• Member Since 11th Apr, 2012
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Bad Horse


Just an honest businesspony with a Patreon.


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In the stars, a hundred years' journey away, the alicorns gather, to mourn, to mate, and to give birth to the new. They call to their sisters across the galaxies, and Celestia hears them.

Meanwhile, Dotted Line wants her to review tax rebate applications.

(2nd place out of 113 in the "No Regrets" write-off. Dotted Line is from "Whom the Princesses Would Destroy" by GhostOfHeraclitus. Picture by Earthsong9405 & AquaGalaxy, found by Georg.)

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 103 )

Someone had to do it.

7243482 Shh. That's in the sequel.

Dotted is best Cabinet Secretary. He deserves the Pendant of the Sun a thousand times over.
Beautiful little story.

Well, considering that alicorns can apparently reach Warp 2, hugging one is indeed a form of heroism.

7243521

On the TOS or the TNG scale, though?

7243565

I think they use the TOS scale in Enterprise, don't they? Regardless, ~7-8c is just the slowest estimate that came to mind.

Now imagine what happens if she takes off while you're hugging her.

7243576 TOS scale would be 8c, yeah.

Now imagine what happens if she takes off while you're hugging her.

Depends if she has inertial dampeners or not.

7243521 I am completely unsurprised that you made that calculation.

Boy.

I find Dotted Line inherently funny -- as many do, he's a great character -- so it was interesting to see the character in such a story. It's a really short one, but I actually liked the resolution a lot.

In fact, this is one of those rare cases where the resolution has enough punch to it that I feel it would almost work by itself! Almost. The idea of the alicorns gathering and calling to Celestia was really, really nice, and to be honest it's probably the reason why the ending is that great -- 'cause we get an idea of what Celestia is yearning for. So I guess it's just a neat ending that makes the rest pale in comparison?

Eh, screw it. The hug was nice, is what I mean. There.

Not a lot to say, as this is a short story -- and I don't think writing a huge wall of text would benefit you in any way when my main feedback is just saying "woah, this was really cool" [1]-- but still, I enjoyed the little details that gave the story an extra touch of personality. Stuff like:

Dotted diplomatically pushed his chair out of the way, sat down beside her, and looked at another, nearby spot on the ceiling. It was probably overdue for inspection anyway.

Or the great:

“Now, my favorite: the recommendation committee’s annual report on the advisory committee’s annual report on the prior year’s activities of the recommendation committee.”

(I mean, I study law and I like comedy -- this line was tailor-made for me!)

Still (because I thought better about it, and just saying "I like it" without stating the why is not the best comment I can give you), the overall feeling of the story was better than the cool lines or the small moments. The whole is better than the sum of the parts, I suppose I mean.

"Hopeful", you called this story -- I think it's not exactly hopeful per se? I think it's a wonderful study in melancholy. It reminds me a little bit (just a little bit, as they're not so similar when you get to it) to Twilight Sparkle Makes a Cup of Tea because of that. I don't think the story is hopeful, it's just pining for ancient times and figuring that this one here isn't getting any better.

I guess that's why I like it, and why it reminded me of Cup of Tea? Celestia knows the past was better. The present, and the future, hold no comparison. But that's how things go, and so she moves on. She gets a hug, and that can be seen as a sign that the present is not that bad -- but really, it's about how the past was so much better. She wants to return, but can't. So she moves on.

It's a bittersweet ending, in the fact that she's never going to dance with the stars again. It's melancholic. It accepts that the best part of Celestia's life has passed, and then it just shrugs and says well, that's life. So there's no hope. Hope means things get better. This is more about things not getting worse. Which, sometimes, is more than enough, yes?

All in all, not a message you usually see in stories, because it's not a moral lesson you want to teach to people. But it's a thing that happens to people, so why not reflect it in fiction, right?


[1] EDIT: HAHAH WOW SURE. YES. NO WALL OF TEXT.

7243633

It's a bittersweet ending, in the fact that she's never going to dance with the stars again. It's melancholic. It accepts that the best part of Celestia's life has passed, and then it just shrugs and says well, that's life. So there's no hope. Hope means things get better. This is more about things not getting worse. Which, sometimes, is more than enough, yes?

Thanks for your thoughtful response!

That isn't how I thought about it, but it's not wrong. In my mind, she could answer the call, but chooses not to, which means that she believes that what she chooses to do instead is better. Maybe even better for her. But it's a difficult choice. I put this in the "Mother" folder in the group "Aspects of Celestia" instead of the "Ruler" folder because I think it's about making a decision that is more like the decision mothers make than any decision rulers have to make.

I don't think Celestia's far-flung sisters do hugs (and snuggles) quite the way Equestrian ponies do. Now blowing up stars does sound a little fun... (eventually...) but do they have cake up there? Any fun music? Have they ever played pin the tail on the pony?

No? :pinkiegasp:

Princess Celestia, you've GOT to invite your other sisters over to Equestria, pronto! We can throw then the biggest party in the universe! :pinkiehappy:

7243664 I have a suspicion Pinkie is already involved in the party somehow.

7243502
I have to ask when this takes place. We know from previous stories that Dotted Line was contemporary with Twilight Sparkle as Princess Celestia's protégée, and so has seen the number of alicorns go from two (Celestia and Cade[a]nce), to three (Luna), and probably four (Twilight) and five (Flurry Heart) by extrapolation. So—did any of the other alicorns hear the call? And if so, which ones, and how did they react?

7243576
I've always thought they should have used a logarithmic scale for warp factors. That way the enormous push for even a fraction more warp when one is already doing warp 9.2 seems realistic (for a given value of "realistic") while leaving the door open to higher speeds for later, more powerful ships and nigh-omnipotent beings like the Q. Sort of special relativity for warp drive:

Infinite energy applied to moving mass in normal space --> speed of light
Infinite energy applied to "moving" mass in subspace --> infinite speed, i.e., everywhere at once (warp 10 on the TNG scale)

7243720

I have to ask when this takes place. We know from previous stories that he was contemporary with Twilight Sparkle as Princess Celestia's protégée, and so has seen the number of alicorns go from two (Celestia and Cade[a]nce) to three (Luna), and probably four (Twilight) and five (Flurry Heart) by extrapolation. So—did any of the other alicorns hear the call? And if so, which ones, and how did they react?

I think the story has the greatest dramatic impact if it takes place pre-Luna's return. But it doesn't have to. This is Celestia's story, even if there are other alicorns.

7243664
With apologies to Carl Sagan:

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies cakes were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”

“If you wish to make an apple pie a cake from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

7243743 I just assumed it's a logarithmic scale. I am disappoint if it isn't. Though I admit it doesn't seem to be, as warp factor 9 would then get you anywhere pretty much instantaneously. It would be like something from a J. J. Abrams movie, for goodness' sake.

7243773
TNG vaguely redefined warp 10 as infinite velocity. But it was the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Threshold" (as in, "transwarp threshold") that made it canon in what's widely considered to be one of the worst episodes in the series, if not Star Trek as a whole.

It would be like something from a J. J. Abrams movie, for goodness' sake.

Let's pretend Mr. Scott, via Mr. Spock the Elder, never invented transwarp beaming. Kind of defeats the purpose of having a starship, you know? Not to mention what could happen if someone with evil intent were to obtain a secret, prototype, man-portable, one-shot transwarp transporter and use it to escape to a non-allied world after attacking Starfleet Command (actual). :pinkiesick:

7243802 Wait... infinite velocity... okay, I feel bad for even contemplating this, since faster-than-light velocity is already nonsensical, but... best-case is that your position has a uniform probability distribution across the entire universe. Worst-case is you run up your own ass.

7243839

…best-case is that your position has a uniform probability distribution across the entire universe. Worst-case is you run up your own ass.

Or both! Like I said at the beginning, "…for a given value of 'realistic.'" FTL, causality, special relativity: pick two.

I imagine Leafy Salad rummaging through some files, and finds out that one of the positions Dotted holds is that of Celestia's Paladin (In the Paladin of Charlemagne sense). It is more or less honorary now, of course, and largely the result of some particular legal technicality than anything else. Leafy of course decides to tease Dotted relentlessly about being a paladin (In the Oubliettes and Ogres sense).

And of course, Celestia thinks Dotted deserves it more than 90% of the holders of the title in all its time.

A wonderful expansion of the Writeoff version, showing both what Celestia denies herself and why. An excellent juxtaposition of the cosmic and the mundane. Thank you for it.

7243753 I got the feeling Luna was speaking to her. Maybe she's sad because Luna decided to abandon Equestria to hang out with the other alicorns?

7244006 Oh, because of the word "sister". Hmm. That makes it confusing. How can I fix that?

7244015 Actually, I thought the story was great as it is.

I reviewed this story as part of Read It Later Reviews #49.

My review can be found here.

7243756
7243799
Also,

Enjoyed the hell out of this (the story not the video. Well, both)

Because I'm too dumb to think of a poignant comment, I'll just say this:

What a lovely hug.

~Skeeter The Lurker

And here, I'm most interested in whatever crazy shindig Celestia is missing right now.

I remember this from ages ago. Writeoffs, right? I know I've read it before. Still just as nice now.

I honestly can't think of anything much more to say that my star and upthumb clicks haven't already conveyed. Nicely done, BH.

1) Water is a service fee, not a tax. Unless this is an access tax on top of the utility fee.
2) Any utility fee in a scarce resource which isn't metered rationally is just asking for abuse, which Is the fault of the reponsible bureaucracy, not the exploiting chiselers. As I understand it, the real world analogues in arid regions tend to grow wheat or other low intensity field crops, while properly priced irrigation districts grow high-intensity fruits, nuts, or truck crops, often for export, while importing wheat and other grains. The practice is informally known as "importing water".

7243743 7243773

It sort of is. The TOS scale is (Warp Factor)^3=speed in c. The TNG scale is (Warp Factor)^10/3=speed in c, but only up to Warp 9. Above that, we don't have a formula--just some data points from the tech manual:

Warp 9.0 = 1516c
Warp 9.6 = 1909c
Warp 9.975 = 3053c
Warp 9.99 = 7912c
Warp 9.9999 = 199,516c

An exquisite metaphor for the hundred years' war between cosmologists and planetary astronomers.

(What--that's not what it's about?)

7243521

But alicorns transcend lightspeed through Bergenholm's Invocation of Inertialesness, which is commutative by contact. A hug would take both hugger and hugged "free." :trollestia:

7244490

"And you shall know the hug, and the hug shall make you free."

7244445 Water is taxed in some countries, but I agree in the situation here, an access fee makes more sense, so I changed the text a bit. Thanks!

Properly pricing irrigation requires the technology to meter water, and IIRC western US states had just this kind of problem in the early 20th century when such metering wasn't implemented.

7244359
I don't think you're dumb. After all, the simple truth is always poignant. :)

7244584
Just wait until we get space colonies, and oxygen is considered a scarce resource that needs to be metered.

"Honey? Did you <gasp> forget to <wheeze> pay <wheeze> the air <pant-pant-pant> bill again?" <THUD>

7244490
That's actually worse. It would still take her a hundred years to get there, Warp 2 is not that fast.

So you would die hungry or simply suffocate in interstellar vacuum. While being hugged.

Such a rollercoaster of emotions, in a story this short. Probably my favourite of your fics in a while, proving yet again that GoH has magical powers capable of pulling the best out of anything.

:yay::yay::yay:
Ahh man, this is sooo goood, I love it so much--HRRRRRRRRRRRG

It encapsulates so much of what I love about Celestia, and evokes the kind of emotions I endlessly search for in stories about her. Celestia's ability to deny herself is unparalleled (in both a good and bad way), and you perfectly illustrate that here. The temptation to be with her sisters and her lover is real. It's unbearable. Yet she makes it through, somehow managing to mask her struggle while she performs exercises in mundanity.

So few stories know how to give Celestia an emotional struggle. And this one freakin nails it :raritystarry::raritystarry::raritystarry:

When can we expect the next nine chapters????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

You can be here in a hundred years!

This is the clincher for me, like the sound of glass breaking. It's when you realize why she can't go. She could never leave her ponies for that long. She's too committed.

So... what is happening with the other princesses when this call came out. Luna would know what was up, I see Twilight and Cadance being rather freaked out.

“The only location more secure than the Royal Palace is the Royal Dungeons,” Dotted observed.
Celestia shrugged innocently.

Considering the nobles, I'd say it's very fitting.

Dotted pulled his eyebrows together. “The Pendant of the Sun is for heroism in the defense of Equestria.”

Yeah, so? So many ponies view Celestia as a goddess so above such things as hugs that the very idea of giving her a hug would make their brains lock up. You were brave enough to do it. It wasn't an order, you could have siad no, but you did it. You're a brave guy, Dotted.

TDR

Equestria saved by a hug. Think of the chaos if Celestia vanished.

"I've seen things you little ponies wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears...in...rain. Time to do taxes."

Celestia very much wants to go, but doing so means never seeing the ponies she knows again, for mortals last too little. Makes me think, maybe the first time Celestia and Luna appeared, after the founding of Equestria, was them just returning from their latest trip, that took so long that even history forgot about them. Maybe that was enough for Celestia to decide to never leave Equestria again.

But I can see hope in the future of this story. With four or five alicorns hearing the calls, it would be very probably at least one of them decides to go, specially the younger ones, not grasping the scale of it. I can see the other alicorns going after her, to save her the regret of missing so much. And here comes the hope:

If Twilight gets involved, as she seems to be an element of change for the good from time to time, I can see all the alicorns together moving the entire planet, with all it's inhabitants, towards the cosmic herds. After all, Equestria has it's own satellital Sun, so it doesn't need to stay at an specific orbit in some solar system...

I am rambling too much.

I remember when you danced the death of Eta Carinae

Feh, who would mourn the death of that pair of gluttonous lardasses. They gorged themselves on stellar nebula until they were huge, fat, and outgassing from all orifices constantly!

Serves them right that they blew up in only a few million years! Well... figuratively, since they underwent core collapse which triggered a rebounding shockwave...

(Yo momma's so fat she went supernova instead of having a heart attack!)

:trollestia:

I say that the way I would say a manticore isn’t a very popular dinner guest.”

Hmph, speciest ponies. A manticore swallows ONE PONY and suddenly all of them are blacklisted!

It was just Trixie! Who cares? :raritywink:

Arn

7245232
Luna's too young!

Arn

7244393
To say such things!
No you don't kiddo.....

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