• Published 22nd Apr 2019
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Enchorus - GMBlackjack



Stories set in the Songs of the Spheres multiverse written by a variety of authors.

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A Game of Civilization (GMBlackjack)

There were seven of Them.

They were bored. As usual. It was the way they existed, time went on around them with nothing interesting happening, and they just watched. Some spoke, but most conversations died after a year or two. Such was the existence of Them - agonizing inaction.

And then one of them spoke up.

"Which organic race do you think is the best at, well, living?"

He asked it with no belief that it would actually be answered, and if it was that anyone would actually be interested. But he was about to be surprised by where the idea led.

"Dragons," one of Them said. "Big, strong, affinity for magic, high intelligence, social when they need to be. They dominate when there's enough of them."

"Ah, but that's the issue," another added. "They reproduce exceedingly slowly, and rarely at that. They're easily overrun by many races that share worlds with them."

"That's due to the Narrative."

"Care to bet on that? How about we create a sealed universe with some dragons in it and a race of my choosing, and we'll see who comes out on top?"

They would have smiled if that were a thing They could do on this level of existence. "You're on."

"I want in on this too!" the others blurted in at once.

"Of course," the Them that suggested the idea said. "All of you, choose an organic race. Carbon-based lifeforms. They have chosen Dragons. What are yours?"

"You first," the question-asker said.

"Fine. Elder Things."

"Clever," another said. "Intelligent, spore-reproduction, and extremely resilient and mobile. They do think a bit slow, however... I say Goa'uld."

"That's far from the best mind parasite race!"

"Fine then. Parasytes. I suppose I forgot about them for a moment. Not only do they control the mind of the host but they also bestow them with organic manipulation."

"They have a bit of a violence and hunger problem though..." Another observed.

"There are those who are able to resist the urge. Society will naturally form from them, given evolutionary time."

"Question!" A new voice said. "How long do we get?"

The suggester metaphysically shrugged. "Until there's a clear winner."

"A long experiment then. I put forth the ponies."

"Hey! No fair! They'll just put everyone together in peace!"

"Then there'd be a clear winner, wouldn't there?"

One of Them who'd been quiet for most of this spoke up. "Trolls."

"Uh... really?"

"The kind from Paradox Space. They've been proving to spread rather quickly now that the seals on their space have been torn off. They've also got a wide variety of specialization within their various castes."

"Humans." The only one of Them who hadn't spoken yet blurted.

"...What kind of humans?"

"Regular."

"You can't be serious."

"Oh, I'm serious."

"Care to explain why?"

"No."

"Well fine then. What about you?"

The Them that had asked the original question paused for a moment. "...Tyranids. You are all going to die very quickly as my race absorbs the biological power of yours. The entire planet will fall."

"This is going to be interesting..." One of Them - it was really impossible to tell - said. Suddenly, there was a new universe, one that contained only one life-sustaining planet. On it were seven races - Humans, Ponies, Trolls, Dragons, Elder Things, Tyranids, and Parasytes. The Parasytes were given pathetic original bodies, that of slow, short, mushroom people.

"Hey!"

"You can't start out with any advantage. But you can at least use them to reproduce."

"...Fine."

The races were all placed on different parts of the globe, far from each other. There was only one continent, so there'd be no 'theaters' of battle, they'd soon all know of each other's existence.

'Soon' being a few thousand years, that is.

The seven Them watched their 'players' set to work, spreading across the world...

~~~

Each culture develops separately for a while, allowing them to settle into the way they live.

Humans, in the first era, advance to the level of agriculture and tribal society. They have little drive to do much else besides conquer the nature around them, which is hostile but subdued easily enough given time. They already feel driven to create idols, simple sculptures, and songs. They master fire. In other words, they advance quickly but don't gain anything special. They are decidedly not unified and fight against each other regularly.

Ponies form tribal society easily, having a natural inclination to seek each other out. They also have natural magic for farming, which is great. They don't understand how to create fire besides using magic to do it, and they have little understanding behind the mechanics of anything they do. They live in harmony and see little need to progress further or question anything. An alicorn is born and they make her their leader. Society: organized, but not developing quickly. Little competition.

Trolls master livestock out of a simple biological imperative - they have to raise their lusi so the lusi can tend to their young. After they've established a stable population of young-raising animals, they turn to war pretty quickly. The lowbloods with their impressive powers fight amongst themselves a lot, while the highbloods end up in places of power simply because they live longer. Numerous kingdoms pop up. For now, the seadwellers and the landdwellers remain pretty much separate. They focus largely on managing animals and warring, with limited actual agriculture. Their societies aren't very stable, but they do spread quickly in order to find more resources to fuel their rage.

The dragons reproduce slowly and don't actually form a stable society. They are mostly loners with a few family units flying around. However, they also spread further than the other races given their flight, size, and age. While they have no society, already they can be found worldwide. Most races are terrified of them, and already a few dragon-hunters have been crowned. This means the dragons technically know of the other races already, but they don't really have a reliable information network.

The Elder Things... Don't. Do. Much. They mostly just sit around and live. They can fly, but don't care. They can survive attacks, but nothing attacks them. They have no need for war. They reproduce through spores slowly and just... march onward. They don't even really spend much time developing society or anything, they just... look at things and think all the time.

The parasytes have difficulty forming a society on their own. Those in the mushroom people are the only ones who can maintain high-level intelligence. The parasytes in animals lose higher function and have to be kept as pets or let loose. They also have the issue of eating each other at the start, which sets them back. Eventually, they do form a society with limp, mushroom people in charge of the parasyte animals, though they haven't even mastered agriculture. They are pure hunters for the moment that have a really small population.

The Tyranids move fast. They eat animals, gain their abilities, and move on. The Hive mind, due to not needing to exert itself, lowers in intelligence. It has no need to speak to itself, to be creative, or to plan, it just overwhelms the area around it with numbers. It becomes lazy, so to speak. There is no competition for it, as far as it knows. It is apparently winning in this Era, having occupied the most space. It currently has the capabilities of just about every animal on the planet, which includes extremely potent venom, reptile armor, and the like. No magical abilities to speak of, just skills that regular earth animals can obtain. It has eaten a dragon and obtained its fire breath, but cannot use the magic dragons can.

~~~

"Your Parasytes are struggling just to survive!"

"They need to encounter one of the other races. Give them time."

"The ponies aren't doing anything at all! They're just... sitting!"

"That's good. Keeps them out of the early fight with the Tyranids."

"You speak like the Tyranids are going to lose."

"It's a foregone conclusion. The other six races can, in theroy, live with each other. They cannot live with the Tyranids. I suspect there will be a war against the 'demonic bugs' in the near future."

"How can they be beaten? They'd just take the abilities of all the other races that give them an edge!"

"Being a hive mind is both a blessing and a curse. Tyranids can be exploited if the opponent is clever enough."

~~~

The races become aware of each other, bit by bit. Every race has two closer 'neighbors,' making the entire continent look like a big circle.

The humans are snug between the dragons and the Elder Things. Since the dragon lands are sparsely populated, even if there are larger concentrations of dragons there than anywhere else, humans get it into their head that they're going to settle the land. Humans are stupid determined so the settling actually goes relatively well, though the people here live in active fear of dragons, and the dragons that might want to talk are sick of human 'heroes' coming around to kill them. It's not really a war since the dragons can't raise an army, but it's definitely a conflict that drags on and on and on. The Elder Thing border is an... odd place. Some human kingdoms try to conquer the Elder Things with force while others just occupy the land the Elder Things are in without interfering. The Elder Things are smart enough to realize the humans are different entities, and only attack the ones that attack them. Durable as Elder Things are, not all the Elder/Human wars go in the favor of the Elder Things. They do get slaughtered sometimes. This prompts the Elder Things to begin developing tools and innovation, though only based on what they'd seen the humans use. Some Elder-human alliance nations pop up once the two races figure out how to communicate (it takes a few decades).

The Elder Things meet the ponies for the first time. The ponies aren't aggressive and find the new creatures fascinating. As soon as the Elder Things realize humans can talk, they try to talk to the ponies, and it goes well. However, there aren't many alliances, since the emotional ponies and the logical Elder Things have a hard time identifying with each other. They know that they exist, and that's about as far as they care. The Elder Things try magic for a while and realize they can't do anything with it. Essentially the Elder Things are finally tapping into their ability to think now that they see what it can do.

The ponies are not aware of their other neighbor - the parasytes. And the parasytes are not aware of the ponies. There's too much distance between them. However, the parasytes are aware of their other neighbor, the Trolls. A handful of Trolls have been taken over, but since the Parasytes weren't very clever about it the Trolls are very well aware that Parasytes exist. The Parasytes are not having much luck with infiltration, but they bring some lowblood Trolls back to their growing nation to breed and make more hosts. The mushroom hosts are phased out, but the Parasytes lack the genes for a high blood Troll population. The Trolls are actively on the hunt for Parasytes, though soon this will become secondary to another threat.

The Tyranids begin encroaching on dragon territory and Troll territory. Since the humans are in dragon territory, this makes three races the Tyranids are currently attacking. The Tyranids grab the various lowblood powers from the Trolls - obtaining telekinesis, laser eyes, animal control (unnecessary), and emotional soothing. They have not worked their way up the spectrum to any Trolls with vampirism, mind control, super strength, chucklevoodoos, or life extension as of yet. The Trolls plan to keep it that way. They start to unite under the power of the highbloods, though the seadwellers mostly remain separate. After all, they don't have to worry about a bunch of land bugs, do they? (Also, as the only aquatic race, they're unchallenged in the ocean. For now.)

The dragons are very ineffective against the Tyranids. So are the humans. They seem to fall like candy, and the Tyranids have gained the special metabolism of humanity. The Tyranids still see no real threat, deciding that the Trolls are just annoying and will fall eventually.

~~~

"Your humans are going to die by Tyranid swarm, end of story."

"Shut up. That's only the edge of their territory. The central kingdoms have armies worth something. And resources."

"My Trolls are doing well. Look at them, keeping their higher-bloods away from the Tyranids to keep an advantage."

"It prevents them from using their powers."

"Do not underestimate the power of chucklevoodoo, my friend."

~~~

Humanity pulls something out of its collective hat. They create dragon riders. After numerous cases of the Dragons fighting the Tyranid "literal demons from hell," a few humans got ideas. Most of the dragons were not willing to side with the 'dragon hunters,' but there were enough that did. Dragon eggs started to be raised by humans in large farms, bred precisely for war. Usually, there was a dragon involved in the process, but not always. These extra-armored allies of humans became excellent fighters against the Tyranids. For as powerful as Tyranids were, metallic armor could not be created biologically, nor could iron weapons. When combined with magic prowess and organization, the dragon riders began to beat the Tyranids back. But the Tyranids didn't care - they just moved where they could. Being beat back still wasn't threatening at all.

Some dragons saw the power of organization with the humans and started their own society, a collection of ancient and young reptiles determined to form their own power. They fought the Tyrandis as well, proving that the dragons didn't need the humans' help. Again, the Tyranids just treated the resistance like a 'wall' to move around and forward, into other territories. It just wasn't worth the effort to squash them. After all, the Tyranids already had their genetic traits.

The Human-Elder Thing border didn't change much. There was symbiosis and war. The central human kingdoms started building up bigger armies, slowly getting tied together by a religion that spoke of Tyranids as the incarnation of evil and humanity as the light in the darkness. Dragons were no longer monsters and became noble creatures of wisdom to the humans, as boons sent from God to aid them in their fight against the demonic presence.

The Elder Things began to prepare for possible Tyranid invasion. Knowing how the wars with the humans were going, news of a terrible demonic presence certainly motivated the slow-moving race. They built up large, intensely defensive fortresses, preparing for the bugs to come. A few reached the fortresses by the end of the era. None of the fortresses were breached.

The ponies found out about the Tyranids through the Elder Things, who thought to give them a warning. The ponies learned about the Humans and Dragons through this as well. Initially, they sent emissaries to be friends with the other races. The Dragons were unwelcoming, and those who survived the trip to the Tyranid lands returned with their worldview of harmony forever altered. The alicorn leader was forced to declare an enemy of ponykind in the Tyranids, something that had never done before. They had to ask the Elder Things how one prepared for war. They didn't get much preparation done by the end of the era.

That said, the ponies did make diplomatic ties with many human kingdoms, who were more than ready to bring more mages into the fight against the demonic presence. The humans were definitely taking advantage of the ponies who came. Human pride is starting to swell at this point in time.

Parasytes successfully infiltrate the land of the ponies. The ponies are a lot less willing to kill people who look like their friends, so even though they become aware of the parasytes' existence, they are much less effective at killing them. The Parasytes begin to thrive in the pony nation, though not enough to take control. Meanwhile, the original parasyte lands start getting attacked by Tyranids, and the Parasytes find that the Tyranid hive-mind is never fooled by a Parasyte. They manage to sneak some Tyranid drones for their 'nation' and begin retreating to the pony lands.

Trolls begin to actively fight against the Tyranids with a power strong enough to actually make the Tyranid pause. Cobalt-bloods have begun to master the art of mind-control, using it on the Tyranids' relatively weak drones to turn the swarm against itself. The Tyranids have managed to absorb a few cobalt-bloods and get their mind powers, but are finding that many Trolls are trained to resist it. The hive-mind has spent too long not thinking to build up those muscles now. It's vulnerable. Meanwhile, the seadwelling Trolls and the aquatic side of the Tyranids have finally come into contact. The Tyranids are realizing that Trolls may actually be a threat at the end of the era.

~~~

"I told you all you had to do was be clever and the Tyranids will start to fall back. They aren't all that smart. Too single-minded to come up with creative ideas."

"Patience. The swarm has finally realized there is a need for strategy."

"It's still spreading out like an amorphous blob."

"Shush. It'll get clever eventually."

"I'm betting the parasytes completely destroy the ponies' civilization. They're just too friendly to deal with the incursion, and the Elder Things won't help, and the humans are a bit busy."

"You... are probably right."

~~~

The humans and dragons notice the Tyranid swarms are lessening in strength. They think this means they are winning, so they start pushing. The human kingdoms begin treating campaigns against the demons like the Crusades, full of glory and honor for God. They push into Tyrannid territory for several years, feeling like there's progress for the first time in forever. Back home, festivals are thrown. Who cares if they're celebrating a bit early?

This, of course, means some of the kingdoms on the Elder Thing border start fighting the Elder Things again, this time with dragon riders in tow. The Elder Things are more than ready to defend against them, but there are Tyranid sub-swarms in this area of the world as well. The three-way fights create intense chaos. The Tyranids obtain the Elder Things' tough skin, but even their intelligence is not enough to keep the Hivemind focused. It's just too hard for the single intelligence to focus on all sides at once - which is why the numbers on the Dragon-Human border are falling.

The Parasytes begin to overrun the ponies. Ten percent of the population is infected with parasitic individuals bent on murder and control - until the alicorn decides she's seen enough suffering. She goes, personally, and invents an instant-death spell. She tests every pony she comes across, and if the magic test proves they're a parasyte, she kills them. She breaks down emotionally because of what she has to do, but she has no choice, she's tried all other things. The massacre forces ponies who live in the homeland to reexamine what they believed. With their foothold in the pony lands broken, the parasytes try all-out war against the ponies, since they have to run away from the Tyranids somehow. The Elder Things step in to offer aid, logically deducing that friendly ponies is infinitely better than parasitic monsters. The society of the parasytes, now on assault from four sides (Troll, tyranid, elder thing, and pony) falls. A few individuals of the race still exist, but they must remain in the shadows. The Pony nation is severely weakened and does not have any defenses against the Tyranids. however, due to the encounter with the parasytes, the Trolls have heard of the ponies now, finally making the Trolls aware that the other races exist. They are naturally untrusting.

The Trolls themselves are extremely occupied fighting a war on all fronts - land and sea. The only side not being attacked is the border they now share with the ponies since the parasytes are gone. They spend little effort forming diplomatic ties, but a few Trolls wish to learn more. The Troll society fully unites, forming a dual-council of Purple-bloods and Fuschia-Bloods, doing their absolute hardest to assault the Tyranids. Finally together, the Trolls push towards the center of the swarm, only for the swarm to push back. the Tyranids have started targeting any Cobalt-bloods on the field of battle, taking out the mind-control exploit when possible. The Trolls are starting to lose their advantage.

~~~

"Aaaaaand there go the parasytes first!"

"They could come back. Resurge."

"Unlikely. That alicorn princess is going to live forever and she has basically made them her eternal enemy. All must die."

"I'm biting my nails here! Can the Tyranids do it? Or will the combined efforts of the entire races push them back?"

"It does seem to be pretty even. Perhaps if the ponies hadn't been so weakened, it'd be more one-sided. Or if the Elder Things were more active."

~~~

The war against the Tyranids has been going on for well over a century at this point. The dragons' numbers are falling to extreme lows, and the Crusades are losing their fire. The Trolls are starting to retreat slightly, moving towards the pony lands. The Elder Things realize that their defenses will only be able to hold for so long, that even the best fortresses cannot last forever. The ponies accept the Trolls that flee in their land, but they still have to fight the few Tyranids that show up, and they don't do well.

The Elder Things decide the time to act is now. They contact the alicorn princess and tell her that her ideas of harmony are perhaps exactly what's needed. They will protect the land of the ponies from the Tyranids if her people will do what they do best - coordinate. The Elder Things are notably not good at this. The alicorn agrees, and the Elder Things begin to erect defenses around the pony land - and the alicorn princess makes rounds, fighting the Tyranids herself in different places, meeting everyone she can. She doesn't do as much as she thinks - the idea of forging an alliance doesn't actually mean much since everyone's already fighting - but she has an air of hope about her.

History will not be sure if it was the Elder Things joining or the actions of the princess or some other thing that tipped the scales, but at last the Tyranids began to be pushed back for real. The nations began coordinated attacks - Cobalt-bloods were flown around the world to assault the hive-mind from multiple locations, confusing it. Armies pushed into the center of Tyranid territory, smashing bugs wherever they went.

The death toll was immense. The Dragons' nation was harmed too much, falling apart in the middle of the war. All dragons now existed as part of other nations or loners.

One day, though, the fighting stopped. Pony, human, Elder Thing, and Troll met in the central Tyranid nest and killed the central hub of the hive mind. Over the next few decades, other Tyranid swarms would rise up, but none would ever reach the same level of intensity. The race was eventually hunted to extinction.

And then the world experienced a bit of a 'what now' moment.

There were still dozens of human kingdoms, no longer united in Tyranid crusades. The Elder Things had given aid to the ponies, but now the pony land was an Elder Thing/pony/Troll mix due to the war. The Trolls weren't sure if they wanted to stay united.

And now the humans and Trolls wanted the land the Tyranids had occupied.

~~~

"Three down. Three to go."

"I can't believe the humans are alive."

"The dragons were... assimilated? Did they lose?"

"Pretty much. Couldn't keep up their numbers in the devastation. They had to lose their culture completely."

"What about the ponies?"

"They still own their land, and their leader is still their leader... it's an odd case, I admit."

"I'm being wishful when I want the world to enter an era of peace, huh?"

"Yep. They've known nothing but war for a hundred years. You can't expect that to change."

~~~

The Elder Things, to their annoyance, noted that the human kingdoms on their border kept attacking. They tried to let the humans win a few battles, but that just gave them drive to conquer more. Eventually, the human-Elder symbiosis kingdoms started attacking the regular human kingdoms, breeding more human v human wars. The Elder Things were not in danger of being completely conquered but they weren't exactly sure what to do about the little wars.

Humans themselves started spreading again. Kingdoms rose and fell, and a few key kingdoms began to think maybe peace was a good idea. They signed accords with each other and started colonizing. Dragon populations within the human nations rose, given their knowledge of dragon caretaking. Lots of once-Tyranid land was ripe for the taking.

But, as previously mentioned, the Trolls wanted some of that as well. Thus began the border disputes. The united Trolls and the core human kingdoms all wanted the central Tyranid territory, and they couldn't agree. The Trolls won most of the wars that broke out since the humans were divided, but humans are stupid tenacious. With their dragon cavalry, entire Troll settlements would be burnt to the ground. This just made the trolls angry.

On the home front, the Trolls argued about being united. Cobalt-bloods were being venerated above the higher-classes for their prowess and key ability in the war (even though the purple blood chucklevoodoos were very effective, they rarely fought.) The seadwellers seceded first - they had no care for the landdwellers at all. They went back to conquering the ocean. The purple-bloods found this to be best - the 'royal' sea Trolls had been cramping their style. The purples tried to rule over the lowbloods with a strict caste system, and succeeded for the most part. That said, some of the colonies far from purple control started harboring plots of rebellion. All it took was a mutant blood and a cobalt blood to band together and a civil war began. The humans at this point were extremely upset with the main Troll Empire, so they were more than willing to give aid to the rebellion. A new Troll Republic was formed, with the idea that all Trolls had the same rights. The Troll Republic ended up in the key position of the middle of the remaining nations.

Just because the Republic formed did not mean there were no more border disputes. Far from it.

Meanwhile, the ponies spent all their time dealing with their Elder Thing and Troll citizens, rebuilding their nation. They were able to do it, and nobody felt the need to attack them for the time being. The ponies entered an age of rebuliding, and it went well overall.

The state of the world settled - dozens of human kingdoms, a single pony nation, a single Elder Thing nation, and a Troll Empire, Republic, and Seascape.

The world slowly began to turn from war. The humans still fought amongst themselves, but the battles died down over the years. The Elder Things worked hard to sign accords with the human kingdoms. The main wars that kept going on were the Troll-human border disputes. For the first time since antiquity, something resembling pace remained.

~~~

"They're not fighting anymore."

"Yeah, there's no overarching threat, no intense power, no death from other races. They just fight for the regular reasons, the ones that don't include extermination."

"This is going to go on for some time, isn't it?"

"Probably. There's no clear winner yet, at least."

~~~

In a global sense, the world doesn't change much. The human kingdoms come and go, but they fall less often. Seadwellers basically own the sea at this point. The Troll Republic and kingdoms end up actually getting along, bizarrely enough. The pony nation becomes powerful with the discovery of advanced cloud cities, and the Elder Things are... there.

Then humans and ponies started reading books of knowledge the Elder Things had been compounding for centuries. They found the writings of the world's equivalent of Newton. What the Elder Things lacked in drive, the humans and mixed-pony-nation had. The scientific revolution burst into the world on two separate scenes. One was focused on the use of magic, the other the use of technology. One kingdom of humans, the Primary Kingdom at this point, created the steam engine and rose to extreme power compared to the others. The ponies' magitech began to brim, advancing quicker than human tech (relatively). However, the ponies were willing to share, so their edge wasn't a military one but an economic one. The Troll Republic bought tons of magitech, and the Troll Empire needed it as well to fuel their border disputes against the humans (which were starting to go badly.)

The end result of this was that humans began to get interconnected and the ponies got rich since they were the only ones who could produce magic devices. The Trolls became dependent on outsourced magitech. The Troll Republic didn't mind this dependency, but the Troll Empire did. They tried again and again to steal manufacturing secrets of the magitech and regular human tech. They quickly realized that magitech could only be manufactured by poines, and while regular technology secrets were fair game, they lacked the infrastructure. They decided it'd just be easier to attack the ponies and force some into slave labor.

This started a world war. The Empire Lost. Badly. They learned not to attack the ponies - they had big friends. The border disputes ended, and the Troll Republic ended up using a lot of resources to help fix the ponies, turning the dependency into a symbiosis. The human kingdoms celebrated a large-scale defeat of the Troll Empire.

The Elder Things were still... There.

~~~

"The Elder Things aren't doing anything."

"They see no need to. Why would they? They finally ironed out their differences with humans, and the Republic and Ponies are all friendly to them."

"But if they don't do anything..."

"They'll lose! Right!"

"Peace is reigning. We'll need different win conditions. Even with that highly destructive world war, complete destruction was not an option anymore. They don't want genocide. Too much like the demon tyrannids."

"Right now they all have about equal say. Once one race obtains a mastery over the others - even if it is a pony-based conglomeration - they win."

"I am curious to see what happens once they advance further... Technology always booms right about now."

~~~

The Troll Empire wants nothing more than to crush the humans' stupid determined spirits. One of them gets an idea - ask the Seadwellers. They basically own the entire ocean. If they could be rallied against the humans... With some deceptive 'accidents', toxic chemicals get dumped into the ocean on the human kingdoms' (there are some republics now) shores. The seadwellers are pissed off. Their oceans became corrupted and some of their cities unliveable. One of the human kingdoms, being a little bored, wants more war. The Seadwellers stomp them easily, and move on to the rest of the humans. The humans fight back and the Troll Empire attacks them. Attacked on both sides, the humans begin to sweat. They pour everything into scientific research. Unfortunately, nuclear bombs, while powerful, wouldn't do much against a race of sea-dwelling trolls. So they had to develop something a little more drastic - biological warfare. The ocean is extremely susceptible to biotoxins, which is why the seadwellers started the war in the first place. The human scientists take advantage of that, introducing a biotoxin that is extremely toxic to seadwellers. It spreads like wildfire, crippling their society - but also ruining the ocean's biosphere. Nobody won this war - human society was decimated, the seadwellers became sickly, and the Troll Empire remained mostly where it was in the end.

Of course now the entire planet is wounded because of the use of the extreme bioweapon. The ocean ecosystem starts dying, despite the remaining Seadwellers' best attempts at keeping it alive. It changes rapidly, and this shifts the entire world's nature.

Meanwhile the Troll Republic and the Pony Nation did something unthinkable - they merged their two nations together. They signed an accord and became a single Republic. The alicorn finally renounced her power, saying it was about time everyone got around to taking care of things themselves. After several thousand years of ruling, she finally got to retire. She loved this.

The Elder Things started devoting themselves more and more to their thinking. They cared less and less about what happened in the world. Many discovered that they could just fly out of the atmosphere and drift into space. Their nation began to go into natural decline because they just stopped caring so much. They had no drive, no need to use technology, why bother keeping up all their fortresses?

The newly formed Republic tried to encourage them to find new life, to find drive, but the Elder Things just didn't care. They moved on.

Technically the Elder Thing Nation still existed. But they stopped doing anything. They were no longer a consideration on the global scale, they were second rate.

The world devolved into three superpowers: The primary Human Kingdom, the Troll Empire, and the Republic.

And they were realizing that they had damaged the planet pretty effectively. It was time to have a space race.

~~~

"Hrm... So the Elder Things just weren't effective."

"They're still there!"

"But they're not a consideration in power play anymore. They're just... there."

"I'm more concerned about that Republic. Does that mean the ponies were assimilated into Troll culture? There's a lot more Trolls in the Republic."

"Hard to tell. Probably by the strictest definition, that is a Troll society, but ponies have a lot of say in it. If they end up winning it'll probably cause a 'draw', though we'll have to see how it goes."

"It's going to get complicated as they go to space."

"You bet it is. I can't wait!"

~~~

Spaaaace raaaace!

The contestants - an alliance of human kingdom scientists, the Republic's magitech, and the Troll Empire who really need to get more into the tech scene. It was originally just a simple 'get to space' mission but then this universe's version of John F. Kennedy decided to declare that "WE CHOOSE TO GO TO THE MOON" and it sparked a rioting race.

The Republic lost, they were far too concerned with the safety of their astronauts. The Empire and Humans cared less. They were going to get into space and they did not care how many of their people died on the way - the Empire even more so, but they had less technological base.

But, in the end, the humans proved that once they set their mind to something they'd get it done. They arrived at the moon first and in record time, defeating the Troll Empire and the Republic. The Republic and Empire both arrived at the moon later, but they didn't get to receive the glory of being first.

The moon was largely empty. There were apparently a few Elder Things on the gray globe, tenacious little space-surviving critters, but they had no society. It was just a rock.

Back on the planet, some crazy nutcase invented the internet in the human nation. The sheer speed of progress for the humans was alarming. The Republic was only able to keep up because they could easily manufacture magitech. Human devices were getting more and more sophisticated faster and faster.

The Troll Empire slowly began to realize they weren't top dog anymore. Their progress had come at a huge cost to their people, and they were unhappy. The purple-bloods began to lose control over the population until eventually the Empire fractured completely. Dozens of different nations sprung up, forming dozens of different caste systems. They were far too invested in their blood color to throw it all away. In many ways, the divisions left Trolls worse off. The Empire Remnants just got angry, but they knew the human kingdoms and Republic were too strong for them.

~~~

"...Did the trolls lose?"

"Not really. They are the dominant race in the Republic."

"Weird."

"I told you all humans were great. Did you listen to me? No. I think they're going to win."

"It's devolving into magic versus technology..."

"But it's not a war. The two sides are friends, more or less. Hardly enemies."

"Hrm..."

~~~

The Republic discovers a cheat hidden within magic that allows the circumnavigation of certain physical laws that have limited space travel for so long. The technology is based on the concept of drawing fuel from the space around them, which is filled with magic. This magic can be channeled into the back of a rocket with the proper spells to create effective torchships. Suddenly manned missions to other planets are reasonable. The humans can't develop a power source that effective that isn't just nuclear bombs, which are very illegal, especially in space. But the Republic has difficulties achieving the next step - permanent bases on other worlds. If they rely on magic, well, magic has a randomness aspect to it that nobody's going to like.

Humans manage to create a moon base that's self-sufficient and use it to create a spaceport. They launch significantly slower ships that don't rely on magic, spreading out in a sort of leapfrog chain.

The homeworld watches all this unfold while they have to deal with more domestic troubles. The Empire Remnants have taken to terrorism, there was a Parasyte that revealed his existence to the world and is currently trying to say Parasytes have a right to a sapient body (it's not going well), and some idiot recreated Tyranids that got loose and caused terror for about a week. Humanity is operating much like the European Union at this point, technically a lot of different nations with different governments, but they are slowly gaining a singular identity. (I said like). The Republic is extremely stable. The Human Union and Republic soon grow to heights the rest of the planet can't hope to compete with due to their access to space resources (asteroids be rich, yo).

The Seadwellers finally manage to restore the planet's oceans for the most part, proving that the space race wasn't necessary. They realize they've fallen behind and try to make nice with the Republic for use of their rockets. The Republic starts to get rich again from every nation wanting to use its rockets. Unlike the Human Union, the Republic is very willing to share and sell the rides at a low price. (they're also a lot faster.)

But the Human Union is nothing if not determined, and they're better at making permanent settlements.

~~~

"Hey, is there a technological loophole for fast space travel under these physics?"

"With the humans' current level of technology? Heck no! They're going to be scrounging for a while before they can find an alternative method."

"Great..."

"The humans are making it worse, in the long run. They won't accept help and they won't give help. They're not warriors anymore... but they have lots of pride."

~~~

This progression went on for several years. Ponies and Trolls with the speed, humans with the infrastructure. Both did amazing things, both had amazing tools at their disposal. Yet, one would eventually come out on top.

There was a joint mission to create a multi-generational ship to another star, the Proxima Conduit, and after that was done, things changed. The humans kept spreading and spreading across the solar system, just like the Republic... But their large colonies had no connection to the homeworld. They lacked a single identity, and they - over time - diverged from their center. They became their own nations, separate, different, while the Republic kept its control over its many colonies.

The Human Union tried many things to regain its power - they invented AI to assist them, they automized everything, they tried to create computers that could code spells. And while they did eventually succeed in all ventures (determination), they had already fallen too far behind. The Republic was in charge of most of the solar system and was decidedly more powerful than the Human Union. The humans didn't mind all that much - they started sharing their technology more, and the Republic found many uses for those spell computers.

The Human Union never joined the Republic - too much pride - but the world acted as a somewhat cohesive union there in the end.

The Republic stood victorious.

~~~

"So.... Is that a pony or Troll victory?"

"I don't know. Without the Trolls the ponies would have been squashed, but without the ponies the Trolls would have devolved into madness."

"Trolls win, they're the most prevalent race in the republic."

"No, Ponies!"

"Guys, it's a draw. Plain and simple. You two both win the bet."

"Then pay up!"

"Yeah!"

"...Uh, did we ever actually set any terms...?"

"..."

"..."

"Fuck."

~~~

Princess Snowbloom 'Anastasia' Scarlet spread her wings and tilted her horn to the starry sky visible through the porthole of her ship. "Our world... has reached where it needed to. The peace is incomplete, but lasting. We are free from the shackles of our homeworld."

Lainax Piexes looked up from his seat. "You waxing poetic again? Just say we won and get it over with."

"I just find myself wondering what's next, Lainax. I've been with this world almost from the start - not even you long-lived Fuschia-bloods can say that. I've seen war, death, but also peace and progress. But now that we're here, I find myself wondering what else. What now."

"Maybe aliens?"

"I don't know. You think we would have seen them by now..."

Lainax shrugged. "Whatever it is, I'm certain the universe won't let us stay bored."

"Yeah. What kind of world would it be if that happened?"

Author's Note:

GM:
This was a thought experiment posted on a series of forum posts over a few days. I wrote it in the early days of SotS. Looking back, I really like it, but holy cow did I somehow mix up my tenses a lot in this one. Geez. Hope you can enjoy it despite that, since I think it's a bit too much of a chore to fix...

Maybe I'm just lazy. Eh.

Regardless, PONIES AND TROLLS 4 LYFE!

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