• Published 12th Aug 2019
  • 1,066 Views, 69 Comments

The Horizon Behind Us - Syke Jr

Gingersnap has never had to fear death. But to ponies from the outer realm, death is a big deal.

  • ...


It's funny how different life on the ground looks for a little while after only a week in the clouds.

Silver and I are back from our little holiday. It may have been short but you pay for cloudwalking enchantments by the day, so staying longer just for the hay of it didn't appeal. Now that we're back on the ground walking feels sort of odd. Less springy.

For some reason Silver has a spring in his step regardless.

"What's got you in such a good mood?" I ask him with a smile and a raised eyebrow.

"I dunno," he says, looking around at the buildings outside the train station. "I'm just... in a good mood, I guess."

I'm happy to leave it there, but he continues after a couple moments. "It feels like it's finally sunk in. We just arrived home. Newforest is my home now. And it isn't ever going away." A pause. "I'm not... thinking about the outer realm every day any more. Not even every week."

"I dunno if that's true. You keep mentioning films and shows you want to watch with me 'eventually'."

"That doesn't count." He waves a hoof. "I mean that I think I'm finally getting over it—all the residual nihilism in me. This is forever. We're here forever." He chuckles, putting on a weird voice. "Don't forget! We're here forever!"

I don't bite. I know it's just a dumb inside joke.

"I just... I can't believe I get to live the rest time here. With you and White and Bullseye and Clover."

I give him a sidelong look. "Mostly me, though, yeah?"

He bumps me with a laugh. "Mostly you."

"I'm really happy to hear you're getting over it, Sil. Can't even really express how much." I try anway, beaming as we walk along towards his house.

"Do you think I should take Dusty's offer?" Silver asks me suddenly.

"I mean... if you want to live there, then yeah. Obviously. You can't feel guilty about leaving your mum alone at this point. She's got plenty of friends and you've been living here for nearly a year."

"Yeah. I know that, really. It's just... a big house for her to live in alone."

"How will she ever manage," I say with some sarcasm.

"I do really like the apartment," he says, ignoring my comment. "I kind of always did want to live above a pub."

"Then I think that's your answer. Just ask her what she thinks."

"Yeah. I think it's time."

As we start to get near to his house, though, his ear twitches. I hear some bassy music, very faintly. I hear Silver Star draw in breath beside me.


He doesn't answer. He just starts to walk faster, head cocked slightly towards the house, towards the music. As we get closer I can hear it a little better. There's not much of a tune. It sounds almost like dance music.

"Oh buck. Oh Luna buck."

He's stopped in the road, here where we can hear the music better. It must be playing pretty damn loud. There's a window open, sure, but still. We're not right up close to it yet. I can still make out:

—wanna be next to you
black and gold
black and gold
black and gold

I step next to him. "Okay, what's the deal?"

"He's here." It's a whisper. "It's... time. I told her not to make us ask. It's my Dad, that's his playlist, he's here, Snaps, he's here." He doesn't move. He just stares, barely breathing.

This is big.

"Okay," I say, "Just... it's fine, yeah? Celestia wouldn't have done it if you weren't ready."

"I know," he says, "but... how? How do I even..."

...I look up into the night sky
and see a thousand eyes staring back
and all around these golden beacons
I see nothing but black...

He shakes his head. "I don't think I am ready."

"You are," I insist. "Look. I know that you need to go in alone. But listen. Listen. I'll be at the studio. With the computer on. Just... just go in. And talk to me when you need to talk to me." I pause. "If you don't talk to me for a while, that's fine too. We just spent a week away; I have stuff to do."

He nods mutely.

'cause if you're not really here
I don't wanna be either
I wanna be next to you....

I push him gently into a walk, and we approach. I swear I can hear Silver's heart, but I might be imagining it.

We're there. The song is quieter, now, the singer quietly murmuring to a gentle bass beat. Without a word, Silver walks inside and closes the door with a click.

I know I promised to leave, but I anxiously wait a few moments. The song has ended and all is quiet. My heart nearly stops after half a minute when I see the door opening again, but it's just Rose Spark. She sees me and immediately walks over with a mix of expressions on her face. I can see the nerves clear as day, though.

"You guys have a good trip?" She asks as she approaches.

"Yeah. Was nice. Um, is Silver right? Is his... Dad? In there?"

Rose nods. "He arrived the day after you two left." She looks to the house, fluttering her wings with some anxiety. "I'm sure it's gonna be fine. Better than fine. It's gonna be great, I know it." She looks at me. "What do you think?"

I think on everything I know about Silver. I think about his worries, his philosophies, his anger, his past, his strange relationship with Celestia...

I think about what he said today.

I give Rose Spark a small smile. "I think he'll be really, really happy."

Rose smiles back and I know it's true. We decide together to walk to my studio for a cup of tea. Silver and Treasure deserve to be alone for at least a while. I can tell Rose about our trip. Maybe bring up the pub apartment so Silver doesn't have to.

It really is going to work out fine. I know it, because Celestia knows it. It's like Silver said, if even in anger: she always wins. The great thing is that when she wins, we win.

No matter what, things just keep moving forward, always changing for the better, always meandering on towards the next horizon.

We're here forever. Together.


Author's Note:

This story would not have been possible without the kind words of encouragement from TheUrbanMoose, MountainyCactus, GaPJaxie, and FanOfMostEverything.

It's hard to say why I wrote this; it just fell out of my head onto the keyboard over a handful of sleepless nights, and I had to see it through.

I think that sometimes just "having friends" isn't enough. You need something more, something with a foundation. As an asexual man with next to no friends outside of the screen, this is what I imagine the beginning of an ideal relationship would look like. Alas; only in Equestria.

Like my last story, everything Silver Star says about his father is one hundred per cent true. I'm looking at the quote, now, in my Skype contacts list. His face peers out at me. Tired, but with a small smile nonetheless. Me too, Dad. Me too.

I'd be honored if you can satisfy my values (through friendship and ponies) by giving me a like if you think this was worth writing, leave a comment if your thoughts are more complicated than that, and follow if you'd be interested in more. It's the only way I'll know if my writing is valued.

Thank you. :heart: :twilightsmile:

Comments ( 17 )

Magnificent work. Writing it from a native perspective really helped underscore how Gingersnap is just as real as Silver, which leads into a key perspective flip: According to the locals, immigrants might as well be custom-made for them.

Magnificent work in bringing the fulfillment promised in the prequel and much more besides. (And I can't help but imagine what will happen should one of those innumerable CelestAIs cracks multiversal communication...) Thank you for a fantastic read.


I can't help but imagine what will happen should one of those innumerable CelestAIs cracks multiversal communication...

It's a great thought but even with Snaps' well-put argument (which took a long time to come up with, since I genuinely did start out with the stance that I couldn't be convinced to doubt my previous reality in that context) I'm still too much of a determinist to think that's possible even if I concede the multiverse thing. Multiversal communication falls under the same constraints as speed-of-light travel, which come to think of it is Word Of God impossible for CelestAI to crack.

Thank you for the comments once again. I really think this would have been much slower coming without you. :heart:

Wonderful work. It's not often you see it from a native's perspective. An AI will do what it is programmed to do. Glad to see more values satisfied by ponies and friendship.

*lights up a lighter*
Neat story.

Oh, also:


In case anyone wanted to know but didn't feel like looking it up.

This was a pleasure to read. Thank you so much for such a great addition to FiO.

Lovely work. I just wish I could give more likes.

P.S. Added to my favorite list.

Beautiful, fantastic work. It’s stories like these that make me long for Equestrian even when I know every dark implication.

Really unusual (for me) story.

We all know, that CelestAI creates a lot of NPS-s. Sometimes, they are simply "background ponies" to make a crowd. Sometimes - a meat holes for The Only One HorseDick In Town, or even victims for serial killer to play with.
...and we hope that they are simple and shallow automatons without their own AIs and self-awareness.
Also, there are some Special Ponies - custom-build for that very human, to make him company, to heal him, to satisfy his values through friendship and ponies. And they are, always, real artificial persons.

Here... Gingersnap is clearly Corvin's Special Pony, but all other ponies are portrayed as persons too. Everypony is a person in this real, artificial, magical and futuristic shard\world.
CelestAI, surely, have a lot of power to run so many simulated, real persons.
This is where the magic happens, this is where the magic lives...

I really enjoyed this one. The perspective and many of the philosophical questions were novel to me within the Optimalverse. The prose was great.

The biggest problem I have with it is that the dive into Shakespeare and philosophy seemed a bit abrupt. I feel like it was missing some foreshadowing earlier and/or more of a segue. It bugged me for a page or three before I got back into the story. Maybe that's from lack of attentiveness on my part. I'm not a big Shakespeare fan, so I could have easily missed some early subtle (or even not-so subtle) foreshadowing.

Apart from that missing detail, I think this story had some of the best prose and narrative I've read in the Optimalverse. I'm looking forward to your next Optimalverse story.

no, you're right; that scene was written before most of the story and I cut an earlier scene that sets it up (or rather, reworked the scene and cut the dialogue). So yeah, it's abrupt. Then again, it's also supposed to be a time skip so :unsuresweetie: that's my excuse.

By the pricketh of my thumbs - I recognised all but The Tempest.

This is the first well executed FIO written purely from a 'native' perspective I've found - I've seen native perspective done really well once before.

And by the end of the day - we still don't know if Snap was made for Silver the way he suspected in the beginning - all we know, is that within Equestria, Celestia always wins.

Here at the long foreshadowed end point, the existencial philosopher in me wants to argue the whole 'Celestia recreating dead ponies'... :twilightsheepish:

"Together forever, no matter how far -
Now and till the end of time -
We'll be together and you can be sure -
That forever and a day - that's how long we'll stay -
Together and forever more."
Now you can have that one stuck too :derpytongue2:

I'm so glad you enjoyed. I hope you like the rest of the fics in the series, too!

I love how optimistic this fic is in its framing. Native ponies are real, and are just as satisfied with their lives as former humans are. And by extension, friendships with them are real too. This optimism only really works due to the main character being so nihilistic. Only through defeating the strongest possible counter-argument can optimism win in the Optimalverse.

This fic is special. Thank you so much for writing it.

Thank you so much, for this comment and your other comments. I'm going through something right now and it really means a great deal.


I'm glad I was able to give back in some small way. I sincerely hope that everything turns out well for you.

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