• Published 11th Dec 2017
  • 5,946 Views, 551 Comments

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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Be the change.

Lisa hesitated, looking away.

"Hey, what's the matter?" Samantha consoled, "Something come up?"

The girl shook her head, faking a smile at her friend. "No..." she trailed off, "I-it's just that it's really been a while, and with Celestia being completely different now as compared to when I first me--"

"Hold up, hold up! You've mentioned something 'bout Celestia being different twice now," Rainbow Dash deadpanned, "Is there something else we don't know still?"

"Well, for starters," Lisa began quietly, staring down at the floor, "she was originally one of you. She was one of the first ponies I put into the simulation, as sort of a way to console myself, and as a way to perfect the base AI program that runs all of you guys. Sh... she was actually originally my imaginary friend of sorts, from way back when I was just a little girl."

"That's... actually rather endearing," Rarity began, "Strange, yes, but still nevertheless endearing. So what is it that makes you so glum, darling?"

Lisa turned back to Samantha. "You remember the whole thing that went on with Celestia, right?" she mumbled, "How we originally planned for her to run off the AI program?"

Samantha stiffened at her friend's words, giving a slight nod in acknowledgment.

"...Yeah, why?"

"What happened to the person who volunteered to be Celestia after we purged the code?"

"After you what?!" Twilight exclaimed, shooting up from her seat.

"...purged the code?" Lisa repeated, cocking her head. "Anything wrong with that? "

"So," Twilight grumbled, "you say that we, the ponies of Equestria, live within a simulation, that we're just lines of code that can think and act. Think about what you just said, Lisa. What did you really do to Celestia?"

A short gasp escaped the girl's lips as she shrunk back. "O-oh, I... I never really thought of it that way. I mean, with Twilight, yes, I wanted to at least keep her the same, but with Celestia being an early test of things... there were at least a couple hundred versions of her that were deleted as time passed while we were testing and tweaking things..."

She shrunk away further, hiding her face in her hands as she fell silent.

"I-I just wanted to make her seem real..." Lisa whimpered, "If you really think that deleting so many previous incarnations of her is the same as killing her, I'll... I can just leave, a-and... I guess, never come back..."

"Hey," Samantha comforted, "This isn't only on you. We both did things like this. Don't forget about the reason why this is the fourth incarnation of Equestria as a whole. We were still young back then, and we still are. And besides, the deleted code for Celestia didn't simply disappear, remember? We simply clipped out whatever broke and rewrote it! Nothing was truly lost in the end, and even if we did ultimately decide against running Celestia on an AI, she's still there, isn't she?"

"I... I guess."

Samantha sighed. "Anyways," she continued, turning back to the mares in the room, "if you really are all that worried about what happened to Celestia's... er, code, you really don't need to look any further than Discord."

The room instantly dropped into complete silence.


"Wait, wait!" Samantha intervened, "Before anyone jumps to conclusions, we can explain. Celestia's original code granted her full access to every aspect of the simulation, essentially putting her on our level of control. For a time, things seemed to work out pretty well, with the simulation itself well on its way to completion. The trouble came when we tried to develop Celestia's personality. We initially just left her as sort of a blank canvas, so that she'd be able to naturally form one herself. Short to say, things got a little..."

"Chaotic." Twilight snorted in amusement, "Well... I guess that kinda explains the sheer power that Discord holds, but why did you decide to keep him around, anyways?"

Lisa looked away.

"It was my idea to salvage what would eventually become Discord," Samantha continued, "Lisa planned on using it just as a reference for later iterations of the AI program, which would undergo several more rewrites before we tried again with ponies. I... I guess at the time, I thought that it would make the world a bit more interesting to have a program that would consistently stretch the rules of the world."

"And so you just left him around?"

Samantha shook her head. "He still was an incarnation of Celestia at the time, but I modeled him a new form to fit his personality."

"So," Rainbow Dash snickered, "What you're saying is, Discord used to be a girl?"

Samantha shrugged. "You could say that, I guess. You'd have to ask him yourself though, and I don't see him around at the moment."

Lisa let out a downtrodden sigh.

"Hm? Lisa, you alright?" Samantha asked her friend, "If you don't want to stick around, we could leave at any time you want."

The girl shook her head. "No, it's not that," she mumbled, "I... I just feel bad about what I've done in the past. I very well could've destroyed the exact thing I created this place for, and just knowing that I caused so much hurt..."

A single, digital tear ran down her character's cheek, paralleling Lisa as she took off her headset for a moment.

"I just wanted to make a friend who I could trust and feel safe with," she continued, "I thought all this time that I succeeded, that I could be happy with myself."

She wiped away another tear with her palm. "I-in the end, I ended up tearing down that same trust I was building up. I fundamentally changed one of the most important people... ponies in my life, against their will."

"Lisa, don't be so hard on yourself," Samantha pat her friend on the back. "Look at yourself. You say these things, but in the end, does it really define you?"

Lisa slowly shook her head, glancing up to meet the collective eyes of the Mane Six.

"Do you really think you're a terrible person for what you did?"

Lisa nodded.

"You're not, Lis," Samantha sighed, kneeling down beside her friend. She leaned forward, staring Lisa in the eyes. "You are a wonderful person, Lisa. Even if you made that mistake, it's behind you now. Think about it for a moment. Has that one action really done as much as you think it has? Think about Celestia now. She's enjoying herself in Equestria, and the same goes for Discord. If they ever held anything against you, then it's already long-since been forgiven. Even if you think that everything's gonna crumble, it won't. Do you believe me?"

Another nod.

Samantha took her friend's hands into her own, squeezing them softly.

"Promise me this, Lisa," Samantha continued, "Promise me that you'll stop dwelling on the past, whether it be your childhood, your upbringing, or this. Live in the moment, and anticipate the future. Promise that you'll believe in yourself, no matter what the circumstances may be. Promise me that you will not let anything bring you down because you'll know that in the end, you'll still have friends. You've still got family. And you've got your whole future waiting for you."

Samantha leaned back, her hands slipping away from Lisa's as she sat on the floor, awaiting a response.

"I promise," Lisa whispered, a hint of a smile beginning to return, "Now, let's go meet Celestia."

Spike tugged at Twilight's tail as the rest of the girls filed out.

"Should I watch the castle while you're gone?"

"Go ahead," Twilight replied, "Just... try not to empty the fridge of all our ice cream this time around, 'kay?"

Spike saluted.

"I will make sure I do not!"

Twilight rolled her eyes with a smile and followed after her friends.

"Are we there yet?"

"For the last time, Pinkie," Twilight groaned, "We'll be there soon."

"Hmf!" Pinkie huffed, sinking back into her seat.

Lisa sat quietly, watching the scenery rush past the train's windows. A slight smile crept over her face as she took in the vibrant view.

Most of the others, save for Twilight and Pinkie, had long since fallen asleep in their seats. Lisa glanced over to her friend, who continued to stare straight ahead with a blank expression.

Must've left to do something while we're waiting, Lisa sighed, I wonder what she's doing.

Lisa slipped off the headset, taking a deep breath as she stretched in her seat. Yawning, she stood up, leaving the device on her desk as she wandered to her window. She sat on her bedside, half-staring out the old window. Seemingly for the first time ever, her mind was clear. A blissful silence filled her head as she lay down with a whump, the bed creaking loudly underneath. Nothing swirled about her head. No voices, no fears, no dreading for what was to come.


She closed her eyes.

She opened them again.

She let out a shallow breath.

She rolled over, digging her face into the soft blanket underneath.

She let out another breath, listening as it filtered through the fabric.


She closed her eyes.

"Lisa? Lisa, are you sleeping again?"

Lisa jolted up from her desk, blinking away the final wisps of drowsiness. The soft glow of the classroom's light fixtures lit up the scene around her. She blinked again, staring in confusion.

"Lisa!" a noticeably younger Samantha chided playfully, pointing at the teacher as he helped another student on an assignment. "I had to wake you up, or else someone else would!"

"W-who are you again?" Lisa felt her younger self stammer, "I don't remember all the names yet."

Samantha smiled, glancing at their teacher for a moment before scribbling out her name on a corner of her notebook paper and tearing it out. She handed it to Lisa.

"Samantha?" Lisa whispered, staring up at the girl who sat beside her, "That's a nice name."

"I like your name too!" Samantha beamed, drawing a look of surprise from the teacher.


"Wanna be friends?" Samantha continued in a whisper, "We could sit with each other at lunch and stuff, ooh! And, and maybe even go on playdates sometimes at our houses!"

"O-okay," Lisa whimpered quietly, squirming in her seat, "I guess we can..."

"My mom and dad said that next week we could go to the arcade at the mall downtown! Do you think your mom and dad will let you come with me? I heard that they added some new virtual reality games and stuff, but I really want to try and get a giant teddy bear from the prize store!"

Lisa remained silent this time around.

"Hello, anyone in there?" Samantha giggled, reaching over and poking Lisa in the arm, "Come on, are you going to say anything?"

"Samantha," the teacher's voice rung out, "Don't disturb your classmates, honey. Lisa looks like she wants to be by herself right now, okay?"

"Aw, okay." Samantha sighed, leaning back into her seat.

Lisa turned her attention back to her multiplication tables. Another scrap of paper landed on her desk. She glanced at Samantha, who waved enthusiastically back. With a small huff of irritation, she unfolded the note.

Hi Lisa! I'm Samantha, but you might already know that. I was thinking that you looked kind of lonely because you were all quiet and stuff, so I was trying to cheer you up! But you still don't look very happy still, so I'm just wondering if you're sad about something. Are you?

She took another look at Samantha, then back to the note. Pushing her classwork to the side, she flipped the note around and wrote her reply.

I'm sad because I don't have a mom or dad anymore.

Lisa handed the note back. Eagerly, Samantha began reading... only for her upbeat and witty demeanor to instantly sink as she read the girl's response. She crumpled up the note and stuffed it into her pocket, giving a solemn glance towards her classmate as she did so.

"Samantha, please move to the empty seat behind Lisa," the teacher reprimanded softly, "She looks uncomfortable with you next to her."

Samantha nodded, standing up and dragging her backpack behind her as she moved seats. She gave an empathetic nod to her classmate as she passed.

Lisa laid her head down on her desk, burying her face in the sleeves of her shirt.

"Lisa," Samantha's voice faintly called through the headset, "Lisa, we're here!"

The girl groaned, rolling onto her back and rubbing her eyes.

"Lisa? Hey Lis, time to get up, we're getting off the train!"

She groaned again, propping herself up with an arm as she groggily turned in the direction of Samantha's voice. "Coming," she answered, crawling across her bed.

Lisa snatched the controller off her desk, setting it on her lap. She took another moment to reach for the headset, straining her arm further to grab it before placing the device over her face.

"'Kay, I'm back," Lisa yawned, her character finally stirring.

"About time you woke," Samantha mused, walking up to the girl, "I was about to ask the others if we should just carry you off."

Lisa made a face, blowing a playful raspberry at her friend before standing up. She stole a quick glance at the view outside, pausing as her eyes followed the intricate architecture of Canterlot Castle, complete with its seemingly-impossible cliffside towers.

"C'mon, Lizzy," Samantha urged, taking Lisa by the hand, "Before the train leaves while we're still on it! You can go sightseeing later."

Samantha gave a silent nod to the train's conductor as the two practically sprinted out the door, comedically falling into a heap on the station platform.

"Heh," Rainbow Dash chuckled, "Definitely took you a while, sleepyhead. Your friend was yelling for you over and over before she decided to get back on board to wake you up."

"It's fine," Samantha shrugged dismissively, "As long as we're all here, y'know?"

"Yuppers!" Pinkie squealed, bursting out from seemingly nowhere. She froze for a moment, staring fearfully at Samantha, who only smiled back in return.

"It's alright, Pinkie," she reassured, "Don't worry about it anymore."

The mare's beaming smile returned. "Okie-dokie!" she burst, bounding ahead of the group. "Do you think Celestia will let me into the castle kitchens again? I could make her a super duper cake if she does!"

"Perhaps," Rarity commented, "you should instead focus more on why we came here, darling. After all, we have all the time in the world to entertain the Princess."

Twilight let out a soft snort, playfully rolling her eyes. "Not quite sure how I'd interpret that last part, Rarity," she began, "But I agree. Let's just work on things one step at a time for now."

A wave of agreement passed over the group as they continued towards the castle entrance. Lisa stared wide-eyed at the lustrous greenery of the surrounding gardens; rows upon rows of dense hedges formed a labyrinth to both sides, lined with masterfully trimmed statuettes of various figures throughout Equestria's history. An older stallion trotted past to the right, shears gripped tight in his mouth as he moved onto the detailing of yet another shrub.

"Did Equestria do this?" Lisa whispered, lightly grazing her friend on the elbow, "I don't remember anyone on the team ever modeling anything like this before."

She gestured vaguely at the surrounding scenery as they continued walking, pausing for a moment as a pair of Solar Guards bowed to Twilight, much to the latter's bemusement. After nearly a minute of back-and-forth discussion over why Twilight should simply be referred to by her own name, the two guards ultimately relented and opened the gates for the group.

The inside of the castle was even more ornate than the outside. Long tapestries adorned with emblems of the sun and moon draped over towering stained glass murals. Age-old paintings hung along the walls, depicting long-forgotten events that never in reality happened.

Lisa paused, stopping in front of one such painting: An angled, stylized phoenix, its wings outspread, depicted above the Equestrian flag.

"Lisa, c'mon, what's holding you up?"

"This," the girl gestured, her eyes still set on the picture. "It looks... familiar, to say the least."

"Lisa..." Samantha sighed, backtracking to her friend, "We're almo--"

She caught a glimpse of the painting, letting out an amused snort.

"Well," she chuckled, turning back around, "I think I know what happened to the beta logo for this project."

"Wait, what--"

"Come on!" Samantha shouted, breaking into a sprint, "Let's catch up with the rest of the girls. Don't you wanna see Celestia?"

"Yeah, wait up!" Lisa answered, running after her friend.

More murals and paintings passed the two on either side of the hallway, complemented by the occasional statuette or display case. Samantha's words repeated in Lisa's mind as she ran.

I think I know what happened to the beta logo for this project.

A Phoenix, Lisa mused, Phoenix... rise from the ashes... oh. Very funny, Sam. Pretty sure we never even had a beta logo in the first place.

The two girls caught up with the rest of the group just before the throne room doors.

"Hey," Lisa playfully punched Samantha on the arm, "Once we're done with this, I wanna know what other Easter eggs you snuck in without me knowing. 'Kay?"

"Sure," Samantha shrugged. "Though, the Phoenix logo was something you made, Lis."


Samantha nodded silently as the throne room doors opened, revealing the surprisingly sparse throne room.

"Hello?" Twilight called, her voice echoing through the chamber, "Princess Celestia?"

"Come in, Twilight," the Princess's voice returned, "You too, Lisa, Samantha."

Lisa felt her hands tense around the controller at the second part. She glanced at her friend, who simply gave a sly wink before setting off into the room.

The Princesses' thrones were evidently empty as they drew near, with both Celestia and Luna absent from their familiar seats. Twilight and the rest followed close behind as Samantha led the way, taking a sharp turn at the final pillar before the thrones themselves.

"Where are we going?" Pinkie squeaked, bouncing alongside Samantha. She stopped short, staring at a marked rectangular outline in the floor below the window. "I don't remember a trapdoor being here!"

Samantha shrugged, tapping a foot on the hidden pad in the floor. With an audibly mechanical whirr, the outline sunk into the ground, pieces of it halting at regular intervals to form a short staircase. A soft glow flashed along the walls, fading away to reveal ornate flickering lanterns lining the stairwell. The mechanical whirr returned, growing to a deep rumble as additional steps seemingly materialized further down.

Without another word, Samantha took Lisa by the hand and descended the stairs. Twilight hesitated for a moment, peering down the stairwell behind the two girls. She glanced up at the others, finding only blank stares. She took a deep breath, setting a hoof upon the first step. Then the next. And the one after.

Soon enough, all six mares had broken out into a trot, following close behind Samantha and Lisa as the path began to curve, the stone-crystal stairs giving way to metal and glass ones. The castle around them slowly faded away as a seemingly-infinite span of sky stretched into the horizon.

Finally, the group reached the bottom; small, rolling hills wrapped around in concentric circles around them, each hilltop dotting the landscape topped with a hovering item of some sort or another.

Celestia stood at the center hill, alongside Luna.

"What... what is this place?" Twilight murmured, squinting at the expanse of hills continuing into the distance.

"I-it's the debug room," Lisa stuttered, staring directly at the two Princesses. "I remember this place. We kept copies of major building blocks of the entire simulation here for testing."

She turned to Samantha. "I thought we removed this area after we released. Why's it still here?"

"Because we figured it'd be best to have a familiar backdrop to our conversation," Celestia answered, cantering down from the stairs. "Samantha and I spoke earlier, while you were on the train. We wanted somewhere out of the way. Private. She brought up the debug room and managed to create a new entrance for it on the way here."

"Wha--" Twilight trailed off, whirling between the Celestia that just spoke and the one standing on the center hill, "Huh? How are there two of you, Princess?"

"Test model," Samantha quickly replied, "Needed to make sure the Princesses looked right before we launched."

Rainbow Dash groaned from the back of the group, grumbling under her breath about being surrounded by eggheads.

"So..." Lisa murmured, idly swaying on her feet, "I guess this is it. This'll be my last experience in Equestria. I... I didn't think something like this would ever happen. But--"

"Things will work out, Lisa," Celestia consoled, wrapping her wings around the girl. "Both Samantha and my predecessor have told me so much about you. You ought to be proud of yourself."


"You've got a bright future ahead. Think about all that you'll do with your skill and knowledge. Look at me, another person just like you, speaking through a magical horse princess."

"Sh-should we really be down here?" Fluttershy peeped, "To hear Celestia say something like that, and with all that's going on... I don't think we belong down here..."

She shook her head. "It's just too much..." she mumbled, backing away. "Too much..."

"You have permission to come and go as you please," Celestia assured, "If you feel uncomfortable, you may wait in the throne room."

"Thank you, yer Majesty," Applejack tipped her hat, turning and ascending the stairs.

One by one, the rest of the mares disappeared up the stairway, leaving only Twilight and Pinkie behind.

"Is there anything else you'd like to say?" Celestia began again, breaking the silence. "If not, then I guess... this is goodbye for you, Lisa."

"Do... you think it'd be possible to bring back the original Celestia?" Lisa asked in a near-whisper, "Y'know... the one based on my original imagining of her. It doesn't have to be for that long..."

"Mmm... yeah, I think we could pull that off," Samantha hummed, "But what would we do with her once our little get together's over? We can't just have two Celestias running around."

"As long as she isn't outright deleted afterward, I am fine with anything Lisa says," Twilight commented, raising a hoof.

There was a pause.

"Merge her with me," Celestia answered, "If Twilight doesn't wish for the old AI-based Celestia to be terminated afterward, then it would be best to allow her to linger in this body. After all," she nodded at Lisa and Samantha, "I have no AI associated with myself, unlike the two of you prior to your disconnection."

"A-are you sure you want to do that, though?" Lisa stammered, "I mean, you don't have to if you don't want to. I don't want to hurt anyone again, and--"

"The most that will happen is that our memories will become shared," Celestia cut in, "I can assure you, Lisa, there is no danger in doing this. Celestia... er, I guess, myself as a character works differently than anyone else's. I'm a bit more of... a rotation of people, rather than a single person, so if anything does indeed happen, I can easily be replaced."


Celestia gave a slight nod, turning to Samantha.

"How quick could you get the AI up and running?"

"Mmm... I'd say at best maybe an hour or so. There's a good chance there's gonna be several things to patch to bring the whole thing up to date. Of course, I could instead implant the current base models with memories of Celestia."

"But how would you do that?" Twilight began, "Wouldn't you have to somehow extract the memories of this Celestia to do that?"

Samantha shook her head. "Back when we were still getting things working, Lizzy decided to write out by hand a set of premade memories for Celestia, mostly to get the ball rolling." she paused, glancing at her friend. "Though... I guess she also made it for personal reasons..."

"Either way," she continued, "There's not too much of a difference between the old code and the current base anyway. I'll just use the current one to save on time, 'kay?"

Lisa hesitated.


"If you want, Lis, you can log off for now. It's still gonna take me a little while to get things up. I'll just send a message when it's done. I'm just gonna talk to Celestia for a moment about what I'm doing."

"Thanks," Lisa sighed, a sad smile on her face. "I... just... thanks for doing this, Sam, Celestia. You don't know how much I needed this."

Lisa lifted the headset from her face, her controller still clutched in hand as she stretched in her seat. She glanced at the clock, its red digits glowing in the darkness of night.

Huh. Two-thirty AM already. I guess this'll turn out to be an all-nighter...

The girl let out a long yawn, letting her arms droop over the sides of her chair. The controller slipped from her fingers, thumping softly onto the carpet underneath. A flicker of light from beyond her window caught her eye.

Standing up, Lisa strolled around her bed, paying mind to pick up her controller and set both it and her headset onto the desk. The twinkle of light persisted as she drew closer to the window. She opened the blinds for a better view.

A sliver of shimmering cityscape, a section of the world visible just beyond the adjacent exterior walls of the next house over. Lisa stood, frozen in awe as the flickering lights of the city beyond reflected in her eyes. She leaned closer to the window, glancing further to the left as the house next door obscured less and less of the view.

Lisa yelped, flinching as she hit her head on the window.

Heavy footsteps came not a minute after, thumping on the carpeted floor as they neared her door.

"Lisa..." Professor Argall grumbled, squinting in the light from the girl's screen as he poked his head into the room, "Do you know what time it is?"


The Professor shook his head slowly. "It's alright," he dismissed with a yawn, "I know what you're doing already. Just be a little quieter, please?"


"Also, be more careful around the windows. You still have that habit of bumping your noggin on 'em."

"I-- wait, what?"

Argall let out an amused snort.

"Just be a little more careful, alright?"

He disappeared behind the door, closing it with a soft click.

Lisa turned back to the window. Light upon light upon light shone into the night. A golden-blue sea of headlights seemed to undulate over the interstate that bisected the city. Her eyes turned upward, taking in the endless night sky. Barely-visible stars peeked out from behind dark blue-grey whisps of cloud, interrupted by the one occasional airplane passing by.

A dim memory resurfaced in the girl's mind.

This place... this all used to be barren, arid land, Professor Argall's words echoed faintly, Back when I moved from the older suburbs to this place, it was almost entirely farmland and ranches. It's amazing to see just how quickly this city's progressed over the decades, y'know? All because we decided to be the change for once.

Be the change.

The phrase stood out to her.

Be the change, because if we just decided to sit around and wait for someone else to do it for us, then no progress will ever be made.

Be the change.

Be the change.

Be the change.

Lisa gazed towards her computer, her headset and controller still sitting on her desk.

I am the change, the girl smiled, falling away from the window onto her bed. I was part of this, and so was Argall. My parents, too... we were all part of the change.

She let out a long, drawn-out yawn as she stared at her ceiling. Minutes passed as she continued to stare, every blink forcing her eyelids closer and closer to shutting. Soon enough, Lisa drifted off to sleep.

The bed creaked under the girl as she shifted, rolling to one side as she buried her face in a pillow. A knock came at her door.

"Lisa, wake up! I made breakfast for you and Tim already!" Argall called, followed by another brief rap on the door.

Lisa jolted awake, crying out quietly in surprise as she squinted in the bright morning light. She rubbed her eyes, sitting up with a pillow-mark on her left cheek as she looked towards her computer. The screen continued to project the view of the debug room from the headset, though any sign of Celestia or the others was long gone.

She scrambled across her bed, nearly falling over the side as she slipped off the sheets. She shoved the headset and controller aside, pulling up her keyboard and switching over to her chat program.

100+ new messages

[Earlier messages... click to expand.]

Viewing recent messages.

Lisa wake up

Lisa wake up

Lisa wake up

Lisa wake up

Lisa wake up

Come on wake up! I finished getting everything set up and when I come back you're completely asleep!

Well, I guess it's pretty reasonable anyway for you to be sleeping considering the time of day. Just send a message or something when you're ready.

Lisa let out a relieved sigh, pulling her hands away from the keyboard and mouse. She eyed her headset for a moment before stepping away. The Professor knocked on the door again.

"Lisa, your breakfast is getting cold! Tim's already eating downstairs, aren't you gonna join him?"

"Yeah, coming!" Lisa responded, turning to her bedroom door, "Hold on a sec!"

"'Kay then, don't take too long."

The girl turned back to the monitor, rattling off a quick message to Samantha.

Eating breakfast, I'll be there in a bit!

Lisa wolfed down her scrambled eggs, pausing for a moment only to wash it down with a glass of orange juice.

"Hey, why the rush, sis?" Timothy began, poking his eggs before spearing a tater tot with his fork, "Something on your mind?"

Lisa nodded enthusiastically, swallowing and picking up a tater tot, popping it into her mouth.

"Yeah, I'm finally gonna reunite with the original Celestia, the one that I used to have as an imaginary friend all those years ago!"

"...I can't really relate to that, but..." Timothy popped an awkward thumbs-up. "Good luck on that, I guess?"

The boy watched as his sister scarfed down the rest of her breakfast, scraping her plate clean with her fork before bringing them to the sink.

Lisa paused, glancing at Professor Argall.

"Just leave 'em in the sink. I'll wash them later."

The clatter of kitchenware into the sink came in response.

"'Kay, thanks!" the girl chirped, rushing back up the stairs.

Professor Argall watched as she disappeared up the steps. He chuckled, shaking his head as he scrolled down his news feed.

"Ah, she's never gonna change, is she?"

Lisa leaped into her seat, mounting the headset over her eyes as she grabbed her controller. Her vision was immediately reimmersed into the surrounding view of the debug room.

She waited for a moment, folding her character's arms and tapping her foot impatiently.

A minute passed. Two. Three.

"Aw, heck," the girl grumbled to herself with a smirk, "Probably should've sent Sam a message first."

Lisa pushed her headset up from her eyes and fired up the chat.

Hey Samantha, I'm here now!

Heh. Took you long enough. We're back up in the throne room. Celestia was getting annoyed at having to forcefully separate Twilight from the debug models of everything. Don't get me started on the fangirling after she realized just what the purpose of the room was.

So... she got bored.

Yep. Pinkie didn't take long before joining in as well, so we all just moved back upstairs.

Lisa pulled her headset back over her eyes, blindly rattling off one more message.

Got it. Meetcha there!

She nudged the movement controls forward on her controller, her headset's view lurching into a sprint up the stairs as she did so. Up and up she went, glass and metal gradually being replaced once more by the familiar stone stairwell of the throne room. The faint voices of the others echoed throughout the entire flight of stairs as she ascended.

"Oh, here she comes!"

"Celestia, are you ready?"

"Ooh! Can we stare at her the entire time when she gets to the top?!"

"...No, Pinkie. Let's not do that."

The girl stopped at the top of the stairs, her character lightly panting from the exertion. All six of the elements, plus Celestia and Samantha, stood around her.

"Did... did you do it?" Lisa hesitated, her eyes darting between her friend and Celestia.

"Yes, Twilight," Celestia responded, "I am currently running on fully-autonomous code."

Twilight glanced at Samantha, her brow raised.

"Lisa used to see herself as you, so it'd probably be natural for this Celestia to do the same, however confusing it might be."

Lisa fidgeted on her feet. "So... what about your human user? Where are they?"

"She's taking some off-time," Samantha replied, "Most likely, she'll ask to be switched out when she returns."

Lisa nodded slowly, turning back to Celestia. "C-could we maybe... just talk?"

A smile spread across Celestia's face. "Just like old times?"

"Just like old times."

Twilight took a step towards the Princess. "Should we--"

"Let them have some time alone," Samantha cut off, "I feel like Lisa's been waiting all this time for this one moment."

"Twilight, I'd like to know," Celestia began, walking beside Lisa, "How long has it been since I entered my dormancy? Your friend has told be all about what has happened as of late, and I truly am curious."

"Hm... I'd have to say about a decade, give or take a year or so," Lisa answered. She let out a heavy sigh. "Geez, it's really been that long already, hasn't it?"

"I suppose so. What new adventures have you set yourself on?"

Lisa's eyes wandered as she put her hands in her pockets. "Well," she began, "I guess I could say that pretty much everything that's happened lately began not too long ago when I... kinda disconnected from Equestria."

"My, that must've been quite the experience!"

The girl nodded, smiling in comfort at the familiar sound of Celestia- her Celestia's manufactured phrases.

"Tell me, what other grand adventures have you come across?"

Lisa stopped beside a window, glancing at the grand view of Canterlot below. "After I figured out what was happening, I also helped in keeping order in the city."

She paused. "Heh, I even found out that Spike was actually my brother all along while I was at it!"

Celestia sat down beside the girl, sharing in admiring the view.

"...Sorry if I'm not talking as much as I used to when I was younger," Lisa apologized meekly, "I-it just feels nice to be around someone you trust."

"What about your friends?" Celestia responded after a couple of seconds, "Don't you trust them as well?"

"Oh, don't worry, if anyone's to be trusted, it's certainly Samantha," the girl chuckled, "Not to offend her or anything though, but I really don't feel like I can talk about anything personal around her, though."

"Mm," Celestia agreed, "I do remember that she is often rather unempathetic at times. How does she fare now?"

"She's better than before, I guess," Lisa shrugged, finally sitting herself down beside the alicorn. Her character blew at a stray strand of hair. "I think part of the reason why she's more empathetic now than before was because of her experience with Pinkie. She genuinely wished to get rid of that mare for a while, but eventually, the two made up for each other. It's just amazing to see how a single set of interactions could change a person forever."


Lisa turned to face her former imaginary friend.

"You don't have any programmed responses for something like that, do you?"

Celestia shook her head.

"I thought Samantha was able to port your memories to the new system?"

Celestia shook her head again.

"For the sake of you, Twilight, your friend managed to painstakingly repair me to full working order before finally returning me to Equestria."

"Oh?" Lisa hummed, "Well, she's definitely the type to do something like that, anyway. Always trying to aim a little higher."

She unfolded her legs, propping herself up with her arms.

"Me?" she continued, "I'm just a hopeless girl who lost her parents. A girl who decided to run away from her problems in the most over-the-top way possible."

"Don't say such things of yourself!" Celestia scolded softly, her wings fluttering ever so slightly, "Take a look at all the good that you've done because of that. Think not of just what you did for yourself, but what you've done for the world."

Lisa rolled her eyes with a smirk. "I helped a family friend along with my own best friend to build on top of the work my dad left behind. I helped make a place for anyone to escape their problems to."


"Joking," the girl laughed, "I know, I know. I had pretty much the exact same talk as this with both Argall and Samantha. I don't think I need to go over this a third time."

Celestia nodded, mechanically recomposing herself.

"I would still like to know why you have chosen to reload me, rather than to simply speak with my successor."

"...It just doesn't feel the same..." Lisa trailed off, "Like, sure, talking to another person is nice and all, and having Samantha around is great too, but being around you just has a kind of personal feel to it, y'know? It's just... comforting, I guess, to talk to someone who actually understands."

"I see."

The girl let out a heavy sigh, standing back up with a small grunt. "Well, I think I'm just about ready. I can't stay here forever, after all..."

"Ready... for what?" Celestia cocked her head, "I do not understand your motives at the moment."

"To leave Equestria. For good, this time."

"Why do you wish to leave, my dear Twilight?"

"I'm starting to get pretty close to my thirties, Celestia. I came to Equestria in my late teens, and spent a decade recovering from... well, everything. I genuinely feel better now, and I believe that it's finally time for me to find my place in the world."

"Ah," Celestia sighed, "I understand. I presume then that I will once more be relegated to the archives?"

Lisa paused for a moment, staring first at Celestia, then back out the window.

"...We'll see."

Author's Note:

Sometimes, we feel helpless in our own lives. Sometimes, we think we can only sit and wait for the worst to come. We feel that we cannot escape the world we live in, or the stress we're under.

It's okay to feel helpless sometimes.

It's okay to feel hopeless sometimes.

What matters is that you be the change. Even if it's something small -- a passing smile, a wave at a friend -- it will leave an impact, on both yourself and others.

You don't have to change the world. The world doesn't have to change you.

You are in charge of yourself. You. Matter.

Be the change, and brighten up the day... for both yourself and others.

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