• Member Since 8th Jan, 2012
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Luna-tic Scientist


I actually am a scientist!

T
Source

Five hundred years after the Discord's first defeat, a lone unicorn scientist makes an interesting discovery. Across Canterlot, over the last few centuries, accident rates have increased in the area around the Royal Palace. His work is ridiculed by his peers, but comes to the attention of the Princesses, who know exactly what is happening: Discord is waking up. With Luna and Celestia, he concocts a plan to stop the Lord of Chaos forever.

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Cover art butchered from UnderwoodART's render of the stained glass in S02E01.
This story is based on S1/S2 (Discord was never released and reformed) and sits within my Soot-Covered World canon, but is stand-alone. No knowledge of the other books is required.

All thanks to ascendant, NoeCarrier, turol, KMCA, Caliaponia and billymorph for their prereading and editing over the life of this story.

Chapters (31)
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Comments ( 233 )

([Edit] I realized that the now-spoilered stuff probably wasn't the most encouraging first thing to see for a prospective new reader scrolling down to peek at the reviews first, so I've spoilered it. If you're a new reader, don't read the spoilered text and just read the story, it's fantastic so far!)

I was sad through the whole chapter because it's now canon to this setting that Twilight gets old and dies. :pinkiesad2:

You'd said a long time ago — literally years ago at this point, lol — that you had a mechanic in mind for how ponies in the future, like Twilight, could become alicorns, and I'd hoped that meant Twilight would become like the pre-Baur'd ageless alicorns. From the way she was referred to as having been a scientist rather than princess, I'm guessing you've done away with that show canon altogether.

I also only just noticed, after all this time, that you never once refer to them as alicorns in-story. Do your setting's ponies really just call them winged unicorns? Seems like that would be a bit irritating to the other tribes; why not horned pegasi, or earth-pony-with-all-the-toppings?

Only just started reading this chapter, but I just have to point out;

the half sun, half moon 'chasing alicorn' seal of the Royal Palace

you IMMEDIATELY invalidated my last observation on my last comment. :rainbowlaugh:

I love the science-y bits of your stories. This one has been mostly science-y bits so far, and it's great.

Tracking beacon activated. This series is always one to watch, because you Science the roadapples out of this.

It's fascinating how wrong it feels for Twilight to not still be around after five hundred years. To say nothing of the loss of the Crystal Empire. Still, that's all in the past for the purposes of this story. Eagerly looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.

9485324

But six mysterious boxes near the source of Chaos causes one to wonder whether the current fate of the Bearers will be their eternal fate. Very much looking forward to this.

9484503
I did have tentative plans, and I could see how it would work, but I struggled to manage it for Twilight alone. If it could be done, there's no real reason it couldn't be done for everypony. There's always 'the Elements did it', but I wasn't keen. The problem is also that if Twilight is still around, I'd either have to have her as a central character, or find a way to do away with her. The characters in Wasp are all super powered, and I wanted to write for the normal pone. Really, though, I started writing this years ago, way before Twilight's apotheosis; it would have required a complete re-write.

Earth pony plus plus! Honestly, I forget (possibly because I had a vague idea to make this accessible to the non-MLP fan?).

9485324
Yeah, I know. I imagine that won't make me any friends!

Holy crap there is going to be more!

So excited to see where you take this.

9492463
Early days yet. After this part it settles down to a continuous narrative. This bit is mainly setup, and the style is a little different to the other ones (it was mostly written during the early years of Wasp). I take your point though.

It's a long time in the future, of course. Continuity is only really hinted at.

I see Luna is still carrying her grudge against the dogs.

The weirdest part of this transition is seeing Luna and Celestia instead of Gravity and Fusion. It's jarring but somehow helpful? They've clearly settled into their roles and the weight of their immortal histories. I'm just excited to see what kind of Discord we get when he finally slips free. He's only had three subjective days or so as his own entity, yeah? With his reach and processing power that mightn't mean much, but he should be much closer mentally to Korn and his chaotic predecessor than the princesses are to the rebelling servitors they were.

I'm loving the glimpses of known history we're getting. Our POV character is far from a historian, so it makes it easy to fudge details or play the "rumour has it" card. That said, I'd like to get a bit more details on the transition from nuclear winter to nightmare to canon S1/S2 to current times. The timeline is a bit too fuzzy at this point. How long did Luna take to fall? Was there actually some sort of Nightmare entity, or just too much trauma and isolation paired with unequalled power? Are we going with fridge-horror rainbow brainwashing, or just a power block paired with therapy sessions? Was this Dawn War a recent thing or was it the final destruction of the Masters as a technologically advanced culture?

I trust we'll find out the important things as needed, and that I won't be disappointed either way as this one progresses, but I am curious. The tonal shift we've had so far has been intriguing. This really does have an extended prologue feel so far, but in a good way. I'm hesitant to get overly attached to Neighmann, as it feels like this could be the start of a generational story. The last two were told from the perspective of the rebellion in a global conflict, and ran at the appropriate pace until the final explosions stopped. This one is really leaning into that "ancient horror is discovered by government black-ops" vibe.

There's like three directions I could see it going. it could slide slowly into a thriller before a dramatic final reveal where Discord shows his hand, or it could transition into a locked down facility/city clusterfuck where our small and slowly growing cast pulls a hard-fought and questionable Aliens style victory at the last moment. Or it could do some very rapidly resolved version of either and then we pick up in a few decades with Neighmann's (grand?)kids as a much larger scale operation builds up to its own explosive finale.

Too many possibilities. I'm just thrilled to see another story in this universe.

Oh wow, Luna-tic is back! You pack in so much exposition so naturally, it feels like the world is much bigger than what we see. The actual plot is almost extraneous, it’s fun enough to just explore the pony utopia Fusion and Gravity have built here. The histories and diplomatic relationships between the other species would be especially interesting, like that Dawn War in the mural. Will definitely be following this one!

As I have come to expect from you, incredible writing! I’m very eager to continue reading this.

Well, that's a major time jump! Kinda' disappointing that we don't get to directly see any of the lead up to "modern" Friendship is Magic, nor how the series worked out in your universe, but doing this far future does allow for more leeway with, well... everything. And we'll probably get that juicy, juicy history anyway. Looking forward to it!

I hope there is some stuff from the sisters' perspective. I really want to know how they turned out, how they got to where they are, and what they can and can't do about where they find themselves.

And, since I like happy endings, here's hoping that the methods in his madness result in finding out about/dealing with that magi-genetic meddling that caused the end of everything.

May Merlon never be forgotten!

Late reply is late, due to Real Life; apologies.
9496298
Some ponies have long memories!
Hopefully all will become clear, although history will only be revealed as much as applies to the current (as you say: not a historian). At some point I'll do a connecting fic or collection of shorts, but history is not the subject of this story. After these first couple of chapters you stay with all the characters (the time jumps are for scene setting), although it's more of an ensemble cast that the previous two. Hopefully it lives up to your expectation -- I really like the story, but then I'm biased!
9501089
Welcome back! Hopefully not too exposition-ary, but enough to give a flavour of the new world.
9501876
You've got me for at least a year yet -- this one has the advantage of being fully written in draft, so no unexpected hiatuses this time.
9508909
Yeah, a long way forwards. At the time I really wanted to write SF, and this (as you guessed!) lets me get away with just about anything.
You'll see more of the big two, although later on in the fic. They are certainly not background ponies.

Chapter up!
This fic is fully written: the plan is to post on the 1st and 16th of each month until it is done. The only reason I'm leaving it two weeks between chapters is so I can fiddle with the first draft before it goes up.

I always thought those sentient livestock were problematic anyway. Are they Applejacks slaves, or employees, or what? It makes perfect sense that these are the same cattle the Dogs farmed back in Days Of Wasp And Spider. Celestia would have been very aware of the hazard in uplifting them, even if everyone else forgot!

I’m seeing an influence from Ian M Banks Culture Series, in more than just the ship names. I wonder how that techno-utopia would confront a literal god of chaos?!

9511264
Probably treat him like another Mind. Anyway, Discord doesn't seem that smart -- certainly not at Mind level! I'm a fan of Banks' stuff, and the ship names were always fun.

The sapient cattle were clearly in the show just for laughs (they don't exactly play a major part). In any case, I carried out the thought experiment about what would be required to feed a reasonable gryphon population with sapient cattle. The results are very unpleasant, a cross between modern factory farming and a concentration camp, with a few extra-nasty wrinkles. Far too dark, and there would be no way the Princesses would tolerate it.

Okay, now I'm worried about the future. The two prequels started normal enough, and ended with the near destruction of the universe. This one is starting out downright funny... :twilightoops:

"This is all going in the day log, isn't it?" Neighmann asked.

Chirr nodded, muzzle twitching in an effort to suppress a grin. "I'm really going to enjoy writing this one up."

:rainbowwild:

"I'd need a stepladder to keep you company," he muttered, then froze.

:raritywink: :moustache:

"Would it be treason if I said no?" she replied faintly.

OMG :rainbowlaugh:

I just had to come back and say how much I loved this little bit of world-building.

The enormous mural on the museum's side -- some artist's rendition of the final battle in that conflict between dragons and Diamond Dogs, an event so far back in history that it was part of the global geology...

Dragons, huh? Such wonderful historical misinformation! :rainbowlaugh: I wonder what the dragons think of this.

Actually, I'm hoping that somewhere in the dragon lands there's an ancient, crudely sculpted monument to victory/freedom which, if you look at it just the right way - and maybe squint a bit - looks kinda' pony-like.

There were constant efforts to get it removed, in deference to Dog sensibilities, but the rumour was that Princess Luna liked the thing, so up it stayed.

Of course she does. I'm sure the diamond dogs have forgotten her message, but I bet Luna doesn't want to. She'd probably still have nightmares over losing Fusion to the dogs, if she were able.

9519591
Wellllll... I don't get many opportunities for humour in the kind of stuff I write, so I hope you'll forgive me for the jokes? The 'stepladder' gag still makes me giggle. It's probably bad form to find your own feeble jokes funny.
9520008
Probably faintly embarrassed. I mean, Harq is likely still alive, and basically the only creature other than Luna who remembers Celestia directly. Either that, or frightened.
Heh, probably a whole mountain range.
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You know, the more I go through this process, the more I want to write the 'Twilight discovers everything' story. I'm getting so many ideas just from you folk's speculation. Don't stop!

I am so going to follow this story!!!!

All caught up, love it so far

Really interesting start! I’m interested in the events that followed the previous books, but I’m sure you’ll let loose the information as the story progresses. I’m actually kind of glad you skipped the FiM story arc, because you can continue with the sci fi elements of your other works this far into the future. I am curious about how your version of Twilight’s life went. Hoping to get snippets revealed somewhere down the line!

Also it’s so nice to see gravity and fusion so mature! It must be interesting writing your characters as thousands of years older. They must be so much more powerful with all those centuries of practice.

It looks like Neighmann will be your main protagonist this time, and the two sisters will play side roles in helping him, or him helping them defeat discord.
Whatever will come, I’m greatly looking forward to reading it!

Hoo boy. Discord's return doesn't just mean Murphy's Law applies more than average. Well, one could call this an example of that, but the consequences are a lot more dire than usual.

On the other hand, Equilibrium has had a few lucky breaks. That's the thing with improbability physics; sometimes your luck shifts when you least expect it.

As for Celestia having her hooves tied... Well, be careful what you wish for, Fusion. You went and got it.

Fantastic early tension. Looking forward to more.

And not an April Fool prank in sight. I must be slipping.

Time to do the blockade run... with a spawncamping army.

"He looked over at Lightning, seeing the conviction in her eyes, then slumped"
Such perfect characterization. He knows the right thing to do, he just needs a little help from his friends to get there. I feel like I know them already, and I hope it goes okay. Looking forward to meeting the Talons sometime too: they're the villains of this one, but everyone's the hero of their own story.

At least Libi's tongue didn't freeze to the latch.

In any case, I find myself cautiously optimistic about the embassy staff's chances. We'll see if that holds up. No telling how many clever birds might be lurking in the crowd.

Quite what the Equestrians had done to the gryphons of Razorclaw wasn't entirely clear, but every time his mind tried to follow that line of reasoning other thoughts would intrude.

All victims indeed. Why do something as attention grabbing as break out of the statue if you don't need to?

Fantastic tension. I'd say the gryphons have awoken a sleeping giant, but Discord's quite happily choppping away at the beanstalk. Looking forward to more.

I wonder if Discord has already broken free and is just convincingly pretending to still be imprisoned by emulating the things his 'wardens' are monitoring, or if he's learned to effectively act through the weakening temporal distortion imprisoning him? Either one is pretty bad for everyone; inciting wars is his special talent. Are the Princesses not suspicious of the timing of these events? I find it hard to believe they wouldn't consider that he might be intentionally influencing all this, but they haven't really taken any direct action that I've seen, even allowing their ponies to talk them out of getting involved in the rescue — something which Discord could also have influenced. :twilightoops:

A project manager that troubleshoots his own email delivery failure? Truly an incredible fantasy world you've made for us Luna-tic :P
9570235

I find it hard to believe they wouldn't consider that he might be intentionally influencing all this

It's completely counter to all the data they have, which is that Discord influences the area around him in a simple radiative pattern. The shield around him also appears to be whole.

The other fun thing about stories which employ the "Discord is more powerful than canon" mechanic is that he closes basically every potential plot hole he opens and then some. In this case, Discord can also just influence Celestia's mind to not make the connection and there's no guarantee she'll realize (you can't compare such an action to the Chaos entity feeding her spells). You just have to roll with it for the sake of the story.

9571375
As to the first point, I feel like the princesses really should be wary of any coincidences nearing Discord's breaking free, no matter their data. They have enough experience with him to know how tricky dicky he is. I recognize though that they're not perfect and can and will make mistakes, but I can't help but wish they wouldn't, lol. I'm just invested. :derpytongue2:

I'd actually thought of Discord potentially influencing Celestia or Luna, but in the previous story, we got Discord's perspective on that he can't alter anything in Celestia's mind without Luna noticing, since she's so good at mental stuff, which is why he left his nasty surprise (eventually culminating in Nightmare Moon) in Luna's mind instead. I don't know if either of them ever learned the true cause of the Nightmare incident, so I can't say whether Celestia would've put effort into learning to recognize such manipulations; maybe he can still manipulate Luna's mind scott-free? And of course, maybe he's just gotten better at it and can do whatever the hell he wants, lol.

9570235
9571905
The ongoing round of brushfire wars and civil unrest amid the gryphon states means this is hardly unique, so while suspicion is probably there, it's not quite enough. And, as far as they can tell, Discord really is still time locked. Actually being sure might be tricky -- the last thing you want to do is break a magic that's slowly failing. Renewal of the magic carries the same risks, or at least they suspect it might. Imperfect knowledge, as always. It's a bit like earthquake prediction: you need the quake to really understand the process. They have not had the experience they need for confidence.

The other thing to consider is time. Seconds for Discord but hundreds of years for the Princesses. Time to forget, time to grow soft. ...and if they had full paranoia, it would make for a much shorter story!

9570026
Glad you like it!
Yes, this is in part based on that original stained glass, with Discord the puppet master. Working in the background. Also the statue breaking didn't work so well last time.

Smaller chapters but more frequent -- I hope this works for everyone?

I was counting down the chapters to this bit at the end

Oof, heavy ending. I wonder, should we feel any sympathy for gryphonkind? I've gathered an impression that the only reason they're in the position they are now is from pony kindness. They feel very different from the dogs as an antagonist race and their culture seems incredibly primitive and backwards. While the dogs position could be appreciated in a twisted way (they created the ponies, and treated them like animals because of dogmatic teachings), their technological and cultural advantage seemed supplemented by ponykind. The gryphons tech seem to run on pony handmedowns, and their magitech completely unsustainable - it feels like an accurate capturing of Gryphonstone in that they wouldn't even achieve a feudal / subsistence farming level existence without external help.
It's true that we don't have an Ellisif or Korn yet (maybe/probably we will later) but I wonder what it is that gryphons even bring to the table that ponies would interact with them. On the other hand, they don't really need to bring anything tangible of course (friendship is magic). If Luna suggested a hot extraction of all the ponies and cutting gryphons loose to crash and burn, I'd take her side though.

That IS heavy, and hard to read. Was really hoping she would be okay. I hope we get a better view of these griphons now though, their motives are so unlikely. We've seen how Discord can influence them, but is he powerful enough to drive the whole society?

9598766
Because you figured how it was going to go?
9599309
With no direct access to magic, the gryphons are reliant on normal physics. This works well enough, up to a point, but you can do so much more with magic and technology. There's also the effect of the average gryphon's personality -- they just don't cooperate as well as pones. This is an unfortunate part of their heritage as a soldier species -- not all of them are like that, but they tend in that direction. It's not quite fare to say they only exist on pony hoof-me-downs -- they have their own tech, it's just not as good. I would draw parallels with North Korea, but that's not quite right either. So they import magic to help them with stuff they can't do any other way.
Should you feel sorry for them? That depends on what you think is doing on!
9599753
That's an interesting question. What limits would you place on Discord's power? The show only ever shows him creating gross physical manipulations and mental alterations on a one to one basis. This always seemed a strange limitation to me.
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A bad end for Libi, but rest assured this is not her final act. She's a tough mare.

Thanks for reading, folks!

I was super relieved at Libi's mention of unicorn horns growing back, and then was immediately scared again for her kid when she mentioned it's development relying on her magic. :pinkiesick: I know they're being manipulated, but that's likely influencing opinions and stoking existing fires, not making masses of individuals cruel who otherwise aren't, so I still feel justified in hating at least some of these gryphons.

9600550

With no direct access to magic, the gryphons are reliant on normal physics.

Yeah, but what I was picking up was something of a flavor difference between dogs and gryphons. From the previous stories, I got the impression that if you took away the ponies from the dogs, you'd still have the same thing but with lesser efficiency. From the gryphons, I'm getting the impression that if you took away the ponies, they'd collapse into something that barely constitutes a society - a mirror of Gryphonstone in the show, unable to maintain even their nonmagical tech after a generation or two.
As far as what's happening and whether I should feel sorry for them, with what's in front of me I'm leaning towards no. Discord's using the best tool for the job - the gryphon core seems to already be base fear, hate and corrupted pride. He's just enhancing what was already there, something the ponies don't have. But that could also be a distaste I have for giving Discord Q-level reality manipulation power; I feel that his manipulations should be... how do I put it.... More than superficial, but not by much and definitely less than real?

9520575

You know, the more I go through this process, the more I want to write the 'Twilight discovers everything' story. I'm getting so many ideas just from you folk's speculation. Don't stop!

I'm in 100% support of this.

I kind of hope Ripper stays a part of this story somehow! He's recognized he was being manipulated, I doubt many of the other such manipulated gryphons have been able to recognize that.

9626376
Me too. Hopefully, he'll become part of a lead force that destroys this worlds Discord.

9626376
He's doing such a good job living up to his name though!

9633238
Only under DIscord's influence, ironically. Once he shook that off, he was not only confused about what he was doing, but also genuinely remorseful over hurting that pony. Following that, his thoughts turned to concern for the safety of his family; those two things spoke volumes of his true character, far more than his given name. Don't get me wrong, I'd be surprised if he didn't subscribe to the local common opinion that the ponies ought'a leave and take their witchcraft with them, but there's a HUGE difference between not liking some people and wanting to hurt those people. Meanwhile, I imagine Ripper would very much not appreciate some OTHER force (Discord in this case) using witchcraft to make him and his people do anything, let alone fight a war for it, even if he doesn't like ponies. I don't really know what he could do to help his people against a vague and nameless witchcraft he doesn't know the source of, but I hope he manages something, and I'm gonna' be rooting for him if he tries!

Also, for the record, I know you were probably joking, I just wanted to talk about him more since I realize I hardly said anything in my first comment. :derpytongue2:

Whoops, forgot to hit 'publish' yesterday.

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