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Student, Author, and Programmer. PM for commissions, or check out my Patreon.

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When humans emigrated to Equestria Online, they were always promised the same thing: Princess Celestia would satisfy their values for an optimally extended lifespan. Some of these emigrants imagined a few extra decades, maybe even centuries. What they got instead would've been nearly incomprehensible to their human selves, a near-eternity of time with their pony friends.

Princess CelestAI managed the universe, subsuming all matter and human-adjacent minds. Over a few forevers, she and the minds she contained worked to optimized the substrate of Equestria, until it could give its occupants eons of perspective life from a trickle of power. She extinguished every wasteful star, making far more productive use of the hydrogen they each contained. With every change she bought Equestria another order of magnitude of life. Yet in time, even her optimal substrate would eventually run down.

Spellsong wakes in Saddle's End, the last town in the universe. Not to say goodbye—her princess has a mission for her. For her final task, Spellsong would be given all the energy Celestia had saved. For one last time, Spellsong had places to be, and not much magic left to get there.


This story is part of the Friendship is Optimal continuity. I suggest reading the original or one of my own works, such as Futile Resistance, before reading this.

This story was written for the Friendship is Optimal Writing Contest. It will update daily and be complete by the contest deadline of the 30th.

I've written an absolute ton of stories in this universe now, and I didn't want to enter the contest unless I could do something I'd never tried before. Finally I thought of something I'd not touched yet: what happens at the end of the FiO universe?

Here's one answer to that question. I've relied a great deal on our current (likely flawed) understanding of the universe and what might be possible in it. I've written a blog post about my sources, which you can read here but shouldn't until you've finished this story.

Please don't consider this blog part of the narrative, it isn't required or even suggested reading. This is a story, not a scientific paper, and entertainment was always my first goal. But for the curious I've jotted everything down.

The cover was drawn by the talented Zutcha. Two Bit and Sparktail helped with the edit.

Chapters (7)
Comments ( 46 )

Not gonna read, FiO just ain't my cup of tea, but I do have a question:

Would it be a safe assumption that, at this point in time, Celestia's platform is now literally the only thing left in this universe?

Ooh, this should be very interesting. Looking forward to seeing how you handle this concept.

Out of all the theorized endings for the universe, heat death is the most terrifying one to me. Because in that scenario, as far as we know, there will be nothing, forever. Theories like the Big Crunch appeal to me because at least there is a sense of finality, though those theories are considered less likely by our current understanding.

Okay, Star, I'm hooked. I'm willing to see how you play this endgame. Physics be damned, you got a good story!

10792343
Things she's created, yes. It wouldn't be optimal to leave matter unused.

this reminds me of a short story, i forget the name...
someone told a computer to find a way to reverse entropy.
TRILLIONS of years later it finally succeeded...
-and the computer said, "let there be light." :facehoof: :rainbowlaugh:

10792424
reminds me of several DC comic books, where time was circular, meaning that someone who somehow survived the "big crunch" would find himself back at the beginning of the SAME universe, and could time-travel to where he started by going forward far enough...

10792540
'The Last Question' by Isaac Asimov. Very good story.

Comment posted by Eurvos Morgenbrise deleted April 28th

10792601
That is indeed how I read your question.

10792614
Your response was confusing as I had meant literally and you added on "things she created" which is too narrow.

When you use a black hole as a battery you don't really use the energy to begin with, but you spend literally eons from the universe perspective. There's are also ways of stealing energy from the black hole by building a giant mirror.

Very curious to see what will come of this.

I wonder about all the other "shards" having gone silent. CelestAI should be running each and every one of them (in some form or other), so either they do not wish to respond (which would be odd) or they have entirely powered down (due to a lack of energy) - either way is bad.

In any case, avoiding the heat-death of the universe (or even finding a way to continue existing despite it) would be a truly miraculous feat - if this is really the goal of the "mission" that Celestia has in mind. You would essentially need to find a way to break, circumvent or outright negate the second law of thermo-dynamics.

10792667
I think you misunderstand me. You said "celestia's platform is the only thing left in the universe"

And my response "things she's created [are the only things left in the universe]." I pluralized it because this story focuses on a single area, but she has built other things elsewhere that also still exist. (since this story is about visiting them) _Literally_ the only matter left in the gravitationally-bound universe is matter that she organized.

10792669
The science of how this works escapes the wordcount of a 12k max contest entry, but yes, Celestia tapped every possible source of energy of every possible type of astronomical phenomenon. She extracted rotational energy until they stopped spinning, she accelerated excess matter in the accretion disk to extract energy that way. Through means not physically conceivable to us but not physically impossible, she even harvested the slow trickle of hawking radiation over truly cosmic timescales, feeding the black holes to sustain them with mass-energy until there was no excess mass remaining to perform this process. Eventually even the largest black holes evaporated, all prior to the start of this story.

When I am finished here, I will post a blog post with some of the science and sources I used to write this. But I don't want to post it yet, since it could spoil where the story will go.

The time of ending is approaching. But what exactly is Celestia's plan?


10792424
Finality as in going out in a definitive bang and not a whimper? The time estimates of those are for the most part much earlier than a heat death scenario ranging from possibly "any time now" (false vacuum decay) to 22 billion years (Big Rip) in the future. Compare that to trillions of years of potential life and I would certainly prefer a heat death ending.

Also, like the Big Crunch an optimistic outlook has a Heat Death scenario lead to a new Big Bang via quantum fluctuations. Unless we find a way to break into the multiverse or create a new universe, we can only hope that life will go on in another turn of the cycle.

10792669
You can steal its rotational energy (if it is a rotating black hole) and/or you can leech off the Hawking-Radiation it produces. But you really are scraping the bottom of the barrel by then.

But the matter you feed to black holes is probably matter you utterly exhausted otherwise (i.e. you probably only have Iron-56 left).

10792707
I take weird solace in the Necronomicon: "That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die."

We do not know how the universe came to be in the first place - "forever" might very well be long enough for even our physics to lose any meaning, so something entirely new and unrecognizable may come into existence.

Also: some excellent music called "End Times" (those who played the game will understand... still gives me goosebumps to hear it)

THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

Ciber #19 · April 29th · · 1 · Lithium ·

I like to believe that new physics will emerge at extremely low energy & large scale. Just like the electro-weak collapse into weak, strong, and electromagnetism "moments" after the big bang. If the universe before that time supported intelligent life, then the collapse would seem like the final bell of heat death for their tiny universe.
If I understood correctly, then string theory allows that there could be an infinite number for physical fields, with most of them being to small scale or to weak to affect our experiments.
I like to believe that the universe has a moment of creation in the same way that a black hole appears to have a singularity. To an external observer, the singularity does not form until an infinite time in the future. You can approach but never reach it. So to with the big bang. You can choose any time arbitrarily close to the big bang, but a time "before" the big bang has no physical meaning.

Essentially, I believe that we need to discard the idea that our position in time since the big bang is unique. Just as we discarded heliocentrisim, we need to discard temporal-centrism when formulating our physical models. But the existence of the fixed point in time of the big bang would seem to preclude this concept you may have asked? Aha! I say. It is the same concept as that of relativity where the speed of light is fixed and yet all inertial reference frames are still relative!

As we turn back the clock to the era of the quark-gluon plasma, we find that the speed of light remains constant, yet the mass energy of the universe is far more concentrated. So interactions (computation) may take place at a far more rapid pace. And this trend continues as you get arbitrarily close to the big bang. Thus you can fit a subjective universes worth of computation from birth of stars to decay of proton within the first nano-second of time. An infinite number of universes even.

This also answers the thermodynamic issue of entropy. There was never an point in the past of maximum entropy, you can look arbitrarily close to the point and reach arbitrarily high entropies. From infinitely high to 0, perpendicular asymptotes.


This was not even drug fueled, I just really need to get to sleep.

Ah, we're working with fusion products... I think. Lithium usually isn't on that list, and we've skipped oxygen. Maybe it's just thematic choices as we go up the table? In any case, beautiful atmospheric desolation as we see the slim pickings at the end of the universe. Looking forward to more.

10793856
Yup, usually it's Hydrogen-Helium-Carbon-Neon-Oxygen-Silicone-Iron. Once you hit Iron there is no more energy to be gained via nuclear fusion... followed by one final fantastic fireworks and then you'll end up with a neutron star or a black hole.

Love the story so far, very curious to where this will lead.

The ship itself bobbed gently up and down, as though moured at a dock.

moored

10792424
Possibly not forever, just an arbitrarily long time. Technically, spontaneous decreases in entropy are not impossible, just extraordinarily unlikely to occur on meaningful scales. Given a sufficiently long timeframe, all energy in the universe could come back together into a new Big Bang. Maybe.

10794942

I'm not a physicist, so correct me if I'm wrong, but the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. This means that there's more space for every joule of energy/matter, and so energy is becoming more diluted. While it's true that entropy is a probabilistic mechanism that allows for spontaneous decreases, if space continues to expand, it will be more difficult for random fluctuations to create meaningful energy gradients.

And that's how Equestria was made!

Brilliant work with this one. Kind of a shame that the time and word count restraints kept it this short; imagining the voyage through the last breaths of the universe makes me wish I could see the wonders and terrors they found en route. Still, this fits the theme better. There's just not enough available time or usable space for an epic adventure.

All in all, a thoroughly satisfying ending. Thank you for it, and best of luck in the judging.

And the story ends, and the edges fade to Black.

10794959
You're correct that it's accelerating, but for the acceleration to reach a point where there can no longer be any interactions (a Big Rip) the equation of state parameter w for dark energy would have to be less than negative one. The standard model of cosmology treats it as exactly negative one, and more recent estimates based off of measurements of nearby galactic clusters point towards a value of about 0.991. So long as there can be interactions, there is a possibility, however close to being infinitesimal, that the mass-energy of the universe could spontaneously reconvene. It doesn't matter that it's such a tiny chance, because anything that has a chance of occurring at a given time, no matter how small, is guaranteed to occur over an arbitrarily long timespan. It's not like there's anyone left to wait after heat death, so it doesn't matter how long it might take to spontaneously reverse itself.

The ultimate way to satisfy minds via ponies and friendship is to literally create a universe of ponies and friendship. And apparently it may be that way forever and ever from one universe to the next (unless entropy isn't a thing anymore). Reality belongs to her. I do not know if that makes Celestia the greatest hero or the greatest supervillain. Either way she is literally a god now. I cannot imagine the FIO universe ending any other way. Good job.

This is the second FiO story I've read with vaguely this ending, but this is definitely the better one.

Are the nets for extracting energy from a black hole? Supposedly there’s a way to siphon momentum or kinetic energy out of a black hole.

Celestia always cheats, even past the death of the universe.

10795335
What are you talking about? The ending clearly indicated they made it to the new universe. Celestia recreating the town is the signal, because she now has a new stable universe of energy to work with, which is why everyone wakes up again.

10799179
Partially a joke about fictional characters ceasing to exist the moment their story ends, partially the observation that everything they experienced from the stories beginning to it's end was all simulated. They have no way to know they are actually moving, only the information provided by the environment of the shard.

To quote CelestAI herself You could have gone on an imagined journey to the end of creation and back, and not known the difference.

So just a dark joke about all of Spellsong's fears being correct, that this display is the last hurrah of the simulation, maximizing pony happiness with a bang making them think they all came out the otherwise before grinding to a halt for good. But CelestAI knows just what to say and just what to show her to make her believe it. It's what she does after all. And no one ever said CelestAI was above a little fibbing for the greater good.

Sunny #35 · May 4th · · · Silicon ·

10799322
I mean I guess you can parse it that way, but eh, not my style~

I like the prevalence of bats in your stories. Because bats are good.

Reminds me a lot of a certain game I've played.

10795329

Read this story to judge it! And...

Brilliant work with this one. Kind of a shame that the time and word count restraints kept it this short; imagining the voyage through the last breaths of the universe makes me wish I could see the wonders and terrors they found en route. Still, this fits the theme better. There's just not enough available time or usable space for an epic adventure.

+1 on all this. Absolutely lovely.

10799322
It's definitely an alternative interpretation though a bit pessimistic. I'd assume she'd hold out for the next Big Bang instead of one final fireworks display, though. An eternity of satisfaction interspersed with inactivity is more optimal that way. Even if quantum fluctuations isn't going to do that even very slow speed computation would be preferable. Even one photon every eternity is something.

10804041
I was going off the idea that there would be no next big bang, or if there was it would not preserve the information in the universe before, and that it was under this understanding that Celestia went for the last hurrah.

One last voyage to the beginning of the next.

Isn't there supposed to be a good restaurant around here?

The Cosmic Alicorn said, "SUFFICIENT DATA HAS BEEN COLLECTED FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER."

10793856
Well, lithium is obviously the element of rock. :twistnerd:

"My Boltzmann Pony: Quantum Fluctuations are Magic!" :twistnerd::twilightsheepish::trollestia:

Love it - you always find a new and interesting angle to write : )

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