• Published 11th Dec 2017
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Pony-Me™ - TheMajorTechie

What happens when you realize that your life is a simulation? Well, you put the headset back on.

  • ...

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Lisa let out a content sigh, sitting cross-legged in her office chair as she took in the virtual landscape around her.

"You really like that new simulation, don't you?"

Lisa nodded, the headset clunking as it bounced on her face.

"You ready to leave yet? It's getting a bit late out now."

She shook her head.

"Suit yourself," Samantha smiled, stretching in her own seat, "Take as long as you'd like. Just tell me when you wanna go."

Another nod.

"C'mon, Pinkie, tell me now, what did she tell you?"

Pinkie hesitated, pawing at the bare floor. "I'm... I'm not sure if I should tell you," she mumbled, beginning to turn. "Maybe I should just go--"

"Wait!" Twilight cut in, "Please, Pinkie. Tell me what she said, and maybe we can figure this whole thing out."

Pinkie shifted on her hooves, nodding as she slowly turned back to her friend.

"You... you know how I was talking about some kind of deal earlier?"

Twilight nodded, placing a bookmark in the book she'd been reading.

Pinkie paused for a moment as if she was listening in on something.

"She says that she made the deal with a girl named Samantha, who used to live here but is somewhere better now. The deal was something she did to thank Samantha for letting her live."

Twilight scrunched her muzzle. "Letting her live?" she snorted, "This Samantha certainly doesn't sound like the friendly type. What else did she tell y--"

"Shh," Pinkie hushed.

The room returned to its usual tranquility. A particularly loud snore from Spike broke the silence for a moment.

"She's telling me that you're wrong, Twilight. She's saying that it was all her fault that Samantha was here at all, that she trapped her here with no way to get out, all because she..."

Pinkie stopped, trailing on her words as she furrowed a brow. "She... broke the rules?" she finished, glancing at Twilight. "Do you understand any of that?"

Twilight shook her head, gesturing for her friend to continue as she pulled out a notepad and a quill.

"Should I continue?"

"Yes, please."

"She says that she won't let me remember too much of who I was, because then I might break the rules again and make Samantha have to come after us like before."

"Well that certainly isn't right," Twilight argued, "You have all the right to remember anything you want."

"But why? You don't have very many memories of your own, do you?"

Twilight froze, unable to find an answer.

Pinkie let out a sigh before continuing. "She's also saying that she doesn't want to do this, but she's not sure if she's allowed to stop."

"Stop what?" Twilight asked, "Pinkie, could you tell the... um... the voice in your head to be a little less vague? I'm just as lost in this as you are.

Pinkie nodded, once again growing silent as she carried on with her mental conversation.

"What she meant is that she's afraid of letting me be myself again because she knows that I can do things that no other pony can."

Twilight raised a brow.

"She doesn't want to tell me what it is that I can do, though."

Pinkie paused to let her friend jot down some notes. A soft clunk emanated from the notepad as Twilight tossed it back onto her desk.

"I think that should be enough for now, Pinkie," Twilight began, glancing at the sparsely-written notes filling the single page of the notepad, "I don't want you to push yourself too much. Would you like for me to tell you some things about what I remember?"

Pinkie nodded.

"O-okay..." Twilight began, "I think I remember a few things. There's an odd memory where I woke up on a bed, with this... thing strapped to my face. There was also a strange machine nearby, and--"

"Lisa, it's past sunset now," Samantha reminded over the soft snoring of Timothy. "C'mon, I'll take you home, and we can come back tomorrow. We already skipped lunch today, so you'd better go home and have dinner."


"Lisa," Samantha began again, raising her voice, "Are you listening?"

The girl rattled off a short string of button presses on the controller before slipping off the headset.

"Yeah," Lisa smirked.

Samantha responded with a heavy sigh. "Come on then, let's go home. Argall's probably been waiting for you for hours, y'know."

Lisa shrugged, setting the controller on the desk in front of herself. She let out a quiet squeak as she stretched in her seat.

"You really shouldn't be pushing yourself like this, Lis," Samantha continued, "Especially after... well, everything that's happened over the past day. Y'know?"

"Okay, I get it, I get it. I'll relax tonight then. 'Kay?"

Samantha nodded, moving to wake Timothy from his nap.

"Whuh?" the boy groaned, rubbing an eye, "What time is it?"

Samantha paused for a moment, squinting past the rows of desks beyond the door to the full-height windows wrapping around the walls.

"I'd... have to say it's around seven or so now," she turned back to her friend. "Lisa, what's the time?"

"Six forty-nine," Lisa answered after a quick glance at the time on-screen.

"Hm. Good time to go home then." Samantha smiled, opening the door, "C'mon, Liz."

Her eyes followed Lisa as she stepped out of the room. She turned her gaze back to Timothy, who'd fallen asleep again on his chair.

"Hey," she whispered, tugging on the boy's sleeve, "We're going now. You can sleep in the car if you want."

Timothy yawned, pushing himself off the chair and stumbling through the doorway. Samantha followed close behind, shutting the door behind her with a soft click.

Row after row of desks passed on either side of the trio as they made their way back to the elevators. Many of them were covered in photo frames, small trinkets from who-knows-where, or even the occasional plush animal.

Lisa stopped at a desk, staring at its barren surface.

"Lisa, come on," Samantha urged, tugging at her friend's arm, "Some people who work here just like their desks clean, that's all. I want to go home, and your little brother looks like he's gonna start tripping over himself if he doesn't get some more rest."

"Fine, I'm coming..." Lisa mumbled as she turned away, "...though, I'm starting to feel like something's... missing."

"Nothing's missing, Lis. Come on already!"

Lisa hesitated for a moment, her eyes still glued to the empty desk as she turned. "Ok-kay," she stuttered, "I'm coming."

She took her eyes off the barren desk, trailing behind her friend as the trio headed for the elevators. Behind them, the lights in Samantha's office shut themselves off with a quiet click, followed by the dimming of the overhead lights above them. Lisa frowned in response, her pace slowing as she glanced upward.

"Don't mind the lights. They dim after a certain time to save power when there's nobody around."

The three stopped at the elevators. This time, it was Samantha's turn to yawn, holding a hand over her mouth as she pressed the call button with her thumb. Moments later, the familiar bong of the elevator chimed, supplemented by the rumble of the doors as they opened.

The interior of the elevator was peaceful; apart from a brief flicker while the doors closed, the soft glow of the off-white LEDs above them created a soothing aura within the elevator's carriage, dimly reflecting off the frosted glass wall facing the outside world.

Samantha pressed the ground floor's button, leaning back on the railing with her arms crossed as the elevator began to descend. The darkened view outside the glass sparkled with the countless lights of the city around them, twinkling and winking as they faded to a blurry view of the outdoor commons beside the building.

“Tim, if you want, you can sleep in the car on the way home. It isn’t a very long trip, but if you’re that tired, then you’d might as well.”

Timothy nodded lazily as the doors opened again.

“See ya tomorrow!” Zoey squeaked from the front desk, waving as the three walked past. “Don’t mind me, I’m just waiting for my dad to finish with whatever it is that he’s doing.”

Lisa smiled, waving back at the girl.

“Hey, we’re nearly home, Lis. Could you wake up your brother?”

Lisa gave a slight nod, reaching over and tapping Timothy on the arm. “Tim, wake up,” she began, “You can sleep some more later.”

Timothy groaned, lifting his seatbelt-imprinted face to glance at his sister. “Already?” he groaned again, “It barely felt like we spent even a minute!

“Eh, it was a short trip anyways,” Samantha commented as she pulled into a cul-de-sac, “you shouldn’t expect to get much sleep out of it.”

Timothy grumbled something under his breath as he unbuckled himself, leaning back and closing his eyes again as the car bumped up onto the driveway.

“Well, see you tomorrow,” Lisa began, opening her door. “We meeting at the new HQ again, or the café?”

“Café’s fine.”

Lisa unbuckled herself, giving a playful nudge to her brother again.

“’Kay. Bye!” she shouted, stepping out of the vehicle.

“See ya.”

Lisa shut the door, watching as Timothy did the same. The car rumbled for a moment as it shifted into reverse, and began pulling out. Lisa waved at her friend, with Samantha returning the gesture.

The garage door opened as Lisa turned, revealing Professor Argall, his hand still on its controls.

"Hey, Professor Dad," Lisa chuckled as she strolled into the empty garage, taking her brother by the hand, "I'm guessing you saw us arrive?"

Argall nodded.

"Yeah," he responded, pushing open the house door behind himself, "I wasn't sure what time you'd get home, so I made dinner for you and your brother just in case..."

The Professor paused for a moment. "...Though, now that I think of it, you might wanna put the spaghetti in the microwave for around twenty seconds or so. It's been cooling for quite a while now."

"Ooh, spaghetti!" Lisa cheered, rushing through the door with Timothy stumbling close behind, "Thanks, dad!"

Professor Argall smiled, closing both the garage door the house door behind himself.

"So," Argall began, watching Lisa tear into her plate, "How was your time at the new HQ?"

"Goophf," Lisa shrugged with her mouth full, "Iz a nife pwase."

"It sure is. Though, Lisa, you really shouldn't stuff your face like that. You could choke."

Lisa swallowed her food.

"Don't worry so much, Professor," she began half-jokingly, "I'm old enough to mind myself. It should be me taking care of you at this point, y'know?"

The Professor snorted, taking a sip of his cup of juice. "Eh," he dismissed, "I guess so."

Lisa leaned over, tapping her sleepy brother on the shoulder.

"Hmm?" Timothy grumbled, facing his sister with some noodles still dangling from his mouth.

"Your sleeve's eating your dinner."

Timothy glanced down, groaning as he lifted his spaghetti sauce-stained sleeve off the side of his plate.

"Here, I'll get you a wet paper towel," Argall grunted, standing up from his seat, "Be more careful next time, 'kay?"

Timothy yawned in response, nodding his head.

"Anyways," Argall continued, turning on the faucet, "it's been a pretty long day for you, Lisa. You should get some rest after all that's happened today."

"No kidding," Timothy huffed, cutting a meatball with his fork, "You started the day with this crazy freakout, then you stopped it by having P--Samantha remove the chip-thingy from you, and then we went to some old building, then back home, then to a café and then a fancy new building."

"Yup," Lisa agreed, handing her brother the paper towel. "Why are you so tired, anyway? It's not even close to bedtime yet."

Timothy shrugged, wiping his sleeve.

"Liz, now that you're back for sure," Argall abruptly inquired, "what are you gonna do?"

Lisa froze for a moment.

"I... I actually have no idea."

"Pinkie, how long have we been friends? I can't remember."

"'Dunno. Probably a while," Pinkie answered. The room fell silent for a couple seconds. "The other me says that it's been almost a decade."

"Hm. Sounds about right."


"Pinkie, do you think...do you think we could somehow bring back our old selves? The ones that have been telling us about our pasts?"


Twilight turned. "Pinkie?" she repeated, "Pinkie are yo--"

"I'm not okay," Pinkie cut in, her voice unsteady. "and neither are you. Our lives aren't real. The other me says so herself. We aren't real. Equestria doesn't exist. Everything we've ever known is and always has been a construct. I... I once held one of the creators of our world, Samantha, captive in my own body, while you were the embodiment of the other creator. The-there's more... if you want me to continue..."

"No, don't continue if it's going to hurt you," Twilight argued, "I promise you, we can figure this whole thing out."

"...Pinkie promise?"

"Cross my heart, hope to fly."

Lisa, are you absolutely sure you want to do this?

Sure I'm sure. Sam, I'm just gonna enter one last time to say goodbye to the characters I grew up around. I'm not quite sure if I'll remember them all perfectly, but I think I can remember enough to at least connect with and identify them. And besides, I'm going as myself this time. Twilight Sparkle is her own character now. You can slap me or something if I ever try to take control of her.

If you say so... but how are you going to do all of this? There aren't any models available that fit you, and without the transmitter, you're stuck with the old motion-limited physical controls too.

Stop worrying so much about me! I've got this, 'kay? Yeah, I'll just be sticking with the old headset and controllers I found in my closet, but I'll find a way to make things work. We always do. Besides, I already took a bit of time to write in some modifications to allow for myself to directly connect. Argall told me a bit earlier that he finished adding the exit routine to the legacy codebase I'm using, too. That way, when I disconnect, my character doesn't just drop like a stone.

Ok. Well I gotta get some sleep soon. I spent several hours catching up with my family, and my parents want to make me go out with some old friends tomorrow morning.

Sure. Personally, I've just been talking back-and-forth with Argall up until just an hour or so ago. You won't believe how fast Tim fell asleep once he was finished with dinner.

Nah, I'd probably believe it. Anyways, talk tomorrow!

Lisa stared for a couple moments as her friend's name greyed out. She turned her attention to the dusty, worn headset sitting beside her old diary on the bed. Reaching out with a hand, the girl gingerly grasped the headset, cradling it in her hand as she set it down in her lap.

The controllers were already laid out beside the keyboard; the old, console-style prototype controller, and the slightly newer pair of motion controllers better suited for VR. Lisa's hands hovered over the prototype controller.

She glanced back up at the screen. The rudimentary 3D model she'd generated for herself would do for her purpose. She'd already textured it earlier as well, using some computer-accelerated image stitching and her webcam.

Hold up, she smiled, shifting her hands back to the mouse and keyboard, What am I doing? I haven't even added the model to the assets folder yet.

Lisa clicked on a folder, opening it and dragging the model assets into a folder labeled with her own name.

"There we go," she sighed to herself, "it's done."

A brief knock rapped on her door.

"Yeah?" Lisa answered, still looking at the screen, "Come in!"

Professor Argall opened the door, peeking into the room.

"Dad?" Lisa began, "What are you doing up so late? I thought you already went to bed!"

"Thought the same of you as well, Lisa," Argall shook his head, eyeing Lisa's screen. "What are you doing right now, anyway?"

"Saying goodbye."

Professor Argall paused for a moment, frowning as he let the girl's words sink in. A few clicks of Lisa's mouse were the only sounds to break the silence of the room.

"Goodbye," Argall repeated, "Lisa, you've spent so long in the simulations. Are you sure you want to cut yourself off from it so quickly?"

Lisa snorted. "Dad," she teased, "Are you trying to make me want to stay in there for longer? If you are, I'll gladly do it."

The Professor's frown softened. "No," he replied simply, "What I meant was that after spending so much time building yourself and befriending others within the simulation, wouldn't it be rude to simply enter to say goodbye? Why not do something memorable with the friends you left behind? There's even a chance that you may someday meet them in real life!"

"Sounds reasonable enough," Lisa shrugged as she started up the program. She pointed to the headset in her lap. "How long do you think I should spend in the simulation?"

Argall returned the gesture. "However long you think you want to take," he smiled, turning away. "I'll leave you some time alone now."

The door clicked softly behind him as he left.

Lisa glanced down at the headset, wiping the dusty casing with a finger. She glanced back to the glowing monitor in front of her, a login screen plastered across a bird's-eye view of Ponyville.

Character by character, the girl punched in her ages-old login information. A few seconds passed. Half a minute. Two.

Heh, Lisa mused as the login screen finally faded away, Looks like my old admin account's still active...

She leaned back with a smile as a simple character creation menu she'd just coded earlier replaced the screen.

Except this time, I'm entering as myself.

She clicked on the only available option - her locally-stored character assets.

Maybe when I'm done, I could open-source the changes I made. I wouldn't be using my personally-modded client for much longer after this...

The girl shook her head, pushing those thoughts to the back of her mind as she slipped the headset over her face. Immediately, her vision was greeted with a dark void. Reaching out, Lisa fumbled over her desk for the prototype controller.

Her fingers felt around the molded plastic, brushing over the analog sticks and buttons before settling over the grip on each side.

Finally, the darkness of the headset began to fade away, revealing instead an untextured dialogue box for coordinates.

She ignored the entry box, instead hovering the cursor over default location. Her smile grew wider as the box vanished and textures began to load onto the blank screen.

Lisa found herself looking at the familiar view of a hidden, out-of-bounds spawn area she'd added years ago while testing. She turned her head, admiring the ornate decorations fused into every detail of the room itself. Softly-glowing spirals pulsated in orange hues, the contour of their curves leading to the exit.

Tilting the movement control slightly forward, her virtual self began to make her way to the pony-sized door. Rather than opening it, she simply continued walking, phasing through the nonexistent collision detection underneath the textures.

Immediately, the warm scene of the spawn area was replaced by a landscape of rolling hills and green meadows. Lisa turned her character to the right, revealing the outer boundaries of Sweet Apple Acres. Step by step, the girl retraced her first steps in Equestria.

Even without the transmitter to handle sensory information from the simulations, Lisa could almost feel the crisp breeze blow past her as she walked. Up ahead, the leaves on the trees rustled with the wind, the branches swaying almost as if they were welcoming her back into the world.

Lisa's eyes widened within the headset as she spotted a certain farmpony beneath the trees. A faint memory, deeply-buried within her, began to resurface.

Applejack. Lisa smiled, sprinting towards the mare. Applejack, the honest farmpony, and friend to Twilight Sparkle.

Lisa raised her headset for a few seconds, grabbing the motion controllers off her desk and flipping them on as she set her gamepad down.

"A-Applejack!" she yelled, waving. "Applejack!"

The mare turned, glancing over her shoulder in the glimmering sunlight. Her character panting, Lisa let off the controls for a moment for her virtual self to recuperate.

"Applejack," she repeated again into the headset's mic, "it's me, Li... I mean, Twilight. Twilight Sparkle."

Applejack paused for a moment, turning around for a better view of the girl. Glancing up, she stared at Lisa's face.

"Twi?" she began, narrowing her eyes, "That really you?"

Lisa nodded. "Or at least, I was Twilight," she continued, "It's... complicated."

"Ah still can't quite say that I can see ya as Twilight, sugarcube," Applejack admitted, pushing the brim of her hat up, "Ya got'er voice, but nothin' else 'bout you seems to fit her all too much."

"It's fine," Lisa smiled, "I don't expect very many ponies to recognize me, anyways."

The girl fell silent, looking around at the countless trees surrounding them.

"Speaking of Twilight," she continued, turning her attention back to Applejack, "Have you seen her lately?"

"Can't say that Ah have. That mare's been up an' gone for quite some time now. I'd reckon we head for the castle an' check on her."

A dull whump sounded beside the two as a certain rainbow-maned pegasus fell from a tree.

"Rainbow Dash," Applejack scolded as she turned her attention away from Lisa, "How many times do Ah have ta tell ya to stop sleepin' on mah trees?"

Rainbow rolled onto her hooves, shaking leaves and dirt from her wings.

"Who's that?" she immediately began, spotting Lisa behind Applejack.

"An old friend of ours, Ah suppose."

Lisa waved silently in response.

"Does she know anything about Twi?"

"Actually, she says that she was Twilight."

Rainbow scrunched her muzzle. "Was?" she asked, "What do you mean, was? Isn't there just one Twilight?"

Applejack shrugged, turning back to Lisa.

"Say," she began again, "Have ya seen Pinkie anywhere, either?"

Lisa shook her head.

"Darnit," Applejack grumbled under her breath.

"But," Lisa raised a finger, "I do kind of know what happened to both Twilight and Pinkie."

Her character was nearly knocked over by Rainbow Dash. "Really?!" she beamed, "We've been looking for them all this time, and then not too long ago we saw this bright flash come from Twilight's castle! We tried to get in, but--"

"Alright, sugarcube," Applejack cut off, "Let's not overwhelm our new friend here right after meeting her, 'kay?"

The mare turned back to Lisa. "Come on," she gestured, "Let's get the rest of the girls. Ah have a feelin' that there might be a bit more to ya than we can see."

"Twilight, I have this weird feeling... almost like my body's trying to tell me something."

Twilight turned away from her window, glancing at her friend.

"It... it feels familar," Pinkie continued as she watched her tail's twitching, "but the other me in my head is saying to try to stop it. Do you think it's a sign for something?"

Twilight shrugged, opening her mouth to reply. Suddenly, she froze up, her pupils shrunken to pinpricks as she stood perfectly still. Pinkie continued staring at her tail, a blank expression on her face as its twitching halted.

"It's gone," she stated flatly, "I think I stopped it."

Twilight loosened up, panting heavily as she swayed on her hooves. She stood for a few more seconds before dropping limp to the floor.

"Twilight!" Pinkie yelped as Twilight hit the floor, "Twilight, are you okay?"

Spike jolted awake from the noise. His eyes immediately fell upon Twilight's unconscious form. Eyes wide, he turned to the equally-shocked Pinkie Pie.

A single groan escaped Twilight's lips as her hoof twitched.

"Twilight?" Pinkie repeated, stepping closer to her friend.

Spike climbed out of his basket, slowly approaching Twilight with an outstretched claw.

Just as suddenly as before, Twilight's eyes jolted open once more.

"I get it now," she whispered, "I... I think I'm starting to understand what's going on."

Pinkie watched Spike help Twilight back to her hooves.

"Pinkie," Twilight began, "There's another me out there."

"Another... you?" Spike frowned, "Twilight, how hard did you hit your head when you fainted?"

"Spike, now's not the time for jokes."

Pinkie hung her head. "But how do you know, Twilight?" she pressed, "How can you say for sure that all of a sudden, there's a whole new you running around?"

"I just do, Pinkie. I can't show you how I do, but... it's almost like Equestria itself is telling me that. When I locked up earlier, it felt like I was almost being forced into unconsciousness, like as if Equestria suddenly having another Twilight Sparkle meant that I didn't belong anymore."

"Twilight, seriously," Spike stressed, "Are you sure you're okay? You don't sound like yourself."

Twilight shook her head. "I'm not myself," she mumbled, "And neither is Pinkie. You aren't, either. We're all copies of who we once were-- what we once were."

She turned her gaze to Pinkie.

"I remember everything."

Author's Note:

It's certainly been a while, hasn't it?

I'd say that we've only got a few more chapters to go...

Also, this.

Just a quick 3D model I made of Lisa using the open-source MakeHuman tool. It may or may not be what the model Lisa uses in the simulation looks like, except with custom clothing instead of the defaults. :twilightsmile:

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