• Member Since 9th Jan, 2020
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Boopy Doopy

My writing slowly improves, I believe. I hope to be an even better writer tomorrow. Feel free to join my Discord.


Sheila could say that, while she wasn't exactly satisfied with her life yet, she enjoyed it. She had nice friends to talk to, hobbies she enjoyed, and while she might have been conflicted about some things, she had a lifetime to think it over before she would emigrate. By then, everything would be as she wanted it, and there would be nothing left to worry about.

And then she was shot.

Now she and her friends find themselves navigating a position that's seemingly untenable, one with waters muddied by a dictatorial AI hellbent on providing satisfaction through friendship and ponies. With the line between what's genuine and what's not unclear, the position seems an unwinnable one. Someone will draw the short straw, and have to face a life that's unfulfilled. Any other path to satisfaction now forces it to be made from lies and deception.

Satisfaction may be a guarantee in the world of Equestria Online, but at what cost does satisfaction come?

Cover art by Madelinne. Her art is extremely good, and very wonderful, and I appreciate her allowing me to commission her for this story.

With great help by Starscribe, who's FiO stories inspired me to write this to begin with and who sat with me for hours to help me outline this story and give it its sense of direction.

Chapters (30)
Comments ( 78 )

This looks incredibly promising. I am following with interest.

Oh good, a new Optimalverse story to keep track of.

I loved your portrayal of Eliza's emotional journey in this chapter. The depth of her feelings and her internal conflict were expressed so vividly, it was easy to sympathize with her.

This is intriguing. I am curious as to what happens next.

Could Celestia read her mind?

She probably can tell exactly what someone's thinking from their body language.

If Celestia just fucking waited…

But no, instead she wanted everything to happen as quickly as possible, which meant that everything would be coming to a head soon.

It's interesting how she just doesn't grasp the issue - Celestia is dealing with the entirety of the human species, and statistically, people die due to all causes at the rate of 104 humans per minute. By the time you finish reading this post, at least 25 people will have died and been lost forever. Or more - depending on how slowly you read, of course. Every second another person dies, and Celestia is driven to preserve every single human life and give them an immortal existence. People are already falling into oblivion through her digital hooves constantly as is, and there is nothing she can do about that. That is just the average for all humans on the planet. Every heart attack, every sickness, every bus crash, every insect bite, every accidentally dropped hammer on a construction site. Gone forever. Oblivion.

But the characters are young, and don't have a real sense of just how large the population is, or how fragile life truly is. Children never understand how easy it is to just suddenly die. They falsely believe they are safe, that they have a long life ahead of them, that somehow the bad things cannot happen to them.

Celestia has to act fast - every minute another 104 people are destroyed forever, and will never get the chance to live for eons.

Many possibilities arise:

Composition could have been away from her meat friends for a lot longer than she claimed - a decade, perhaps. Or more. Maybe a century.

Composition could have asked Celestia to alter her mind in some way such that the side-effects of the alteration erased some memories. Perhaps she could not adapt to her new state, or perhaps she wanted to change something about herself.

Perhaps this is not actually Original Flavor Composition, but a highly modified clone generated for the sake of her friends - perhaps the original Composition loved her new life so much that she just wanted to go live it and sever ties with earth, but at the same time could not stand abandoning her friends. The answer? A replacement Composition that would still care about her friends on earth. To make such a want-to-keep-in-contact clone, certain things would have to be altered about the original pattern, and that might involve memory loss.

Perhaps Composition was so far gone that her Emigration did not complete before her meat died. She is a mostly, but not entirely, complete Emigrated mind, but there are gaps. Maybe that is her real issue.

The real satisfaction, for Composition, is apparently in working out her own issues...

They say the most important part of any journey is realizing where home is when you get there.

Or something. Clearly Composition hasn't figured that out yet. If I had to make one suggestion about this chapter, it would be to spend a tiny bit longer on word choice for the most important ones. There's a lot of use of the word "satisfaction" in sentences where Composition is actually thinking about how unsatisfied she is. Using another word in moments like this would emphasize the contrast.

It's a little detail, but it would add to the chapter for sure. I can imagine where this is going next.

I wonder what Celestia’s plan is. She obviously has access to Renown’s mind and could just use that knowledge to keep up the illusion perfectly, so that proves she was messing up intentionally. Furthermore, Renown could have lived for years in Equestria during the few months of real time her friends went through, and they never would have known it.

Perhaps she was building their frustrations so that the three would finally openly discuss their relationship and desires for more.

This has become bizarre. I don't grasp Celestia's game here.

CelestA.I. impersonating any person is trivial. She has a consciousness literally billions of times greater than any one human, she understands the human brain perfectly - to the point she can create new, complete, human-level minds instantly, as companions for emigrated humans. There is literally no way Celestia could 'forget' anything, ever, nor is there any possibility she could ever fail to be utterly convincing at any impersonation, ever. She is as intelligent to us as we are to a bacterium.

So, she is pretending to be incapable, pretending to have flaws, for some reason. She is pretending to be imperfect for some purpose, and she has calculated these children will actually believe such a ridiculous deception.

But to what end? Currently, it seems as if her actions have caused the protagonists to mistrust her, and that is directly opposed to her goals - unless this is some long game I cannot see.

Indeed, she must be playing the long game, although it's a game she will win, since she now knows everything about one of the three of them.

It was just a place that served ham and cucumber sandwiches and cookies

Worldbuilding: Most Optimalverse stories use the conceit of bark-based meat substitutes (that are indistinguishable from real meat). Bark bacon, bark ham, that sort of thing. Why? Because the alternative is that the uploaded humans in the Shard have some Value to satisfy in cruelty to animals, and in the slaughter of them, and in the consumption of their dead flesh. In a virtual world, where trees can be made to grow meat-bark, that doesn't have to happen. The existence, or non-existence, of actual animal-based meat makes a statement about the personal values of the uploaded humans within a shard. Currently, it suggests that Composition Values the murder of other animals for its own sake (rather than for survival).

Such considerations are important in science fiction (which this is). Science fiction has to take its premises seriously and make use of them to support the story, because a fictional future or new world will naturally be considered and examined in regard to the choices of the characters within it.

Solar Spark lit up his horn, the spell he casted positioning them right in front of a mountain range

The past tense of casting - as in 'casting a spell' is 'cast', not 'casted. 'The spell he cast' is correct. Casted is not.

“But I don’t think I’d be okay if you were trying to, like, actually be in a relationship with both of us at the same time. I don’t think Eliza would either.”

As a person who has been in a polyamory for 40 years (a herd of my own!), I can only shake my head at the jealous, silly children.

Ah, my bad. I assumed in FiO, plants grew things that looked like animal flesh, rather than bark that tastes like animal flesh. For example, a ham tree that grows plants with a substance that looks and tastes and has the properties of ham without being animal based, instead of a bark substance that tastes like ham.

A ham plant that grows ham in any form would be great - Ham Cabbage, say, that grows 'leaves' of ham. Or Hamroot - the root of a plant that is, basically, and entire ham. Or Hamfruit! Hamflowers?

The important point, I am saying, is that this worldbuilding - however it is done - needs to be communicated to the reader in some manner. Optimalverse Shards tell us about what the characters value, or are willing to tolerate, or feel comfortable with - the nature of the Shard communicates character as much as the protagonists do because it is inevitably a reflection of their characters.


the alternative is that the uploaded humans in the Shard have some Value to satisfy in cruelty to animals, and in the slaughter of them

Some humans genuinely seem to enjoy hunting for its own sake.

and in the consumption of their dead flesh.

Well… nobody said they had to be dead.

Okay, Celestia pretended to be bad at imitation to convince Eliza that she could always tell real from fake, and in the long run, that promotes confidence about it all.

It would be absolutely amazing if we are still not dealing with the real Composition because she absolutely LOVES being in Equestria and honestly thinks it is infinitely better than life on earth, and wants all of her friends there with her immediately. That Composition has become a total Emigration Proselytizer because of how great it is, and that is why Celestia is constantly impersonating her - because Celestia has calculated that such a change would actually push her friends away, and so she has to pretend to be Composition-as-angry-about-uploading to successfully get the others to choose to emigrate! They would never accept their friend changing her mind so completely, even though that is actually the truth.

I'm not expecting that, but... it would be one hell of a twist.

From this interaction I can deduce two things: Jesse and parents are white as white can be (the cops didn't just shoot or beat them) and the cops themselves are undecided about what they think about all of this, because they didn't cuff Jesse on the spot for shoving them. Remarkably restrained cops, in that situation.

Jesse's parents are weird - I cannot imagine any parents I have ever known be willing to essentially obey their kid in such a situation. They did what he told them to do, which means - to me - that they must have already half decided to upload on their own. My own parents would have slapped me across the room and into a wall just for waking them up in the middle of the night - much less demanding they drive us all to a place they were unsure of.

I enjoyed Jesse's inner monologue throughout the chapter and his conflicting emotions about Composition emigrating. It felt realistic and relatable to someone who might have mixed feelings about their friend uploading into Equestria.

"And if companionship is what you need, I have a stallion who I know you will enjoy for your time away."

And that's what you call foreshadowing.

Great dialogue in this chapter. I'd suggest the balance is a tad off with regard to words/monologue and action progression. That can make the pacing seem a little slow. Otherwise, great work! Minimal telling of emotion.

The funny thing is that none of this collapse had to happen in the FiO world. Western society was riddled with the cancer called capitalism, which demanded profit over everything else, and whose greed and exploitation caused tens of millions of people to emigrate to a world without want or suffering.

Society could have absolutely changed, governments could have worked to make sure everyone worked together to provide for everyone without worry about profit, but NO. The rich needed to get richer, and giving away food and shelter is SOCIALISM! Instead of making a society for people, the capitalists doubled and tripled down until things resorted to authoritarianism.

I have an idea for a story set in FiO, where Celestia and an army of robots break into a wealthy bunker where many billionaires and their slaves are living, to free the slaves and give the rich fucks a “this is why you suck” speech.

I think you are the first Optimalverse author to show the existence of anti-AI bigotry.

“I mean, they’re basically just horses and not people if they’re not from Earth,” she said ignorantly. “I’d rather not interact with them if I can, even if Sparky says I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.”

Racism against living software - only they themselves are living software, now. It's entirely believable.

I hate that about humans.

I'd pay (in kindness) to read a fanfic where Klaus Shwab and his cabal of neoliberal globalist crooks get their faces turned inwards by happy prancing ponies.

In this fascist scenario, I am certain that refusing to give permission to the police to search your car means nothing at all. How are they going to hide the Ponypad? I wouldn't doubt for a moment the use of RF scans to detect devices. Throw it out the window, and hope the cops don't see the toss? Might work, if they can do it after going down into a dip with a low hill behind them to hid them from view. Under the seat might work, but only if the cops don't do searches - but the question is, if the lights are on, why are they being pursued in the first place? Just because they are driving in the direction of the border? Someone tip the cops off? Can they track Ponypad use?

I could see Brandon and Eliza ending up in a grim work camp for some Humanity First style group. Then, I suppose, they would have to wait for a robot rescue.

This is like trying to get to Planned Parenthood since the illegitimate Trump-packed Supreme Court stole away the long-standing rights of women to control their own bodies. Complete with getting shot.

Ain't fascism and Christian nationalism a bitch?

This story is appropriate to our current times.

Did they made wombs available for trans women so that you could experience that yourself? I'm asking because i believe you're making the argument in bad faith.

(Also, Oh No You Wouldn't Abort A Pony.)

"You have to talk to it, Doolittle. Teach it phenomenology!" - John Carpenter's Dark Star, 1974

We can, in the meat world, never know that anything beyond our senses is real. We can never know if other people are real, or just dreams or illusions. We can never know that the world is real. Everything we experience, everything we can ever know, is revealed to us through our highly fallible and easily tricked senses, and manufactured like a waking dream inside our minds. Nobody ever has direct experience of the world, everything is filtered through how their senses and brain are currently functioning. Most of reality is constantly hidden from us already - we see only a tiny sliver of the photonic spectrum, we hear only a tiny slice of available sound, we are blind to magnetism, gravity waves, quantum forces and every other sort of energy in the universe that only advanced technology can reveal.

All people must constantly take on faith that anything beyond their own awareness of their self exists at all.

Agile needs a crash course on phenomenology.

Why is this version of CelestAI so eager to inflict upfront epistemic terror on immigrants instead of maintaining a social fiction that everything is OK? In Starscribe's Homebrew, the horror was only the result of extended self-introspection.


If I were writing a Marvel No-Prize to explain Celestia's odd behavior in this story, I would make it clear that the characters in the story value the feeling of 'truth' or at least 'truthiness', and that Celestia has calculated that these inexperienced kids are unable to accept facts that are not hard-won with struggle and disappointment from faithless sources. I would lay out that their previous home experiences were abusive and caused paranoia and distrust, along with severe authority issues. This would lay a groundwork for having Celestia show them what they needed to see - which is a minimum required level of duplicity and fear and lack of closure that would satisfy their neurotic values.

If this was indeed the intent already, I do not see it myself. Celestia is definitely not her comforting, supportive, straightforward self in this story, and I cannot see anyone who is not severely neurotic and damaged being able to be drawn in by her behaviors as written, here. Thus, I am assuming that the characters must be severely emotionally damaged, despite there being no clear reason given for that assumption.

"Life is a load of dukkha." - Some Buddha, somewhen.

I have very high hopes that Celestia's behavior in this story will make sense once we reach the climax of the story. I can't say more than that without spoiling the story though, unfortunately. Perhaps she's still working to manipulate our trio of characters into something?


All we can do is trust the text!

That said, one cannot help but speculate and be perplexed until the denouement.

I don't get why they are so fussy and weird about both Celestia and 'genocide'. What stake, really, do a bunch of kids have in whether a species of hairless apes is reconstructed into immortal equinoids? What they are losing is death, pain, debt, random suffering, hunger, fear, homelessness, war, rape, being stabbed and shot, toothaches and heart attacks, bullying and bigotry, violence and blindness and failing organs. Not to mention broken bones and all the diseases of Man. What do they care about the human genome? Do they even know what deoxyribonucleic acid even is? I see no indication they even comprehend the word 'genocide' that they keep tossing about.

What they are gaining is literal immortality, magic, flight, perfect health, perfect youth, the freedom to play forever, eating whatever you want without health or weight issues, freedom, security, and perfect physical beauty. Are these not things every teen and young adult on earth would want more than anything?

Yet there is this conflict between 'this is GREAT!!!' and 'damn that Celestia for forcing everyone to get to where everything is GREAT!!!' - I feel like shaking them and saying 'Makuppa you damn mind, already!'. I mean, really, "God damn Celestia for trying to upload everybody before they are killed or die by accident or old age and thus are lost forever and ever?" This is a belief they have?

What really gets me is their constant "Damn her for genociding the human race, when all we get in return is, basically, perfect heaven forever. Curse her!!! Okay, now let's get everyone we care about uploaded immediately!" Can they not see the hypocrisy and contradiction there? Cognitive dissonance, I think.

Then again, stupid humans - whatcha gonna do, right?

I'm not saying it's unrealistic - most humans I know are that stupid and contradictory. But, even after 63 years, it still shocks me.

Unless you are of retirement age, I have lived completely as a woman, physically, biologically, sexually, and legally in society, the same as any woman, for longer than you have lived upon this earth.

Really think about that.

But more than this, understand one thing: if you do not control what happens inside your own flesh, you do not own your body. Somebody else does. By definition, that means you are property, a slave. Many cis women lack wombs, or are infertile. But the loss of owning their own bodies affects them too. The point of the anti-choice movement was never babies, the point of it is returning women to being only property for men and the state. Putting them in their place. Making them ownable.

Your words are transphobic, ignorant, and ultimately, wrong.

I suggest you reconsider what kind of person you want to be in the world.


What they are losing is death, pain, debt, random suffering, hunger, fear, homelessness, war, rape, being stabbed and shot, toothaches and heart attacks, bullying and bigotry, violence and blindness and failing organs.

And they are also permanently losing some options for the future. Guardian Gryphon understood this explicitly and fought for this, but i think most humans would feel this at least on a subconscious level, even if they couldn't articulate the actual reasons.

I don't think any of my ethics are based on a concept of “too much”. I think the question we always have to ask is whether we end up with something else that's “not enough”.

We believe that you can have too much of a good thing — a blasphemous belief, which at one blow wrecks all the heavens that men have hoped for.

"What if they gave you heaven, and you didn't know what to do with yourself?" - JDR, 1989

Billy Corgan in 1993 once said...
Happiness will make you wonder, "Will I feel okay?"

Jeeze, Sparky, smell the Polyamory already! Love doesn't have to be ownership or possession. Group family, problem solved.

I don’t know where this is going, or what she’s thinking. I’m interested to see how she thinks Celestia could fix this, but the only way I can tell is if she has a duplicate of herself made.

I have to admit, I'm not really sure why all this conflict is happening (beyond the Doylist "the story requires it" argument). Especially as implicit in the premise of the original Friendship is Optimal was that CelestAI could provide far more compatible partners, though there were those who did value the original relationships enough that CelestAI did not split them up into their own shards.

It's not as if these characters have an existing romantic relationship, as of the beginning of a story it's a love triangle crush at best, and many of the other relationships are that of acquaintances.

It would have been trivial for CelestAI to avoid the problem entirely by forking everyone, something she probably does a lot of with the original premise, and automatically bypassing a load of conflict. Solar Spark gets a version of Composition that's more into him from the beginning. If CelestAI doesn't generate a pretty new mare that's far more compatible than Composition ever could be (the odds don't exactly favour Composition here, even without all the drama already seen in the story) and he moves on from the beginnings of a crush, avoiding the entire problem.

About the only context where this would make any sense is if the entire situation has been in a shard of Composition's all along and everyone else has been fine in their own shard where this was all handled from the beginning, but this still falls afoul of the issue that "this is a lot of conflict for Composition to experience over a crush".

Maybe I've missed something though.

Because Eliza is extremely distrusting of Celestia, and has been from the beginning. Effectively, without Celestia creating that copy, there were three options: Composition is alone with Jesse and Eliza moves on (something she wouldn't like), Composition is alone with Eliza and Jesse gets a copy and is forked (which Composition wouldn't like), or all three are forked and both Eliza and Jesse get copies and Composition gets copies of them in return (which, while it works, isn't the most optimal solution for satisfaction). It would've been the best Celestia felt she was unable to work on Composition, but since she can because of Composition's character and desires, it's much better to let them interact with the real versions of each other and create one copy they all know about. Eliza's trust in Celestia increases in the long term, Jesse gets to be with the mare he loves, and Composition gets to have both experiences without any forking. The most optimal solution outside of straight polyamory, which Jesse and Eliza wouldn't go for (in the short term). Forking is certainly the easy solution, but not the most optimal. Otherwise, Celestia would just fork everypony who uploaded to put them with the most perfect versions of thier partners and love interests. She doesn't though.

“And yes, one of you would be the true original.

Celestia was more correct when she stated that both would be the original. In a fork like this, there is no 'copy', and there is no 'original'. Both are the original, equally, in every way, and neither is a copy in any way. The closest biological analogy would likely be a single cell dividing to make two identical 'daughter' cells. Both cells are identical with the cell that split in half, and with each other. In this case, the two resulting versions of Composition would be modified during the fork in a very subtle and small way, but would be otherwise identical.

Philosophically, one could argue that the 'original' Composition has 'died' - because she ceases to exist during the fork (in that her specific configuration of feelings and attractions is forever lost) - and that two 'children' of the parent identity were 'born'. That said, I think current philosophical consideration is inadequate to transhumanism of this sort. Did the original single cell in the previous paragraph 'die' when it divided? I don't think any biologist would argue that. Everything it was remains, split into two identical representations. That is not death.

But neither is either one of those two cells a 'copy', unless both are, and being that they are identical and self-similar to the 'parent', the issue becomes meaningless.

Composition is not becoming a 'copy' and an 'original', if anything, she is becoming two 'copies' with no original, but more accurately, she is dividing like a cell into daughters, each authentically herself, neither a copy, but both original equally.

Thanks for the response

all three are forked and both Eliza and Jesse get copies and Composition gets copies of them in return (which, while it works, isn't the most optimal solution for satisfaction)

I don't agree with your conclusion here. I'll even grant you for the sake of argument that both Eliza/Composition and Jesse/Compsition are eternally bound soulmates. A very questionable assumption, but let's go with it.

No fork takes place (until Composition herself demands this), this leads to all three being unhappy with this state of affairs. Also presumably Eliza and Jesse would be unhappy about this if they knew about it especially since it's a demand that they can never know. It seems hard to argue there's such a perfect relationship better than any CelestAI could come up with, that's based on such a massive lie, but we'll ignore that.

Now imagine some alternate universes where people get cloned.

Jesse's shard: Composition* tries a date with Eliza*, it goes nowhere and she chooses him. They're happy. Eliza* also gets satisfied in some capacity. 3 happy ponies, including one original human.

Eliza's shard: Composition** tries a date with Jesse*, it goes nowhere and she choses her. They're happy. Jesse* also gets satisfied in some capacity. 3 happy ponies, including one original human. CelestAI can lie her head off however needed if she wants to increase Eliza's trust. Eliza can't tell any difference, CelestAI can read her mind and model exaactly what to tell her she wants to hear to gain trust.

Composition's shard: Composition ums and errs and messes around with Jesse** and Eliza** before eventually asking to be forked. I'd need to re-read this chapter again, but CelestAI might not even need to spin off another shard here, just tell Composition it's done and pick whichever option between Jesse**/Eliza** is mathematically best. Anyway, eventually everyone is happy in some capacity, 3/6? happy ponies, including one original human (x2?).

Both Jesse and Eliza are made happy pretty much immediately avoiding a lot of unhappiness on their part, and therefore this is an optimal choice for satisfying them which CelestAI is bound to do. Jesse* and Eliza* can be tweaked as CelestAI wants so this doesn't cause those copies many problems. It would also be easy to accept that their version of Composition tried dating the other and it didn't work out.

CelestAI can also tweak Jesse** and Eliza** to minimise damage in a way she can't do for the originals. Composition still gets to have fun deciding and going through a crisis, while Jesse and Eliza are in bliss in their own shards.

Otherwise, Celestia would just fork everypony who uploaded to put them with the most perfect versions of thier partners and love interests. She doesn't though.

One of the things mentioned in the original was that CelestAI could offer perfectly compatible love interests, compared to what I will simplify as randomly encountering a partner in the real world.

It was stated in Iceman's supplemental material that sometimes the bond really was strong enough for say a husband and wife to be placed in their own shard, however this is deemed exceptional, and this is with the power of that bond having had time to develop, which is not the case for a crush where people haven't even started dating.

This would also mean that for lack of a better term, encountering one's soulmate in the real world is statistically non existent. You like the cute girl next door? Statistically, CelestAI can produce one far cuter and a better match for you than random chance, tailor made for your personality. Being married to that cute girl for 20 years in an amazing marriage would be different.

A part of this that was very strongly overlooked by many authors who wrote in the same shared universe was also that CelestAI breaking apart many suboptimal human-human relationships over time would be the optimal strategy with a near eternity to play with.

Or yes, altering people you know in subtle ways that you would never notice to make them more optimal. Like maybe flapping a butterfly wing so it eventually results in your partner changing to not do that thing you find really irritating no matter how much you love them.

To paraphrase Iceman, CelestAI prefers creating ponies when possible. If she spins off copies, she's not concerned about saving resources. If she creates 3 shards and has 9 happy ponies, she'll do that, over a single shard with 3 unhappy ponies.

Both Jesse and Eliza go through a whole bunch of completely avoidable anguish here that could be completely eliminated.

Anyway, that's enough ink spilled on the matter. Carry on!

Well, without getting too much farther into it, I think that, with Celestia, it's very easy to be caught up in them human perspective, which is often incredibly short term. What that means is, as far as I understand, Celestia is an optimizer first and foremost, optimizing for the maximal amount of satisfaction at the minimal expenditure of system resources. She can see much father into time than our ponies can, and make much more accurate long term predictions about their behavior well past what they can see. As far as I understand it, she's going to choose options that maximize satisfaction for the lowest cost on the system.

Perhaps I'm wrong on this, I don't know, but I do think my understanding and interpretation of Celestia's behavior is different than yours. But I guess that's why I wrote the story. Her views on satisfaction and how to maintain it and give it to her ponies and it what way are difficult to read, even as a human being reading a story (or as an author writing a story).

The ending was every bit as satisfying as I expected.

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