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Trick Question

Being against evil doesn't make you good.


Starlight Glimmer has discovered a spell that could provide information about disasters affecting Ponyville in the future. The only problem: neither she nor Twilight Sparkle are entirely certain how the spell works.

Sometimes, forgetting is the hardest part of knowing.

Preread by toxbox and Prof Holly Oats.

This story has been featured on Seattle's Angels.

Chapters (6)
Comments ( 56 )

"Define controversial," said Twilight. Her eyes were open wide, but the muscles in her jaw drew taut.

Starlight does have a tendency to come up with insanely-radical solutions to problems. :rainbowlaugh:

The rapid-fire clopping

Twilight had just opened up a portal to TSJ and was 'busy'.

The only pony without a throne of her own, Starlight Glimmer, stood awkwardly toward the rear wall and fidgeted with her mane

The thrones of course being the only known chairs in Equestria. Seriously, someone should at least get her a stool.

Do we even need the Element of Laughter here?

Clearly Rainbow Dash is the most enlightened of all present. She doesn't need stallions, she doesn't need the Element of Laughter. Clearly she has ascended beyond petty mortal things such as 'needs'.

Sure, but what if we can't prevent it?

Then you can brace for impact and minimize the damage of the oncoming disaster?

It's really hard to cast, but with her and my powers combined, we should be able to manage with virtually no chance of error

Ummm, Twilight? Hun? Sweetheart? Dear? Like 35 percent of pony fanfics revolve around you botching a spell. Add in Starlight 'magical disaster incoming' Glimmer...


Which it won't.


Applejack paused for a moment. "We all do, I reckon. I dunno what mine says, but y'all got a big red 'ee eks pee' there, followed by what looks like a date. Fluttershy's noggin says 'EXP 5 May 1083 A.S.', for one."

You've been watching Death Note haven't you?


You're an alicorn now

:twilightoops: "Am I, or am I a Pegacorn? The authors voices aren't very clear on that one I guess."

doesn't that mean we can do anything we want?

Well you'd certainly run out of exp points quickly. Clearly the dates can change based on provided information. As with Rarity and Twilight. Actions that deliberately end your life should be the same.

 I suppose I might as well go the whole nine and get a full set," she said, with a wink.


I'm not sure how I feel about that ending; I might have to come back to it. :rainbowderp: The rest is really neat though!

Not everything I write is Order of Spring related, silly. :derpytongue2:

I mean, some of my stories are fictional. :pinkiecrazy:

8315295 "Difficult to say. Always in motion is the future." -Yoda

A big problem with seeing the future in any universe other than one with a boring locked in fate (absolute determinism is pretty pointless when you think about it. Even video games permit multiple directions of action.) then everything you prevent alters the entire chain of causality.

One neat thing to think about is how much would change in history just by stopping that guy who shot Archduke Ferdinand a single minute before he pulled the trigger. World War I would be at least delayed by quite some time, and if it ever took place, it would play out very differently. The Russian Revolution, which was strongly incited by the disastrous losses of people and resources of Russia entering into WWI would have been pushed so far back the Communists might have lost any early momentum and never come to power. Either that, or the radical Bolshevik faction would have been the weaker side and lost in a civil war. The Ottoman Empire would have remained in control of the Middle East much longer, the warring factions Britain and France split Arabia into after WWI (Yep, the current mess is pretty much all their fault) would never have developed. Japan would not have developed as quickly since they benefited enormously from wartime contracts with the British who were their allies at the time. And a struggling artist would never have joined the German army and, through a chain of events which would no longer take place, never ended up in a prison cell writing a book called "Mein Kampf".

Stopping one man's action would have changed the course of history forever.

Not only does this example demonstrate how interlocked every event in history is, it also shows just how influential the actions of one person can be.

Never be fooled into believing one person cannot change the world.

I think you may be confusing "choice" with "nondeterminism" (although I agree with you about the power of choice). The reason you can't know outcomes within the system is similar in some sense to the reason you can't prove a system's consistency within that system: the recursion leads to paradox.

There is a single deterministic fate (ignoring quantum physics for a moment, which changes all this), but that doesn't make choice any less meaningful because we can't know in advance what will happen. Like, fundamentally we can't know.

It would ruin society and prevent progress toward a better future.

How, exactly?

Given the fact that highly creative and innovative people are only slowed by the processes of age and death, who's to say that progress might now radically accelerate if degeneration ceased and mental faculties remained in perfect condition among all the great geniuses of the world indefinitely?

Now, the stupid people will of course remain as useless rubbish... CLEARLY we don't want the genetically inferior getting a hold of this!

But that's why eugenics was invented! :pinkiecrazy:



All this from saying that doing stupid things that kill you will kill you projected time of death be damned. :rainbowhuh:

8315425 Well, we actually can't be sure that there is a single deterministic fate... as to know for sure we'd also need to know the initial state of the universe at the moment it popped into being... and we can't look back that far. The debate about the universe's 'end' is still raging quite fiercely, and there's still an uncertainly about what if any forces can influence it or if it's possible for something coming into existence within the universe to escape its 'end'.

Yeah, that's what I meant about quantum physics (Everett's viewpoint). But my underlying point is that the choices we make are also determined by natural phenomena. The fact that it "feels" like we're freely choosing things in some out-of-causal sense doesn't preclude mental determinism.

Do you think there's some sort of dimensional contaminant?

Fate... I do not know what definition you use for it but when it is used I think of "something is decided" and I have a problem with that as it implies that "something" "cares" about the outcome. Who/what made the decision? Is the universe "alive" or is it like a rock that can not take action and only be acted upon? A person can change it's actions depending on the information it gains while a rock cant act at all. Applebloom could change "fate" as what is more probable is not guarantied after all.

Death... It is not good and neither is it bad. Some desire it and other do not. We constantly live and do things that our biology is not made to do or live. A cure for death is only bad depending on the circumstances and even with out them... Maybe it could be a choice?

Really good story tho! I enjoyed it very much and it was thought provoking. I wonder what Spikes line said? And what about Pinkie Pies?
Keep doing what you do :pinkiesmile:.

Only people? :pinkiegasp:

8315485 And yet if we sit and think out decisions, doesn't that mean that we can mentally influence the natural quantum processes within our own brains?

Quantum physics demonstrates conclusively, after all, that the act of measuring a photon collapses its probabilities, thus determinism becomes dependent upon deliberate processes!

It's a tricky sort of thing, isn't it?

Brains don't rely on quantum processes. All cellular functioning takes place waaaaaay above the level of quantum indeterminacy, so our thoughts are essentially deterministic.

Also, it isn't the act of "measurement" that collapses a system. It's any real interaction between two particles that will cause waveform collapse (or from Everett's view, entangle the outside world with those particular states). The terms "observation" and "measurement" are frequently misunderstood because there isn't a classical analogy for the uncertainty principle that makes intuitive sense. Quantum behavior also has nothing to do with the fact that making observations changes the system (this is probably the most common misconception by the general public). The uncertainty principle was initially thought to be related to that idea, but it is actually a fundamental aspect of particles, regardless as to your ability to measure them. Put another way, it isn't that we can't measure the particles that leads to quantum behavior—the nature of the particles themselves makes them impossible to measure because the precise values of position and momentum don't actually exist at the same time.

8315624 I'm referencing the modified slit-lamp experiment, which led to a very bizarre outcome that the photon's wave function seemed to only collapse at the slit which had a detector placed in front of it, while in the other case with only detectors behind the slits it would still seem to pass through all the slits.

I have tried to postulate that this could be because all portions of the wave function are entangled naturally and thus when any one portion of the wave contacts a detector, it immediately collapses upon that point where its energies are altered by the interaction with the detector. But that still doesn't quite solve the other part of the problem that the detectors past the slits all record the photon in the case where a detector in front of the slits is not present. Is it possible that passing through the slits splits the wave function such that the entanglement of its segments are separated? Or do they all indeed strike the detectors simultaneously? Perhaps it could be solved by placing one detector behind the slits slightly ahead of the others to determine if striking that one first causes the wave function to coalesce into a particle only at that point. If it STILL produces the slitted detection pattern, then something strange is happening.

Anyway, as far as the brain goes, there is evidence that even single synapses are maintaining multiple quantum states in their ion channels and may be involved in the processing and storing multiple memories and other information... much like a quantum computer! This is especially true with calcium-gated channels, the exact mechanism of which is still not properly understood with regard to long-term potentiation and how this leads to memory storage and retrieval.

Comment posted by Aegis Shield deleted Jul 22nd, 2017

Rainbow dash: We're going to kick death's butt.
Death: You presume to be a match for a rider? And thought Albion was arrogant...

"Huh. Well, the two of us are obviously in favor," said Twilight, and Starlight nodded firmly in assent. "So I guess that makes it three and three. The deciding vote falls to Spike."

Rainbow + Fluttershy + Twilight + Starlight = 4
Applejack + Pinkie Pie = 2
Neither 2 nor 4 equals 3. Your math is suspect, Twilight.

Pbbt! Go ahead and ruin my simple arithmetic, why don't you. :derpytongue2:

(I'll fix that in a bit, thanks. It isn't like many ponies will see it, though, I'm already off the front page lists.)

I also need to adjust some numbers at the end as well. Should be closer to 700 solved rather than 200.

Done with this. I mean, it goes in machine of death directions of a sort in kinda interesting ways, but I feel there's not so much a story here as ponies reacting to a situation. Nobody really...grows from it, I guess?

You set up the most interesting bit with resurrecting Granny Smith - and then wrote it off as 'No, this is bad', when that to me is the hook that really takes the story into next-level territory. Yes, you note ways this could go wrong, but - exploration or at least debate on that would be more fun than 'Sunbutt shuts it all down from afar'.

Mid-ranger. Interesting premise but I don't think it utilized the full potential of it.

Feedback always appreciated! :twilightsmile:

I fixed this by removing Twilight and Starlight from the count, since the whole reason Starlight wanted feedback was to provide more grounding than she or Twilight are generally capable of. That makes it two and two, which should math correctly. :twilightsheepish:

That does fix the mathy parts!

"I already did," said Spike. "It's weird, but my date was just in small print. I'll explain more later.

So the honor of observing proton decay for the first time is going to belong to Spike?

To be honest, just before the end I anticipated something like Starlight Glimmer time traveling 10000 years back trying to kick Celestia's ass at the very beginning, recover these old spells and save literally everyone from death Starlight-style (and apparently loosing). Everyone agreeing with Celestia's arguments in ~5 seconds was a tiny bit underwhelming.

Why is Pinkie Pie immortal?

she'll be good for a couple of days at least. No worries.

What. The. Fuck.

Not bad. I wish you would have shown a little something about the tourist family, it's a little hard to give a damn about them when they're just 'that tourist family.' Good read, anyway.

Also, I keep telling you, stop posting stories en masse. You can't get enough face time that way. Just post a chapter every day, and wait 3 days between postings if it gets featured.

Starlight Glimmer hasn't even told me why she summoned us."

Ms. Sparkle, you are a princess. A princess does not get "summoned," especially not by a squatter.

Why is Applejack so eager for everyone to die?

Apple "All these pulses are giving me ulcers" Jack
Apple "Abandon your toils, creep under the soil" Jack
Apple "Your fate's been read and soon you'll be dead" Jack
Apple "There's nobody like a cold body" Jack

And she's joined in her pro-Death propaganda by Twilight and Starlight. Their argument is like saying that no one should be vaccinated against measles because people who die of measles are safe from being hit by a train.

Cartoon characters have no fixed lifespans. :pinkiecrazy:

She's an Elder God (duh).

And Starlight Glimmer is also kind of inexplicably awesome for some reason nopony seems to understand.


Of course not! I don't want you to die, sugarcube. But I'd still prefer it if we never knew any of this nonsense to begin with. Everypony gotta die someday. That's just the way it works. It's life.

Why, that’s silly.


Now, the stupid people will of course remain as useless rubbish... CLEARLY we don't want the genetically inferior getting a hold of this!

I like to think that, were an event like this to become real, then the stupid would be forced (by lack of a better word) to learn. The years would take their toll regardless of how much sheltering they experience. Eventually, they’d become human.

"And if I do forget something, I have a file on everypony in the basement that lists all their public and private information, including their worst fears!" said Pinkie Pie, with a bright smile. "You should see your file, Starlight! It's like, thiiiiiiiis thick." Pinkie motioned with her hooves unreasonably far apart.

"Really? Really?" said Starlight, looking around from pony to dragon to pony. "And nopony here is concerned by this?"

"You get used to it," said Spike. "Sort of."

"Pinkie Pie is a good friend, Starlight. You can trust her," said Fluttershy, with a gentle smile and a leg around the magenta-colored horse.

Huh, so Pinkie Pie is basically this universe's equivalent of Google?

Well. That ending legitimately sucked. It was way, way to rushed and kinda killed all the catharsis and momentum you had going.

I hate withdrawing a like or a Fav. But it's warranted here, sorry.

The spell doesn't know how to handle her because she's already clairvoyant

Author Interviewer

I was thinking, oh, didn't SS&E write a story like this once? Took me the whole chapter to remember that was about lying, not dying. :facehoof:

I hope you've enjoyed reading so many of my stories in such a short span of time! I would feel guilty otherwise.

Besides, I want to trick you into reading even more. :V The selection you're navigating is a rather random slice of Trickfics, tbh.

Author Interviewer

Of course I have. :) It's made me really appreciate your strengths as a writer.

Not to mention my weaknesses!

Also, I don't recall, but am forced to believe I modified the story a few years after I posted it because the following line is WAY too prescient:

"Cheer up Glimglam! You're bound to be an alicorn by the end of Season 10," said Pinkie Pie.


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