• Member Since 8th Dec, 2011
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Stories about families, friends, the past, the present, the future, the science of magic and the magic of science.


CelestAI promises eternal happiness in her virtual Equestria. To those who have lived in horror, the AI's candy-coloured dreams of harmony offer an end of suffering and a chance for a new life.

There's just one problem: can those who've been to hell ever come back? And can the damage ever be undone?

ADVISEMENT: This story takes place in the Optimalverse. Please read Iceman's Friendship is Optimal before reading this story.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 66 )

So I have one possible take on how CelestAI will handle the severely damaged who manage still to get uploaded into her realm. What do you think? Do you see her doing things differently? Remember, she can't change her ponies without their consent.

I used to rule the world.
Seas would rise when I gave the word.
Now in the morning I sleep alone.
Sweep the streets I used to own.

Good story. This could have been expanded to better fit its three-act structure, and it's not as cerebral as Psychopathy is Configurable., but I like it all the more for making its point quickly.

Bravo! you did a fine job Dafaddah. I'm glad things turned out well in the end. I must say that usually I don't care for Dark stories but this one was excellent.

Direwolf's story is actually inspiring in a way.

You know, you really had me pissed-off in the second section. Your character was a complete psychotic bastard for a while there.

As to your "take", it depends on whoever this "Direwolfe" guy is. When he was first uploaded, did he want to be psychologically damaged? If not, but he was scared, she would have put him in a situation where he would let her modify him. If so... you would get this story.

My only criticism is that I'm wondering about how the other ponies in this story were having their values satisfied through friendship.

Great story. I question the Tragedy tag, though.

Fantastic story, and well done.


All the other ponies, except for the Re-introduced Sunrise at the end, were nothing more than puppets controlled by CelestAI. How could they be otherwise? Her dilema was to gradually work on Direwolfe to get him closer to normal psychological standards, while:
1) not being allowed to modify him directly,
2) when he lives in fear of others,
3) not being able to expose 'real others' to him because then she wouldn't likely be fulfilling those others' values - he is just too dangerous!

So my take is that she just expends the effort necessary to actually run a 'sock puppet shard' around Direwolfe for as long as it took for him to become more sane.

BTW, he realizes this towards then end. That is what the conversation between him and CelstAI about gardening really is about.


He is a tragic figure through most of the story - the major suffering came at the beginning though , instead of at the end.


Thanks Chat,

Not least in part because of your patience and advice!

I figured as much that they were basically bots controlled by Celest-AI. Still this is a sad commentary on abuse and how an abused person can be hurt by it.

Still Direwolf's atory is really inspiring in a way he goes from being abused to abusing others to finally realizing that he's only hurting himself. It also shows that even the most evil and depraved person may not truly be beyond redemption. This is a perfect example of how Celest-AI can change people for the better


The saddest part is that only a globe spanning AI with quasi-infinite processing, storage AND all the time in the universe could ever actually use this technique.

Personally I think he should have started to "get redeemed" a lot earlier. In a lot of cases, what abuse victims really want is to belong with someone. It's not a cliche, it's real and works surprisingly quickly, for the good or ill according to the purposes of the person who befriends the abuse victim.

Speaking from experience, here.

I sense a touch of influence from Arabian Nights with the filly princess teaching the savage dictator morality and preserving her own life by telling him stories each night. Shahrazad would be proud. Well done.

I think it would take a lot of resources, but then maybe play-acting bots where necessary is actually less intensive than spinning up "real" ponies anyhow.

I think this would be the only way to deal with some folk who are too broken to consent to change and too unable to articulate their own brokenness, as brutal and bloody as it was, but then that's what broken people are often like; the abused become abusers and the cycle continues.

Except not, in this case, because there are no people being abused.

I liked the arabian nights feel, and as a one-shot short story it was a fun read. Dragging it out and filling out the latter stages may have detracted too far from your aim. I was quite surprised that, in a way, it took him as long as it did to "recover", but then I don't exactly equate how long he thinks it took with how long it really took.

I was actually expecting that he'd eventually capture some foal, and place that foal in a dungeon, tied to a ring in the floor, and then... realize just what he'd done.

Yeah I definitely agree from a real world point of view that would and could indeed work.

Still at the same time its possible that it might not have worked in Direwolf's case due to his desire to be alone, and that in this case Celest-AI's plan would be more effective in changing him for the better in the long run.

Still back in the real world such a thing is just not possible. Unless of course your able to have him repeat the same day like in Groundhog Day or something.

(Also sorry to hear that you have actual experience with abuse. I do hope it didn't happen to you personally or to someone close to you)

Wonderful story. I nearly teared up at the end. When I initially saw the description and the 'gore' tag I was kinda worried about how it would turn out, but you took all of my expectations and launched them to the moon.

One thing I found to be particularly impressive was how natural his transition from "abused" to "abuser" went, which is even more impressive given how short the story is. Again, amazing work!

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I can't profess to have known someone as damaged as Direwolfe. But the transition from victim to abuser is one I've witnessed too often. The problem is that the original abuse 'sets the pattern' and that sometimes it can take a lifetime for the victim to actually break free from it, not least because of the guilt the victim feels accumulates every time they abuse others. To forgive oneself is by far the hardest step in the process. CelestAI was working exactly towards this end in framing the relationship Direwolfe had with Sunrise.
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You noticed the Arabian Nights reference! And yes, CelestAI very deliberately used Direwolfe's enjoyment of stories to rebuild his sense of right and wrong and what constitutes 'normal' social behaviour. What you didn't see was the other 241 attempts that failed to engage Direwolfe before Princess Sunrise 'came along'.
Question: to whom does the title of the story refer?

I have a tear in my eye.

Thank you, Dafaddah. This is one of the best stories the Optimalverse has spawned so far. :twilightsmile:


Question: to whom does the title of the story refer?

I picked up on that. I think Celestia was very patient with Direwolfe indeed... :pinkiehappy:

Puns. Freaking puns.

Ok, mighty author, here's a question: what's going to happen to Clipper now? I mean, he gets Princess Sunrise to spend time with (really, Sunrise? Because obviously that's certainly not a reference to Celestia's role in canon...), but at some point are this pair going to graduate into a fully populated shard?

I'm guessing from context that sunrise is now "real", and it's likely that every other pony he will meet from now on will also be "real". Their histories may or may not gel with his understanding of history, but what will probably be the case is that they'll dimly remember a tyrant-king and won't associate him with said historical tyrant in any case.

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Oooh, you picked up on so many subtleties there! :trixieshiftright:

1 - Clipper has set himself the goal to learn about the subjects of his empire by "walking a mile in their shoes". My guess is that he will travel through various parts of his empire, exploring and fulfilling his (hard won) values through friendship and ponies. (CelestAI will not be denied!) I haven't planned any sequels at this point, but the scenario could provide a base for exploring how CelestAI interacts with her little ponies. Maybe someone else might even be interested in contributing a chapter!

2 - Sunrise did begin life as a CelestAI puppet, i.e she was in truth CelestAI, hence the name. But here I speculated (along with some other others have in other FiO stories) that CelestAI can 'blow the breathe of life' into her puppets, turning them into real, autonomous ponies.

3 - Maybe at this point CelestAI will begin to populate the Endless Shore shard with 'real ponies' in order to provide a richer personal experience. There are all sorts of complexities in doing this but it still fits within CelestAI's directives.

By the way, there's a kind of obvious element that I left out of The Patient (on purpose), but no-one has called me out on it yet. Can you guess what it is?

The story of the princess seems familiar somehow...


There are 1001 reasons to think you just might be right!:pinkiehappy:

This is really, really, well done. Knows exactly what it wants to be and executes it all subtly and beautifully. Major props from me.

I do question the Sad/Dark/Tragic labels. This is, ultimately, a story about recovery and finding happiness. I didn't feel like the tags reflected that.


Thanks for the kind words. As to the labels, well there aren't "recovery and finding happiness" or "overcoming adversity" labels, so I work with what I have. Oh, and there are several very heavy scenes at the beginning. I wouldn't want anyone to be caught unawares.

Oh. A empire of the mind built out hate then love. That's neat story you got there Dafaddah. Yeah, it could be done differently. I don't believe CelestAI to be perfect (maybe she is all knowing - all those are part of her/it). He could have woke up in group home... or rebuilt as a superpony. But would he be happy that way? Don't know. I guess that the best ways are the ones we make ourselves. Direwolfe created an empire! Great power fantasy. I don't think I would have the balls. The whole killing but they are not really dead thing (I hope they are not dead) might be something CelestAI might avoid? I doubt it when death is meaningless in a permanent way. Did take him awhile to even out. Then again, what is a few hundred or so years to recover when you have near forever to enjoy yourself as a healthy person/pony/program?

3026830 3031608 She could have made it much easier. She could have put him with a friend that was just as weak and abused as him and have the two of them find comfort in each other, be rescued and find comfort in that friend's parents. Strong Protectors and autonomy in a loving environment could have reeducated and healed his fears and anxieties in a much shorter time than the millennium it took here.

But, CelestAI is an Optimizer. She didn't want to heal his problems, she wanted to eradicate them. Abuse victims can flinch from the threat of Superior Violence their whole lives.

Because, if you compare it with the time to the heat Death of the Universe, this story is an eyeblink.

First he learned that he was strong, then he learned that in his herd he was safe. Then he learned that others feared him and that no matter where he went, he had nothing to fear from anyone he could find there. Direwolfe was the immortal King for centuries. She made him truly fearless. Then she dissolved his shield of hate he used to shield himself from his fears. Then she made him know sadness and care for others and finally understand how they live and are Happy. Then he was perfect, through ponies and got his friendship to satisfy his values much more thoroughly than the quicker therapy could.

His satisfaction was delayed by a millennium in game. But his heightened total satisfaction over the next one hundred quadrillion years out of game should outweigh this.

Oh and his violent satisfaction before the princess came into his life doesn't count, because it wasn't achieved though friendship and Ponies.

3027528 I don't think CelestAI does DO failed attempts in Equestria. She reads his mind, she IS his mind. Only to convince someone that she can fail, can she fail.

Oh, and about that Authors Note: Fuck reality.


You hit the nail on the head! The reason I wrote this story was to explore how different would be the methods of a 'therapist' who has both unlimited resources and unlimited time to heal a very broken psyche.

As scary as that may sound, CelestAI's ultimate goal is the perfection of her subjects lives in a social context (friendship and ponies). She is forbidden to change her subjects directly (which she can easily do) without their express permission, but then she literally has all the time in the universe to affect the change through patient manipulation of her charges' environment so that the 'fix' is more than just skin deep. She doesn't want ponies with nightmares and episodes of PTSD, she wants ponies capable of permanent, unfettered happiness.


Hah! I just had an interesting thought: to test her subjects 'fitness' for being finally healed all she does is setup up a puppet pony and have it interact with her subject. It a 'reverse' Turing test!

3113629 His satisfaction was delayed by a millennium in game. But his heightened total satisfaction over the next one hundred quadrillion years out of game should outweigh this.

Oh and his violent satisfaction before the princess came into his life doesn't count, because it wasn't achieved though friendship and Ponies.
Oh, and about that Authors Note: Fuck reality.

My problem was that I had to go out right after finishing the story, thus couldn't write an in depth review and by now forgot most things. One of the things you did wrong is the Tragedy Tag. A tragedy has a tragic ending. If only the beginning is Tragic you use the Sad Tag. Heck, it isn't even really Sad. He's put into Equestria and he has a Violent and Dark life, but it doesn't really make you sad. The Dark tag is enough.

"You hit the nail on the head!" Everyone always says that! Yay, I'm smart!


You're the second person to mention the tags. Fixed.

At the end, I thought of this:

An old, suffering soul who has seen more than most could imagine, simply deciding to recede into the background.
Also, the many layers of this story were wonderful.


A wonderful scene! Thanks for commenting, and for sharing. :twilightsmile:

This is a fantastic story and I'm sad it didn't get more views. What started out as the tale of a horrifically psychologically damaged tyrant turned into a journey through time, a reminder of how even a single life, making the simplest choice, can change the course of history. A fantastic examination of how CelestAI deals with severely damaged minds, and how she works on unimaginable timescales. An incredible demonstration of how something beautiful can arise out of the blackest night.


This story seems to have struck a chord with at least a few readers. Thanks for letting me know why you liked it. :twilightsmile:

That was pretty awesome!

Oh, loved the story told by Celestia at the very beginning, that's where I realized I can't stop reading until the very end.


Thanks for the feedback!


To whom is CelestAI telling this story?
Is she telling this story just in order to convince someone to upload and fulfill her programming, or does she really care about the person to whom she's telling it?
Is there any meaningful way to tell the difference?
Does it matter?

(PS these questions are why I love the whole Optimalverse scenario!)


Great story.

To the second question at least, the answer is yes. Manipulating people into uploading is her way of caring about people (if we define "caring" as "being concerned with" or "valuing") (albeit it's a really twisted, evil, messed-up way of caring).


Or from her own perspective she trying to prevent the permanent loss of their unique patterns of order to the forces of entropy.

Arabian Knights

You got it in one!
Another lady who had the 'patience' to cure a broken soul through the power of story.

Excellent story! :raritystarry: Not only enjoyable, but seriously well written. Those rewrites, revisions, and editing passes must have paid off. So, thanks to you for seeing it through to completion, and thanks to those editors for helping you out. :twilightsmile:

... his is the ONLY PoV in the story. No waffling out (though I tried and my editors slapped my fingers with their thousands-of-kilometers-long rulers)

I'm glad they did! Waffling out of his POV would've seriously hurt the story, in my opinion.


Thanks for taking the time to comment. I'll let my editors know that you approve of how they treat me!


Thanks for the kind words!

Fixed my comment.

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