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Shrink Laureate

“Trixie hates to interrupt a good monologue,” said Trixie, interrupting a good monologue, “but maybe we should continue it somewhere not on fire?”


This story is a sequel to Log of the UNS Twilight Sparkle

In her quest to reach Twilight Sparkle, Sunset Shimmer must accept that new frontiers aren't always safe.

Note: this is actually a prequel, but you really need to read Log of the UNS Twilight Sparkle first to understand this.

Edited by Solstice Shimmer.
Thanks to Oliver for fact-checking.

“I really like what you have done here. You have taken the wonder for the unknown and the strive for a better tomorrow from the science fiction genre, and molded it with FiM perfectly.”

Chapters (4)
Comments ( 57 )

love the hard sci-fi.

but that whole rundown of sunset's status in space was kinda grating. Half way thorough that paragraph my attention was wandering.

hope you don't make things into medical/technical list.

Well, that was much darker. Also answers just how immortal Sunset is (and why death might be preferable in some instances, rather than eternal boredom/insanity). I wonder how many vessels were named for Sunset over the centuries, but then its a little bit awkward to name it after a still living figure.

People name their children after some very strange things, even in the real world. And this story is set in EqGverse, where they have pony-style names. I wonder how many Dusk Shines, Dawn Glows and Eventide Twinkles there are?

If anyone's curious, "Ægir" is basically pronounced "Egg-ear". It's the real name of Epsilon Eridani b, one of the few exoplanets with an official name.

Thought I'd just let you know that I am liking this universe that you're creating. :twilightsmile: On an editing side-note, you have a redundancy problem when describing the air closets. :ajbemused:

The luminous red-yellow striped markings around the door showed it to be an ‘air closet’, one of the many air-tight rooms scattered across the ship where the crew could shelter in case of decompression. Each was large enough for three or four people at most, and supplied enough air and water to keep them alive for a few days – assumed to be long enough for help to arrive.

This is the first time. You mention the size of it and the limited provisions that they have.

Air closets weren’t big. If there was anybody hiding in there, they’d only have a few days’ air and water. It wasn’t possible to open an air closet from the inside, since lack of oxygen so often produces confusion and hallucinations, making the option too dangerous for the exact circumstances in which air closets would be used. It would be too easy for survivors to kill themselves through a simple mistake.

Here you describe the size and provisions of it again while also mentioning that they can't be opened from the inside to prevent them from killing themselves. Try to rework this paragraph because you still need the new information, but you should get rid of that already stated facts.

There were nineteen survivors in section three, weathering the storm in air closets, sealed emergency cupboards that had just enough life support to keep you going until rescue arrived - if it could. One air closet had seven people crammed into a space barely big enough for four. The terminal labelled them as Fireplace, Plasmid, Marginalia, Honeysuckle, Mantissa, Silent Running and Epoch; and it helpfully pointed out that Marginalia had a broken arm and Epoch a concussion. Aside from the discomfort and injuries, though, they’d run out of air a lot quicker than planned. Sunset needed a way of getting them out safely.

Here you're describing air closets again in what they are and how big they are. Just get rid redescrbiing again in sentence one that's in red. While the second sentence in this one states how many people it can hold, it is directly comparing how many more are actually in there so that bit of redundancy is alright.
It's good that you're doing this world building stuff. While some parts you do a good job hammering in the details, in this instance you're just beating a dead horse.

This story pleases me greatly. Carry on! :twilightblush:

Bet Luna was happy ponies would visit her moon first before Celestia's sun. Eighty-five light years isn't much, astronomically speaking. Sunset at least would live long enough to survive the voyage. This fic won't cover it, but curious to see how eventually you'll have stuff like orbital mechanics co-exist with a planet where the sun and moon (seemingly) move according to a pony's will.

So this is where Sunset figured out what star to aim for. So now they know where to listen, wonder if any of their messages would get there first or their ships.

Some not-quite-spoilers:
· There are no ansibles (devices capable of sending messages faster than light) in this universe. If you want to send a message, you have to send a ship.
· Log of the U.N.S. Twilight Sparkle is set 40 years after this story, roughly mid-way between the two systems.

The rest of it, I'm working out as I go.

8096363 Point taken, that particular redundancy is too much. I'll edit it a bit.

Ponies and space, there really is nothing better than that. I love this, keep up writing!

8099197 Actually I was thinking of stopping it right there. :trollestia:

8096363 Okay, I've cut down on the redundancy. Thanks.

Dear Shrink Laureate

It is regrettable you would come to such an decision, we are sad of this and our new guest Pinkie Pie is also besides herself in worry. :pinkiesad2: She has not left the basement of our secure facility for days!

Would you not reconsider... for her? :pinkiesad2: I do not know how she would deal with such a news and would be such a tragedy if there were to be 'accidents' i am sure we both are joined in purpose of avoiding of 'accidents'?

Yours faithfully

Accidents are best avoided. In the interests of health and safety, I believe I can afford to extend the story by one or two chapters.

Huh... I wonder what kind of accident happened to Rainbow Dash? :fluttershysad:

Before I read this, what is the Gore tag for ?
And how bad does it get ?

It's tagged 'gore' for descriptions of injury and death, but not violence. I don't think it's excessive.

8101707 I'm afraid that really is the end now.

I can't remember if I typed a comment along these lines on your last story so here it goes (again?)

I really like what you have done here. You have taken the wonder for the unknown and the strive for a better tomorrow from the science fiction genre, and molded it with FiM perfectly. It has all the elements that made me love both sci-fi and FiM, and the tones fit flawlessly together, there isn't a single thing that feels out of place! This was a blast to read and I look forward to read every fic in your verse.

Thank you. I'm glad to hear you appreciate the type of world I was trying to conjure.

Would you be interested in writing stories in the verse? If you have any ideas, whether now or in eighteen months time, drop me a line.

While I would love to contribute to the verse, I don't feel I could match the quality of your work, or even come near it. Not for a while, at the very least. However I will take you up on the ideas bit. Just give me some time to put my thoughts in order and I will leave a message on the story bible blog post.

Cool. There's actually a group for these stories now, if you'd prefer a forum thread.

I do much love this - though I'm curious! In the UNS Twilight Sparkle everyone seemed absolutely shocked about the Equestrians.

Yet, here, it seems like everyone seems to be increasingly filled in on Equestria. Did you choose to go a different tack?

This was great! I really really enjoy this universe you have created and am hugely excited for more in it!

Mutiny on the HMS Starswirl... Ooooooohhhhh


I do much love this - though I'm curious! In the UNS Twilight Sparkle everyone seemed absolutely shocked about the Equestrians.

Yet, here, it seems like everyone seems to be increasingly filled in on Equestria. Did you choose to go a different tack?

On the surface
Don't worry, I totally have a plan to explain that :rainbowdetermined2:

Behind the scenes
Shit, she's right, how do I fix that? :twilightoops:

The real answer, that I should expand upon in further stories, is that information about Sunset is tightly controlled - as seen in chapter two of this, where they talk about Silent Running getting security clearance.

The levels of information are:

Magic is real — widely rumoured, though not officially acknowledged.

One of the U.N.F. admirals is immortal — widely rumoured, but not widely believed.

Sunset Shimmer is immortal — generally known among the admiralty and command staff, as well as any crew she serves with, and rumoured among the U.N.F. in general.

Sunset Shimmer is an alien — limited to her close friends, and a select inner circle of the U.N.F. Rumoured among the crew that with under her.

So even if she works up a translation program, she can't publish her findings without inviting scrutiny: "Please tell us how you happen to know an alien language?". The AI would be audited, and by that era there's a full history tracking of every bit, so she couldn't realistically hide or obscure her methods. To avoid that she has to work in private; anything she publishes has to be within the bounds of what she could have discovered from the same starting point as the rest of them.

The rest of humanity only knows that there's a signal coming from the 23 Librae system, of which they catch occasional snippets. They may decode some of the language given a large enough sample, but it's far from perfect and all out of context. And it only lasts as long as the analogue broadcasts continue – which is already overdue, even given 85 years lag and the relative levels of pony and human technology. With 170 years round trip, there's certainly no conceivable way of having a conversation.

It's a bit like Anubis from the latter seasons of Stargate: having previously ascended he had access to knowledge that no mortal could, but was forbidden from using any of it unless he came up with a narrative by which he could conceivably have found it by mortal means. Of course he cheats with both hands, because he's Goa'uld.


Shit, he's right, how do I fix that?

She's right :rainbowwild:

Anyhow, yea, the idea I would have, given that the Moon Dancer occurs a good 48 years before the Twilight Sparkle is that something happens in the interim - and arguably the Moon Dancer is a good catalyst - that causes Sunset to clamp down on telling more people, hard. Like...along the lines of 'I don't want people pushing themselves into it for the glory of uniting the immortal alien with her fellow immortal, so nobody can know and instead they should do it for the drive to explore' or whatnot.

But yea, if the Moon Dancer AI is kept tightly under wraps and only Sunset can call her up or whatever - and it does look like only Solar/Silent are in on the Equestria bit, here - then that may work in syncing up with the Twilight Sparkle.


She's right :rainbowwild:

<edit edit edit> That's what I said, right?

The events on the Moon Dancer are definitely a catalyst for Sunset to finally step up to her role as Earth's Celestia, guiding them in the right way rather than just pushing her own agenda. This includes her promotion to Fleet Admiral, as seen in Log of the U.N.S. Twilight Sparkle.

There's so much story here that I may never get to tell. As I've said before, if anybody wants to write a story in this verse, you're welcome.

8130736 Clearly it just says there is so much story you ought to tell since it's wonderfully captivating :twilightsmile:

A marginally relevant passage from a future story.

There was a class at the academy that wasn't officially listed in the curriculum, yet every young sailor was required to attend. For the duration of this class the doors were locked and guarded by senior officers.

The class included footage of testimony from men and women going back centuries, from simple audio to 2D to 3D to holograms to proper modern recordings, each with their own take on the same subject. A lot of people had something to say about it.

Its official title, if anybody asked, was "Shipboard Orientation and Internal Signals Protocol." The unofficial title was, "Do not fall in love with Admiral Shimmer."

8134339 The only thing I can see here I recommend changing is that you change the official name to something that makes the first letters in each word of the class spell a silly thing.

Oh, Sunset, you heartbreaker. Turning down all those poor non-horses.

Wow, this is really good story telling right here. :rainbowderp: Kudos!

Your universe is fantastic, and your 400 year old Sunset Shimmer is superb. Hard Science Fiction is hard! The attention to detail is great. I personally would never try to write something with so much science explained. :twilightblush:

Thanks for sharing this universe, and hopefully will see more stories from you and other writers. :twilightsmile:

I never intended to go into this much science. I wrote the first story with an attitude of "FTL is obviously just magic and you'd be a fool to try and explain it". Somehow an explanation seems to have happened anyway, one mostly born from the tenet that all the other laws of physics should still apply as much as possible.

8136429 Well, going that extra mile with real physics, gave the story a lot of depth. :raritywink:

Loved the intro to this verse, and this story just hooks me in deeper. Just, seeing sunset like this was amazing and you really pull her off well, the visions of Celestia and the talk... basically with herself. But with just the right ideas, just the right way of Celestia being Celestia. And the physics, actually making it matter, HARD, that is amazing. The whole story is simply phenomenal.. for the most part. The early cuts showing Sunset’s past were odd, took a while to get that Sunset was pretending to be a new recruit, and acting and living like one, just to go back through and refresh herself on stuff. Seemed odd she was dealing with a roommate and what not.. it came together once it shifted to showing the three of them setting the pieces in place for this trip.

A lot left to see, like how Sunset ended up with this much authority and ability to do stuff, was it simply the immortality thing? Also nice was of dealing with that, it’s just.... I am not a fan of ‘Sunset’s an alicorn’ but taking that idea as true.. you did a great job of this. Really not sure what more to say beyond I cannot wait for more.

She turned to greet Sunset Shimmer with, “Hi, Admiral—”

Did the avatar ever actually say this? I assume not, given the vacuum conditions, but this still makes it seem like she got the speakers working.

A fantastic blend of character piece, survival story, and sci-fi that's by and large harder than that fateful micrometeorite. Eagerly looking forward to more. As I've said before, I may need to make something in this setting.

<retcon> The AI has subtitles.

I actually mention that the computer adds automatic subtitles for the people air cage. I should have added the same to this section. It can detect the vacuum, and knows that sound can't propagate.

Just checking in again to say i still think this is one of my favorite emerging universes on the site right now. Wondering if you were writing more, putting it on hold or were done with this little experiment?

Thanks. I have plans for several more stories at least, but they're queued up behind a few other things I want to finish first. The next story in this verse will be called Mutiny on the H.M.S. Star Swirl (or possibly Starswirl, I'm not decided).

If you have story ideas, I'd welcome other authors joining in. Check out the writing bible and drop me a line.

I am intrigued and will await future stories.

Great stories, terrible endings/lack of any endings.

I recommend researching the mega structure class known as Orbital Rings. The point being that the statement a few chapters ago about how getting mass into space still being expensive is quite silly. Such a thing would only cost a few tens of billions of dollars to build today.

I'm surprised I let the story go this long before reading the 2-4 chapters. But it was nice to read it in one chunk. Get piece of exploring people and surviving in an unforgiving situation. Also, I like Sunset's solution to get back. :)

She was in a high orbit around Ægir. So was the Moon Dancer, somewhere, though she had no way to see it. It would take her months to circle around the planet, and the ship a similar time. The chances of them running into each other by chance were… so low as to be not worth measuring. Some part of those months she would be behind the planet, shielded from the heat of the sun. She was not looking forward to that. Even her current hot-cold rotation was better than the weeks of unrelenting cold she’d be trapped in as she sailed behind such a massive sunshade.

Minor nitpick, but you might want to check your orbital parameters again. Let's assume that Sunset's orbit is similar to that of Jupiter's outer moons, with a semimajor axis of ~20 million km and orbital period of ~2 years. The planet is roughly the size of Jupiter, with a radius of ~70,000 km. Assuming a low-eccentricity orbit coplanar with the ecliptic, the planet's shadow would only cover ~0.1% of her orbit, meaning she would spend less than a day per orbit in the planet's shadow, not weeks.

Aside from that, this is looking very good so far. I am both excited and afraid to see what comes next.

“That’s because the lab isn’t travelling faster than light. Remember, the field is carried by real particles which are themselves subject to the speed of light, so to project that past the front of the ship you need a field strong enough to allow that field itself to propagate. The edge of the field becomes sharper the faster you go, and the energy costs go way up.” Sunset added a set of arrows from the blob to the line, then more arrows behind them, then more arrows behind them until the area in front of the ship was a mess of pen scratchings. “Suddenly you’re spending 90% of your energy carrying the field itself, not the actual payload. It’s the old rocket fuel dilemma all over again.”

OBJECTION! Einstein's second postulate of special relativity states that "the speed of light in vacuum has the same value c in all inertial frames of reference". Therefore, no matter how fast the ship is going, the particles which carry the field will be able to propagate in all directions from the ship without exceeding the speed of light in the ship's frame of reference. For more information, look up time dilation and the Lorentz transformation.

The analogue radio signal is believed to have originated in or near the 23 Librae system.

Hmm, let me think about this. 23 Librae b has a mass of 1.59 Jupiters and orbits at 0.81 AU, while the host star's luminosity is almost identical to that of the Sun. There are only two possibilities I can think of to make this work. One possibility is that the pony world could be a moon of this inner gas giant, but it would need a high albedo and low greenhouse effect to maintain an Earth-like climate. The other possibility is that the pony world orbits in a stable 3:2 resonance with the inner gas giant, which would put it at a distance of 1.06 AU, requiring only a slightly higher greenhouse effect than the Earth's. This second seems the more likely possibility, though I can't guarantee that this configuration would be stable due to the influence of the outer gas giant, which has a mass of 0.82 Jupiter and orbits at 5.8 AU. It's possible that this outer planet would exert a torque on the pony world over time, perturbing its orbit on a timescale of millions of years. Still, I feel this is a reasonable stretch, and you could further posit that Celestia's role is to counteract such perturbations to keep the planet in a stable resonance.

Neither. The pony world is much, much more exotic than that, as touched on in chapter 4.



Well, any fictional faster-than-light scheme is going to run foul of real physics. Some sooner than others.

In this case, the ship's actual frame of reference is not what it appears to be, because to accelerate to that speed would involve more than infinite energy. Rather, the ship is moving at a slower than light speed (in fact, quite a reasonable speed), but through a shorter space than the underlying space. The actual space is not distorted, as it would be with a Trek-style or Alcubierre-style warp drive; rather, the particles of which the ship is made are persuaded to travel through this shorter space by the continued presence of the field. Particles that are not affected by the field - including those that propagate the field itself - quickly drop down to the same speed through non-distorted space, therefore appearing to slow down from the perspective of the ship. The effective speed of the ship is therefore a factor of both its physical speed and the multiplying factor of the space it's moving through being shorter. The stronger the field - ie the faster the ship is travelling - the more pronounced the boundary.

Is it a perfect, flawless definition of FTL? Of course not. None could ever be. But I think it's good enough for this story, in that it acknowledges some of the subtleties of real physics and preserves the essential character of physical law, to whit:

1. Space is really really really big;
2. There's no such thing as a free lunch.

“It’s pretty much the way you thought it would be, actually,” said Solar, leaning over to bring up a map of the 23 Librae system, incorporating all the latest information from the big research teams at Ceres, Geneva, Pyongyang, Phobos and Panama. “Most of the focus has been on the inner planets, but the signal is coming from somewhere a very long way out, three or four hundred AU at least. I’m not even sure it’s part of the same system. It could be a stray rock passing through.”

Ah. Well, scratch my theory then. I guess this really is a world where Celestia literally raises the sun.

All in all, a very good story. I'm looking forward to the next entry.

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