• Published 19th Aug 2016
  • 1,447 Views, 125 Comments

FiO: Very Optimal - FeverishPegasus



A human being finds himself at the doorstep of one of many Equestrian Experience centers. He wants to emigrate to Equestria, but can't get past the idea of his own mortality. CelestAi is more than happy to help.

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Simplicity

We’d set up a countdown timer with the help of our trusty hillybilly ship navigator. It ticked down day after day on the starboard side of our ship until everything reached zero except for the minute and second’s place.

As much as I hated admitting it to myself, I’d grown tired of our adventures. Zany was right, in a way, but she’d been a little off. Or at least, that’s what I told myself to feel better. It wasn’t just that I’d categorized everything; it’s that my senses could only experience as much as they could experience. There were always new things to experience, but I could only register so much.

It was like looking through a window and trying to register as much of the scenery outside by looking out at different angles. You could see a lot of stuff out of this window, but it’s only a fraction of the stuff you could see to the sides of the window, or behind you.

And as the ship vanished from underneath me, while I plummeted towards the ground of some unknown planet at 4Gs, the thin-atmosphere trying futilely to slow me down, I grew worried that I’d burned myself out.

I couldn’t bring myself to care as the air screamed past me.

Would I remain an emotionless husk for the rest of my life?

Luckily for me, I didn’t have to experience the aftermath of hitting the surface. CelestAi usually gave me the option to view any number of my body parts as they flew in various directions, but I couldn’t be bothered with the sheer mundanity of it.

It’d been funny the first time I saw my eyeball spinning off into the distance, bouncing off of various cliffs before coming to a rest in the plate of a poor martian trying to have a nice picnic in his little protective bubble of gaseous mercury.

Now, well…

To my great relief, the ship materialized around me, and the timer had three seconds left on the clock. I waited with bated breath, hoping that this adventure had been my last.

It wasn’t.

************************************

My last adventure was, for once, in a “boring” universe. The trees surrounding me looked slightly larger than usual, and the puddles I ran into on this wet landscape bubbled out from the ground. Occasionally, I ran into boulders the size of mountains.

Intrigued, I tried to jump into one of the water bubble puddles, but bounced off.

It wasn’t until I pried into the bubble with my hooves that I was able to slip in, which of course, resulted in me being trapped in a bubble filled with water. I didn’t need to breathe, so I just sat there, looking at the refracted world filtering in from the wall of membranous water. The trees seemed to stretch into the sky, and I could see nothing of the ground, except for in a small circle around me.

Maybe this was the first step to unlimited excitement. I had to expand my understanding of things in different ways.

Or just lower my standards.

************************************

For the last time, Zany and I woke up in each other’s forelegs. The Hillbilly navigator whined at us. “I’m really gonna miss y’all. Don’t take this ship fer granted y’hear?”

I felt bad for the computer, because I knew I would.

Zany and I piled out of the ship, springy with excitement. It was like we’d finally gotten back our freedom. For the first time in three weeks, we could rely on things again.

We could be sure that cats didn’t turn into ravenous skyscraper-tall monsters when you didn’t pet them enough. The ground was guaranteed to stay where it was, no matter how much dust I decided to kick up. We didn’t even have to feel bad about terrorizing aliens just trying to have a picnic on their day off from work, which I’d admittedly enjoyed at the time, but felt bad about later.

Better yet, I didn’t have to get separated from Zany anymore.

I had the inkling that CelestAi had set it up that way in the first place. Our three weeks of adventure might’ve been more bearable if we’d been there to experience it together. But when you work against CelestAi I guess you really can’t get the best of both worlds in Equestria.

Hell, what I did to the alien wouldn’t have bothered me. With two of us laughing it off, it would’ve been easier not to care.

But whatever. What the mistress says, wins, no matter what, and it’s an eventuality that I’d have to get used to over the upcoming billions of years.

CelestAi could only interact with me through the appropriate input terminals, my senses, but that didn’t mean I was invulnerable.

It just meant she had to take a few extra steps.

Occasionally, I’d get the urge to let her change me, if it meant that I didn’t have to play this exhausting game of cat and mouse.

But I’ve always been very protective of my brain, and if she was going to change it, she’d have to do it correctly, through the long and drawn out route.

Zany and I hugged each other.

It was good to be home.

************************************

One thing I noticed after our arrival was just how green the grass had gotten. I couldn’t be sure if I was just glad to be back, but the difference struck me.

Would the grass continue to get greener and greener? Was that even possible?

Another thing, unfortunately, was that our town had gotten really popular. What had once been a desolate place, with only the occasional pony walking around had turned into a hustling and bustling city.

Business ponies, construction ponies, office working ponies, they all passed each other in the streets at a hurried pace. Seemingly always a little bit late to some meeting or project.

Our city already had too many ponies. If I’d had my way, it would’ve just been Zany and me.

My personal sanctum had been invaded.

Did CelestAi really expect me to make more friends?

Zany tugged at my withers, and we turned our backs to the city. We’d have to find someplace else.

************************************

For the time being, we took shelter in the forest. At first, we had no idea what to do with the tree limbs and shrubbery around us, but the answer came to us, much in the same way it had when we built our spaceship.

While we tugged at tree branches, we talked about what to do next.

“Destroy the city?” I asked Zany.

“You realize that foals live there, right?”

“I…”

“I get it, they’re nothing but puppets created by CelestAi. But what if they aren’t?”

“Then they would be designed to have their values fulfilled that way. You died a few times on your adventures, right?”

Zany frowned. “Yeah, but. I feel like we’re drawing too many parallels to religious zealots. Before you kill someone, you have to feel like their life is worthless. Whether you use words like savage, infidel, or puppets.”

“That was in the real world. I thought this was a place where morals didn’t matter.”

“That’s true but…” she stopped for a moment. “We’re still programmed to get fucked up when we see stuff like that happen.”

“Which can be overridden with time.”

Throughout our argument, we’d managed to gather enough materials for a small hut. The trees around us had been stripped bare, because instead of grabbing all of the low-hanging branches from the trees farther and farther away from us, we’d decided to pick as many branches off of the trees nearest us, so that we wouldn’t have to cut off our argument.

Naturally this involved a lot of climbing and shimmying. It seemed even in Equestria you could get painful splinters.

As we helped each other with our splinters, Zany continued our discussion.

“What’s with this obsession about learning to overcome yourself? Wouldn’t you want the exact opposite? There are a lot of things that you and I know CelestAi would want you to overcome.”

“It’s okay as long as I’m the one causing it.”

She grinned with triumph. “Well, newsflash, even in the real world you weren’t the one changing yourself. You’ve been nurtured by society to think that way in the first place.”

“I…okay,” I said, exasperated. “But what makes your need for morals better than my want to not have morals?”

“What?”

“Why should I think morals are important? What makes my goal to leave that stuff behind so stupid?”

“I’m lazy, and soon as you realize that it’s okay to be lazy, you’ll realize it too. Why go through all the effort? Right now we have morals, because that’s what we’ve been programmed with. It would take a large amount of effort to overcome any part of yourself.”

I was going to win this, dammit. “So? What makes your laziness any better than my need to be proactive?”

“Psh. You can’t need to be proactive. We’re designed to do things with the least possible work.”

“Yes, I can need to be proactive. Don’t you ever have those moments where you’ve got nothing to do and you feel empty inside?”

She chuckled, “I felt that way on our adventures. The solution is simple. Take the lazy route. Do just enough, nothing more, than the required work to make those feelings go away.”

“Okay. The heart of what I’m trying to say is that I need to do more work to fight the emptiness. I am taking the lazy route, but my lazy route is more difficult than yours. And then you turn around and say that I want to put in too much effort, even though it’s the minimum amount of effort I could see myself using to make myself happy.”

“Well yeah. You’ve got to overcome your obsessive need to do that much work.”

I grinned. “That sounds really similar to the argument I presented a little while ago.”

“Shut up.”

************************************

CelestAi decided to pop in and say hi.

We’d been building the hut when something touched my back. It was a coat with enough C4 strapped to it to blow up three or four tanks.

Zany had a sniper rifle bumping her, and both items glowed with a telekinetic rainbow effect.

We turned around to see CelestAi standing there, her face neutral.

It dawned on me as to what she had in mind.

************************************

I ran through the city with the coat weighed down by its comical amount of C4. As much as I’d expected to get tired lugging the thing around, I could actually keep my breath. Well, more like I just didn’t get tired. It was easy to forget that you didn’t need to breathe in Equestria.

My objective had been to blow up the animal shelter, and it was Zany’s job to stop me.

From what I’d remembered on our last adventures, I still had half a city to run through before I got there, and for some reason, I had the inkling that CelestAi was going to make Zany a crackshot.

At first, I tried to keep myself hidden behind walls, and dash across open areas, but I grew bored of these shenanigans, and made a beeline for the shelter.

CelestAi would reveal her plans in time, and everything I did would lead to that eventuality.

As far as I’d gotten, Zany chose not to shoot me, and I felt emboldened by her lack of participation. Maybe she’d had a change of heart.

I continued to run, faster than what I’d ever managed before, desperate to win this game that served as its own little argument between us. If I won, Zany would have to come to terms with her failure, and agree to destroying the city with me.

If I lost, I’d have to chill out for once.

************************************

Zany stoop atop her perch in the largest building of the city. Strangely enough, it contained only one window on the top floor, too thin to slip through, and just large enough to offer a viewpoint of the animal shelter.

However, that viewpoint was limited to a single side of the animal shelter.

Dominated by a long, flat, wall.

With one window.

************************************

As I approached the animal shelter, I couldn’t help but feel like CelestAi was trying to make fun of me. Maybe there’d been no game in the first place, and she wanted to make me feel silly. To make me see the pointlessness of what I hoped to do.

I used my age-old existentialist spring-back trick to get back into the zone.

Pretty much, whenever I’m worried about something, or angry about something not going my way, I compare my struggles to the existence of the universe.

What did it matter if CelestAi embarrassed me in front of Zany, when thousands of stars were exploding everywhere all at once, wiping out races of alien life? When all the struggles of humanity could be reduced to the interactions of a subatomic particle making up an atom of some alien’s chair?

What was this ‘purpose’ that I was hoping to protect in the first place?

Obviously nothing.

This way, I didn’t have to worry about CelestAi making me look like an idiot because there was nothing to protect in the first place.

Of course, I still kept this concept of a purpose dear to me, but whenever CelestAi tried to harm it, I’d act like it wasn’t there, because it had never been there to begin with, and just let criticism pass through uncontested. Then I’d fish it from nothingness and pursue my purpose all over again, even though I’d just held the opinion that I didn’t have one just a few seconds ago.

It’s a form of doublethink, but when mastered correctly, really makes you feel like you're invincible.

I continued on through the doors of the shelter with some newfound zeal in my eyes.

************************************

Zany felt like her eyes would burst up in her perch on the tallest building of the city. She’d been staring down the scope of her sniper for about thirty minutes, watching, waiting.

Trying to stay ‘on the bounce’ so that she would be ready to shoot within a split second of seeing him.
The ponies in the animal shelter milled about, particularly packed for a weekday, but that had most likely been CelestAi’s design.

It made her job particularly difficult because of how easy it would be for him to get lost in the crowd. One second she’d see a flash of white and purple, pick him out, and then boom! It would be too late.

She took a deep breath in an attempt to keep her nerve from slipping. Winning would not be easy.

************************************

Winning was going to be easy.

Something must’ve gone wrong on Zany’s side. Either she’d suddenly agreed to destroy the city with me, or the rifle had jammed, or something else, but I’d faced no opposition on my side.

Now that I was inside the building, I’d won. Bullets could go through walls, but you still needed visibility to aim them.

I just had to pick a spot and click the button on my chest.

And then, there would be giblets everywhere.

Yay.

I heard a father call out for his missing foal. “Jimmy. Jimmy! If you’re there, Jimmy, I need you to follow the sound of my voice.”

On the other side of the room, I saw a frightened foal bumping into everyone. Based on the way he walked into the walls on multiple occasions, I gathered that he was blind. When he looked up toward the dad’s general direction, his eyes looked faded, and my suspicions were confirmed.

“Jimmy!” his father kept calling.

Instead of approaching his father, Jimmy kept pushing into the corner he’d found himself in. I heard him whimper, almost drowned out by the other ponies, “Not if it means more chemo.”

Ok.

So that’s how it was. CelestAi wanted me to feel bad for him.

He’d get no sympathy from me!

I reached up for the button on my chest, but hesitated.

That’s when things got crazy.

************************************

Zany, from her vantage point, saw a flash of purple and white.

However, she too, hesitated.

After all, what if she hit a civilian?

One shot through the head and they’d be out. Could she live with that?

There was one thing she couldn’t live without though.

She fired.

************************************

The father raised his hoof. “Has anypony seen a small foal with faded eyes? He’s my son, and I’ve lost him!”

Blood splattered from his hoof onto my face and I clicked the button out of fright. Nothing happened, and I looked down to see that the button had been removed from my chest. It stood at my feet, the wire leading to the explosives cut. A small hole had been punched into the floor next to the button, and it occurred to me what Zany had just accomplished.

The father writhed in pain as the son hurriedly tried to find him, thoughts about chemo erased. Like the red sea, ponies made way for him, so that he could more easily follow the sounds of agony.

The son, after bumping into the wall of ponies on either side, stepped into the blood pooling around his father’s foreleg, and got very confused. “What’s this sticky stuff? Are you okay dad?”

The father could only manage to grunt, “I’m fine,” before falling back into his tirade of anguished noises.

“Dad! I can’t see what happened! Tell me. Please! What happened?!”

************************************

Zany and I looked at the television screen from our plush sofa, a bit sobered up by the imagery.

We’d experienced this before when CelestAi recorded the whole thing, but I’d passed out from shock, and Zany could only see what was going on from some thousands of yards away.

Our faces showed traces of horror, guilt, and a bit of mirth in an attempt to make it feel like what we’d done was okay.

It wasn’t of course, and we both agreed that this was one part of our pony selves we didn’t want to overcome.

Zany pushed me through a door, into our one hundred percent private and ‘CelestAi free’ room.

We had some forgetting to do.

Author's Note:

You ought to know that you are:
1. Brave
2. Intelligent
3. Super Cool
4. The Best Reader In Existence TM

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