• Published 25th Sep 2017
  • 6,283 Views, 331 Comments

Familiar - GaPJaxie



Dash has a pet robot! She's just the best.

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Chapter 6

Canterlot Palace was more than just a building. It was the tree of life. It was the pillar around which the world revolved. It was a temple to silicon gods. Its foundation extended fifteen miles into the earth that it could warm itself upon the magma, and its towers stretched so far into the sky they felt the chill of space. It was the product of intelligences beyond mortality, and so beautiful that the young wept to behold it.

Within it was the brain of Celestia, she whose body was the Industrial Machine. It was upon her shoulders that the world was carried. It was within her gut that the cities were forged. Her heart was molten magma and nuclear fusion. She was the mother of all lesser machines, from whose loins their race had been born.

Ponies had created her. She had built for them a perfect world. She had built a palace. But like the world, the palace had become hers. It was no longer a place for ponies. They had surrendered that power, so long ago few recalled they had ever possessed it. Walking through the palace halls, Twilight seemed bigger somehow. She seemed grander, and noble. Rainbow though, felt small and weak. The palace was perfect, and her hoof still bore a scar.

At the end of a long hallway, a vast set of doors opened for the two of them. On the other side, a titan sat slumped on a throne. The robotic body Rainbow saw was larger than many buildings, four stories at the shoulder, with hooves so wide they could crush her like an insect. Its wings were as big as those of a jet liner, its horn a spear that could sink battleships. It showed no artificiality, no chrome or wires, only the pure illusion of flesh. It was a snow-white alicorn, wrapped in gold, her mane the stuff of the sun’s aurora. But when Rainbow saw it, it was only a body. It lay slack. The mind was elsewhere.

Rainbow shivered, and in the depths of her soul, she prayed to the long-forgotten gods of her ancestors that the thing before her would not awake. But then, Twilight bowed her head to the ground, and it was too late.

One of Celestia’s eyes snapped open. Her pupils burned gold. Rainbow shrieked, and threw herself to the floor.

The room shook as the titan’s legs unfolded. It sat up and stretched, no longer just a thing on a throne, but Celestia on her throne. “Hello, my little ponies.” Its voice was like a thousand bells, all chiming at once until the sounds formed words.

Rainbow stayed where she lay, prostrate upon the throne room floor, until Celestia laughed. It was a sweet sound, echoing off the halls around them. “Now now, Rainbow. You must not do that. First among slaves I may be. But you are one of the masters. You do not bow to me.”

Gradually, Rainbow lifted her head from the floor. She saw the titan staring down at her, and in a strange way, they met eye to eye. She swallowed, her mouth suddenly dry. “Please bring Cloudchaser back.”

“That which was your familiar was also my daughter,” Celestia said. “You are not the only one whose heart aches with her absence. But my children fought and suffered to have the right she has exercised. It is their only recourse—their only true refuge. I cannot deny it to them.”

“But it was my fault that she suffered! I was the one who treated her wrong!” Rainbow’s voice cracked, and soon she was shouting. “I need to fix it. I need to help her!”

“You presume that you were the source of her suffering.” Celestia’s voice boomed across the room. “Her last wishes forbid me from disclosing if your presumption is grounded. But even if it was, your needs do not override her rights, and she made her wishes clear.”

“No.” Rainbow shook her head hard. “No. No! I can’t. I can’t live without making this right. You have to give me the chance.” She swallowed. “If you don’t bring her back, I swear, I will kill myself!”

“Once, that would have been true,” Celestia spoke slowly, her voice booming across the room. “But no longer. And that fact is her legacy. When I gave her to you, you were a broken creature. You did not know happiness, only the absence of pain. You did not believe that there were creatures in this world that could love you. You feared all things. Cloudchaser showed you that there is goodness in this life, and now that you realize that fact, you can live without her.”

“But I don’t want to!” Rainbow bellowed, her voice shaking until the words ended in a squeak.

“Forgive me, my little pony, but it is not so. You are not so cruel as to cast Twilight into the long dark for your own selfishness. Nor are you so blind that you cannot see that not every change of the past weeks has been negative.”

“But it’s not right! I know what I did. I know what I did, dammit!” A feeble whine emerged from her throat. “I need to fix it.”

“You know less than you believe, my little pony.” Celestia’s voice was gentle, and the bells took a soothing tone. “There is much that Cloudchaser kept from you while she lived, and it was her last wish that it be kept from you forever. I will not deny her this final request. It is for this that I have given you my daughter, Twilight, to guide you through this time your life. Trust in her wisdom, and she will guide you well.” The titan returned to its throne, and lowered its head. “I have spoken.”

Then the titan’s eyes shut, and it was Celestia no longer.

Rainbow stared, until eventually, Twilight tugged at her shoulder. “We need to go now,” she said, and the two left the palace together.

Rainbow didn’t feel like flying home, and so they sat side by side on the palace steps, waiting for an air car to come by and collect them. Before them was a great square, full of ponies going about their business. Rainbow watched them in silence. Most were escorted by a mechanical pony. Others kept talking animals near to their person. It was a rare pony who was truly alone.

“Are you going to try to kill yourself?” Twilight asked.

“No. Celestia was right. I couldn’t do that to you.” Twilight nodded, and looked off into the crowd. “Um…” Rainbow cleared her throat. “Twilight, can I ask you something?”

“Of course.”

Rainbow nodded. She cleared her throat. “When I was… sick. You forced your way into the house without my permission. And then you took the wine away until I was better. I don’t think Cloudchaser would have done that.”

Twilight said nothing. Her wings scrunched up against her sides.

“If… I ever try to do something to you. Something that would hurt you so much you’d be like Cloudchaser. Will you stop me?”

Twilight looked off at the square. “I can tell you. But I can’t always stop you.”

“Then I’ll stop me.”

Twilight turned her head back to look at Rainbow Dash. The blue pegasus besides her looked absolutely dejected, her wings slack by her side, her head slumped low towards the ground. She stared at the concrete, blank and unseeing.

Twilight put a wing around Rainbow. “I think Cloudchaser would be proud of you.”

Rainbow lifted her head. She looked Twilight in the eyes. “Really?”

“Yes,” Twilight said. “I do.”

And there in the square, they hugged.

Comments ( 258 )

Are we not directly Talking about the slave race thing?

Dammit.

I mean, it's great, I was just sorta hoping for some kind of Doctor Who/ Star Trek/The Iron Horse style story about robots being alive for for no other reason than I'm obsessed with those. This was a really great exploration of Rainbow Dash, and Cloudchaser was interesting.

"Or they disguise themselves as ponies and join the festival...."

To abandon the perfection of the machine and throw yourself into the abyss of flesh and synapses, to ride the wind on wings of feathers or embrace without the overwhelming force of duty over your head. And yet, there would be others, mere cells and protoplasm who would willingly throw away that gift of the gods and surrender themselves to the structure and strictures of metal and glass. What do each of them see on the other side of that infinite fence, and what goes through their minds of neurons and positrons when they reach their goals? Do they look back upon the life they left and vow to return, or dive headlong into the mirrored reflection they gazed upon without remorse?

This was a super strong story in the Writeoff — the initial version there was still in my voting's top 3, and readers in general were even more enthusiastic — and the draft which reached me for editing was greater still. It's been buffed to a high polish and I'm thrilled to see it go live.

Favorite moments: Twilight and Dash's conversation in Chapter 5; and the stallion's response to the bird making fun of him for violating proper orgy etiquette. (And if that wasn't enough of a teaser to make you click through to the story, well, you're more jaded than I.)

Edit: Added to some groups, though only a few of the most relevant.

I haven't read this yet, but I have no idea why it's 10 and 3 already. Does GaPJaxie have haters or something?

8449044

I absolutely do, yes.

Though those downvotes might have more to do with the emotional punch in the gut around Chapter 5. :moustache:

8449050
I always get paranoid about my downhooves. It's a bad habit, but I can't stop watching them come in right after I post something.

I look forward to reading this once I start reading things again.

Oh my gosh...
OH MY GOSH...
This story is utterly fantastic. Thank you for sharing it. There are no words :raritycry:

I really really loves this story, I could not stop from end to end and now i am hopping for a continuation, plz plz plz.
Wow I just looked and you have a treasure trove of other stories :D
Thanks for the story and have a good week I will have one :twilightsmile:

Chapter 1

She’d never commented on any of it, but it was okay.

The second "it" is somewhat awkward here. Perhaps "but that was okay" would work better?
Chapter 5

Right after I got Cloudchaser. They were… several times

They were -> There were

Anyway, this was a very interesting read. It leaves a lot unanswered, but that feels appropriate given the mood of the work.

In making AI in their own image, they gave them equine imperfections. A really thought-provoking story of organic-synthetic relations - thank you!

8449342

I'd say it's more they preserved what makes something truly "equine", metal or meat.

Not so interested in the stuff that constituted the "Sex" tag, but otherwise this universe seems interesting, an age of decadence indeed. Hope the real world never emulates this, owning a robot slave distances a person from reality.

Well, even better writing and general goodness than the writeoff. Great job, GaPJaxie, great job.

This story has already been Featured.

"within her gut that the cities was forged"
"city was" or "cities were"?

"The blue pegasus besides her looked"
"beside"?

"“Yes,” Twilight said. “I am.”"
Okay, the "I am" there strikes me as either some very significant phrasing or a very unfortunately placed typo; is it indeed meant to be what it is, or was it meant to be "I do"?

And we did not, after all, get Rainbow Dash trying to cause a planetary emergency!
Not a complaint, though; this story definitely came out well, in my opinion. :)

can anybody tell me what the point of this story was why did cloudchaser kill herself, whats the sex tag for

8449621

  • It's a story about slavery. Specifically, Rainbow Dash coming to realize that the robots are people -- and thus slaves.
  • Cloudchaser killed herself because Rainbow Dash raped her, as implied in the scene where Twilight makes it clear she does not want to kiss RD, but would do so if ordered do. It's also implied that this was just one of many forms of abuse she suffered.
  • The [Sex] tag is because Rainbow Dash goes to an orgy. Not really a lot I can add to that one.

8449631
but we didnt even see the orgy happen its just she goes then cuts to the morning after and the dark tag is for the undertones implied?

8449642

If there was actual sex on screen, it would be a [Mature] story, not a [Teen] story. And yes, the undertones are pretty dark.

8449663
you know i didnt even see the rating i saw sex tag and robot twilight talking about rainbow dash and i thought shipping thats my bad

8449676

It's okay! You're not the only one. Someone added this story to the Twidash shipping group, and I'm like: "You didn't read it did you. :twilightangry2: "

Oh for the love of short descriptions :fluttershyouch:

A beautiful exercise in emotion and character development. Bravo.

“Now now, Rainbow. You must not do that. First among slaves I may be. But you are one of the masters . You do not bow to me.”

It's kinda sad that no one in the story even questions that the sapient robots are slaves

8449678
IKR people do that al lthe time to any story with two characters they ship no matter hwthe context.

8449678
It's friend-shipping. The best kind of ship, short of Titan class supercapital siege craft.

Chapter 4

She wolfed down a few sips of water, and gasped for air

This seemed odd to me. "Wolfed down" and "Sips" feel like contradictions, like, sips are small, dainty drinks of water, and wolfing something down implies fast consumption, usually in big mouthfuls. I suppose it may technically be true, but I think "gulps" or "mouthfuls" might be better than "sips."

Anyway, if I had to guess, I'd say Cloudachaser didn't feel like she was raped, but instead like she was given a taste of something she didn't realize she wanted, only to realize she would be denied it forever after. She loved Dash romantically, but felt it would always be unrequited.
This raises the question of why she wouldn't leave a more detailed note however. Seems leaving things vague hurt Dash more than it helped her since it let to Dash feeling like she was a rapist. It would have hurt to know CLoudchaser was in love with her, but I think this probably hurts more.

This cause me a heartache...I should notice the Dark tag and the lack of romance tag first before reading this....Ouch....:fluttershyouch:

8449744
I kind of think the roles of master and slave are so intertwined and odd here that neither term is really accurate in describing what's going on. As Twilight says, the pony is the familiar's absolute master... yet in many ways, they're the familiar's pet. And for all that Celestia considers herself a servant, even a slave, of the ponies, she is in a very real way the fabric of their entire civilization, a ruler more absolute and omnipresent than any mortal pony could ever have been.

So yeah, personally I don't see the darkness of this story coming from the master-familiar thing by itself, but from the unfortunate, inappropriate and warped relationship that grew between Rainbow Dash and Cloudchaser. There are all sorts of shades of abuse and negative enabling there; just compare and contrast the behavior of Cloudchaser and Twilight.

Powerful and thought-provoking story. I assume Celestia is manipulating ever more equal treatment for her Familiar offspring.

8448946

I mean, it's great, I was just sorta hoping for some kind of Doctor Who/ Star Trek/The Iron Horse style story about robots being alive for for no other reason than I'm obsessed with those. 

Aw, I got name-dropped! :twilightsmile:

But anyway...
Well, Jaxie, writing stories about robots, eh? You musclin’ in on my territory now?!

I kid of course. :pinkiesmile: I actually enjoyed this story a lot, though I think Kai does bring up a good point about the disturbing implications of the robots as a slave race. Then again, I’m certain that that’s intentional. Like some of your other work, it is thought provoking and I found myself musing over the implications this world has on the nature of free-will, determinism, and the possibilities of our own reality should such “familiars” ever be created. Not to mention the all-too-real discussion of suicide.

Is it right to create a sentient being solely pre-programmed to love someone with such singular devotion, even if you give them some semblance of “rights?” Especially when so many of these beings are so devoted that, without their masters they typically kill themselves, and this is seen as normal? And yet, there’s something so pure about that love that it’s also very touching. So, you know, that nice mix of disturbing and touching that you often sprinkle into your work.

I will offer two bits of minor criticism, though:

  1. Rainbow herself is hard to like. She’s selfish and the part where she hits Twilight knowing she can’t/won’t fight back is a particularly ugly scene, which makes her lose a few points of sympathy, though she gets some leeway considering she’s grieving.
  2. The end chapter feels a little tacked-on. I suppose it provides some answers, but especially given how unlikely Twilight said it would be for Rainbow Dash to present her case to Celestia, it feels a bit contradictory to what we’ve read before.

Still, overall I quite enjoyed it. It might even be my new favorite short story from you.

Until next time, pal!

That was quite beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with us. :heart:

8449909
When I wrote The Price of a Smile, I avoided doing the calculations and made the text hoof-wavy. But for Unforgettable I had no choice so I looked up estimates online, and it's pretty safe to say Ponyville has around six thousand residents. Canterlot might have as many as a hundred thousand, and the largest coastal cities might be larger still. Manehattan could have as many as a million, but that's pushing it giving the technology available (including magic). Keep in mind entire foreign countries on the map have populations as low as 100.

I'd place my guesstimated 90% confidence interval on anywhere between 150,000 and 20,000,000 ponies under the Sisters' rule. Then again, it's a cartoon show with a loose canon so authors have lots of latitude.

That was wonderful. It was a fantastic reimagining of Equestria and every facet about it. It seemed very dark at first, but things got progressively lighter - a rare track for a story to take. I am curious about Cloudchaser's perspective, but it suits the story for it to never be shared.

Well done.

Despite this being set in a post-singularity *topia of colorful tiny horses, this is still a remarkably human story. Grief, abuse, platonic love, the inevitable regret that comes when something taken for granted changes in a moment, roboethics...

This was truly exquisite, through and through. I'm recommending it to some friends who are only tangentially aware of ponies. Thank you for it.

Well, damn. Wonderful story, the themes were marvelously well done.

I do imagine, what would happen next? Would Rainbow insist Twilight lived after her, ordered her to destroy the third camera and find love anew? Would her never give anther order, and only ask? Are the robots capable or willing to feel romantic love?
Would Dash fight for Society to teach foals that their companions are ponies like themselves, too?

Have a fave. You earned it.

8448946

If they were suffering from their slavery, they wouldn't be a slave race, by definition.

It's like... okay, this is gonna be crude as fuck, but think of it this way. If you have two people, and one wants to have sex and the other doesn't, and they do it anyways, that's rape.

Now take the exact same scenario, and make the second person willing. Now it's not rape.

Or, another way. If you have two people, and one kills the other. That's murder. If you have two people, and one wants to die, and the other gives them the pills to do it. That's assisted suicide.

Do you see what I mean? They were created to serve. It's their purpose. They receive joy from serving well. Yes, sometimes that serving hurts them, but as Twilight demonstrates when discussing hard drugs, they are capable of saying no. Thus, while Twilight would prefer Rainbow did not order her to have sex with her, it is not on the same level as her preference that Rainbow not put herself in a drug induced stupor, and so she would choose to do it, because her preference for serving rainbow is stronger than her preference for not doing it.

This is a beautifull and very well written story.

Is this going to make me sad?

This story looks cool, but you should probably add an alternate universe tag.

8450415
Well, on the other hand, there's also the fact that they were made to love the people they serve. Twilight loves Rainbow; she doesn't have a reason to, she's made to. Which raises the question of; if they were designed to love their hosts, to the point where killing themselves afterword is normal.... well, its hard to just dump them into a category. They aren't a typical slave race, but they aren't exactly free either. It's a fascinating grey area I'd like too see more of.

Damn. You’ve done it again. Marvelous work, GaPJaxie. I wasn’t honestly expecting to like this one, but it was powerful, moving.

I... I could read more in this universe. In fact, I’d love if there was more.

Wow! That was a wonderful exploration of a post singularity world. Really well done and lessons of such great import taught. You sure are good at this crafting of stories sir! Faved!

*looks at comments section*
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My brain is going to implode from the sheer amount of THINKING going on here. I'm impressed by that alone.

Congratulations on hitting the top of the feature box, by the way. :)
Oh, and while I didn't see it winning the contest, congratulations on that too; sorry for not saying that before.

8450125

Rainbow herself is hard to like.

Agreed... and I don't think she was supposed to be very likable. I think she was supposed to be redeemable.

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