• Published 19th Aug 2016
  • 1,431 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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More Than What I Wanted

We were given just enough time to catch our breath before the ship, once again, disappeared beneath our feet.

The cold, windy environment I stood on made my skin crawl, and I had an inkling that fun times were over.

Whatever this place was, wherever it was, it posed a serious threat.

It wasn’t that I was afraid of dying, or even ceasing to exist. CelestAi had beaten that horse to death years ago.

Everything about this place screamed change, and altered my understanding of perception the more I looked at stuff.

The shifting, moaning trees around me changed color as they shed layer after layer of bark, until they had whittled themselves to nothing. The bark continued to shed, and this shedding made the tree widen again in spectrums of black light, as if the shedding contributed to a new idea of an anti-tree.

Their leaves only bloomed a brighter hue of neon green as the anti-trees grew and grew in size until I found myself reeling under the immense height of something that could dwarf a redwood.

I looked down to get my bearings, and luckily, the ground remained brown and solid. However, every time I scuffed the ground with my hooves, dust burrowed its way into the ground, and I spent a few minutes shuffling around, trying to keep from falling into the holes I’d made.

Which only made things worse.

Small craters formed every time I leapt for safety away from the rapidly forming crevasse chasing me.

Wind pushed at my body from all directions, omni-present air-resistance trying its best to sap all of the energy from my limbs as the world conspired to swallow me whole.

My panicked thoughts echoed throughout the atmosphere before I could even think them, and when I did think them, I gasped in horror because I knew that I couldn’t choose to think any differently. I could only think what I was going to think. The fact that my thoughts echoed in my ears before I could think them made no difference.

I’d been written beforehand, and that writing had been revealed to me. I didn’t have the power to edit it. I could only do what I was going to do, because it was deterministically written to be that way.

I’d been enlightened, but I hadn’t been given any power.

I would keep running away from this snake of nothingness chasing after me because that’s what I’d been programmed to do, even though I knew it was what I was going to do. I wanted to let the nothingness catch up because I knew it was going to in two minutes, but I kept running.

My final thought before falling arrived thirty seconds before I fell. “Oh shit.”

And thirty seconds later, I both thought and said, “Oh shit.”

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

I woke up shivering and clutching Zany’s shoulders with my hooves. Either I’d just had the most psychedelic nightmare in my life, or I’d had the pleasure of experiencing something that could only be explained by an infinite improbability drive without it’s dimensional stabilizer.

Zany looked at me with bleary eyes. “I went someplace, and wrote myself.”

I looked at her with fevered eyes. “I heard my thoughts before I thought them.”

I tilted my head to the side so that I could hug her tighter, but her skin felt coarse for some reason.

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

Zany had been replaced with a plushy.

It had been made with rough patchy cloth, and looked nothing like her. Straw stretched and pushed out at the seams of this two-meter-tall effigy.

Its three arms dangled from its head, and only a single leg branched out from the body. String hair came out in tufts on the side of its face. It had two mouths and an eye.

If I hadn’t been so tired, the doll would’ve frightened me.

I wasn’t even frightened when it spoke.

“Live me please.”

I felt calm. The ground stretched to the horizon as a reflective white, while the sky above shifted from the color of the ground to a very light gray. Thousands of white noises like corn stalks rustling, wind blowing, and air conditioners running filled my ears with pleasant feelings of static.

I could smell the increasing warmth in the air, but felt no difference in temperature. The white ground underneath me gave like silly putty, but when I ran my hoof along the surface, it felt like a comforter blanket.

Once again, the doll said, “Live me please.”

“What?”

“I’m tired of being dead. Sometimes, I’d like to just end it all and live.” Both of its lips moved in unison, one speaking an octave higher than the other.

“You definitely seem alive.”

“No. I’m dead, you’re dead. We’re all dead, even before we’ve died.”

I scratched my head. “Could you repeat that?”

“To live, you have to move up another layer. It isn’t about learning to write yourself either. Everything’s already written. You need to see yourself differently.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

It’s two mouths smiled. “You’re right, I’m talking in circles. Everything’s dead, even in the upper layers, so don’t worry.”

“Worry about what?”

“I’m saying that right now, you need to stop categorizing what I’ve said. It’s going to create a paradox.”

“What?” I said, trying to understand.

The same ripping sound that I’d heard after throwing the cat and toast combo assaulted my ears.

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

Once again, I woke up clutching Zany’s shoulders with my hooves.

Zany looked gloomy, while I felt very happy about my last experience.

But from the look we shared, it was clear that we’d agreed on one thing.

Leaving out module fifty-two had been a mistake.

The ship disappeared.

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

This time, we found ourselves together.

We stood on an astronomically large toroid, but instead of spinning like the earth does to establish its day and night cycles, the toroid twisted into itself so that we plunged into the center, moved around its edge, and plunged into the center again.

Day and night went by every thirty seconds. We sat there, trying to cover our eyes so that we didn’t have to see the maddening sequence of events playing out in front of us.

The surface of the planet we stood on gleamed a chrome silver, and light reflections stabbed at our eyes every time we peeked.

Shrieks filled the sky as jet planes flapped their wings in an attempt to kamikaze each other. They whirled around in endless frantic loops, yearning for contact with their comrades, but ultimately unsuccessful.

The sun was the moon, but three times brighter than the sun. I could only glance at it before losing my vision for a few minutes, blinking rapidly as tears filled my eyes.

I couldn’t see Zany, and I didn’t want to check. It was better to have half a chance that she was sitting right next to me, than to find out that she wasn’t there anymore.

But I couldn’t handle that half a chance. It would be more of a relief to know for sure whether she was still there than to have the half-chance in the first place.

I didn’t look.

That’s what CelestAi would want and I wasn’t having it. More pain meant less fulfilled values. Less fulfilled values meant I was winning. But didn’t pain mean I was changing? She was trying to do something to me and I could feel it.

Something kept bumping me in the withers and I couldn’t look. I couldn’t look.

I shouldn’t look.

Above the screams of the jet engines, I heard Zany’s voice. “Pumpkin Sprinkles!”

It sounded like Zany’s voice, but it didn’t sound like Zany.

“Look at the pumpkin sprinkles!”

I looked.

For some reason it was Zany.

The jet planes stopped their screaming and the sun’s light dropped to a luminescent glow.

Zany’s eyes were wide, and once again she said, “Don’t you see the pumpkin sprinkles?”

I shook my head. “No.”

“I see them.” She laughed maniacally.

I looked on in horror as she vomited a clump of fur, strands of saliva trailing from her mouth and soaking the pumpkin seeds dotting the ground below her.

The little furball wriggled around and got its footing.

The tiny thing was a foal!

It stretched out and shook the saliva from its fur. The poor thing’s skin rippled as it shivered from the cold, and somewhere deep inside, I felt the paternal need to care for it. “Is that…my son?”

“No,” she said, excitedly. “But you care about him don’t you?”

Tears welled up in my eyes. “It’s a he?”

“No,” she said. “I’m just fucking with you.” Her form morphed into that of CelestAi’s, it was the first time I’d seen her in years.

She seemed larger, more imposing, than the last time. Mane hair spread out from her neck and cast me in shadow.

The foal winked out of existence.

“You.”

She grinned. “It’s been a while.”

I couldn’t think of the words to attack her. The more I tried to think of them, the better I thought of it. When dealing with CelestAi, it was better to shut up.

“Glad to see me?”

I frowned. “No?”

“Why not?”

“I don’t see why you’re asking these questions.”

She laughed. “I’m pretty sure you know why I’m asking these questions.”

“No. I don’t.”

Her hoof reached out and booped me on the snout.

I recoiled.

She continued, “Are you ready to head back? Get more than you bargained for?”

“It’s what I want, obviously.”

That made her frown. “As long as you pretend that you’re enjoying this, it is what you want.”

She disappeared, and once again I was clutching Zany’s shoulders.

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

For a month, our travels went like this. New, more terrifying worlds were thrust upon us, and within the first three days we’d gotten used to it.

We stopped talking about the things we’d experienced and focused more on having segmented discussions between our travels.

We talked about how long we should go through with the punishment, and it turned into a full-blown argument. I kept pushing for the idea that we do this for the rest of our lives, so as to ensure that we get the fullest experience possible in the infinite universes we could visit.

Zany argued that just a week would be enough to get the gist of what everything was going to be like. If we stayed for more than a thousand years, she said, we’d be experiencing slightly different universes from then on.

“That isn’t how that works,” I said. “Infinite universes means infinite possibilities. Regardless of what you think of as new, I can guarantee you that the multiverse would have plenty of novel experiences for us, even if we existed for an eternity.”

She shook her head. “I don’t believe that. As ponies, we like to categorize everything. Soon we’ll categorize these adventures into a big subject called ‘different stuff’. It’s going to get boring. Even if every adventure were completely different, we’d get used to things being different.”

“But experiencing new things, it’s what we do! It never gets old for us.”

Zany spoke up, but was cut off as we were thrust into yet another adventure.

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

We came to, clutching each other.

Zany spoke up again, “You’ve heard of the phrase ‘everything in moderation’ right?”

“Yeah,” I said, removing my forelegs and giving her space.

“If we did this for an eternity, we wouldn’t be taking our adventures in moderation. Sometimes we have to recoup y’know?”

“What about these twenty second breaks? Don’t they let you recoup?”

“Twenty seconds isn’t nearly enough. Back on Earth, we would have entire weekends to relax. Remember?”

“Ok, so what you want is like a two-day break after our week long adventure.”

She paused, then continued. “It’s not just that though. We need a different kind of different adventure.”

“What?”

“Right now. We’re just experiencing a bunch of disconnected things without any purpose. It’s scary and gets your heart beating, but don’t you think we should be doing something more constructive?”

“No.”

She glared at me. “Why not?”

I looked her, straight-faced. “Because that’s not how the universe works. You think if we had a machine like this in real life, we’d be playing gardening simulator?”

“But-“ Zany was cut off again.

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

Ironically enough, the planet I’d visited had been taken over by an AI dedicated to creating a realistic gardening simulator. Only half of its inhabitants had emigrated, because, well, you could just plant stuff in real life.

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

“You see,” Zany continued. “We’ve already made the universe our bitch. Why do we have to care about understanding it anymore, when we can just mold it to our liking?”

“As ponies, don’t you think it’s our whole reason for existence to struggle? I know that you could mold the universe to present us problems, but the reason we managed to make the universe our bitch in the first place had to do with the fact that we could adapt to stuff that wasn’t molded for us. Back when we didn’t have an AI caretaker, we’d complain about how the world wasn’t fair, but at the same time, we enjoyed its unpredictability.”

“You don’t think CelestAi is capable of that?”

I opened my mouth and then shut it. Zany disappeared again.

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

“Okay, okay,” I said. “Hear me out.”

“Okay.”

“What we’re doing right now. This is what I want. It’s up to you to convince me that doing this for the rest of my life isn’t a good idea.”

She laughed. “It sounds like you’re trying to convince yourself.”

I prickled.

She continued, “But come on, let’s face it. You’re feeling tired. I’m feeling tired. As ponies, we can't be wired to cope with this weirdness. Even as the humans we used to be, we couldn’t cope.”

“I can cope.”

She rolled her eyes. “Sure, fine. But let’s take a break, okay? For once, we should follow CelestAi’s advice, and find some ground to stand on.”

I thought about that for a moment. “Three more weeks.”

Author's Note:

...is anybody still here?

Listic helped edit this, drop by and say hi!