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A first-in scout from the Associated Worlds investigates the anomalous star system IGS 254672, expecting to find the home of a machine god. She finds herself making first contact with sophont ponies instead. A couple of them are weakly godlike ponies, but still...

Neither world will be quite the same again.

(This is actually a crossover with the original SF that I write as my day job, which is to say with the universe of Vignettes of the Star Empire and The Core War and Other Stories, and if you like - although it should not be necessary to read this - you can read a whole selection of the nanofiction I write in that setting over at the Eldraeverse blog. I also have a Patreon which exists to fund my ongoing original writing, but if anyone wants to give me money for this instead - I'm not asking, in this case, but you never know - I surely won't turn it down.

As such, I should warn you in advance, gentle reader, that updates may be erratic, because I also have said writing-as-a-day-job to do and it has to take priority. I hope that won't put you off.

Timeframe-wise, it's safe to assume these events start sometime in the middle of S3, and continue from there. The situation will of course butterfly-effect away from canon with reasonable speed, and there may be a few changes needed in the course of the fusion, hence the AU tag.)

First Published
13th May 2016
Last Modified
26th Feb 2017

god-bothering protocol

I like this already! :rainbowlaugh:

Luna, hasn't anyone reminded you lately that involuntary teleportation is considered rude in the modern era? :facehoof::rainbowlaugh:

Ooops. Fusion fuel might be pretty safe in vacuum, but it's still a pretty nasty chemical fuel, when there's enough O2 around!

Glad to see you continuing this little piece, Alistair! :twilightsmile:

a like and a track for you,  

Also I would request more information about this "god bothering protocol" as it seems to be a divine varient of the Crocodile hunter jamming his pinky in alligator bums

"Cutie Mark Crusaders Technical Engineers, yay!"

The next sound is of a much larger explosion...

>>7220186 Thank you kindly!

And it is, pretty much, only even less advisable. :facehoof:

In Cordelia's hard(ish) SF 'verse, "god" is short for "weakly godlike superintelligence" - like Vernor Vinge's Powers or Charles Stross's Eschaton, say - the sort of planet-sized AI you might expect to find moving suns around and messing with planetary rotation and doing all the other things that make the Equestrian solar system unique. "God-bothering" is the gentle art of taking a close look at them and hopefully talking with one of their sub-sub-subroutines without getting your brain eaten.

(Is it better or worse to have encountered alicorns instead? Well, we'll see...)

I'm really enjoying this story and hope you continue, but here's a (possibly) dumb question.  Is the light from satellite Luna reflected from satellite Celestia? If these two satellites are normally in antiphase on different sides of planet Equus, wouldn't Luna always be in Equus's shadow?

>>7230207 Nope, that's a really good question, 'cause you spotted a goof I meant to alter before publishing - as you're absolutely correct and it would always be in shadow. I've done the fix.

(My figuring is that Luna keeps it adjusted to one side or the other of the planet's umbra (still very near syzygy) at varying angles depending on what phase of the moon her plans for the night call for, just keeping it in perfect syzygy during the day. She could put it directly behind Equus at night, but mostly doesn't because the reddish-brown shadowy effect of a full lunar eclipse tends to make the less astronomically educated pony on the street think that it's the second coming of Discord, and explaining the facts has long since got old.)

I'm glad I could help a little. I'm looking forward to seeing if Cordelia uses hemocyanin. I don't know if you plan to have Twilight and (eventually) Flurry Heart become Alicorns, but I hope you do, since I suspect  Cordelia's reaction would be priceless.

Two things to say. One, this is kinda cool partially because I'm familiar with your stuff, at least in regards to ProjectRho's Astromilitary section. Instant follow!

Two: Goddammit Luna.

#12 · 52w, 6d ago · 3 · · IV. Awakening ·

This sounds fun and I hope it gets some more attention. Nice to see alien visitors not hiding / dissembling / being aggressive / otherwise UnFriendly, for a change!

#13 · 52w, 6d ago · 4 · · IV. Awakening ·

Im following this thing. Now, where did I put that book that was behind me a couple weeks ago. James Blish, Journey To The Heart Stars or something.

I wish I could remember the name of the Angel, and if Pinkie would like to offer them some cupcakes. :pinkiehappy:

Which would be less difficult to repair the ship. Celestia to reverse the motion of all the particles and wind the ship back through time to reassemble it, or just reach back down the central worldline to the point of teleportation and disjoint the current broken objects worldline to the alternate, now origional intact world line, but in low orbit?

The deep space gate is used for rapid jumps between equipped systems, but itself has to get there using standard far slower FTL drive, like the Scout?

#14 · 52w, 6d ago · 4 · · IV. Awakening ·

I'm looking forward to Luna trying to be apologetic and humbled over the accidental destruction of that starship, while in FULL CANTERLOT VOICE. :)

#15 · 52w, 6d ago · 1 · · IV. Awakening ·

>>7239780

From what I can discern of the author's original universe gates are permanently open wormholes, they come in pairs that have to be moved to their final locations by sub-relativistic starships.  Though they do also have relativistic (up to ~.9c) ships for exploration and such.

Which means Cordelia/Moongleam will probably be stuck on that planet for decades, fortunately her species is also biologically immortal.

>>7239780

>>7241591

ZarPaulek is mostly correct, there: however, they're not permanently open wormholes. For practical purposes, a stargate works like a [Mass Effect] mass relay, if you know that canon, from point to point.

(The longer explanation is that stargates come in pairs. The heart of each gate is a singularity in the form of a Kerr-Newman black hole, and the singularities in each pair are entangled with each other. It's that entanglement that lets them locate each other in spacetime, and which lets you steer.

There's also a fancy device called an Andracanth ram, whose job is to target a transiting spaceship and inflate an existing "quantum foam" wormhole around it, which then spits it out functionally instantaneously in the volume of space - allowing for drift, etc., technical details here ( https://eldraeverse.com/2014/06/29/trope-a-day-portal-network/#comment-2143 ) - near the other gate in the pair.)

There aren't any other forms of FTL: you've got to use regular drives to get where you're going before and after using the stargates, and to cross all the systems in the middle in a multiple-hop trip.

(She isn't necessarily stuck there for decades because of that, though. The stargates routinely jump photons back and forth internally all the time for extranet purposes, so if she could get the right kind of signal to the local gate, it could forward it on to wherever. Of course, that's a big if, but it's probably not impossible, just notably difficult.)

#17 · 52w, 5d ago · 1 · · IV. Awakening ·

>>7242123

I like the idea of the Andracanth Ram. Reminds me of a wormhole trick I was looking to use for a Super Carrier many years ago, whereby it used its primary weapon, the Star Hammer, to punch or select a targetd wormhole, Light Of Other Days style, then used its Wall Shield and Condensate Ice Hull to physically force the wormhole open under the power of its drive driven shield. I beleive it worked by severely abusing quantum relativity as the microwormhole was fixed by its creation, so ended up like a swollen snake, roller coaster. The ships energy building up being forced in is released on being emmited on the far side. The energy could be dumped, reabsorbed to recharge the storage, or used as a gravity slingshot to fire the thing out at very high sublight. This technique is actually part of the heavy weapons systems.

I just wish it was easy to find that published article which shows the skiens of heically twisted tubes of gravitational equipotentional that run between the various Lagrange points through a star system that unpowered rocks etc trundles along slowly and that require very little impulse, such as solar irradiation, to switch from track to track and so therefore change destination.

As for Chaotic behaviour, I had an intresting discovery some years back, when I wrote out the tree of possibilities defined by measurement of a chaotic oscilator, and realised it defined the Fibonnacci sequence at each stage of nodes and was fully self referential and closed. Chaos, or Stochastic Oscilators are Extremely efficint at transmitting data for power consumption and cost, as they run in full positive feedback, not complex negative feedback stabilisation.

Pinkie is still going to be asking Twilight if Spike can help her with those plasma cupcakes for the Angel.:pinkiehappy:

Endochronic Properties of M,N-dimensional Undulance Knot Arrays in Massively Parallel Spellcraft,  

Its a good thing Maud isnt around. Im sure she would be able to dig up some Theotimoline if Pinkie asked her. :pinkiehappy:

That, and it reminds me of something I might have looked at aside many years ago. :twilightsheepish:

Poor Cordelia, getting to see all those fantastic magical occurances.

Then she meets Pinkie. :pinkiecrazy:

>>7312068 Ehrmagerd Pinkie :P And here I figured Cordelia's reaction to Cadance would be quite striking enough. (For all their angelic power, Luna and Celestia's power sets are a bit easier to get one's brain around...)

>>7312068

>>7312322

From notes for a distant future chapter...

"...and Pinkie Pie, Head of Department, Rest of Department, and Subject of Department for our Department of Pinkieology *...

* Various stuffy bureaucrats from both the Royal Academy in Canterlot and the Exploratory Service on Almeä had, at various times, pressed for a precise definition of pinkieology. It usually took only a single meeting with the Department Head for them to find urgent business elsewhere."

(Edit: Also, from the even more distant future and the files of the existential threats people:

"CASE ROSEATE PASTRY

Abstract:

We don't know how she knows. And we don't know how she gets the information to us. And we don't have any idea how any of it is physically possible. But none of that matters.

What matters is that she knows. So when a message of classification ROSEATE PASTRY turns up anywhere, you act on it!

That is all.")

>>7312445 Hahaha!

One needs to ensure, of course, that Celestia is briefed on this, too... I can just picture Twilight trying to explain that to her: "No, I know how preposterous it sounds, but, um, somehow, it just works! Shouldn't, but does. It's not usual earth pony magic! I mean, Tartarus, I couldn't replicate it when I had four alicorns worth of magic, but it works, consistently and... well, not reliably exactly, but... oh, never mind... Just pay attention to the Pinkie Sense, already!"

Also, apropos of nothing in particular, I just had occasion to wind up explaining a certain conundrum to a friend in terms of both MLP and the Eldraeverse. Weird how these synchronicities happen, ne?

"we don't have meat, but we do have fish."

Wait, what?

>>7312617

Well, since Ponyville doesn't appear to have a notable griffon or other carnivore population, and since meat is never seen on sale, it seems unlikely that meat is readily available except by special order. (Rather more likely that you can find a butcher in Canterlot or Manehattan, I would think - more non-pony expats.)

On the other hand, we have seen ponies fishing in Saddle Lake on the show, so there's that.

Given the above, plus the classical elements of their culture, I figured the "fish as minor element of pegasus diet" fanon made best sense for this 'verse.

>>7312445

I have an approximate model of how Pinkie, but given its been prooven that in randomness that even the very, very, Very weak randomness is identical to Fully random, this means that my notes have been filed in the meetings of the Department of Pinkology and can therefore only be accessed after review and acceptance by the head of said Department.

There is a very good reason why Discord is absolutely terrified of Pinkie.

She can write him out of the show.:pinkiehappy:

Retroactively. :pinkiecrazy:

:derpytongue2:

>>7312683 Technically, but the fact that a cultural difference is drawn shouldn't be overly surprising. It's not rare to draw that distinction on Earth: on Equestria where there are several sophont species of land animal and flying animal, but none known from the water, the impulse would likely be stronger.

(I'm pointedly ignoring Stephen Magnet. He's a dragon of a sort, and was clearly able to get from the Everfree to Ponyville under his own power, so his kind are amphibious, and so probably aren't thought of as water-dwelling, in much the same way we don't often think of frogs as such. And those that eat frogs, on Earth, tend to think of them as closer to birds than fish, culinarily.)

>>7312650 It also makes sense in light of the observation that equines are apparently capable of eating meat, and some are opportunistic omnivores IRL. (This is pretty rare, but documented.)

>>7312683 Oh! Now I follow you.

Well, while it is in the technical/biological sense, sure, it mostly isn't in the colloquial/culinary sense. (Or at least the English dialect I grew up speaking and my shelf of cookery books seems to define "meat" as not including seafood, and much as I'd like to claim

>>7312900 's explanation as my own, truth is it didn't even occur to me that Google would show up so much controversy over this.

...although as a cultural distinction, it does make sense in this Equestria if you draw the line between things someponies eat regularly (fish) and things nopony normally eats (meat). "Meat" is griffon food.)

>>7312445 CASE ROSEATE PASTRY...

And they can never quite decide whether she's warning them about an outside-context-problem threat, or whether she is the outside-context-problem threat.

It's like Cthulhu, only friendlier.

>>7313484

Well, while it is in the technical/biological sense, sure, it mostly isn't in the colloquial/culinary sense. (Or at least the English dialect I grew up speaking and my shelf of cookery books seems to define "meat" as not including seafood, ...

Much like how the supermarket always groups eggs into the Dairy section, despite the fact that chickens most definitely do NOT come from cows.

You'll want to move your footnotes out of the "Author's Notes" section. The whole point of that mechanism is to mark stuff that would look horribly wrong slapped in the middle of an eBook and, as such, should be excluded when the reader chooses "Download as Text/HTML/ePub".

(ie. As-is, anyone who reads your story on the go will be missing the footnotes with no indication that your subscript numbers were supposed to mean anything other than a weird stylistic quirk.)

>>7317237 Ah! Thanks for pointing that out; didn't realize. I shall update accordingly.

Ah, the first encounter with CASE ROSEATE PASTRY.

The damage has been done.

Whichever space that may be.

L-Space. :pinkiehappy::twilightoops:

>>7317237 Though if you want your ebooks to contain author notes anyway, I recommend Calibre's "FanFicFare" plugin. I use it to make ebooks of all the fanfiction I like and I prefer its formatting choices (which includes the inclusion of author notes). And Calibre is fantastic for keeping stuff organized, too.

>>7328928 Given the author's teasers regarding Discord in his recent blog post, I suspect that Pinkie and Discord express their magic in similar ways (if vastly different in scale), and that she's that way because she rolled all sixes on the genetic dice. What that says about where her info comes from and how long she'll be around to annoy the scientists is left as an exercise for the reader gross speculation. :pinkiecrazy:

>>7330111

I tend to be dumping individual HTML files for reading as HTML files on my OpenPandora palmtop and then archiving in case I want to re-read a story the author pulled.

Aside from maybe writing a quick Python script to automate grabbing all of the individual-chapter HTML files when given the story URL, I'm happy with what I've got.

Twilight might be a bit surprised at the format of those books.

But relieved at the lowered susceptibility to water damage and lack of spines to break.

I wonder if the daerdric library can be read after being cooked at a thousand centigrade and then buried in acidic wet conditons for a thousand years or so? then again given iron pigment on parchment or papyrus etc has to be coked at just the right manner then needs a high resolution MRI or CT scanner to read isn that much different to a graphene milliepede store.

Will the emergancy suit, given time and careful positionning, reseal and reform the hospital cuts as part of its design, or have I missed that part, forgot it?

Will the library be VR, AR, holographic or direct signal injection into the brain so unisable to Twiligh without a translation structure?

I consider Starlights self levitation to be magic working either electromagnetically or spaciotemporally, as in like a rocket, self contained, or gravity or warp field for better descriptions.

How does a rocket push against an atmosphere if there is no atmosphere in space to push aganst? It takes its own air with it and pushes against that. Thats whats coming out of the back of the rocket.

Yep, that's no changeling impostor, that's definitely Twilight Sparkle. :rainbowlaugh:

>>7380597

The emergency suit won't grow back, no. Her light field armor would, but the emergency suit is a stripped-down model designed with deliberately limited functionality - both less to go wrong, and less to be co-opted by any perversions in the vicinity.

As for the library - all of the above, plus some more formats. (Including, even, good old-fashioned flat-text e-books.) No sense in unnecessarily limiting choice of interface, after all... :twilightsmile:

So I just found this on some sidebar suggestion of a story I don't even recall at this point. I tagged it read later, and ended up downloading it to read on a plane. I _almost_ didn't read it, because it's obviously hard scifi, yet had so few likes, I assumed it must be crap. Then I thought twice, as it's practically my job (I've been running the writing track at Everfree Northwest for a few years now) to encourage new fanfic. And I do love some scifi. So I had to give it a read, even if it 'wasted' an hour. (I don't quit in the middle of stories.)

Point is... holy crap! Fun stuff! I'll nitpick more in later chapters (I promise) but I felt it important to capture my initial reaction here. this is proper science fiction, with all the crazy buzzwords, weird backgrounds, and nonsensical-but-it's-cool stuff to go along with it. I really enjoyed reading this, despite it being ostensibly yet-another-HiE fic. I don't usually wake up the next morning still thinking about those.

My only real complaint is that we haven't gotten to any meat of the story yet. We've had the fun part, and the culture clash... well, not clash actually. Maybe that's a point to bring up. Cordelia is basically Twilight-the-Elf. Her ship was literally hijacked and _destroyed_ by Luna, yet she's giddy as a school girl to meet a talking pony who actually lives in a library. I mean, yes, first contact, don't take offense, etc... but sometimes there needs to be a little bit more conflict to make it feel real. Not saying they don't end up agreeing, but we have so little background on Cordelia's personality here, that it's hard to feel she's not just a Mary Sue falling in love with Equestria. Might work better showing more of her to give us reasons for why she's so passive/amiable to new beings that just marooned her and destroyed her ship. I mean, I like/admire it as a character trait, but it's atypical (for us humans) to be so altruistic, and explanation/background could improve that.

That said, I can't wait for more. Also, brilliant job on all the crazy terms (not counting the other languages) that sound just-plausible-enough to make sense. E.g. greenlife, sophontoligist, etc. And mega bonus points for the phrase "minor god-bothering protocol." That brought a genuine grin to my face for not just the linguistic oddity on display, but for the philosophical and technical implications as well.

>>7454136 Thanks for your kind comments!

My only real complaint is that we haven't gotten to any meat of the story yet. We've had the fun part, and the culture clash... well, not clash actually. Maybe that's a point to bring up. Cordelia is basically Twilight-the-Elf. Her ship was literally hijacked and _destroyed_ by Luna, yet she's giddy as a school girl to meet a talking pony who actually lives in a library. I mean, yes, first contact, don't take offense, etc... but sometimes there needs to be a little bit more conflict to make it feel real. Not saying they don't end up agreeing, but we have so little background on Cordelia's personality here, that it's hard to feel she's not just a Mary Sue falling in love with Equestria. Might work better showing more of her to give us reasons for why she's so passive/amiable to new beings that just marooned her and destroyed her ship. I mean, I like/admire it as a character trait, but it's atypical (for us humans) to be so altruistic, and explanation/background could improve that.

Yeah, it is starting a bit slowly: mostly, that's because I'm not the fastest writer overall and also have to concentrate a bit on the non-fanfic writing people pay me for. But for what it's worth, some of those issues do come up in the next chapter, which will hopefully be out this weekend. Meanwhile, regarding those specific behaviors (if you don't mind a quick spoiler; if not, it will be revealed in text soon, probably mostly in chapter the next):

Partly, it is just first-in scout training : be nice to people you haven't met yet until you know for sure that you shouldn't be - and while Luna destroyed her ship, she has what she thinks is good reason to believe that it may well have been unintentional, and thus while something she can be a mite cranky about is not something that she wants to start a fight over until she knows for sure. (Being one of those is also why she's so enthusiastic about things compared to the average drop-in; it's people with the temperament to fangirl over strange new worlds and new civilizations that tend to be attracted to the Exploratory Service in the first place.)

On another hand, too, while this doesn't look like the planetary god-brain she was expecting to find (not that she's convinced there isn't one, yet, either), formerly impossible things requiring big angelic powers just keep happening today, and something they drum very carefully into the brain of anyone sent out godbothering is Do Not Pick Fights With Kardashev Level 2 civilizations. (Or, in Celestia's case, Kardashev Level 2 individuals.)

You can have the most intresting interactions between automated checking and manual.

How far up will it get bumped in three days time?

...Fluttershy didn't make the list by virtue of not having a two part name. They said it won't look good on a poster. :pinkiehappy:

Rose, Not as Wee as Wee Jock Jock. :yay:

Now waiting for the update after Flutter Rage and Stare.

As for Pinkies, Intresting Relation to reality, that is one hay of a diplomat.

just imagine that, ship poor advanced AI trying to work through the sensor log, and next thing, Oooo What does This button do Dexter? :pinkiecrazy:

I love how teh description in a magical fantasy land for teleportatin, makes far more sense than superstring theory. Given I thought I had the math somewhere, and an approximate analysis gave teleportation, time shift, and D jumping as coherent base function, just with extra energy and complexity for the dimentional harmonics needed etc. Of course Twilight actually knows the functions, I can only guess.

Then again, Twilight might own a Library, but Pinkie can use L-Space. Poor Twilight. :pinkiecrazy:

We will leave Pinkie popping out of the ring binding for later. Like when its time to announce its time for The Party. :pinkiehappy:

The base thing. That was absolutely brilliant, how to make the joke valid. And the ponies use binary on three non standing legs to get the Octent? that and Octave musical ties in greatly. I was considering Quen and Vel, but those are variations on the base ten anyway so starting from elsewhere I wouldnt expect it.

I totally forgot about th In Case Of fire, Open Window, but then wouldnt it be one of those glass covered panels with the interlock lever behind it? With appropiate protection? Also, where Is the best place to put the paperwork relative to the rapidly decompressing on fire airlock in the dark so you can find them?:twilightoops:

The trouble with hypothetical scenarios, is that in being million to one occurances, they happen 9 times out of ten.:twilightoops:

On the tenth time, you end up in Equestria.:scootangel:

>>7616873 I think it might be a reference to Numberography, wherein it was established that the most natural numbers were those that could be counted upon the hooves of yourself and those of a friend.

>>7616924

I've never actually read Numberography, so thanks for the pointer!

My initial inspiration (although not the in-verse reason, because it would hardly fit) were the 8-hour clocks seen in early episodes of the show; after that made me think about natural number bases for the ponies, I started out with the notion of counting on hooves, in quaternary, or in the case of pegasi, on hooves and wings in senary. But both of those, especially the former, are inconvenient number systems to use for large quantities, so I then developed the notion of a more advanced counting system using joints, similar to counting on the fingers in many Asian countries, in which one gets an octal count from forelegs only: pastern and cannon, knee and forearm, which took over from traditional tribal counting during the time of Old Equestria (post-windigos, pre-Discord).

Unicorn mathematicians, of course, were using abaci all along, but then, unicorn mathematicians are still mathematicians and as such disdain all integers other than 0, 1, and infinity.

>>7616873

I totally forgot about th In Case Of fire, Open Window, but then wouldnt it be one of those glass covered panels with the interlock lever behind it? With appropiate protection?

The designers want it to be controllable centrally so you don't have to get (potentially past the fire) to the airlock to use it. The way it's supposed to work is that if the emergency circuit reports a fire, the interlock automatically cuts out and lets you send a remote command to blow the lock (which you can't normally do).

And under normal circumstances, they aren't too worried about people pulling the panel and doing a rewire, because if the ship wasn't shut down right now, doing what Cordelia did would have set off about half-a-dozen separate alarms before she got the interlock unlocked - emergency panel used, suspected fire, circuit tamper, interlock disable, damage control master alarm, and so forth. It's supposed to be (relatively) easy to do, 'cause if you need to do it, you probably need to do it very badly. It's just difficult to do it quietly.

>>7617042

which makes me wonder, given during Red Alert on a battleship, everyone is suited up, is it better to have atmospher or not on the ship, as in nothing to burn, but do shockwaves propagate more through efficintly through structure if theres not an atmosphere to damp the shock, but also carry it etc?

>>7617042

And under normal circumstances, they aren't too worried about people pulling the panel and doing a rewire, because if the ship wasn't shut down right now, doing what Cordelia did would have set off about half-a-dozen separate alarms before she got the interlock unlocked - emergency panel used, suspected fire, circuit tamper, interlock disable, damage control master alarm, and so forth. It's supposed to be (relatively) easy to do, 'cause if you need to do it, you probably need to do it very badly. It's just difficult to do it quietly.

As always, I love the amount of thought you put into these mostly-unseen-to-the-audience details. :twilightsmile:

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