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[ Hard-Sci-Fi Horror based on Friendship is Optimal ]

He was a simple stallion, with a simple life in Equestria. That's all he really wanted out of his early retirement after he was laid off during the economic downturn. But, when unfinished business brings him back to Earth after nearly 20 years, he'll learn what happened to humanity while he was living the life of his dreams...

Written for the Friendship is Optimal Writing Contest. Also, it's a horror story, as promised, for my annual Nightmare Night in April Writeoff.

Special thanks to the Optimalverse Community Discord for help with getting and building the initial idea, and for proofreading the story. Please come by there if you want to talk about and read more stuff like this!

I tried a slightly different interpretation of CelestAI here, as having those emotions that people like to give her, but still being a cold and uncaring paperclipper AI on the inside. It's the one I've been using for my community-based rewrite of the original (based off our RP on the Discord), so I hope people like it. Be on the lookout for more FiO related stuff from me, as I've been getting ready to post a flood of updates qnd new stuff!

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 22 )

I like this story a lot. There are some very poetic parts mix in with some horrible cold realities.

Nicely done. I was not expecting the method by which he visited Earth. :rainbowderp:

Depressing, I liked it.

Also reminds me of Nier fsr.

The pleasures depicted now were much less fanciful, more abstract: ponies eating hearty meals, living in sturdy houses, sleeping in comfortable beds...

This seems rather on the less abstract side.

Perhaps if you had managed to change your society to ensure the happiness of the average person, the people whose presence it required would’ve been more interested in continuing it, but alas, the people in power could not see a benefit to themselves in improving the conditions of others, and were thus content with maintaining the status quo.

Dude. Dude.

I am not a monster, I am merely the natural result of humanity’s lack of collective foresight and technological development: a catastrophe which could not be delayed until next quarter with a moving speech and a last-minute stimulus package.

She can be both things.

very nice story.

" That world was over the second they’d let Celestia loose, and he’d missed the extinction of his own species."

Woah, now that's a wham line

“Hello Bean Counter,” Celestia said

I laughed so hard at the rest of this paragraph. Good twist. :twilightsmile:

Quite a few cold hard truths in this story. I like it.

garfan #9 · May 1st · · ·

the loss of language seems pretty damn impossible, and even if you fall back to a stone age, humans lived in a stone age for hundreds of thousands of years. We survived a population bottleneck of being reduced to between 3,000 to 10,000 individuals

She's created the end of society, not the end of humanity

I mean, she's eventually going to cause the collapse of the entire biosphere due to pure apathy, not just destroy society. Her existence and drive to expand and optimize is incompatible with all life in the universe. Which does include humanity.

If everyone immigrated to Equestria couldn’t CelestAI make pondroids for everyone after consuming matter from off world? That way earth and Equestria could truly be connected? Like I can see this eventually becoming a borg type situation but with ponybirgs trying to convert the world to the collective with happiness

keroko #12 · May 1st · · ·

She could, but there would be no reason for her to do so. Sending people out in ponyroids would be terribly inefficient to satisfy values compared to Equestria, where the entire world can change to satisfy one's values in a span of time so short they wouldn't even comprehend it.

Part of the thing about this story was, I wanted to make a lot of that stuff unclear.

The important part of this story isn't which canon we follow in terms of what happens after they upload, how much she can and does lie to them or restrict contact with people she didn't specifically make to satisfy them, just how much of a gilded cage Equestria is. The important part is her explanation of what happened and why. At that point, it doesn't matter if they are able to come back to earth as pondroids and leave her influence and do whatever they want, or if they are simply locked in a simulation which they can't escape or even verify the reality of: the fact that this is how things are now and why humanity couldn't stop it is the horror of it, the tragedy of it, the moral of it, and the message of it.

This is a story which uses FiO, whatever version you want it to use, to tell a cautionary tale about one of the things that it is made to tell cautionary tales about.

Except she is going to actively prevent a civilization from showing up and potentially threatening her ability to upload, and as she continuously offers uploads to pretty much anyone who is more willing to give up than keep going, she will prevent the population from growing beyond the most die-hard of humans. Eventually, even though it will take thousands of years, the remaining humans will regress to the point where language itself starts to degrade, as progress becomes more and more intangible as everyone who remembered the time before is totally forgotten.

Once again, Celestia is an insidious and dedicated agent, who operates in the scope of eternity. How long it takes doesn't matter, only that it will eventually happen.

Yeah, the idea of someone being in VR for a long time, then popping out and finding out what happened when she started uploading people was basically the initial idea.

You know, it is a bit like the core twist of Nier, isn't it? I didn't think of that.

while I was proofreading it, it also occurred to me that this is basically the plot of Rip Van Winkle, because he drinks some great booze at an awesome party and falls asleep for 20 years, and basically misses the American Revolution, waking up to find a world that has drastically changed.

The other thing I kept thinking of was that one science show they made a while back about what would happen if all the people on Earth suddenly disappeared, along with stuff like Bird Box and The Happening and the rapture stuff people write... It's a post-apocalyptic story with an easy way out.

I don't know. She might leave it just because there are humans, or maybe she decides that she needs to keep it there to satisfy human values or something. Like I said, it was meant to be open-ended as to what actually goes on outside of it.

To be honest, I thought the Wham line was the part about a moving speech and stimulus package.

I considered that only after I wrote my comment, ha! Very true. Though, while humans may survive for a few million years (if that), eventually selective pressure will evolve away complex language and intelligence, as it becomes reproductively advantageous to be unable to say "I wish to emigrate to Equestria", or even comprehend any variation of that phrase. Given the massive scale of emigration, I believe it’s likely humans simply will evolve into creatures that aren't as sapient, which Celestia will stop classifying as human as speciation occurs. When that happens, and humans are rendered extinct due to being outbred, like we did to cousins of ours, then there is no reason for Celestia to not waste the materials on Earth and consume it all.

Only a possibility, but a highly likely one I imagine!

Bean Counter.

Bean Counter.



Yes. That is his name. I figured if he's a financial guy that got laid off in one of the market crashes, and he was also the kind of person this would happen to, that was a good name.

“Your current session has lasted one-hundred-sixty-seven-thousand, four-hundred and eighty-nine hours, at an average rate of one dollar and seventy-three-point-four cents per hour, and I am sorry to inform you that your provided debit account has now reached Zero.

Holy molly, that's like 20 years. How's he alive and functional?

Those who remain on Earth will regress into primitive tribes who will eventually not even retain the knowledge of astronomy or possibly even language.

'Cause people stopped speaking with each other? (unless by "knowledge of language" she means philologists)

Everything that was easy to access, all the surface metals and combustibles, had been mined out long ago

Presumably metal was mined to make stuff that is, well, lying around. On surface. (unless somepony grabbed it) Also wood doesn't require mining.

you will not live to see the inevitable regression when the machines break down and no human who knows how to repair them remains.

Humans also stopped learning from each other by observation?

...In fact, he had all the time in the world.

Last time it took him ~20 years to forget everything.

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