dashes and any other similar typographical oddities or errors, the sort of things that could easily enough be edited one way or another, are specifically not reflected in my judgement. Since I sort of figured that I would point out dashes more than a couple of times in the last contest, I made a note to myself about that the first time.

Now, if 'Normal difficulty' for hyphen/dash-usage is posting a story to fimfiction for general purposes (not a contest), then 'Hard' would probably be posting a story in a contest that I'm judging after I figured that I would point that sort of stuff out (but not score it). Like we had happen last time.

Look, I know the attention that I pay to dashes may be silly considering that none of this is really professional and I'm not really professional about it in any other part of my life, but here we are. I'm not even picky about which dash you want to use, if you use it well.

What you have done here is the combination of actions so secret that I didn't know it existed until now. Welcome to Nightmare difficulty.

There is exactly one em dash that I would consider used properly:

Confused, he answered with hesitation. "It's just outside Vanhoover? There was an old pear orchard that's got plenty of land and—"

Why? Em dashes are generally supposed to not be spaced. En dashes are supposed to be spaced. I do periodically Google (other search engines too, sometimes) this fact to see if I'm just spouting nonsense that's hard to find a source for (though I think it it is/was also in the Fimfiction writing guide?).

And you spaced 32 em dashes by my count.

I truly did enjoy the story, though.

Oh, here's the Nightmare difficulty bonus round:

Transformed, technology and society has advanced by leaps and bounds - all thanks to Flim/Flam Corp and their changeling batteries.

Unfortunately, Shining Armor - her personal Javert - is blocking the only exit.

You missed a few.

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