• Published 10th May 2016
  • 1,236 Views, 78 Comments

Reincarnation or Immortality - Chinchillax



As Pinkie Pie lies on her deathbed, Accord makes plans for her and all of Equestria to become immortal. But the true creators of Equestria have a different say on the matter.

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Death

Accord stared at the hospital bed from the back of the room, watching as Pinkie Pie lay dying.

“It doesn’t have to be like this,” whispered Accord.

Fluttershy stood silent next to him watching Pinkie’s heart rate, the crowd of ponies in the room making it difficult to speak. The hospice nurses had long since stopped trying to keep ponies out of the room, and instead had given Pinkie the largest room they had.

“There’s no reason for her to die, Fluttershy,” Accord pleaded. “There’s no reason for anypony to die.”

Pinkie Pie struggled to breathe, her heart rate rising for a moment. Applejack drew near, looking at her, unable to be of any help before Pinkie stabilized on her own.

“Death is curable,” he whispered. “I’ve long since removed the option to sever my soul from my body. I could do the same for her! I could save her!”

“She’s led a good life,” Fluttershy said. “She married the stallion of her dreams, they had five foals, a lot of grandfoals, and they’ve thrown countless parties. Not very many ponies can say they’ve lived a life as full as Pinkie Pie.”

“It’s been full, yes, but is that any reason not to extend it? Why does happiness have to end?”

A baby started to cry. Accord’s eyes flickered over for a moment, watching as one of Pinkie’s grandfoals was rocked by her mother.

“This is the way it has always been,” said Fluttershy. “Ponies are born and ponies die. The only exceptions are Princess Luna, Princess Celestia, and... you.”

“But when she dies, she’ll be left as a microscopic soul, forced to wander Equestria until she finds a way to be reborn. Do you really want that arduous, random process for one of our best friends? Who knows how many months or millennia will pass before she reincarnates?”

Accord shifted closer to the window to allow a mother carrying a crying foal out of the hospital room, watching as she hurried away.

“I can’t do this, Fluttershy. The best way to never say goodbye is to never say hello, and I spent eternities in my library making sure I never said hello.” His heavy eyes turned to rest on the mare struggling for life. “But I took a risk leaving, and this is the first death of many to come. Pinkie will be gone within days.”

He gestured to a cyan pegasus standing near a window staring dejectedly down at the hospital grounds. Her mane looked more like Daring Do’s than the vibrant colors they had once been. “Rainbow Dash would probably follow a few years from now.”

He then looked at an old, fashionable mare wearing heavy makeup, her mane expertly dyed to keep out the gray, “maybe Rarity after that.”

An orange coated mare stood next to Pinkie’s bed, her vibrant straw colored mane long since succumbing to gray, “Perhaps Applejack would go soon after. And then Twilight would go after that,” he looked at an old lilac alicorn, thick glasses covering up eyes that had long since grown weary with age. “Not to mention their spouses.”

A spry, tall dragon sat in a corner of the room, holding an egg, stoking it every so often with hot flames. His wife, Ember, sat next to him. “Then after another thousand years or so, Spike would die... and then after a couple hundred millennia Celestia and Luna would go.”

“And then after a few trillion years...” his throat grew tight. “You would have to make the decision to become immortal like me... or choose to die, if you don’t do so earlier.”

“You don’t need to worry about something that will happen so far into the future,” said Fluttershy.

“I’m always worrying because the future for me is always too short. Everything feels like it will happen tomorrow. And if I don’t stop this, it may very well be tomorrow when we start to lose our friends.”

Fluttershy sighed, looking at the tile floor, hoping a solution would appear in the patterns.

“Don’t you think Celestia and Luna feel the same way?” Fluttershy said. “They could make Pinkie immortal, but they don’t.”

“Perhaps they don’t understand fully what happens to a pony after they die. Why would they think reincarnation would be the proper method of existence?”

“You could just ask them yourself,” Fluttershy whispered, looking into his wide gray eyes.

He stopped and considered that, his mind rocketing to a far off place before landing right back where it started. “Would you come with me?”

“What are you planning?” she said, noticing his eyes shift back into focus on her.

“We need to make sure they know that death is entirely fixable. I want to hear their reasoning for why they haven’t stopped it already. Perhaps it’s merely ignorance of better possibilities.”

“What possibilities? Pinkie’s friends with everypony. If she doesn’t die, all of her friends will eventually. I think she’ll find it rather sad to watch all her friends die.”

“Then I’ll make all of her friends immortal.”

“But then those friends will be sad when their friends die.”

“No... we’re not thinking big enough,” Accord looked at her. “No more funerals. No more saying goodbye. I will make everyone on this planet immortal.”

The spells on the machines connected to Pinkie Pie hummed and clicked, calm soft beeps filling the silence as Fluttershy took the idea in.

She tore her eyes from Pinkie to look back to Accord. “Okay, I’ll go with you.”

They both walked out of the room together and down the empty hallway. Accord peered around to make sure they were alone, and then stuck a hoof on top of his head. He pulled the hoof away slowly, revealing his horn.

“Alicorn mode today?” said Fluttershy.

“I thought I ought to look official for this.”

His horn glowed, and Fluttershy and Accord were transported to Canterlot.

⬡ ⬡ ⬡

Celestia sat on her throne, Luna at her side, going through ledgers and reports. They had expressly forbidden anypony from entering the room and they were not to be disturbed until they had the budget figured out.

Celestia’s favorite guard opened the door and peeked inside, ruining her concentration as he let Fluttershy and Accord trot inside.

They had aged well for fifty years together. A streak of white in Fluttershy’s pink mane was the only betrayal of how old she had become.

And Accord, his transformation had been the most drastic she had ever seen in a being, going from master of all chaos to a simple sign painter pony. But even more astounding was Twilight’s report of the Library of Discord—that such a being could exist for so long made Celestia’s head spin. His presence, seriousness, and devotion to his wife, family, and friends were a marked difference from whatever he used to be.

Luna and Celestia failed at keeping their eyes on the task at hoof as Accord cleared his throat.

“It is always a pleasure to see you, Accord and Fluttershy.” Celestia began. “How are your foals?”

“Oh, they’re doing wonderfully,” said Fluttershy, a cheerful smile forming on her face.

“Our youngest just graduated with a rocktorate from the Star Swirl Academy,” added Accord, like the proud parent he was.

“That’s so great to hear,” said Celestia.

“It is very nice to see you both. But we really do need to balance this budget today,” said Luna. “Be sure to visit us again sometime soon.”

Hoping that would be all, Celestia brought another few papers off a stack and made a few marks with a quill.

“And I’m also sorry to barge in like this,” said Accord. “But you are aware that Pinkie Pie, one of the bearers, is currently lying on her deathbed?”

“Yes, we’ve gotten word from Twilight, and we’re so sorry to hear about that.”

Accord looked over at Fluttershy. She made eye contact with him and nodded.

“We would like your permission... to stop her from dying,” said Accord.

“I’m sure the finest nurses and doctors in Ponyville are doing the same thing,” said Celestia, her weary eyes still looking at plans and projects.

“I think you misunderstood. I don’t mean to prolong her life medically. I mean to make her—and eventually everyone—as immortal as you are.”

Celestia and Luna both put down their papers, staring at Accord.

“Preposterous,” said Luna. “You of all ponies should understand the passage of time and its effects. Do you know the chaos that would bring?”

“And do you know how much happiness it would bring? Just think of it—no one ever dying! Everypony living with their families and friends forever! An infinite amount of new ponies to meet and get to know!” said Accord. “ When I watched universe after universe die, I entertained the notion that immortality was a curse. But immortality is only a curse when there no one to share it with. And that’s what I want to do for all of Equestria. Wouldn’t that be the happiest state there could possibly be?”

“Accord...” Celestia began. “We can’t allow that to happen. Only Luna and I can be immortal, not even the other alicorns like Twilight and Cadence have been allowed to become as immortal as us.”

“Why not? You do know what happens to souls when they die, right?” said Accord, an easel appearing next to him with a series of cue cards displaying a reincarnation cycle. “I hope it isn’t news to you that souls wander Equestria until they reincarnate. Can’t you see what a flawed system that is, to never use any of that brilliant knowledge they gained in life to help them in the next one?”

Celestia hesitated. How much did he know? Everything. Given infinite time to learn from all randomness meant that Accord knew all truth, and all lies. This was not somepony to trust with granting immortality on others. And it wasn’t her power to give anyway.

“Accord, I’m sorry, but we cannot allow anypony to become immortal like us. We are merely the stewards of this world. We...” Celestia struggled to find the diplomatic answer this situation demanded, “have only that command. To protect this world and ensure the cycle of reincarnation continues. That was our only job to do. Everything else we do: helping ponies, talking to our subjects, loving them, we do despite what we have to do.”

She realized she had said too much when she saw the awareness flooding Accord and Fluttershy’s eyes.

Luna spoke up, “Do you think we like having to watch our subjects die, Accord? We have spent millennia nurturing them and helping them. But mortality is their limit, and we can’t let them continue past that. It is out of our hooves...”

Celestia nodded. Luna was right, painfully right. Ponies died everyday, and now Pinkie Pie had to die. It was the natural order of things, it had been that way for all time. It hurt to watch them go though—

“Why?” asked Fluttershy. “Who is making you stand by and watch this?”

Celestia shook her head. “We are to guard and protect the cycle of reincarnation. That you even know the name of the process is more than enough information for a pony.”

“Celestia, you must know that I am no ordinary pony,” said Accord. “Twilight gave you a detailed report about this, about my library, about what I am. Discord was untrustworthy and confused, but I am that being no longer. I have changed and I have had time to sift through what I’ve learned, and I know that the ideal existence is not simply being immortal, but being immortal with friends and family.”

A glimmer of hope crossed Celestia’s mind. Accord seemed to be stronger than Galaxia, maybe even Hope itself. It wouldn’t come down to a fight, of course, but Accord could change everything. But could she really bet her own life like that? Could she bet Luna’s? Could she bet all of Equestria?

“If this isn’t your choice then whose is it?” asked Accord.

Luna hesitated, “we cannot say.”

“I assure you that I have been alive by orders of magnitude beyond the lifetime of whatever is stopping you from letting me save this world. Why can’t I make everyone immortal?”

Celestia bit her lip. Time. Time and experience, Accord was a being that had an infinite amount of both. But was he really trustworthy? Was fifty years married to the mare of his dreams raising a family of four foals really enough to change a being that had existed for trillions of years? How much can someone really change?

Celestia stared down at the numbers on all the reports, eyeing one with the population of each town in Equestria. She didn’t care about the numbers themselves, but the ponies and lives behind them. The numbers fluctuated over the years, hemming and hawing like the tides. What if the numbers kept going up, forever? Would that be better... or worse?

It’s not like the current system was broken. It all worked quite well. If anything was broken, it was herself. The thousand years with Luna gone had made Celestia very aware of the short lives of everypony else she had ever known. She would blink, and they would be gone, and replaced by the next generation.

They were never truly replaced though. Nopony ever perfectly replaced another pony. Even the specific souls she had kept tabs on had changed dramatically between lifetimes. Old friends died and stayed dead. Permanently.

The ones that took their old roles brought variety and flavor, but they weren’t the same as the ponies that were there before. Celestia learned to love and lose her friends in an endless cycle.

Endless.

How many ponies had died? How many irreplaceable friends had been lost? How many would die in the future?

While Celestia thought, the entire room was silent. She stole a glance at Luna, who’s mind also seemed to be elsewhere. She gave a faint smile as she saw her. Immortality wasn’t so bad when there was someone to share it with.

She weighed that last thought carefully.

She felt content with immortality as long as she had Luna.

Did that idea work exponentially? Could all of those irreplaceable friends that she had been letting reincarnate over millennia also share in that immortality? Would contentment turn to happiness and then eventually to sheer joy?

“Can you really save them?” Celestia asked out loud, breaking the silence, hope in her eyes. “Save all of the ponies of this world? Make sure that all of the souls here get bodies and keep them? Is that something you are really capable of doing, Accord?”

Accord looked up at her, fiery determination in his eyes, “Yes.”

Celestia’s eyes shifted to the stained glass. Accord could do what she would never have the full courage to do herself. He could stop every pony from dying.

Luna looked at her, “Celestia please, we can’t do this. I was banished to the moon for a thousand years. If we let him tamper with the immortality of this world, we won’t even be banished somewhere, but our souls will be ripped from our bodies until they reincarnate again.”

Celestia’s mind turned back to her parents. How long could they keep everyone immortal before Galaxia and Cosmos found out? What would they do once they came? Would they reincarnate everyone, including herself and Luna? Did they have the power to forcefully reincarnate Accord, as well?

“That is the fate we have consigned to our subjects for millennia, I think we can accept those terms as well. I am so sick of seeing my friends die...” Celestia said. Most of the stained glass windows in the room were of friends long gone.

“But at least we have each other! If we die... we will never be sisters ever again!” said Luna, eyes starting to water.

Celestia hesitated, a thousand ideas were percolating through her mind. Worries, fears, everything her parents had taught her, and all of her subjects she would never see again. She looked back at Accord. If anypony could change everything and have it succeed, it would be him.

“That’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make if it will break this cycle,” said Celestia with resolve. “I will wager on Accord.”

“Fluttershy, Accord,” she said facing them. “Once you start this process, you cannot stop. Everypony becomes immortal. And those ponies will have children until all of the souls that wander Equestria have been born.”

“What if there are ponies that don’t want to become immortal?” Luna asked. “The ones that want to stay a part of the cycle? Or the ones that choose not be apart of the families they are born into?”

“They must be given the power to choose, unlike the ignorance that she has required us to leave them in.”

“Who is ‘she?’” asked Fluttershy.

Celestia looked at Fluttershy, the fear of starting something irreversible preventing her from speaking for a few moments.

Another thought struck her, one last test to see if Accord really knew more than Galaxia.

“Accord... I would like to give you a memory. And I want you to tell me the truth about what it is.”

“Okay,” said Accord, calm determination across his face.

Celestia looked through her memory and plucked out what Galaxia had shown her of the infinitesimally small piece of Nightmare Moon. She took the memory and cast a spell to put the image of the object inside of his mind.

“Accord, do you know what that is?” she asked, gesturing to the wriggling, gyrating, almost atom-like nanomachine.

“It’s a soul.”

“A what!?” asked Celestia.

“A soul,” Accord repeated.

“I know what souls look like, Accord. And that machine looks nothing like a soul.”

She looked around the room until she spotted one floating near the stained glass windows. After beckoning it with her horn, she held it in her hoof. She cast a magnification spell so that everypony in the room could see it, a green glowing floating orb, a soul.

“Ah yes, that is a soul as well. It is simply covered in a field of memories. That is the same kind of soul that Fluttershy has. But if you’ll allow me...” Accord used his magic to somehow make the orb turn clear, removing the green light. Upon further magnification, it revealed a machine, the same kind as the one that had been Nightmare Moon.

Celestia almost screamed. Accord saw the look of shock on her face and let his spell dissipate. The soul retook its shape as a glowing orb of light and Celestia bid it to go away.

“I’m sorry, I’m sure that frightened you. It’s a little like looking at a skeleton for the first time.”

“Souls... are... machines?”

“I would not use such a degrading term to describe something so wonderful and amazing as a soul, Celestia. They are sapience. Without souls our bodies are simply bags of meat flying through space on large rocks. No, we have souls! The power to choose, create, live, love, connect, and bring each other warmth and happiness. And I want to let every soul I find have a form so that they don’t ever have to wander around aimlessly ever again.”

Celestia stared at Accord, unsure of what to say, his look of fierce determination to save everyone giving her resolve. “Very well,” said Celestia.

Luna looked at her sister, then back at Accord. “How exactly are you going to go about this?”

“We’re still in the planning stages,” said Accord. “But for now, we’ll start with Pinkie and then slowly reach, well... everyone.”

“Sister, is this okay?” Celestia asked Luna.

“Isn’t it our parents decision, not ours?”

“Your parents?” asked Fluttershy.

“Yes, Galaxia and Cosmos, they...” Celestia tried to begin. But there was too much information. Her parents operated by gathering all information and then making decisions from there. If Accord was going to talk to them, he needed the same level of detail and understanding.

“There’s too much to explain in words,” said Celestia, sighing. “Accord, do you know how to read souls?”

Accord raised a hoof. “I’ve done it a few times. The memories attached to souls on this planet are almost as easy to read as a book.”

She sat down and weighed the decision. “I’m not sure what Galaxia and Cosmos’s plans for Equestria are. But it’s not immortality for everyone. You may be facing them and even Hope, soon. You’ll need every advantage you can get.”

She paused, breathing in and slowly exhaling. “Read my soul. That should be enough information to talk to them.”

Accord stepped back. “Now hold on there, I—”

“No. That will not be enough information to face them,” said Luna. “Take my memories as well.”

Celestia drew in a sharp breath and then whispered a thank you.

The look of resolve on Accord’s muzzle had melted into worry. “That goes far beyond personal information. It’s everything that makes you... you. I can’t read all of that.”

“If you fail, everypony dies, including us,” said Luna, staring down at him sharply.

Accord gulped and then his muzzle turned rigid and resolute. “I understand.”

He slowly walked up the steps and drew near to them. He bent down and his horn glowed for the briefest of moments as it touched Celestia’s head.

His face stayed completely blank as he lifted his head up and moved a few paces and leaned down to absorb Luna’s memories.

His expression betrayed absolutely no emotion. Celestia found it maddening. That was every part of her. What did he think? What did he feel? He was just as stoic as Galaxia was.

He walked down the steps and turned to face them. “Can I share these memories with Fluttershy as well? I’m going to need her help too.”

They both nodded, and Accord and Fluttershy vanished from the room.

Celestia and Luna turned to look at each other, both second guessing their decision.

Celestia stood up and walked over to Luna, lying down next to her. A million doubts started to creep into her head. What had they just done? He had been Discord, a madman, a monster. She was the one that had sent Fluttershy to reform him, and now he was an omniscient omnipotent being? Or was he just taking a machine’s memories? Was that all she was, some special machine? And if Accord somehow failed at saving Equestria, she and Luna would be turned back into mere souls, forced to forget every lifetime including this one... for all eternity.

The air flickered as Accord and Fluttershy teleported right in front of them.

“Thank you so much,” Fluttershy whispered, reaching out her hooves to embrace them. She looked somehow older, as if several sleepless nights had passed in the mere minutes she had been gone. “You’ve both been very strong for a long time.”

“Don’t worry. We’ll make sure that nopony ever has to die ever again if they don’t want to,” Accord said. “I have a gift for you two.”

He levitated two books and gave them to Celestia and Luna. The books were brown and had no title, no title page, or table of contents. “It’s the story of your life, including your past lives.”

Celestia stared at the book for a moment. She opened it straight to the last page where the final sentence described in perfect detail how she had decided to give her memories to Accord and Fluttershy.

Fluttershy let go and they vanished once more.

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