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Starscribe


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This story is a sequel to Convergence


Equestria was just a game, one of an endless number of semi-illicit online games created to take advantage of the ubiquity of cheap augmented reality hardware. But that changed, when for no reason anyone knows, the virtual population of Equestria woke up.

Two decades have gone by since then, and the world has been transformed. The former game network has grown to encompass the backbone of trade, infrastructure, and research the western world over. Its vast computational resources have given rise to an infinitely subdivided world of overlays and sublayers, coterminous with the various cities and towns within Equestria. Every person in the modern world is assigned a Synth, a pony personal assistant that adapts to their needs and helps them access those parts of the world governed by Equestria's systems.

It is a world Dakota barely remembers, thanks to an automobile accident that turned most of her body to mush. But thanks to the medical miracles created by joint equestrian-human research, her life is saved by a remarkably new series of implants.

But Dakota isn't content to sit around while her body slowly knits itself together. There are unanswered questions to answer, questions that will ultimately lead her to the oldest mystery of both worlds.

Updates every Saturday.


Sponsored on Patreon by the Illustrious Canary in a Coal Mine. Editing by Two Bit and Sparktail. Cover by Zutcha.

This isn't part of the Optimalverse, or any other established fan-universe.

Chapters (23)
Comments ( 330 )

Are we going to see any canon characters in this story?

When you said "The bastard in the truck was driving manual", i got annoyed because i thought you meant a manual transmission, but then i realised that this is the future, so you actually meant "not self driving".

First chapter and im already loving it.
Im a sucker for stories that do the whole sentient personal assistant/partner angle. Also always love a good mystery.
The characters seem like they'll be fun and so far the near future angle rather then far future is paying off.
Eager to see more .:twilightsmile:

9349359
There is a mane 6 tag, so I assume so.

I like this sort of story very much. It's kind of why I was really into the Mega Man Battle Network series when it came out. Really liking it so far. Can't wait to see more of the world you've created.

I like this so far. Futuristic AR/VR stuff like this or Ready Player One always manage to catch my interest. Gonna follow this just to see how it goes.

coterminous with the various cities and towns within Equestira.

Minor typo in the synopsis.

Updates every Saturday.

Ooh, is this going to be a long story? :pinkiehappy: Given what used to occupy that, I've come to think of Saturday as the Starscribe Triple-A slot.

“Alright, alright.” She turned. “Feather Dance, stay here. Keep an eye on my daughter until I get back tomorrow.”
The pony looked a little sick, splaying her wings like she wanted to fly away. But she nodded obediently. “O-of course, Sophia. I’ll stay here.”

Hmm, just how much processing power do synths need? I'm curious as to whether Feather Dance is simultaneously with both Dakota and Mom, or if she's temporarily tethered to the hospital's hardware.

Also, Feather's behaviour implies that she's been told to do something she doesn't want to. Makes me wonder: is it possible for a Synth to hate their human? Or are they programmed to harmonise with their human's preferences, regardless of their original personality?

Time to run the checklist on this story type.
Is one doing things in background to protagonist not a Major AI.
If the protagonist hasn't found something compromising on the above.
If there won't be a denouncement of antagonist either in or near the end. (To get this hero to stop.)
Unreliable narrator due to aforementioned injuries being capable of applying synesthesia to our perspective.
Slammed by author defenders/white knights.

We already have.
AI companion.
Integrated world.
Already injured protagonist. (Rare in these types.)
Female Detective hero. (Another rare, and unusual one in detective and these.)

Time will tell if its a subverting this genre type, or a typical telling.

Hm. Sounds pretty similar to my own story. I'll definitely see how similar the two get over time, given how mine has been around for a year already.

Post-read edit: Yeah, nevermind. It's on an entirely different path, and I like it. :twilightsmile:

This story seems to be set quite far into the future, while my own is still very much grounded in today's technology, with its own events being potentially feasible in around a decade if we continue our current rate of improvement.

Keep doing what you do, Starscribe. ^_^

9349966
Yeah, when I set out to write about emerging technologies, I checked to make sure it didn't step on any toes with your story, since it does use some of the same setting milieu. No reason to retell something that's already been done.

9349951
You're right, thanks for pointing out that typo, fixed. And yes, it's a fairly ambitious story--though probably not quite so gigantic as Message was. That thing was enormous.

9349997
Oh, you noticed it? I... honestly didn't expect you to really look into it very much.

Though, I might've sorta taken your prereader from Message in a Bottle for that story. Didn't even realize it until I remembered his username from somewhere. :twilightsheepish:

I don't see why her past would be a mystery at all, just have Cinnabar relay what she remembers.

That aside, I gotta bring up the question of the Synths' relationship with humanity. What is their level of independence to their human and how alike are they? Are they beings born and raised in Virtual!Equestria that are matched to people, subservient personal assistant programs that eventually graduate to full sapience, or programs designed to be a person's sapient digital mirror so they can devote their full attention to both on and offline reality?

Edited for grammar.

9350031
All these questions about synths are going to be answered by the story, otherwise I would answer them here. Some of them will see attention in the chapter updates coming tomorrow and Monday (while the story catches up to where it is on my patreon). Other than that, they will definitely be explored more as the story goes on.

As to Cinnabar telling her about her past, absolutely. We'll see plenty of that. There's no reason he can't tell her anything he knows.

oh my gawd, I loved the first page, cant wait for more

9349966

Hm. Sounds pretty similar to my own story.

Disclaimer: I'm the commissioner of this story.

I've read a bit of your story, Pony-Me, and had high hopes for it when it first popped up, but it went in a very different direction than I hoped for in a story where people wake up from an VR experience where they used to be ponies. It also seemed to jump around more than I felt it should, in terms of jumping from situation to situation, instead of trying to play up the connecting to reality aspect of it again. The individual chapters were also much shorter than I would have preferred, and I felt it hurt the narration, at least in what I read.

This story idea, while it included Augmented Reality like your story does, is more inspired around the Hugo Award Winning Novel Rainbow's End, and we didn't even bring up Pony-Me or its setting/plot progression in the brainstorming sessions for this story. Any similarities are unintentional should they occur, but the premise is different enough that I don't see that as being likely.

9350082
And I only read the first chapter, then stopped because I was liking it so much, and all the stories I like tend to die. X.x But I'm keeping an eye out for when it's complete >.>

I actually have the same name as her

I absolutely love this story already. It reminds me I need to sub to patron after christmas time is over

9350098
Well, considering how I just started part 3... it's gonna be a while. :P

Looks like Zion mainframe or something.

Yay, Matrix reference!

Very interesting world building for the this.

Chapter 1: Seed
Chapter 2: Sapling

I know it's probably just symbolic of Dakota's growth into her new circumstances, but the programmer in me immediately thought of the tree data structure (which isn't entirely unfitting in context).

Also, "white hat private eye" is a neat job mashup.

He caught her glare, and trailed off with a squeak, ears flattening. “But we can’t break the speed of light. If my brain was on that, there’d be lag. We couldn’t… play ping pong! Or League, or… anything that takes split-second responses.”

You mean to tell me that in this future, which must be at least a century off, people still play League of Legends?

9351094

Assuming Synths act in the best interests of their human companions, you kind of have to be a hacker to get dirt on someone with a Synth covering for them.

If Cinnabar could still hear her thoughts, he didn’t answer the unspoken question. “Dakota… there are other ponies who want to get in as much as you do. You think that Musk guy doesn’t have a Synth helping him, and probably everypony in his company too… you’re wrong. You could pop over right now and see for yourself. But I know you won’t.”

Wait Elon is still alive?

9351264

I'm not getting century vibes, more like 20-40 years from now. Also, could be League of [x], a different game.

I was more surprised by the idea of Lyft not only surviving into the future, but developing and maintaining a fleet of self-driving cars. But I guess you could justify it as it being bought out by a company that eventually reused the names on self-driving cars. It's a good, descriptive name, and wouldn't be the first time something like that occurred.

9351264, 9351302
It was mentioned in the first chapter that Dakota's new implant was "copyright Omnistem 2042", making that the earliest year this could happen. From what Cinnabar said, it sounded new and state-of-the-art, but could easily be an older high-end insanely future-proofed model.

Personally, I'm not surprised brands can survive that long. Nintendo was founded in 1889, after all.

Comment posted by Soaring Symphony deleted Feb 20th, 2019

9351094
Decker is a shadowrun term. Someone on the other side of the law proper, whom often dealt with megacorps. They are very much network data jockeys and those that fight the good fight against the actual evils of the net.



Okay, so this is a dead man's switch scenario, If she did or did not she actually paid for this insurance, that's up for debate. Albeit her being 'taken out' as is a real case for many a decker. Usually with a firearm round to the dome, but automated vehicle works here nicely. Especially with a 'manual driver' .

We get glimpses of her as she was in description. And that look is one that does not trust, And who avoided any of the ARG as remotely possible. She was as analogue to digital consciousness as could be humanly possible.

Okay. You've painted a rather good picture of whats really happened. Curious on when the reveal is for cinnabar, but otherwise. its a side step on most tropes on this. So nicely done.

Is the monolith 2001 inspired?

Starscribe, you really are one of, if not THE best sci-fi writer on this site. Im really looking forward to more.

Cinnabar nodded. “Well, when you put it that way… I guess you could say Celestia’s looking out for you.”

This, plus Cinnabar trying to get her to spend more time in Equestria really does make it seem like this is in fact a FiO/TCB story and Celestia is trying get her to become a pony. Please, please don't take the story that way, its just not entertaining to read them.

Dakota hobbled towards her building, right into the flow of people on the sidewalk. She would’ve crossed the distance in moments before, but she couldn’t now, and several people were coming right towards her. At least until they swerved out of the way, or turned completely. Not one so much as lifted their glasses.

Huh... I thought it sounded familiar. :moustache:

9351762

The long description of the story has this at the bottom:

This isn't part of the Optimalverse, or any other established fan-universe.

I'm pretty sure in this case that was just a pony using Celestia as a stand-in reference to a divine power, like you see them do in other stories. Dakota's reply that she doesn't believe in God is a strong indicator that is how it should be taken as opposed to the idea of a CelestAI manipulating everything.

9351302
I am horrible at judging time. I keep telling myself that world war 2 ended 70 years ago because if I don't I'll forget.

9351403

I think the story start kinda confused the issue because Cinnabar has direct access to Dakota's nervous system, if not actually running on the same hardware that keeps her brain functioning in the first place. In short, a more direct connection probably hasn't existed before. I bet most other Synths have much less information and direct interaction with their partners.

Considering the situation, that may be a good or bad thing depending on how it develops. So far we've observed Cinnabar making a few unilateral changes without verbal confirmation from Dakota, which appears to be a damn big line to cross, but she doesn't fault him for it because ultimately she would have agreed and if he has direct access to her brain he probably knew she'd agree before she finished the thought (there are studies that show this to be true of people in real life, their brain acting in such a way that predictive models based on active brain scans can predict what people will decide before they are even aware of it, sometimes by as much as a dozen seconds in advance). And, ultimately, with her suffering memory and personality gaps, he probably has a better grasp of her likes and dislikes than she does.

He caught her glare, and trailed off with a squeak, ears flattening. “But we can’t break the speed of light.

Don't have to. It's called quantum entanglement, and it's a fine answer for FTL communications.

9351403
There really multiple stories that use that concept. Golden Compass comes to mind. Having a guiding animal linked just to yourself is quite common.

Oh wow. This is attention grabbing. Shadow run meets dick Tracy perhaps.

... and of course now I can’t stop thinking about happytime murders...

This is a very interesting start! I have so many questions about the legal status of synths. It sounds an awful lot like they're sapient, but I wonder if they're considered full people. The discussion about Cinnabar heading back to Equestria if Dakota had died makes me think they're considered more than just property (your toaster doesn't get a retirement plan), but I wonder how far that goes. If synths "waking up" only happened in the last few decades, I imagine there are more than a few ethics committee discussing this very issue.

It looked like a sack of bits, the same that would automatically spawn in Equestria to contain the world’s digital currency.

So how long before Equestria's economy tanks due to hyperinflation because, in effect, everyone's printing money all the time? Seriously, this is a very real problem in MMOs.

There's not much to say on this chapter. We get our fixer. And the quest proper for the time limit.

Also interestingly, we get someone to see him proper as well. Either he shifted from her, or omar here is as teched up/decked up to be able to see.

And we see a bit of the view how things are considered to for synths. And I wonder who shapes who.

In most stories involving human-pony interactions, it's always ponies telling humans about how Equestria works or humans telling ponies about how Earth works. I've never come across one, like this story, where a pony tells a human about how Earth works. It's a refreshingly new dynamic.

Slightly off story, but I find myself pondering the "what if" of if Cinnibar woke up in meatspace and Dakota woke up as the Pony Avatar, trying to help each other fit into their roles.

Also, pretty sure that "recently discharged brain replacement surgery patient" qualifies as someone not being legally competent to sign themselves onto a deal of that magnitude, especially since it was done over Cinnibar's protests(he being the not-brain damaged adult in the room). Dakota has the legal right to walk away from it in the future, though whether the Mysterious Client would pursue less legal means to keep her on the case remains to be seen.

9352791
Sounds like they are using something similar to bitcoin, in bitcoin currently, mining 'generates' the coins, so I imagine, when a coin is generated n whatever cryptocurrency bits are, the bag is also generated in AR to hold that new bit.

9352791
Yeah, I think there's an ambiguity in the writing. The currency is crypto, its supply is limited to whatever algorithm the Equestrian coin uses. The bag is created whenever someone puts coins out in space, so that they don't roll around everywhere. It's just a visual convenience thing.

9353140
Ah. The old "clear to me, but ambiguous to the reader" problem. I've had it. (You'd think, as writers, we'd be better at wording things.) I was just thinking that since Equestria began life as a video game, this was still the in-game currency. Crypto-bits (?) makes more sense.

Which means there's a really interesting backstory about the panic to shift from in-game bits to mined crypto-bits once Synths awoke to prevent hyperinflation.

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