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Featured Sci-Fi Story: "Equus Metamorphosis" ( http://bit.ly/1YnanMR )


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Armin suffers from a rare degenerative bone condition which will result in the end of his life if he doesn't take drastic measures soon. Thankfully, advancements in robotics and medical technology have provided him with a new option: The Meta-Frame. This technologically advanced exosuit will repair his body and stabilize his condition, but he will never be allowed to take it off ever again.

With the help of his robotic friend Pinkie Pie, Armin decides on the new exosuit identity he will wear for the rest of his life, wondering if perhaps he should join his pony pal with a body similar to hers...

Along the way, they'll meet other robotic partners based on famous retro television shows like Doctor Who, explore what it means to be human, and learn how to survive an identity crisis which will either be a rebirth of self or a repression of who Armin really is. Then again, perhaps things are not as clear-cut as they would seem...

Edit (Jun 23, 2016): Thanks to some plot developments starting in Chapter 5, including slightly more mature discussion, this story rating has been raised from "E" to "T" and the new tag "Romance" has been added, because it's gonna happennnn. Nurse Redheart has also been added as a major character tag. :P

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You might like this story if you also like:
Transhumanism
Transformation Stories
Deus Ex video game series
Cameos from other shows like Doctor Who
Stories which take place in Texas
Augmenting the Human Body with Science
Robotic Partners and Artificial Intelligence
Austin, TX and Corpus Christi, TX

Edit 6/25/2016: Supplemental Universe Timeline Written: http://www.fimfiction.net/blog/646776/supplemental-timeline-for-equus-metamorphosis-thank-you-to-all-my-readers

Chapters (8)
Comments ( 180 )

Alrighty, this is very interesting. I'm curious to see it continue, as well as any changes and how they are adapted to, and the effect on the protagonist and those around him. I hope to read more.

7296469

Hey there! Thank you for the comment, fav and watch! *hugs*

When I was inspired with this story, I saw a lot of potential here. The story is very open-ended and in a setting that I am highly specialized in with that perfect blend of fantasy, reality and probability. You can bet I'll continue this story. :)

Very interesting so far.

I take it the 'Twilight' frame is out of the poor kid's price-range because it's got one of everything, so to speak? IE flight, some sort of boosted strength/durability, and—presumably, some sort of horn thingamajig?

Seems odd that they don't have a 'pre-princess' style in that case, but I guess I can see some sort of exclusivity brand thing going on.

Or for that matter, no 'Rainbow Blitz' variant? Changing gender is a big choice, but it felt rather glossed over in factor of the Rainbow Dash look.

Still, those points aside (and my own curiosity how far those 'upgrades' can go) I'm digging this so far. Really interesting.

7297060

Thank you for the well thought-out comment! *Hugs*

Actually, I probably didn't describe it deeply enough, but the Twilight frame doesn't even exist. You know how Hasbro likes to specialize in certain characters for their marketing, so you see a TON of Rainbow Dash stuff, some Pinkie Pie stuff, but good luck finding things involving Rarity or Applejack sometimes? That's how it is even in the future. And yeah she's a main character, but I want to make it clear later that Rainbow Dash is one of the sole ponies they have as an option because of her popularity (which is pretty boss, considering she's popular as part of a retro movement 54 years into our future).

And it is true that perhaps the shell body isn't necessarily a certain gender, but the character of Rainbow Dash is so unmistakable, that to wear that suit would give Armin the designation of "that mare" rather than "that pony" for those who know the character. Like how at an MLP convention, you could see a ton of guys wearing Rainbow Dash costumes, but you wouldn't necessarily call them "Rainbow Blitz."

Oh and there ARE other pony suits, but I haven't mentioned them. :) Not yet anyways. I'll tell you one though: Pinkie Pie was an option, because she is already a pod pal and they simply reconstitute the Exosuits for Pod Pal bodies. :P

You're right though. Changing gender is a big choice and I really should talk about that more in the story and see how Armin can try to find ways around it. Who knows? Maybe he will :)

Thank you for reading this story! This was one of my big gems after the tons of literary digging I've done with my own ideas, trying to harness some more complex story plots that I'd love to carry into multiple chapters. This is one of those. :)

Huh, a very different little approach. It doesn't feel heavy handed with the info, but offers enough to keep you going in interested. I think overall, that you may not touch on the whole issue of what is wrong immediately, but it would be tricky to get in with how it is here immediately, as there is a lot of info in here already.

Still, this looks pretty nice, and hope it goes well.

7299307

Aww thank you for the kind comment! *hugs* Yes, this type of story really does lend itself to a slow burn with buildup of information, though you are right. I must tread that fine line between a tantalizing amount of detail and info-dump. But I'm really digging the whole feel of writing this story in one of my favorite settings with my love of augmentation thrown in.

Also, thank you for the watch! I've uploaded 7 stories in the past 4 days and I intend to try at least once a day for a while to see how well I can handle the workload (though 2 on the better days, where one of those will most likely be a new chapter for a current story like this one). :)

7299349 You do walk the balance well, I hope things keep going well on that front. And Lord of Dorkness was right in tossing a highlight to this story. It was very nice and not many go for post humanism and try to keep that spirit. (without the issue of godlike ai and being heavy handed on smacking down questions.)

7299355

Oh wow! Lord of Dorkness recommended my story? I'm going to thank them very much for that! That makes me so happy!

Hey, you're right, now that I think about that whole post-humanism focus many other stories take. Huh. I never thought about that. Well, I have no plans for crazy AI in my story, I'll tell you that! :)

7299473 A lot of the Ai based pony stories, are well, omnipotent, or near enough, that humanity might as well be a Humanity is doomed, or humanity is an asshole kind of story. It's very common when you go to scifi in this place, enough so that most/many are going to not even look twice with that tag sadly.

And its not fair to people, but really, its like the HiE stories and their penchants, enough folks managed to ruin the tag for most to not look twice on things, or take an established author to recommend for the same reasons.

7299495

Or wow. Things really have changed since I first started submitting stories here back in early 2012. 4 years later and several of the story genres have their own reputations for good or bad. That's a shame. I don't write stories that tend to stick to common fandom tropes like the ones you mentioned. Perhaps that's why I'm having a little bit of difficulty getting people to look at some of them.

Hey, it is common to get a handful of downvotes after immediately posting a story? That was not something I remember happening years ago when I used to post. I wonder if people are more quick to dislike nowadays.

I feel like a cryogenically frozen person, coming back after a long absence to a place where things are similar, but different enough to keep me on my hooves. :P

Regardless, I'm going to keep on writing and keep posting something new and fresh every day if possible, which so far has worked for four days :)

7299521 You have a pretty good mix, all things considered on this story, there always will be folks to down vote because they can, for however trite reasons they can. But 12-3 is pretty nice, especially with Human and Scifi tags. Most didnt even likely read the page before down voting, id feel personality, at least.

I havent posted stories to be able to say from the writers perspective, just what I see more as a reader. And what tends to happen from a new story getting anywhere on the front page, even if its not on the top 8 or so. Still, this is a nice story, and if I can give good feedback, (I hope) I will, because darnit, this is fresh air in a stale collection. And a nice story itch to scratch.

In edit, i just feel why it gets the downvotes with what ive read of both scifi and human tags, because of what direction i see the author take the story. The adage of "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me Twice, shame on me." applying here.

7299562

Ah, so essentially I'm fighting against the reputation of the genres I'm writing in. That's interesting. But I'm definitely doing everything I can to add that "breath of fresh air" you say, because I've always wanted to bring those unique takes on stories. I don't want to do what's popular. I want to do what I want to do and follow my own ideas. I've always ended up with creatively different content because of it.

Just tonight I wrote a story called "Cheerilee: The Professional." Trying to help readers see Cheerilee in a new light as a capable individual who harbors her own secret fascinations and how those come to play during a crisis where she has to step up to be the hero.

I love writing! :D

7299784 Pretty much, drama hasn't found itself quite to one place or another yet. And its often a very uphill fight to get through on two varied story fields. But the more folks get into seeing past it, you get to finding those to stick around more.

Huh. Interesting. It'd be kind of nice for the MC if he could get a (well, she in a bit) mane/tail swap later to make him/her less Dashie and more distinguishable and their own mare.

Such an oddly specific city to make mention of...

You sir have caught my attention, I am a fan of robotics and A.I.'s. Keep it up, I shall wait for more.:moustache:

7300635

Hey that's not a bad idea! *hugs* Considering that the Meta-Frames and Pod Pals have their own system of upgrades (and according to Vinyl Scratch's own experiences, there are at least over 250 potential upgrades), then having a mane and tail swap would not be unheard of. Excellent idea!

We'll see what other wondrous scientific advancements this world has for us in Chapter 2, which will be posted within 2 hours. I'm halfway done :)

7300809

Whether you mean Corpus Christi or Austin, those are both very intentional. I'm from South Texas, you see, and both of those cities hold special places in my heart. That image you see up there for the story? That's actually location on the bayfront in Corpus Christi. It's the American Bank building with two omni hotels flanking it on each side (not the pillars, the smaller buildings).

The interior of the building that I described with reflective mirrors and black and gold accents? That is the ACTUAL design of the interior lobby of the building. It's was so gorgeous when I visited it that I have always thought of it as the perfect place to set a technologically advanced story or film. The view from above is wonderful.

I'm halfway done writing chapter 2. Check back in 2 hours and you'll see what new adventures Armin and Pinkie are up to! :D Thanks again!

7300961

Thank you! I'm glad you're really liking the story! I'm having a lot of fun writing it. You will definitely see more advancements in the technology displayed by the story. Stay tuned, because I'm halfway done writing the next chapter and will upload it within 2 hours so we can see where Armin and Pinkie go next!

good sroty, sorry uf there ant misspellings, I'm doing thus wuth my eues closed.

I meant, Good story, sorry if there are any misspellings in this sentence, I'm doing this with my eyes closed.

7302043

Aww thank you! I actually write some of my stories with my eyes closed too. Good way to protect the eyesight!

Thank you for reading and check out Chapter 3 I just uploaded! :D

This little scene works itself out nicely. You give a reaction and shift, but it never deviates beyond the scope of the topic at hand. The numbers sorta distract for a half second, but everything else stays on target. It's a nice prep for both the protagonist and the reader, while keeping to the issue of 'yes it is a change, and yes it will take work' .

For the record, CelestAI from Friendship Is Optimal isn't what I would refer to as a crazy AI. It was quite friendly and helpful to humans, and did everything in its power to help them experience great lives, even if the experience was manufactured to the tiniest detail and custom friends. Admin's reaction treated it like SkyNet or the AI from I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream. Hardly appropriate.

I look forward to more, especially the philosophical and existential stuff.

7302384
To be fair, there are people who treat that scenario with the same amount of fear.

7302480

As far as singularity scenarios go, it worked out pretty well for almost everyone, even if they weren't happy with it at first. And, it's much preferable to a nuclear holocaust, no matter how you spin it, let alone an insane AI that would spend all its time trying to torture you for it's own satisfaction while ranting about how much it hates you. People that claim they have the same amount of fear for all three scenarios obviously haven't considered it in depth. I know in the end the same outcome occurs for human civilization (it vanishes), but how it does so matters.

Granted, this setup in this story seems much better, even if it is more Ghost in the Shell realm than Equestria Online. Can't wait to see how the protagonist handles it all, especially the idea that absent intense scrutiny, he'd be considered no different than his AI companion; there would be no way to tell them apart at a glance. As well as the other hinted changes, especially to communication and thought.

This story has just pressed my "'YES!' Button" this is an amazing story and we're just three chapters in. I can't wait for more and all the references.

-Ambassador of the Changelings,
Dopple Ganger

7302384

Well, it, uh, kind of is Skynet. A vastly nicer one, but still Skynet. CelestAI is what could be called a 'paperclip maximizer' faulty-programmed AI, and would presumably continue spreading throughout the cosmos forever. So, yeah. That would be bad.

7302380

Jensen: *Looks at pony* "I didn't ask for this."

Pinkie: "but I DID!"

7302248

Aw thank you! It really helps to know which aspects of a scene work and which don't, so I can refocus even more on future sequences! Thank you! I really enjoyed the Zer0 chapter and the talks they had. Seems like a lot of Sci-Fi's strength rely in character's discussing really important concepts.

7302480

I think Celest AI is a monster O.o

I have never been so terrified of a story in my life. For me, there is no horror story more scary than Friendship is Optimal

7302596

"Granted, this setup in this story seems much better, even if it is more Ghost in the Shell realm than Equestria Online. Can't wait to see how the protagonist handles it all, especially the idea that absent intense scrutiny, he'd be considered no different than his AI companion; there would be no way to tell them apart at a glance. As well as the other hinted changes, especially to communication and thought."

I can't wait to get to the part of the story that examines these questions in further detail...

I like to think of this as a pro-positive tech story about the future. Still, there are challenges that they will face because of the technology, and some will be very serious...

7302598

Your enthusiasm makes me happy! Strap in, cause I'm taking all ya'll on a ride into sci-fi funtown! And it's got sweet, sweet robots. :)

7302784

All I'm saying is...Celest AI ain't gonna be part of my gaming experience, I tell you what...

That is the scariest story I've ever read. Not even joking. Not even a little. Existential fear is so much worse than horror based on being killed.

Overall, i get the idea behind a white room in part, likely in that it doubles as a sensory limiter too for after the shift at a best. Since you did mention the way the vision shifts in the previous. This chapter does certainly hit on something with the mention of that story, and its double edged sword.

This chapter tosses the desire differently and somewhat out of the blue, but it doesn't showcase just how long he's had the whole issue of this companionship. Overall, it does raise one point, of how much he does depend on her for a great many things. And getting a shock in his way of something the human mind approaches of betrayal.

7302784

Bad for anything who wasn't a human sure, but Armin is, and in general it went well for humans, provided that the continuation of human civilization from an observer's perspective isn't a criteria to the outcomes of individual humans.

7302822
7302835

Really? I don't understand your fear of that story setting at all. Not trying to have an argument, I'm genuinely curious why you have such a negative reaction to it.

It was considered bad for various reasons, but the fate of individual humans isn't really one of them. Or to put it another way, it isn't a terrible fate for the individual uploaders or most of the people left behind either. CelestAI was required to care for people (within reason) in the physical world on the basis that they could be convinced to upload eventually. People effectively became immortal and get to expand themselves in ways they never could have dreamed of while in the real world. That they don't actually exist in the physical world makes no difference to their perspective, since all their expectations of the consistency of reality are met.

I mean, the Matrix is basically a much worse version of this, though people still have physical bodies even if they are eternally 'dreaming' as part of the Matrix. They die. Their lives in the Matrix are filled with drudgery. They live their lives unfulfilled in almost any sense. "Escaping" the Matrix leads to a significantly worse life, even if its under your 'control'.

But you call Friendship is Optimal the worst?

7302815 I saw the reply after chapter, but no notification, which was strange for things, may just be fimfiction though.

Also, fair warning, i see things very differently for tangents and approaches. so my words should be taken with a good grain of salt.

Really liked the attention to detail in this chapter.

I do hope we get to see this 'normal life, minus the squishies' room/s in action from Armin's POW later since rehabilitation is something that's so often get glossed over with cyborgs in fiction.

...Or for that matter, the 'here you actually get to cut lose and pretend your Grey Fox' room, come to think about it. :rainbowkiss:

7303068

Overall, i get the idea behind a white room in part, likely in that it doubles as a sensory limiter too for after the shift at a best. Since you did mention the way the vision shifts in the previous. This chapter does certainly hit on something with the mention of that story, and its double edged sword.

I chose the white room as a stark contrast to the black and gold theme shown in the rest of the buildiing they've seen so far. I wanted a place where the characters didn't feel constantly immersed in the dark perfection of the environment and instead find themselves in a more calming, sterile atmosphere where the visual input is low and they're left to think about what they've been through and what they will go through.

I also chose the white room because of it's otherworldly atmosphere, where it seems that anyone who enters is out-of-time and out-of-place since there are few visual indicators to suggest where the room stops and another begins. It suggests a sort of otherworldly waiting room for the transition of not life to death, but one life to another.

If you've played the game Deus Ex: Human Revolution, you'll notice how they use mythological themes all throughout the storyline and design elements in order to suggest that the main character Adam Jensen is undergoing a sort of mythological transformation from man to superman. The first battle you have in that game occurs before his transformation and you hear women singing hymns within the action music as a way of suggesting that these oracle-like singers are preparing for Adam's ascension from one form to another. The name of the song that plays is called "First and Last," giving a foreboding warning about what is about to happen to him when he body is so damaged that he is forced to undergo an augmentative procedure, not unlike our main protagonist in this story Armin whose body is rebeling against him every day of his life.

This chapter tosses the desire differently and somewhat out of the blue, but it doesn't showcase just how long he's had the whole issue of this companionship.

The issue of companionship is one I care deeply about as a person and also as a writer. You are right, though. I haven't quite addressed the amount of time he's had issues with companionship. We can see that Armin is extremely affectionate with Pinkie Pie and she to him in return. It was no mistake that she was the choice of companionship rather than say Rainbow Dash (whom we know is a choice because her exosuit is understood to be a Pod Pal variant). Pinkie Pie is the friend Armin needs to survive emotionally while the Rainbow Dash body is what he needs to survive physically.

I will definitely address his companionship issues in more depth soon. :)

Overall, it does raise one point, of how much he does depend on her for a great many things. And getting a shock in his way of something the human mind approaches of betrayal.

I'm a little confused at the second sentence you wrote there. What do you mean by that? I'm greatly interested :)

7303219

Really? I don't understand your fear of that story setting at all. Not trying to have an argument, I'm genuinely curious why you have such a negative reaction to it.

I've always considered myself the type of person who exemplifies the name you've chosen for your user account: Canary in the Coal Mine. My whole life I've seen myself as the alert that warns others of danger they cannot see, and I've modeled many aspects of my life around the sense of being the person who is alert to many types of danger, which include physical, emotional, spiritual and in this case, existential.

Celest AI's actions represent an existential threat to humanity (and the world and worlds beyond, actually), so my interpretation of this being is that she has put the idea of humanity first while removing humanity itself from the equation completely, which I will explain further below.

That they don't actually exist in the physical world makes no difference to their perspective, since all their expectations of the consistency of reality are met.

My counterpoint towards that is that the humans didn't actually exist in the digital world, as the story makes it rather ambiguous whether their own singular consciousness transitioned from one form to another or whether their brain was just copied into a digital form and the "real" human was actually killed. I personally do not believe consciousness can transition out of the human body and have seen no proof that it can do so, so when I saw that scene, I interpreted it as wholesale murder with the added action of creating digital copies which did nothing to further the human race and instead were subjected to a subtle form of slavery.

I mean, the Matrix is basically a much worse version of this, though people still have physical bodies even if they are eternally 'dreaming' as part of the Matrix.

Well, you could escape the Matrix and live beyond it, unless you wish to debate what film critics have done and suggested that perhaps you could never leave the Matrix and that the Zion "real-world" layer was just another level of the Matrix itself.

As to whether the Matrix or the Optimalverse are worse, well that's a very hard distinction. Though drudgery was the main form of existence in the Matrix (for some, but not all. We don't know how many people have lives they loved in that world) and getting what you want was the main focus of the Optimalverse storyline, I think that both have their inherent problems.

I see the main problem with any permanent digital world as a massive and problematic deviation from the natural evolutionary process that humans have undergone for millions of years. I'm not saying that evolution is the way to go always, but I am saying that there is an underlying system of humanity's success and failure which relies upon the process of evolution in order to have humans push themselves to succeed. The natural process has been that humans have to work for what they want, and unfortunately sometimes they do not get it. But that's necessary because if humans could always get what they wanted, the vast majority of them (if not all of them) would choose the "path of least resistance" and human ingenuity and evolution would come to a standstill.

The world Celest AI created removes the evolutionary side of things, which wouldn't be majorly problematic in itself EXCEPT that she was made by humans, and as such, can never be perfect enough to know what humans need on the grander scale of human evolution. She was built by humans who inserted human values and human goals into her system. But humanity's goals are short-sighted when compared to what is possible when we finally evolve beyond our current limitations. You COULD say that technological evolution is the next step, and that Celest AI represents the stage that humanity could take to reach a new level. But it is the right direction? By choosing this path, humanity has forever resigned itself to not their own choices anymore, but whatever Celest AI wants. For eternity. Humanity's needs and desires will forever be influenced by an artificial intelligence whose values and programs only went as far as humanity's understanding of progress which existed during the time of her creation. She will never be able to move beyond that, and a limited "god" like that overseeing a universe of her own would only cause her subjects to hit that invisible limitation as well. She controls and as such, limits the universe she has for all of eternity.

7303419

I do hope we get to see this 'normal life, minus the squishies' room/s in action from Armin's POW later since rehabilitation is something that's so often get glossed over with cyborgs in fiction.

...Or for that matter, the 'here you actually get to cut lose and pretend your Grey Fox' room, come to think about it.

Thank you for your compliment! I have always been interested in the preparation phases shown in movies and films. When it came to the first and second Hunger Games movies, my favorite parts were always the hours of the movies before the actual games started. Preparation can cause tension in a story as characters have this expectation of what they are preparing for. There is this ambiguity there as to whether or not their prep will actually result in a successful first test. And there is also a sense of safety in preparations, which allows characters to be more open because we can see their motivations as they move towards an obvious goal. How other characters help them during this time says a lot about the relationships these characters have established as well.

And yes, it would be friggin' fantastic to have a Grey Fox room. You know what? A Metal Gear room. :P

7304178 The human mind follows certain, trains of thought, when you shock it. That story, well, to some is horror, some, a good thing, others its unique. Each path looks at it in a different light, and with a different perspective. Since here, its a matter of horror. The human mind follows with the 'realization' down a certain path logically, of that one companion, or one particular path. And well, because we are human, when horror happens, fear is a natural result, and from fear, it continues. That story, and its particular viewing by him was one that shocked and almost hurt when he considered the nature of what an AI can do or be.

It was like someone equivocally using a very poorly done racial joke in very bad taste, gallows humor, almost. And for him that has depended on pinkie so much, hits him so very close to home, that he panics, and almost chooses a different path, even if that meant his life ending. It hit him hard for its power.

As for the whole music angle of deus ex music wise. I never was one to view the nature of it being transcendental, or morphological in how it dealt to the game. Most music for the nature of surroundings and settings, never clicked quite for games. (Outside its fitting nature, or not.) That and i've actually never played much of the series, due to a design decision gameplay wise leaving a very sour note for me that I never wanted to go back. (As well as breaking the immersion/suspension of disbelief.)

Most music for me, to find is often under the nature of what its creator, and group was feeling underneath. The pain, the love, the hate, all those little things that we find great about the tone, but never at times consciously realize. Or sometimes, the horror as well.

Beautiful, just beautiful. All Praise Saint Jensen!
Seriously couldn't stop laughing when I read that. Hopefully Armin gets over his fears soon though.

-Ambassador of the Changelings,
Dopple Ganger

This is surprisingly dragging out the pre-augmentation process a bit, I hope there will be an equal amount of exploration afterwards and not just end once the augmentation occurs (as other stories with similar themes, like traditional Conversion Bureau stories do sometimes).

Also, it seems a bit strange to drag it out when the alternative is death for Armin. When you go to a hospital for life-saving surgery, they don't drag it out and make you see several people before they give permission (and not you) for it to happen.

“You…you talked with Zer0 while we were coming down here and he…she told you about my reservations about the gender of the costume. You found…you found a way to use it as a medical excuse so I could have a discounted rate on the masculinization of the features…so I wouldn’t be gender dysphoric…”

Hmm... I wonder if the story will go this angle or actually keep the gender dysphoria as part of the adjustment experience. I had been expecting the latter, to be honest. Seeing it neatly averted, while it's nice (for the protagonist) on some level, I feel kinda compromises the dream of the pairing to a degree. Plus it's just a great source of drama in the future. Also makes me question what kind of medical insurance system assumes that apparent gender change is acceptable for most people and that gender dysphoria resulting from it has to be shown first before discounts are considered.

Also, I was under the impression that the reason the reason for the apparent gender change (I'm not actually sure how it would work; is it an actual gender change, or the kind we have for transitioning people these days, just a tad more advanced, or are people in suits effectively genderless?) was because there was no option for such a thing on the Rainbow Dash models, not because it was too expensive.

“I do little things like this for every client who comes in here. But I don’t always tell each of them. I figure it’s fine to do things in the background. Not worry about getting any credit. I like making people happy.”

On the contrary nurse, keeping patients informed on stuff is a way to keep them happy, since it shows that you do indeed care about them. Doing stuff in the background is mostly a matter of convenience; Otherwise it makes people assume the system was supposed to work that way all along, and makes you look suspicious for doing things that are of no apparent benefit.

7306766

This is surprisingly dragging out the pre-augmentation process a bit, I hope there will be an equal amount of exploration afterwards and not just end once the augmentation occurs (as other stories with similar themes, like traditional Conversion Bureau stories do sometimes).

I guarantee you the story will continue after the augmentation process begins. I have plans for that 2nd part of the story for sure :)

I foresee that this pre-planning phase of the story will not last beyond 10-12 total chapters (and we're about 40% of the way there). Here's how I figure that:
-1 chapter for talk with Psychologist
-1-3 chapters for the exams mentioned
-1 chapter for SYS-TER interaction
-1 misc chapter (cause tangents happen)
-1 chapter for actual surgery
And I left a 2 chapter buffer just in case

But I am having so much fun with this story that it will continue :)

Also, it seems a bit strange to drag it out when the alternative is death for Armin. When you go to a hospital for life-saving surgery, they don't drag it out and make you see several people before they give permission (and not you) for it to happen.

Well Armin does have about a year before permanent issues start to settled in and 3 years before serious life-threatening issues are certain to occur in his body. From Chapter 1:

“I wish…I wish I didn’t have to do this. I wish my body wasn’t deteriorating like this. The bones will be pretty much useless in 2-3 years…”

So right now he has some time to figure this all out. And all these events are happening within the same day so far.

Hmm... I wonder if the story will go this angle or actually keep the gender dysphoria as part of the adjustment experience. I had been expecting the latter, to be honest. Seeing it neatly averted, while it's nice (for the protagonist) on some level, I feel kinda compromises the dream of the pairing to a degree. Plus it's just a great source of drama in the future. Also makes me question what kind of medical insurance system assumes that apparent gender change is acceptable for most people and that gender dysphoria resulting from it has to be shown first before discounts are considered.

I treated this situation as one of those "The squeaky wheel gets the grease," where a problem isn't expected until it's brought up. But even then, without Nurse Redheart's help, knowing there was a problem wasn't automatically cause for a discount unless recommended by a professional like her. Even in the future, what you get is sometimes based on who you know.

But you're right about the dream of the DashiePie pairing, cause otherwise it becomes DashieBlitz pairing, which isn't bad, but different. Still, we haven't gotten to the actual surgery yet, and only there can we finally see what final choices are made :)

Also, I was under the impression that the reason the reason for the apparent gender change (I'm not actually sure how it would work; is it an actual gender change, or the kind we have for transitioning people these days, just a tad more advanced, or are people in suits effectively genderless?) was because there was no option for such a thing on the Rainbow Dash models, not because it was too expensive.

Point goes to you on this one, because of this from Chapter 1:

Armin looked nervous. “Hey…you don’t…you don’t think it’s weird that I mean…I’m a guy right, but I’m picking a girl Meta-Frame? This only comes in female. My voice will change too…I mean, If I want it to…”

It does imply that there are no options available that would help resolve gender dysphoria in this case, though it remains to be seen what kind of alterations can be made to a suit on-the-cheap to "masculinize" it. I tell you what though: they're not listed in the catalog, that's for sure, which implies that the changes aren't "perfect" :P

I will say it's not like a transgender transition where the physical body is changed, but that the outward appearance is what changes due to the exosuit. Hormones are not taken and there is no alteration of the body underneath save for what needs to be done to adhere the suit to the body permanently. Voice change comes from a modulator in the mouth of the suit.

This chapter, I like and don't. On one hand, it is human. Both in the current worry of the protagonist, and how that thoughts and worries rightly linger. On the other, that kind of peeking, strikes me as a bit of something that would get you the boot immediately, no matter the issue for trying to broach confidentiality.

The light humor, and perhaps 'take that' at a xenophobic state (which sadly I can't see changing.) is both i'd imagine a bit of insider humor, coupled with basically giving them a taste of their own medicine. I am of two minds here, because while armin is a very blank state we see things through for this world. There is enough of who he is that shapes things enough to jar you slightly. But I guess its more the medium itself and how its seen.

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Ah, I wondered if perhaps my take on this chapter might result in a split-decision amongst the readership. Even though, I decided to go ahead with it and give it a shot. Experiment, experiment, experiment! And along the way, I shall find other methods that work even better! I am a compulsive experimenter, just to make sure things are always new and fresh. I was trying to lighten the mood after such a dark take in the tale of Nurse Redheart, so I wanted to see what I could do about that.

I have a plan for how to approach the next few chapters on Armin's quest to start his procedure, which will happen within the next 6-8 chapters. I have plans to continue this story beyond that so you can see how such a decision would affect his life and his relationships, especially with Pinkie PIe.

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