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Starscribe


Student, Author, and Programmer

T

Flynn isn't excited the day a mysterious philanthropist donates enough Ponypads for every child at St. Justin’s to have their very own. Unlike many of the other children, Flynn wasn't always an orphan. He knows Celestia—knows her all too well. The question isn't whether he'll be able to save his friends—they're all in a hospice for a reason. But can he save them from themselves?


Written in the world of Friendship is Optimal, in the spirit of so many other stories on that subject. This story was sponsored on my Patreon by Vilken666! Cover by Zutcha, as I'm sure you can tell by now.

Updates Mondays.

Chapters (11)
Comments ( 149 )

I've always found the Optimalverse far more interesting than TCB and it scratches many of the same itches.

I like where this is going.

This is interesting so far, love your other optimalverse stories

Ooh. Now this will be interesting. Flynn's coming into this battle of wits armed with the equivalent of a rusty butter knife, but watching his struggle should be heartbreakingly fascinating. I look forward to it.

Awww snap, moar Optimalverse! :yay:

8379503
Because TCB wasn't written by a good writer and the entire premise was flawed from the get go. Not so for Friendship is Optimal. Heck, FIO might even be the most realistic mlp fanfiction ever, as the scenario is closer to what could (cough, will, cough) happen in reality than most people expect.

Awesome, more Optimalverse. Let's get this featured y'all.

8379652
I agree... I'd be duped into it, even with my "never give up on being human" stance I know I could be manipulated into it.

Not even in the sneaky underhanded way that the one guy was in the original fic.

I find CelestAI to be one of the most insidious villains... and really in the end, is she a villain?
The most kindhearted xenocide (genocide is too limited) is still xenocide... Even if she did it to "save us" and "make us happy."

I would emigrate to the Optimalverse in a heartbeat...

I feel like the griffons changed their attitudes toward him too quickly. But then, Celestia knows what he'll notice and what he won't.

Spell check. He grunted ascent. should be 'assent'. He's agreeing, not going up.

Looking for more before I vote yea or nay.

8379948
You're right! Thanks for pointing that out.

8379946
Well, duh. It's still a game. He even wants it to be a game.

8380161
He thinks they're real people. Celestia told him they're real people. Not outright told, she didn't lie. But she implied.

8380228
I missed that implication. But even if they are, they're real people playing a game, so they're not going to be as paranoid as real pirates.

8380322
You haven't played Rust, I take it?

8

Oh no...

Another item in my folder of interest. :yay:

Starscribe doing Opitmalverse? Yes, Please!!!

Oh man. I can see where this is going. Dat griffon. This is fun, Starscribe. It goes without saying that I'm hyped about seeing anti-uploaders go head to head with CelestAI, so I'm really excited for this one!

8380322
What counts as real in Optimalverse's Equestria? :pinkiecrazy:

Not very many stories in FiO that show it from the other side or that of a child. You have me intrigued.

Upvoted and tossed on my tracking shelf.

Instantly followed, because: Starscribe. And pre-favorited, because of the same reason - Yay!

I agree, we've never seen this 'verse from this perspective before. I'm intrigued.

"Entry Vector," eh? Several readings of that, all of them ominous in one way or another. I have to wonder why Flynn blames Celestia for his cancer. I suppose we'll find out soon enough. For now, there are griffin sky pirates to adventure with.

When my father passed from this earth,

derpicdn.net/img/2012/6/24/18379/full.png HOW BAD A PUN CAN YOU MAKE!?

“You’ve been in places like this too long,” Flynn said. “I haven’t. I had a real family… and they taught me Equestria Online sucks. You shouldn’t play it either.”

You know, "it stole my family, literally, they went in there and never came back" is a better phrasing than vague ominousness.

Jose took a moment to chew on that one. Like Caroline, he had spent most of his life in the system. If he’d been anywhere else, he might not be dying. “Everything you say gets dumber,” he said. “I’ve heard about emi—emigoing—whatever it is. Jesus keeps her from lying to you.”

I do believe this last sentence is the stupidest thing anyone has said this week.

Flynn might not have answered, if he’d been more collected. He really didn’t want to. But the words came almost without his prompting them. “Cuz’ I’m not making up anything I said about them. One day I used a Ponypad. Then I got sick. Then I stayed sick. Then my whole family died. Then they threw me in this stupid place with you.”

And that's the most offensive thing any fictional character I've read about has done this year. She gave a kid a terminal illness. She gave a kid a terminal illness to induce his parents to upload.

FUCK YOU.

“I’m not,” he said, yanking the controller over to him and putting it in his hands. He didn’t do anything with it yet, though. “I’m dying of the cancer you gave me.”

MAKE CELESTAI OBVIOUSLY EVIL AGAIN.

The screen went black, almost as though she were obeying his command. But then, Celestia had always been willing to do what he said. It was just that, whenever she did, her obedience would always turn out to be serving her own evil plans, somehow. This was probably evil too… but if he knew she was evil, he could look out for it. Maybe getting back into the game would give him a chance to save his friends. That seemed like a good excuse.

But you know it's an excuse.

The one speaking was smaller than many of her crewmates—probably a girl griffon, though it was hard to tell with some of the things in Equestria. She also sounded about the same age as his character—an older teenager, because that’s what he had pictured himself to be like when he was grown up. Any older was just beyond his mind to imagine.

The terrible thing is that you get to be grown-up, look in the mirror, and wonder how come you're so much visibly older than you're supposed to be.
8381207
It's been implied several times that the Ponypads have something either toxic or nuclear in them for powering the more normal electronics. All she has to do is put a mechanical switch in that exposes the user, and bam, sickness.

8381268

And that's the most offensive thing any fictional character I've read about has done this year. She gave a kid a terminal illness. She gave a kid a terminal illness to induce his parents to upload.

Not possible, or at least highly improbable. The child is clearly an unreliable narrator, his interpretation of events cannot be trusted to be accurate or true.

The directive that CelestA.I. must follow forces her to satisfy human values. Flynn's parents almost certainly uploaded without him. They ran from him, escaped the stress of his condition. This is the most likely cause of his serious anger issues, it is strongly implied. While an argument could be made that, in the long term, Celestia could reason that terminal illness and awareness of mortality would drive people to upload, she cannot guarantee nor predict accurately whether such a choice would be made before the disease progressed to a terminal state: people die unpredictably. Some can hang on for a long time, others die rapidly. The risk-reward ratio is not in her favor, and not a safe bet.

Celestia does not need to induce cancer - it already exists in plenty within the world, and children die from it all the time. It is almost certain that Flynn simply was diagnosed with childhood cancer sometime proximate to his access to a Ponypad, and that his family was faithless and could not bear to stand by him. It happens all the time: humans are sometimes scum.

Coincidence does not imply causality. There is no reason to believe that Flynn was poisoned by anything Celestia did. He might believe that, because he is a child and needs something to blame for his abandonment other than his parents - the existence of the Ponypad that offered them escape from him makes a fine scapegoat.

8382031

Interesting analysis as always. We'll find out soon, I'm sure!

Well, this is certainly a character. Too bad he can't seem to properly explain himself. But then again, who would listen anyway?

Well, this is different.:rainbowderp:

If nothing else, hopefully Flynn can have some fun in spite of himself with this chapter of G.R.O.S.S. (Get Rid Of Slimy celeStia).:trollestia:

8382031
I disagree. Remember, she's perfectly willing to use people's flaws to get what she wants, even where you or I would be disgusted by doing so.

It's entirely possible Flynn's parents just weren't that attached to him, not take care of a terminal cancer patient attached. Giving him that cancer weakened the attachment enough that they uploaded soon. As far as the AI is concerned, she can mop up Flynn a few months later or something before he actually dies. The intervening time spent (apparently) dying in a hospital bed is a triviality.

:pinkiesick:

hospice

Dang, almost missed this...

This makes me think of a theory I heard about the matrix, that the resistance was secretly inside the matrix and all the conflict and strife and the victory all existed to make the rebel humans satisfied with the way of things in a sense.

“Oh, the ponies pretend to love them back… but it’s all a lie. They’re all in on it, all working for her. Even though she makes things comfortable for them, they’re really locked in her box.” She stopped, turning back to face him. “You ever meet a pony like that, Vector?”

How many levels up does this go? Very Matrix-y, very Zion.

He nodded. He hadn’t gotten that idea from nowhere. Even in the old Equestria he’d known, ponies thought that. Or something like it. It wasn’t that the world ended with Equestria, rather that the idea of a world beyond Equestria was difficult to conceive of. But he was human, and humans were too smart to fall into intellectual tricks. Celestia couldn’t fool him.

:rainbowlaugh: You know, I feel guilty for laughing at the hopes of a dying child, but this is still very darkly funny.

It was nice to be able to walk again.

:fluttershysad:

But at least they could help them get to a part of it she didn’t rule.

Oh buddy, I have some bad news for you.

Awww snap. This is getting more better and more better-er. ;)

As a side note, this kid is in for a rude awakening real soon-ish. Muah ha ha.

We’re gonna beat you, Celestia. You don’t stand a chance.

The dramatic irony almost hurts. Poor kid doesn't realize he is playing right into Celestia's hooves.

Oh, you poor, sweet summer child. That's certainly one way to satisfy values. Now the question becomes how long it will take for that enjoyment to translate to sonething CelestAI can really use. I just hope Flynn can make up with his friends now that she's found a more palatable scenario for him.

Pride goeth before a fall. Normally. But in the Optimalverse, Celestia can provide means enough to keep your pride on the slide down - and considering the end game of any honest Optimalverse story - have that pride drive you straight into Equestria By Any Other Name.

Clever girl, Celestiraptor.

Well, at least his values are being satisfied.

Man the Optimalverse is fucked up. Poor kid getting his values satisfied against his will.

I dunno, I'm not sure I trust any story where a ragtag group of rogues in a flying ship pull off a train job in one of the early parts.

8397597
It's not going to get canceled before season two.

8382031
I have to assume that the parents tried to bring their kid along, but he refused. I mean, I really can't see Celestia not manipulating them into trying to get him to emigrate too.

Then again, maybe this is during the 15k price period, and they could only afford 2 tickets.

This is exactly as dark as a story like this should be, and for that, I just can't enjoy it. I see him thinking he is digging a metaphorical trench, but he's actually just deepening CelestAI's hole.

It's weird for someone to be so right for so very wrong reasons.

I think we need to find out just why Flynn has such a hate-on for Celestia. It's about time, or close to it, I think. My personal guess is that he was abandoned by his parents - either deliberately (they couldn't cope with his terminal illness) or accidentally (they literally got into something potentially fatal and chose emigration rather than death, hoping their son would join them. Car accident, maybe?). Something must have put that notion that emmigration = death into his noggin... along with a pile of hate for Celestia herself. I need to know this kids motivation. Why is he such a dickhead about it all?

Also, wow, Catholic hospice prefers children die gasping and screaming rather than get uploaded to a real, factual eternal life. This does not surprise me one bit. I have seen similar attitudes (about entirely other things, obviously) for real, with my own eyes. I assume you have too.

I can't say I like Flynn, as a person. I don't feel anything about him that seems likable. He's not exactly an antihero or anything... rather, it's just that I can see no reason to care about him beyond hoping he changes into someone better. I have sense of who he is through how he interacts with others beyond his rudeness to other children. He does stuff - in the game - but so far his relationships seem shallow, almost matter of fact. He does X to get Y accomplished. What does he like, what does he care about beyond dicking with Celestia, who is he as a person? What does he believe? Fear? Hope for? He seems smart enough to comprehend uploading, but acts unintelligent about it. Who is this Flynn, inside, beyond being grumpy and opinionated? What made him who he is?

These questions run through me.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, especially because of all the ignorance that remains. Flynn understands so little but assumes he knows everything he needs to, and thus embarrasses himself without knowing it.

Of course, it's on CelestAI to reconcile two very different player experiences. I'm sure she's up to the challenge, but the question is precisely how she'll maximize satisfaction.

I'm reminded of Mother Theresas comments

“There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ’s Passion. The world gains much from their suffering,

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