• Member Since 11th Mar, 2012
  • offline last seen 18 minutes ago


It's fanfiction all the way down.


When a pony named Ruby Rails is replaced by a mysterious doppleganger, it's up to Twilight to uncover the truth!

But the more she digs, the more she hopes it turns out to be a changeling plot.

Chapters (3)
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Comments ( 36 )

Shale Strike was recently married to his wife, Rose Quartz.

I keep thinking Shale is Greg because, Steven Universe. That's all I'm think with this line!


That was amazing.
This takes losing yourself, then finding and reinventing yourself to a whole new level.
You captured the problems of this world perfectly and gave it a wonderful twist in pony form.

"nor was it determined where had gone"
"where she had"?

Dunno how I feel about this one. I get the message of changing yourself and not being stuck in the norm, but at the same time a mid-20-something character talking down to an 800 year old, god, pony, thing... is a little bit contrived.

Very interesting premise! :pinkiegasp: I actually agree with Ruby Rails. For the most part. I wonder what Twilight will become. :twilightoops: Though it kinda ended on low note. I would love to see this more fleshed out.

Not gonna lie--Ruby Rails really pissed me off. :ajbemused:

"them steady as the twisted her flank around"
"as she twisted"?

Also, hm. Wonder what the railway ties have to do with that?
Ah, and then the story explains it.

"from common things like your coat changing color when you get your cutie mark"
Hm. Wonder if that's only common now, or if it was also, in this universe, common back in... Twilight's unicorn time, for lack of a better description.

"“Eight hundred years of growth as a person is not the same as magically transforming over an evening.” Twilight snapped, her tone turning harsh.
“It uh…” She coughed. “I think it is. My way is just faster.”"
Reminds me of a concept... bobbananaville and I (I think it was; sorry if I'm misattributing, but I can't seem to find the conversation now) came up with a while ago: the experiotemporal density threshold. Basically, how much change in how short a time is considered as becoming a different person vs. being a change in one continuous person. And, as seen here, people can and very much do have their thresholds in different places.

"It had been a long time Twilight saved the world"
"time since Twilight"?

Incredibly thought-provoking story. Really makes you wonder.

Okay, wow, this is deeper than I was expecting, and I like it.

I don't think I've ever seen anyone ever even consider the ...event that is the main focus of this fic - but like all great ideas, I can't quite wrap my head around why nobody's thought of it before. It just makes so much sense. (Also, I saw what you did with the name "Ruby Rails".)

I'm sorry to say this, but...

This story felt like propaganda. :ajsleepy:

While it was ostensibly a conversation between two characters, what it really felt like was just a message directed at the audience. Ruby Rails existed in the story to deliver the Message, and Twilight served to ask questions to further the delivery of the Message and to be swayed on behalf of the audience. The characters didn't ultimately feel like people, but a thin facade.

And while stories are often used to deliver messages to the audience, they typically do so via... well, more subtle means, usually by example. This was basically telling the audience what they're supposed to think.


Dragon-San doesn't love me anymore. :pinkiesad2:

More seriously, I can see why you would feel that way. The original premise for the commission was one that I greatly struggled with, and this was the result of a lot of trial and error.

I'd like to think I breathed at least a little life into the characters? But it is definitely a message story.


Dragon-San doesn't love me anymore. :pinkiesad2:

Don't worry Jaxie, I'll always love you. :rainbowkiss:

The original premise for the commission was one that I greatly struggled with, and this was the result of a lot of trial and error.

I have to admit, writing commissions is a lot harder than it seems like it might be.

But hey, money's green!

This reminded me very much of your stories Intern and A Change in Three Parts in terms of setting, content, and structure. It was certainly well told, and did address the apparently largely static (or at least slow-to-evolve) nature of Equestrian society, exemplified and likely perpetuated (unintentionally or not) by its long ruling monarchs, in a different way. It never stated that was a problem explicitly, but to me it seemed to be clearly there between the lines.

All in all, an interesting tale! Best of luck with the next.

Hm, I think I would agree that it gave a sense of having intended applicability to modern Western Earth specifically. The fit's a little iffy, though. The race thing is probably the biggest example of that. Humans have, what, relatively slight differences in body shape and color? Maybe a slightly heightened tendency to be lactose intolerant, or a slightly increased resistance to sunburn? Even just for ponies, though, not even getting into other species, the differences include things like "can fly and treat as solid objects things other people pass through". There are probably very, very few non-social situations on earth about which one could say "And if I hadn't been black, we'd have been done for", but if you're falling from a high place or lost in a dark one, being able to fly or make your forehead glow could make a major difference. (Exactly what earth ponies do varies from universe to universe.) And there are the differences in everyday life. Different pony types can't always wear the same clothing or use the same tools, and pegasi can travel more quickly and directly than unicorns and earth ponies in many situations. Sex differences are a closer comparison than race, but even they don't go nearly far enough for the match.

Now, Twilight doesn't bring that sort of thing up, which perhaps enhances the feeling of it being a message story, but my memories and a bit of skimming now don't have her making much of a detailed argument against it at all (in part because she doesn't really seem to have thought about the question before). However, I don't think Twilight was ever quite swayed, either. We don't have hard evidence that she didn't, but we also never see her explicitly saying or thinking "Yes, you're right, this is no different". She just decides that, whatever it is, she wants it.

Which brings me to the main intellectual part of my own reaction to the story, and another flaw in the message's fit: this really, really doesn't look like something as simple as Ruby Rails thought; this looks like the magic of ponykind or possibly the world undergoing a major change. Possibly that change was something altogether new, or possibly it was the tripping of something that had been in from the beginning but dormant, but the immediate result is the same. If it was just Ruby Rails, that could indeed have been just her being special. If the rate of change increased only very slowly, or even if it increased quickly as her story swept across Equestria leaving epiphanies in its wake, "ponies as we knew them could always do this but are only now needing to/learning how" could be plausible. But it isn't just her, the rate of change isn't slow, and the changes seem very much to have been spreading outside of where the details of the story have been. It also looks like the change wasn't for everyone everywhere instantly, since a bunch of cases outside of Manehatten, even in just other major cities, presumably would have been noted; that suggests some sort of diseaselike spread from a patient zero or a slowly-expanding bubble of new physics or physics settings.

It's at this point that it occurs to me to wonder just what Discord is up to, but my leading hypothesis is still that the Magic of Harmony basically went "Okay, fine! I had a nice little system set up for you, I've been waiting for you to get out of this phase and settle back down, but if you're going to insist on being stubborn about it, I guess I'll see about changing you to fit instead."

(I did also wonder where the other Princesses were, given the singular in the last chapter.)

Anyway, my primary emotional (and thus immediate, since the intellectual reaction took time to work out) reaction was anger, but that wasn't really surprising to me from what I was reading and didn't stop me from upvoting and favouriting the piece. :)

...Okay, and alternate crack hypothesis from something my eyes passed over as I was preparing to post this: What's the common factor in the two transformations we see enough detail on to get it? Hard cider. Clearly a mutagenic agent got into the cider supply somehow. :)

(Also, writing this in haste and while a bit tired, so sorry if any incoherentness crept in.)

Trans-race-ponies? Old vs new?:rainbowlaugh:
It's a okay story, but maybe a littel simpel for a message.

Interesting take on a pretty limited prompt.

I think the conversation/argument in chapter two is a bit rote. Twilight is canonically very interested in Cutie Mark magic, yet here she argues instead of investigating. Some of that can be ascribed to her age, I suppose, but it still felt a bit artificial and very expository. Up until the beginning of chapter two, I felt that you were phoning it in a bit, challenging prompt aside.

Those last 250 words are interesting, though, and they put a spin on things that gave the whole thing a bit of cohesive meaning that I was fairly satisfied with.

1) Great name with Ruby Rails- both for Ruby on Rails and for shipping rubies. It seems that Prophetic Naming is still in full effect, even if cutie mark magic isn't. Now I'm trying to figure out what Shale Strike does... mining and being an ineffectual/soft union leader?

2) I liked the idea, but I have to agree with the majority that the execution is a little blunt. Maybe if you had introduced the world a bit first, maybe show Twilight existing in the world as it is? Right now you're introducing the solution before the problem, which makes the problem seem like it's made up to fit the solution.

Brings up a good point in that it seems like the only place it's happening is Manehatten. This indicates that it's definitely something where location matters, and presumably Equestria has other large cities that should be experiencing the same sort of problem. It'd be fitting if this were the result of some sort of attack on Equestria and one of its first moves is to get Twilight on its side.

Hm, I don't think it really fits as an attack, though. As much as it is rather This Is Not The Way Things Should Be by the standards of the old world, they are no longer living in the old world. This appears to make the ponies it strikes better adapted to their current environment. It still could be part of an attack, but to be one, it seems to me it would have to be a more convoluted one in which this beneficial effect lead to something else causing damage. Or I suppose it could be a really badly carried out attack.

Warning: The following is all wild mass guessing and there is little to no textual evidence to support.

The transition could cause a change in mindset of the affected, making them more willing to accept the attacking entities- they'd probably be coming in as friends in a non-hostile takeover, or in the form of some sort of disease or some such. Alternatively, the change would have some sort of major side effect that isn't immediately obvious. A vague comparison would be to the generic horror-style TCB fic- offer something that seems wonderful, but throw in a mind-control or other equivalent as well.

The change itself is definitely not the attack in its entirety. The change could be the vector for a future attack or it could be a test of something which modifies cutie-mark magic of some sort. There's basically no way to know given the story as it exists, since there's no evidence either way.

Aye, those are also possibilities, sure. As you say, though, we don't really have much data to work with.

Now this is an original story! I like it!
It is very well written, though, like some other readers said, I would have liked to see a "Twilight in the modern world" exposition, to set the stage up, before moving to Ruby Rail's part. But still, excellent fanfic. Maybe you should add the "Slice of life" tag.
Out of pure curiosity, I wonder how you, GaPJaxie, picture the new mare Twilight becomes at the end (race, colors, ...).

Edit : I also would sure like to see a sequel about the new Twilight!

Well, you know what they say about 800 years old dogs.

I don't know why people have a problem with this story like they do.

It's great, I'd love a sequel/continuation! :)

Sorry, but this one left me cold. Twilight feels woefully out of touch for a princess of healthy interpersonal relationships, and I can see some straw poking out of her here and there in the second chapter. Furthermore, while the extrapolations about ponies in the Information Age do make sense, the blase attitude towards changing subspecies does not. This is virtually unprecedented, and the precedents are immortal hero-queens. This merits more of a reaction, especially given how Ruby is abandoning a lot more than just what she sees as a dead-end job. Personal reinvention is one thing, but this literal transformation comes across as abandoning literally everything that came before the decision to change.

And yet, at the same time, Twilight seems to have no reason for such an incensed reaction. Questioning Ruby Rails's equinity feels way over the top, and Twilight's frustration in general doesn't seem to mesh with a rational intellectual who's had eight centuries to mellow out.

And there's also the question of just what happened to the other alicorns. This is still a cosmos where the sun and moon are on manual override, where an emotional resonator in the Arctic Circle can generate a global aurora through the power of positive emotion. And yet Twilight is "Equestria's princess," singular. The crap?

In all, the concept is an interesting deconstruction of cutie marks, but the execution feels... well, railroaded. None of the characters are allowed to make a good argument for anything other than the story's stance.

Again, sorry, but this one just isn't for me.

8053833 True enough, but can't an old dog improve old tricks?

8054111 This echoes my feelings a lot too. I can see chapter two Twilight somewhat, but I think the problem is that the concerned Chapter 2 Twilight who is genuine is concerned because something is happening she doesn't understand and she's worried it may hurt ponies.

But the Twilight we get feels more like one whose beginning the journey into stodgy conservative - reading this felt like they were juuuust this close to having the 'Transpeople are/aren't real' argument, substituted with a magical varnish.

And Chapter 3 is where it super breaks down for me. Twilight is the most modern of the Princesses, and yet here she is suddenly a cantankerous mare who is not with the times. She's the most learning-obsessed of the Princesses, but somehow sociology is sweeping her by?

That feels like it would work much better with Luna in the role since she's the closest to 'stodgy' of the four royals. Then there's the 'Equestria's Princess' line which brings up a whole host of unanswered questions, as well as the 'Okay, who is she now?' query, all of which kind of leaves me unsatisfied, yea.

Interesting premise, but didn't come together fully for me, sadly.

Hm. I've been wondering why I didn't get this sort of thing, and I think it's the lack of information. There are so many things left unknown and so much room for important things to have changed that I'm just inclined to accept, for the purposes of this story, the characters as they are, with the assumption being that everything has some explanation.

As someone who's 30 years old and starting on his third career, I like this story. Life these days changes really fast, and it can be hard to understand the effects that has on people's self-identity.

People are what they experience. Older people who grew up in a slower world can have trouble understanding the behavior of younger people because they haven't internalized flux to the same degree. It's nice to see a thoughtful discussion between an older viewpoint ("stand for something") and a younger one ("change whatever you have to to adapt").

People (and ponies) are like plastics. A given person's response to applied stress is a function of all previous stresses they've experienced, not just the latest one. I applaud your execution as usual, but the premise was flawed from the start.

I don't really understand Twilight's reaction near the end of chapter 2 and during chapter 3. Ponies are changing faster than they used to and sometimes magically reinventing themselves, therefore they don't need the Princess of Friendship? What's the connection?

I reviewed this story as part of Read It Now Reviews #107.

My review can be found here.


BRACE FOR IMPACT. :twilightoops:

I just wanted to say that I enjoyed the story and that it's message resonated with me. It certainly serves as a nice critique of the worldview that the show presents. I always enjoy reading your explorations of how the ideas presented in the show might clash with elements of modern life (e.g. Intern, the Actingverse series). While I see some of the points that others have brought up about this not being a story, I don't mind that the story is somewhat preachy in tone. You have a talent for expressing complicated thoughts and ideas about the modern world quite succinctly and powerfully, and I don't mind reading the arguments in the form of a story rather than an essay.


Thank you! I'm really glad the message resonated.

Next attempt at a story like this does need to be more story though.

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