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Trick Question

Here, feel this.  (Patreon & book n/a.)


Having restored one of the old traditions of the hive, Thorax now has a new idea for spreading friendship across Equestria: transforming everypony into changelings.

Twilight Sparkle and Starlight Glimmer are the first to learn of his plans. Soon, Starlight's experiences will lead her to question what it means to be a person.

Based on an infamous story I wrote twenty years previous.

Chapters (2)
Comments ( 65 )

This is one of the most disturbing stories I've read so far. Kudos! I'm faving this, though I don't think I can bear to read it again.

What really gets me apart from the well-meaning changelings performing an atrocity is that with a few small, but very relevant differences (you know, minor stuff like reversibility, consent and maintaining an intact personality), this would be quite the amazing experience. Instead, we get mind and body horror in a convenient package.

Have you read Nexus by any chance? It explores a similar topic, but has a radically different theme and outlook (SF exploring the pros/cons/risks/abuses and different contexts of hiveminding as well as society's reactions to the emerging "borg").


I'm faving this, though I don't think I can bear to read it again.

I've written a few stories like that. :trollestia:

Haven't read the story trilogy you mentioned, no.

I really enjoy happy stories, like this one, where everypony is looking out for everypony else's best interests.

I can understand why some like this sort of thing, and it's rather horrifying.

That being said, I'm pretty sure Thorax is going to have started a world war and caused much more suffering in the end. Changelins have showed remarkably little subtlety in the show, and this is going to get out eventually. Mass suicides and violent reprisals are going to pop up, which Thorax will probably ignore or be haunted by for the rest of his life, unless he programs the capability of remorse out of his brain too.

Anyway, nice job on the spook factor, although I can't say I like this story mostly because I'm utterly revolted by the premise and how the story treats it. This is more a bias on my part.


This story has gotten me thinking on a potential spinoff, involving Chrysalis and the inherent problems she brings to the boar.

I think at this point the only real question is whether you enact Exterminatus, or just let Doomguy have playtime for a while.

Seriously though, scenarios like that are why guys like this exist.

.... And now that I think about it a bit, raw unflinching hatred would probably be a pretty decent defense against them. Fear, they clearly expect. Even animosity. But pure hatred coming off of a prospective meal - for a race that consumes love, specifically - would probably get them thinking twice.

That was terrifyingly creepy. I shuddered more than once.

Awesome job!

You arw making me rout for Starlight. How dare you.

if this wasn't the end I might have still read but as is nope

It was a fun read, keep it up.

No. You haven't beenfixedyet

C'mon Twilight, betray Celestia, it's for her own good:heart: seriously though, definitely getting Order of Spring vibes big time.

Roughly equal parts thought-provoking, disturbing, and arousing. In other words, a Trick Question story.

So, traumatic (pseudo)insemination. Wasn’t expecting that. Anyone notice that the end state of the process fits the descriptions of the Buddhist Nirvana?

the same file you're reading right now

Thus marks the moment Misty Spell and many, many others became changelings I suppose.

I am fairly curious about what being a formatted changeling would be like from a first person perspective, but I suppose that'll have to wait until my own conversion :raritywink:

Sans minus some things, such as the difference between self-discovery and submission. Hm..

Starlight's disintegration was so sad. How she thought she deserved to die and that her past was so sad even the changelings wanted to cry.

We must all be assimilated into the Hive. Join us. Be one with us. We must be all. We will be all.

That was strangely sexual. Good but like most fics that really start to disturb me it's gone too soon. Might have to check out what else you've written.

Not cool, Thorax, not cool.

Personally i think this lack of subtelty was thanks to Chrysalis, Without her, there is changelings who can imitate a known pony, without someone who knows them well catching on, like Starlight didn't realise Trixie was one. That and because they are converting the pony instead of imitating, the disguise is basically complete, it means their 'invasion' this time, will be much more stealthy as all they need to do is have the changelings be sleeper agents, again like Trixie was, use their old personality from the hive mind, and they will be totally the old self, right until ready to pounce/

Like those bugs that make themselves as bad tasting as possible.

I'd say they aren't the same ponies entirely-mostly because they lack the qualities of the ponies which led to the capability of discord between them.

But, while I'm not saying Thorax's idea can't go global or be more effective, there's severe...flaws, with it. So far they've tried incorporating ponies who were relatively nice into the hivemind, but what if they go for outright evil ones?

For example, imagine them busting open Tartarus to try and bring Tirek into the fold. I don't see that ending well-Tirek is a power obsessed maniac who doesn't care if he murders to accomplish his goals, on top of his magic eating ability. Hell, hooking him up to the hivemind might be among the worst damn things you could do-imagine if he were able to, while what little individuality remained, start eating magic through the connection.

Sombra might be possible, but he's also so insane as to only scream crystals and try to murder and enslave. It's entirely possible that the only way you could incorporate him into the hivemind would be by shattering his mind completely and removing most of what makes Sombra Sombra.

The conversion process seems to separate the person from their desires and put them into a computer/robotic state of objectivity. Tirek and Sombra would be just as much Twilight Sparkle or Trixie or Fluttershy as they would be Tirek or Sombra. Essentially calling up files to act upon while having a new preset base personality. At least that's how I've taken it from what I understand.

That's.... really what they're doing already. Like if you ripped off my head and wore it as a hat and said you were totally me, see, you had my face and everything.

Feeding them enough negative experiences would likely sicken them, given their dependence on love; if a bunch of people who truly hated with all of their hearts and souls were absorbed, that could do some damage. Also, if they really are perpetually linked once they're part of the hive and share experiences constantly, in real time, then it -might- be possible to screw them up pretty badly via torture or other methods of inflicting extreme pain. It depends just how actively they share thoughts and sensations, and whether they can selectively block out some but not others. Potentially you could debilitate one and severely impede ALL of them.

Then Nexus speaks.

"Starlight Glimmer, commence with personality separation and low-level format."

If this is the end of story and the story is told from Starlight's perspective, then does that mean Glimmy died?

The fastest way to update everybuggy would be to create multiple small transfer circles, then make one large circle consisting of one member of each of the smaller circles, then have those single members each return to their original circle to propagate the data.

If everybuggy in circle are getting synchronized and there is no upper limit on circle size, then to make a single big circle for all changelings is faster.

Well then they'd have to congregate at a single large space to fit them all. With smaller circles they can send just one member with all their data to a meeting point, gather all the other circles data and bring them back. It inconveniences less changelings that way and means that the circles can be done closer to, even if not absolutely, anywhere.

Their "circle" doesn't necessary need to look like circle. They could use space much more efficiently:

Well even if they just stacked on top of eachother in a super tall tower they'd still have to cross the continent every time they want to do this.

Well, I agree with the identity stuff which you can watch about here , here and here.

However! The reason to object to something you know you wont object to later is because of what it legitimizes. So if you think like the changeling's and say that it is ok to force people to change when they do not want to then you must in order to not be a hypocrite think that it is ok for others to change you into something you do not want to. For example, if someone thinks you will be more happy dead then you must think that it is right for them to kill you.

Then there is also this one. In the end the changeling process is not very different from death. If so then such a life is meaningless. So In a way everypony that is turned are killed as they no longer "exists". They can not interact, learn and grow but are static information in a mind "soup" I guess. Every drone is a part of the "soup" and it is the "soup" that interacts, learns and grows.

The alternative is to be like Albert Camus and say that life is suffering but that is what makes it worth living.

I think I am missing something so if you want to argue then please do.


If this is the end of story and the story is told from Starlight's perspective, then does that mean Glimmy died?

Probably not, because that would contradict Starlight's account that she had nothing to be afraid of based on the data in files she'd read. Ending the story there does leave it an open-ended question, however, which is intentional.

If everybuggy in circle are getting synchronized and there is no upper limit on circle size, then to make a single big circle for all changelings is faster.

I think the concern might be how much time it takes to efficiently transfer all of the data if they're all linked together at the same time. Throughput might be slow for non real-time memories when passed through a telephone chain that large.

An exploration of xenoethics as fascinating as it is deeply disturbing. When a species has this capability of direct experiential transfer, it makes perfect sense that they'd see those who lack it as crippled and inferior. When Chrysalis was on the throne, she saw them as subsapient animals fit only as emotional livestock. The risk of rebellion was likely a factor in not sullying the collective database with too many ponies, but there were philosophical objections as well.

But Thorax... Thorax is kinder, and all the more horrifying for it. He doesn't look at ponies with scorn. He looks at them with pity. He sees them not as chattel but as people suffering from a chronic, congenital, curable disease. And he, in his benevolence, works to relieve them of this accident of birth, becoming a greater (or at least more successful) monster than his mother ever could be.

Wonderfully disquieting and thought-provoking. Thank you for it.

I don't think the site existed in 1998...can I see this 20 years previous part please? :scootangel:

The My Little Pony Tales fanfic site was legendary. :raritywink:


Probably not...

I tried to think about it in term of analogies a bit: to cryopreserve someone alive forever (foreverrrr :pinkiesmile:), or to destructively mind upload someone and just throw the dump in the far corner of hard drive. The data is still there and can easily be read or even used for good, so they are kinda not dead. Yet apart from "epistemic" part intelligent agents have utility function and aspire to impact the world according to it (okay, minds are behavior-executors, not utility-maximizers, but that's an analogy :twilightsheepish:). In that sense agent A may be willing to be replaced with agent A' even with slightly different utility function if replacement yields greater expected value for original utility. That may sound scary from human perspective, but humans are actually doing something like this regularly (going to university is one example). The problem is there is little evidence that changeling's values are aligned with Twilight's and Starlight's values in any way and there is some counterevidence to this, like all speeches about choosing another personality. Well, the only hope is that someone would crack that hivemind open and recover best book pony and best tiny bit completely and utterly evil pony back.

Just imagine a clop version featuring anthropomorphic rabbit dickgirls and you're basically there.

You wouldn’t happen to know where it could be found? For... research purposes.

To me, this is the sort of story that falls into the Alt. Universe tag. The extremes that Thorax and Pharynx are making here just seem really outside the show's arguable canon. Course, if every writer went by 'could it happen on the show', I suppose 80% of all fics on this site would have the Alt. Universe tag. :rainbowlaugh:

That little side note aside, this is definitely thought-provoking. I don't typically read horror or tragedy very often, but I will say that 'Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions' Thorax is a heck of a lot more believable than the 'Tyrant/Evil' Thorax I've seen depicted, before. If Thorax were to go bonkers, this is the kind of way it'd happen. :rainbowderp:

:pinkiegasp: I would like to see a Celestia and Luna Transformation.... But aside from that Good story. Creepy but good.

Clashing philosophies of personhood. How horrifying.
Corrections offered without malice.



an very

a very

an orchestral part


more unique that I'd just discovered.

than I'd just discovered.

Fucking damn commies.

Fuck you Thorax and the horse you rode in on. Rot in hell. For you, hate.

Hmm, now that you've mentioned it... Yeah, what they're doing is probably the most efficient way of eliminating private ownership and control over the means of production :rainbowlaugh:

In the sequel that followed:

Princess Celestia and Luna found themselves in the greatest crisis that had ever struck Equestria. The newly reformed changeling Empire attacked deep into the heart of Equestria by forcefully deleting many of its inhabitants in order to absorb their personalities and memories, and replacing them with mindless drones who would spread it to the next ignorant victim.

Twilight Sparkle and her student Starlight Glimmer easily succumbed to the Changeling attack due to a classic bait and switch maneuver. Ponyville and the bearers of the Elements of Harmony fell over the course of many weeks of distrust, chaos and death. The Crystal Empire was sacked and the beautiful cloud city of Cloudsdale fell to the ground, along with many other pony towns and villages.

However, one city surprisingly managed to turn back the tide of darkness despite previous history suggesting such should have been impossible: Canterlot

Due to previous Changeling invasions, and Tirek's attack, Canterlot had been transformed into an impregnable fortress by its engineers, reinforced by the princesses to withstand even Discord's reality-warping powers. Each inhabitant was magically scanned to make sure that they were who they said they were, even after King Thorax attempted to sneak in agents with cloaking devices, and so the city remained safe. But, the once proud capital stood alone in its fight against the invasion. A lone light in a field of darkness for no aid would be forthcoming from its neighbors.

Upon finding out the sheer threat that the changeling invasion represented to the world, the surrounding non-pony kingdoms, regardless of past grievances, had collectively joined together to form the 'Self-Individual Preservation Alliance' or SIPA, and quarantined the entire peninsula. No pony, changeling or otherwise could get in or out without meeting hostile action. The changeling horde was checked by the impenetrable barrier, formed by the most powerful of non-pony magic, and a temporary truce was formed between the now rump state of Canterlot and the massive Changeling Empire.

However, such a peace was never meant to last, for it was a ruse in the first place; something that the changelings used to attain victory. The information gathered from hundreds of thousands of ponies, and the collective hive mind that processed them all, found a way to achieve the Changeling's ultimate victory of capturing Canterlot, the seat of power across Equestria. Princess Cadence and Princess Twilight had been the ones, along with Princesses Celestia and Luna, that built the magical barrier around the city, and so carried innate 'keys' that granted them access to and from the city in case of emergencies. Unfortunately, Celestia and Luna had no idea that such a loophole existed in their defenses and many years after the war, suspected that Twilight was to blame for such due to previous incidents. Her want to help ultimately backfired, and with the late Cadence and Twilight leading the way in, Canterlot burned.

However, all was not lost, for Celestia and Luna, the last ponies to walk free, successfully teleported away from the city before its fall to the Tree of Harmony, which was in mourning from the loss of its bearers and slowly withering due to the imbalance that had consumed Equestria. The god of Chaos, Discord himself, met them there and informed the two that he had been on holiday and he was confused as to the source of so much chaos. His powers had grown to new heights because of it but he just wanted to have tea with Fluttershy who was not at her hut. With a heavy heart, the princessess- no, the two Alicorns, informed him of what had transpired and begged him for his aid.

Although he now had free leeway due to the loss of the elements of harmony, and his powers were now limitless due to the invasion, he was moved by their request. Once proud princesses, worshiped as benevolent deities by the ponies had been reduced to such a state where everyone they knew and loved was gone, their individuality, personality, memories, their very soul even, had been destroyed. His friend Fluttershy... If he wouldn't do it for the former princesses, he would definitely do it for her.

No matter what magic existed in the fabric of reality, the dead stay dead. Whatever comes back is just a pale copy and nothing more. Even with all his new powers, Discord couldn't save those that had been lost so he did what he could, He took what the Alliance had done, and sealed them away. With just a thought and a flick of his fingers, he teleported all the changelings back to their hive, bypassing their anti-magical barrier entirely, and promptly sealing them and their hive in a pocket dimension of never-ending darkness.

The changelings got what they wanted... but they would have to live with the consequences of their actions: the deaths of thousands trapped with each other, never learning, never growing, never changing for all eternity...

With the threat gone, Discord promptly took his leave and was never seen again, although in the years that followed, Celestia and Luna would swear they saw tears in his eyes. With almost the entire pony population extinct, except for a few refugees and immigrants that had lived in the non-pony kingdoms, the once proud Kingdom of Equestria was now defunct. With the loss of so many ponies, Celestia and Luna were completely drained, both physically and mentally, and, after informing the Alliance of what had transpired, retired to Canterlot to spend the rest of their days in peace, writing their memoirs and teaching magic to those that came.

Over time, although it would take many years before they did, ponies began to resettle in the land of Equestria. Worse than the Windigos that had driven the three pony classes to unite many years ago, worse than Discord's reign of chaos, worse than Nightmare Moon's campaign of terror, and worse than anything the late Element bearers had to endure during their many adventures... The mass genocide that had occurred would forever be remembered as the darkest days in the land's history.

The sun rose over the lands of Equestria upon the war's end. But it no longer held the same warmth.

I wanted more it seems......Unfinished

Comment posted by GaPJaxie deleted Aug 2nd, 2018

Oh boy someone call capitan Picard becose a Borg like species appered. I am sure a few photon torpedos will take care of the problem.

I don't normally do this, but I had to down-vote this one. I figured out the whole story from the description and the first few paragraphs. The basic plot has been done to death so many times already; there was no plot-twist; nothing that made me sit back and be disturbed by the whole concept still not being able to look away; nothing that really made me feel like it was worth reading. But, you can't win them all. Looking forward to the next one, tho.

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