• Member Since 28th Aug, 2011
  • offline last seen Last Thursday

Cold in Gardez

Stories about ponies are stories about people.


Flim and Flam aren't the kind of ponies one should trust with powerful magical artifacts. Reformed villains like Starlight Glimmer probably aren't, either. But there's no harm in the Memory Machine.

You can't change the past, but maybe you can drown it out.

An entry in GaPJaxie's Speedwriting Contest. Perfect for curing Writer's Block, stretching your writing muscles, or just trying something new!

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 38 )

It's clear why the brothers couldn't stand the thing. Experiencing their victims lives shoved the reality of those victims' personhood in their muzzles. It's not impossible to steal from living, feeling people rather than faceless mooks, but it's nowhere near as easy.

As for Starlight... yeah, getting to taste a life not defined by regret and loss and rage is a terrible temptation for her. I just hope someone drags her away before she burns her friends' lives away for just one more taste. Or fills her head with so many stolen memories that there's no room left for her.

Wonderfully unsettling little tale. Thank you for it.

Hmmm...something about this seems off. Okay so I get Starlight burying her guilt and stuff with memories of happier times, but artifacts like this are never without a cost. Where do the memories come from? I suspect that the memories do not come from the objects being burned, but from the individual who had the memory in the first place,
so when she acquired the memory of getting a signed Wonderbolts poster, Rainbow Dash would have forgotten. Or perhaps like in the first Harry Potter book, there was the mirror of Erised, and Dumbledore warned Harry about losing one's self to memories, the danger of forgetting to eat, sleep, hope, dream eventually causing one to go mad or even wasting away entirely.

How on EARTH does this get featured the DAY it's released?!


An endorsement!

Also a wonderful story. :D

Ah, another excellent story featuring a curse veiled in blessings by Gardez. Yay.

How Why does this not have the dark tag?

I have a feeling that it will never get enough fuel. But I’d still like to see a sequel where it does and then affects all of ponyville in a bad way

I don't like how the items were destroyed, but I'll thumb it up.

If she REALLY wants to find out where it came from, she could break off a piece of stone or metal from the machine itself and throw it in.

It doesn't have to be that dark of a cost. Simply having an item burned is already enough a cost. The item can no longer help you remember, can no longer be used, can no longer influence anything.

You could use this to solve crimes and mysteries, right up until you have to tell the judge you burned the evidence.

I also recalled that this device also tells you the feelings of the objects' previous owners. (Starts tossing in Hearts and Hooves day cards.) "He loves me, he loves me not..."

I wouldn't be surprised if this gets featured.

There is a roman coin in my library I so want to burn right now.

It was minted during the Flavian dynasty and was found by my great granduncle in an antiques market in China. Imagine what it must have seen in its time.



I would be very surprised if a new Cold in Gardez story does not get featured, lol.

The mirror probably doesn't actually do anything other than show your greatest desire. The issue is that some people are so desperate for what they see in it, so destitute as to not even try for it, they'd rather gaze at what they wish could be.

True enough. Frankly, I probably would fall into that second category, I have a tendency to bury my head in the sand as it were.

I could see so many uses for this thing, in the hands of someone who will never use it for personal reasons.

I have a feeling that it was built as a weapon. You get somebody like Starlight, or really anybody could end up like her, and you end up having the town dismantling itself to quench its newfound addiction to memories...

And then when they run out of nonliving things...
After the first pony is thrown in, they will be throwing in their own mothers, sisters, best friends, neighbors, previously loved pets...

And whos to say that their own selves are off limits? After they run out of other ponies, they might start throwing pieces of themselves in, or just jumping in whole.

So yeah, I could most certainely see this as having been designed as a weapon.

Watch out, it's only a matter of time before Starlight steals Celestia's peytral (barding?) and experiences an Alicorn's lifetime worth of memories! :pinkiegasp:

I definitely see two huge downsides to this artifact:
1. The more you use it, the less of you that is left, as your own memories become a smaller and smaller portion of your thoughts compared to those from other ponies' lives.
2. The act of gaining memories is destructive, so inevitably you end up destroying everything within reach in a mad search for more and more memories.

Extended use would leave nothing behind but a broken, scatterbrained mare with a serious identity crisis and a lot of missing furniture.

10084203 #1 isn't a problem when (like ME, obviously) your mind is already crowded with hundreds of competing voi-... what? Oh! Sorry! THOUSANDS of competing voices! :pinkiecrazy:

And then Starlight threw Cozy Glow in... and there was a total blank. :trollestia:

At least part of the cost is acquiring the items. Starlight already stole the hasp from Applejack, even if it was broken. And where did she get the signed Wonderbolts poster?

Not to mention that once an item is consumed, it is gone. It can't be retrieved and used again (presumably, even with magic). While it could have held memories for many ponies who saw it before, and acquired more as time went on, now that will never happen - and only one pony will get the benefit of the knowledge.

On top of that, knowledge-seekers such as Starlight and Twilight would be particularly seduced by it. The ability to know everything about an item, instantly... not having to conduct painstaking research that might only reveal microscopic snippets - guesses at best. I could see Twilight tossing in quite a few items she would later regret destroying. Childhood treasures, personal items, books, artifacts...

You bring up several very good points. Someone ought to write to the Princesses and have it locked up in one of the vaults if not entirely destroyed.

With this, the dead are gone, but every memory carried on. No secret lost.

What a terrible, wonderful, addictive, repulsive thing.

10083005 10083002 Worse, there's nothing in the story that indicates the memories are REAL. Think about it for a second. Toss something in, it burns to ashes, and you remember everything about it in a way that you're positive is correct. What if the device only creates the memories from the destroyed item, and far worse, the way you expect the memory to exist.

Food for thought.

"Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain."
-- J.K. Rowling

That is a chilling prospect that you are essentially hallucinating memories.

@Cold in Gardez, I think I can safely speak for most everyone here, I realize that this was only meant to be a short one-shot piece, but this deserves a sequel even if it was merely a paragraph or two in a blog post, but why were Flim and Flam so eager to get rid of it? Is Starlight and the other girls/inhabitants of Ponyville at large safe?

My mind goes to dark places sometimes, and has thoughts like: What happens if a pony throws a bone in there? Or a skeleton? Or a corpse?

It's not so much what it is, but it's potential to feed the everlasting desire to know things.

"It makes sense to know the exact criminal history of this convicted murderer so we may bring peace to their victims (and hopefully close a lot of case files). Into the crucible with you!"

...oh, hey, turns out they were actually innocent. Of anything. Including the thing they were convicted of. Er...

"Oh yes, they definitely committed dozens of horrible crimes! Their death was completely justified! Bring out the next one!"

Drowning out unpleasant memories with many happy ones in this manner may certainly provide relief, but what are we if not the sum totality of our deeds and experiences? Drown out your memories, sure -- but won't you also drown out yourself? Who will walk back out of the town hall, once Starlight has finished filling her mind with other people's lives?

I gotta be honest this really got it's hooks in me. I know it was a speed write but I really hope this becomes a thing the idea is amazing!


Yeah, it's the logical extension. Does she love me? Uh, I guess she does. Whoops.

The title and picture made me think of Horizon's old story, but this one is very different.

Highly relatable.

Would rather live in happy old memories than dwell in the present.

I have lots of things to burn.

That is so deep. Like seriously, this is something you'd expect to hear from a philosophy major.

It's also prime material for a sequel. I can just imagine Starlight walking out and trying to take off, but then she's like "wait, where are my wings? Oh, that's right, I have a horn. Wait- I have a horn?! Oh yeah, I do. But where are my wings?! No wait, I don't have wings. Or do I?"

This is prime material for a sequel. Imagine Starlight being like "y'know, I always wanted to be a Wonderbolt when I was a filly" then somepony tells her "but you're a unicorn" and she illogically shoots back with "yeah, but I was a pegasus when I was a filly"

Her mind would be so chaotic that Discord might as well retire there.

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