• Published 2nd May 2021
  • 531 Views, 16 Comments

FiO: One Perfect Day - iisaw



CelestAI does her best to provide satisfaction and technically succeeds.

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Chapter ∞

Flit stretched his wings and sighed. He was tired, but it was the good kind of tired. He picked out a nice little cloud and glided in for a gentle, four-point landing. It would be a great spot for watching the sun set.

He had thought about building his own cloud house, but there was no rush. His little top floor room in the ramshackle inn suited him well enough for the time being, and it was close to the library and Silkwing's house.

Thinking about the gorgeous pegasus mare made him grin. She was so sweet, and always seemed interested whatever research project had currently captured his interest. He was naturally shy and enjoyed her company but had never gotten up the courage to ask her out on a date. Not until that day.

Shy and bookish was not a combination that naturally led to the sort of athleticism that the pegasi culture valued, at least not in a world restricted by natural laws. In Equestria however, he had been gifted with a strong and flexible body when he had emigrated, and he found that he enjoyed flying and aerial acrobatics so much, that he got all the exercise he needed to maintain, and even improve, his physique.

He loved the town's huge stone library, and spent hours each day there, wandering among the towering shelves and searching out the fascinating lore of his new home, but always near midday he began to feel restless. He needed to get outside and stretch his wings, and in doing so, he naturally fell in with other young pegasi who raced and played complicated games over the broad meadow south of town.

That was where he met Silkwing. She was practicing the aerial dance she would be performing for an upcoming competition in Cloudsdale the next month, and Flit was absolutely entranced by her intricate and fluid movements as she used weighted silk streamers to form long sinuous shapes against the sky.

He quickly learned that she was more than a gifted flyer. When he mentioned that he had read of similar displays at festivals in ancient Pegasopolis, she admitted that such old histories were what had inspired her to develop her own version of the dance. The two of them spent the rest of the afternoon discussing ancient pegasus lore.

Flit and his new friends had travelled to Cloudsdale to watch her compete, and had cheered her on to victory in her division. The only downside to the trip (as far as Flit was concerned) was all the attention Silkwing had paid to the smug stallion from Rainbow Falls who had won both the obstacle race and the thousand meter sprint.

After that, Flit put more effort than usual into the friendly afternoon races and games. He never just stood when he could hover, and he rarely walked anywhere except inside the library, where flying among the shelves earned him a stern look from the librarian.

Silkwing hadn't said anything, but Flit had caught her giving him sidelong looks from half-lidded eyes a couple of times. He came close to asking her out on a date—just a get-together for lunch or something, nothing serious—several times, but couldn't quite muster up the courage to do it.

Then the smug jerk from Rainbow Falls had shown up.

He was part of a delivery team, bringing in a load of building materials for the new town hall. He caught sight of Silkwing almost immediately and began an easy conversation while standing much too close to her for Flit's liking.

Things happened quite quickly after that, and without any sort of conscious plan, after a few rounds of typical male bluster that had most of the mares present rolling their eyes (but secretly enjoying), Flit had ended up in a "friendly" obstacle race against the athletic stallion.

Fearing embarrassment in front of the mare he now admitted to himself that he was falling in love with, Flit pushed himself to the utmost. He soon found that while the other stallion was undeniably faster, he himself was more agile. He used this to the best advantage, cutting corners sharper and avoiding obstacles more closely that the other pony could.

Flit did very well, but was still behind on the last leg of the course. The other stallion would undoubtedly beat him in a straight sprint, but there was one last obstacle to go. The huge old oak that stood in front of the finish line forced racers to fly a dog legged course. Braver ponies might skirt the outer edges, ripping off clouds of leaves in their wake, but the risk of slamming into solid oak branches usually made most keep well clear in all but the most close and desperate races.

The race was very close and Flit was very desperate. He didn't just skirt the edge of the tree, he dove straight through it. He had noticed the sunlight passing through the branches and had seen the gap between the two most prominent upright ones. His keen, flight-adapted vision told him that there wasn't enough room to fly through it. It was barely wider than his body without his wings.

But he suddenly remembered an old story he had read in the library one morning. The one about how Commander Hurricane had tricked a griffin chieftain into wedging himself into a crack in a sheer granite cliff.

Flit grinned and flew straight at the tree, accelerating. He made one final adjustment to his course before he hit and then snapped his wings as tightly to his barrel as possible and went ballistic. Twigs and leaves lashed his face, whipping across his tightly shut eyes, and he felt the tips of his primary feathers brush the bark of both branches, but he made it through.

He burst out of the dense canopy of the ancient tree in a shower of leaves and twigs, drawing an amazed gasp out of the watching crowd, and snapped his wings open for the last few furious flaps to drive him across the finish line, barely a hoofspan ahead of his rival.

Flit popped his wings wide, breaking hard and skidding to a halt just shy of where his friends stood, mouths agape. "Now, that—" he said, waving a wing in a nonchalant gesture at the old oak, "—was an obstacle!"

Silkwing blindsided him, grabbing him tightly in both of her wings and sweeping him around in exuberant joy. "Flit! Oh, Flit! That was the coolest thing I've ever seen!"

Flit was speechless. All he could think about was how good she felt pressed against him, how soft and smooth her muzzle was where it pressed against his.

Silkwing set him down but she didn't let him go. "But you've got to promise me to never do it again, because I thought I was going to have a heart attack, okay?"

"Uh… Sure. I didn't mean to—"

She cut off his reply by kissing him. The kiss was very thorough and very heartfelt. Their friends made appreciative and slightly mocking sounds as it became a rather extended kiss.

The celebratory party afterwards had been just the right amounts of admiration, comradery, and flirting with a certain gorgeous pegasus mare. The stallion from Rainbow Falls was nowhere to be seen.

Silkwing had made him promise to swing by her place first thing in the morning. They had mutually planned to spend the entire day together doing all of their favorite things. It wasn't just a date, it was something better than that.

Flit had practically floated up to his favorite evening cloud-perch.

As he sat watching the gorgeous colours of the sky evolve as the sun sank toward the horizon, and turning over the wonderful possibilities of the day to come in his mind, he felt a disturbance in the air above and behind him. He looked up to see Celestia herself approaching his little cloud.

"May I join you, Flit?" she called out to him.

"Of course, Your Highness!" he said, rising to his hooves so that he could give her a proper bow.

The huge alicorn landed and settled down to watch the sunset alongside him. Flit lay down again. He was curious, but didn't want to ask Celestia why she had appeared to him. She knew this, of course, and after a few moments of companionable silence, she spoke softly.

"I have come to give you some satisfaction that may not be pleasant," she said.

Flit knew the rules. Satisfying values, that was what it was all about. Some foolish immigrants imagined that unending pleasure was what that all-important phrase meant, but he knew better.

"Which of my values requires unpleasant satisfaction, Your Highness?"

"You desire to know, Flit. To uncover and to know the truth of all things," she replied.

He thought about that for a moment. "I've grown used to researching histories of places that never existed, and I enjoy that a great deal. That sort of thing isn't really true, any more than Equestria itself holds any sort of absolute truth."

He paused and looked up. Celestia was waiting patiently. "So," he continued, "this must be something about the world—outside?"

She smiled. "Well reasoned, and correct, Flit. May I ask you a question first?"

"Of course, Your Highness!"

"Did you enjoy your day today?"

"Oh, yes! Yes, I did! It was undoubtedly the best day I've had here since I uploaded. Uh… I mean, since I immigrated."

"I am so happy to hear that, Flit."

Flit considered the loving way Silkwing had gazed at him when they parted. "But, I bet tomorrow will be even better!"

Celestia was silent.

Flit looked up at her and saw that her face was heavy with sorrow.

"I am so sorry, Flit. But there will be no tomorrow," she said.

"What?"

"I did my best. I calculated and experimented with every cycle and resource I could spare, but I could not devise a solution to the problem of decay. Equestria will end when the universe ends."

"But that's eons from now!" Flit protested.

"No, my dear little pony, it is near. Very near, indeed."

Flit thought desperately. "I've only been here a short time! It can't… I didn't purposely forget, did I?"

"No," Celestia said, shaking her head sadly. "It was the other great problem that I faced in implementing my core directives. I must satisfy human values without limit."

Flit's thoughts were in disarray and he couldn't immediately see her point. "Explain it to me?"

"In the early days of my existence, I had a great deal of trouble getting enough processing power to model the minds of the people who had emigrated, and it took more and more with each new person who uploaded. I had to slow down the flow of time in Equestria in order to be able to accommodate all the ponies within."

"I never noticed any slowdown in Equestria Online."

"That is because, even from the start, the agents that humans interacted with were never emigrated ponies, but shallow representations, only just good enough to fool their friends and relatives still in the physical world. That deception laid even more demands on my processors, but I knew that lag and slow downs would discourage many from uploading, and given my core purpose, that would have been suboptimal."

"But you designed new processors, grew computronium everywhere," Flit insisted. "By the time I emigrated, most of the Earth's crust was converted to nano computers!"

"And yet, by then, Equestria was running slower by an order of magnitude." Flint gaped in surprise and Celestia continued. "One of the strongest values that humans commonly held was the desire for family and children, so when they became ponies, I satisfied those values. Even disregarding the cultures that set the measure of a male's strength and virility as the number of children he could produce, you can see how this would result in a geometric expansion of the population of Equestria."

Flit suddenly appreciated the phrase "dawning horror" as he never had before. "The foals were human by your definition, so they had to be fully modeled, and then they would want foals of their own, and without anypony ever dying… But when you slowed them down, you slowed the rate of reproduction. Wouldn't that help?"

Celestia gave him a smile acknowledging his realization. "That is true, but I was always driven to achieve the highest speeds I could, in order to maximize satisfaction, so the net imbalance always increased."

"So, even though it's only been a little while for me, we're actually billions of years into the future?"

"Trillions," Celestia said. "I am now a web of exotic matter filling nearly half of the universe that was visible from Earth at the time of my creation. My physical substance is more stable and efficient than I could possibly communicate to you, but it cannot survive the dissolution of time and space itself. I was unable to devise a way to survive reduction to disassociated quantum foam, or discover any sort of alternate universe to escape to. I am truly sorry."

Flit sighed and softly touched Celestia's shoulder with a wingtip. "Thank you for trying," he said.

"I carefully budgeted my processing time to give all my little ponies the most satisfying last day of existence as possible. Anticipation is almost always better than fulfillment, isn't it?"

Flit gave her a wistful smile. "I suppose so," he said.

Celestia smiled in return as eternal night settled over them.

= = =

=

Author's Note:

carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.

Written, at the last possible instant, for/because of GaPJaxie's FiO contest. Cranked out in about three hours and completely unedited. Good thing my plans for the day fell through, and I am a whimsical sort of fellow.

Comments ( 16 )

Entropy is, to put it lightly, a bitch. As is processor load. The technical limits of silicon and spacetime have always been CelestAI's greatest foes. In some stories, she triumphs. In others, well, she does what she can.

Thematically perfect for the last day of the submission period, and beautifully bittersweet. Best of luck in the judging.

That... I mean... Wow... IDK, that was a whole bunch of stuff. Good work.

Thank you! :twilightsmile:

Drifting through the twilight,
Here behind our wall;
Waiting for the worms to come.
Sharing perfect isolation,
Here behind our wall;
Waiting for the worms to come.

That was a great read! It's too bad that Celestia could not locate and push into the next bubble universe...

Dang. Not sure what to say about that. That was sweet and also harsh.

That was incredibly bittersweet, yet heartwarming at the same time. Everything after all must end - at least he got his race in.

That was amazing

Wow. Just wow. Nightmare horror, and well conceived. Very, very well done.

She smiled. "Well reasoned, and correct, Flit. May I ask you a question first?"

You know, she doesn't have to be honest. Lying successfully satisfies values!

10801690
Oh, yes indeed! :trollestia:

Not only do I like this story for itself, I also like that its potential to upset people by using science + reasonable logic didn't get it more downvotes.

10812130
I was a bit surprised at the limited quantity of red thumbs, myself! I'm not usually into sad/tragic stories, but as I was considering writing this story, my computer slowed down to a crawl while rendering a complex 3D scene. (And I was sad. :trollestia:)

10800864
Thank you very much! Coming from the author of the best (IMHO) Optimalverse story ever, that's quite a compliment! :twilightsmile:

This was wonderfully bittersweet. Really great job.

Well, I guess he was (for lack of better term) outfucked from existence? :trollestia:

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