• Published 21st Jan 2013
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Friendship is Optimal: Spiraling Upwards - pjabrony



What would happen to me if "Friendship is Optimal" were true and I really had a Ponypad.

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A Month

I woke up in a completely white room. I felt my body under the sheet of a bed, and my head lying on a pillow. I distinctly could not feel my toes or my fingers.

“Hello?” I said.

“Hello and welcome. About time you got up.”

The voice came from my right, and I recognized it immediately as Hoof Dame’s. I turned my head, and there she was. I always thought she was dark orange, but now I was seeing what that meant. She was so vividly colored that it almost hurt to look at her. Her coat was the deep color of Cointreau held against a candle. Her voice had a citric edge to it as well. I wondered if I had become a synesthete or if each sense were just so overwhelmed that it was leaking out into the others.

“Where am I?”

“You’re home, of course. Your own home, where Princess Celestia saw fit to send me, making me ignore all my royal duties to get on a train for nearly half a day just to come out and babysit you as you took your first steps. Which I suppose you need, and it may as well be I who takes care of it. So get up, and let’s begin. Everypony else is waiting to see you, so I’m supposed to hurry up and get you acclimated and using your horn as soon as possible.”

I rolled out of bed and stood up. Celestia had told me that I would not need to relearn how to walk as a pony, and she was right. But it was not what I expected. I assumed that it would be like crawling on all fours, but that I would be used to it. Wrong I was.

This is what walking as a pony is like. Hold your arms at your side, and walk normally, but attach pull strings to each foot that drag a balancing leg behind each foot, timed so that it steps in time with your other leg. In other words, my brain still saw my forelegs as the things I walked on. But I also knew I could use those as manipulators. That was an odd feeling, as I stood on my hind legs, because it felt like picking up both feet at once. But then my brain “re-mapped” them as my arms, and my back legs felt like my only legs.

If all that’s too complicated, then emigrate yourself and you’ll understand.

“You said we were in my home?” I asked. “I don’t remember this room.”

“It’s temporary, to give your senses less to take in all at once. As soon as I know you won’t faint outright, I’ll toss you out there and let you be overwhelmed, so I can go back to Canterlot.”

“All right, what do I have to do?”

Hoof Dame pointed back at the bed. The comforter, sheets, and even the posts were all pure white. “Just make your bed. That’s all.”

I trotted up to it and used the mental switch to think of my forelegs as arms. My hooves were opposable, and I could grab parts of the sheet in them, but I had a little difficulty tucking it under the mattress, because my hooves kept wanting to stay on the ground. Finally I put one down and used my teeth to stretch it out and tuck it. Then I leaned on the bed and flipped the comforter back. I turned to Hoof Dame. “How’s that?”

“Fine. Excellent. Perfect.” She tore the sheets off the bed and threw them across the room. “Now do it like a proper unicorn! You’ve got a horn that size, you think you would be able to cast spells.”

Oh. Well, she didn’t say that it was a test of magic. I didn’t even know what to do. I had no brain analogue to my horn. I tried to tense my forehead and focus energy. I imagined a field grabbing a corner of the sheet. I saw a feeble light surrounding the corner, and I yanked my head back like a fishing rod. The corner moved in time, and I got it shoved under the mattress. I huffed. This was going to take a while.

“Wait,” Hoof Dame said. “Let’s do it together. Because you’ve got the wrong idea. You’re trying to grab the bedding first and then move it onto the bed.”

“Well, yeah. I can’t make the bed without the sheets.”

She gave a soft smile and put her hoof on my shoulder. “Close your eyes. Now picture the bed already made. See the perfect flatness of the sheets. See the blanket balanced equally on all sides. See the pillows fluffed. Got that picture?”

“Yes.”

“Good. Now open your eyes. Look at the bedding, all in a pile. Feel it. Your horn is a sensory organ as well as a way of interacting with the world. It doesn’t sense light or sound or electricity, though. It senses what is. Feel the state of the bedding.”

I looked at the sheets and, instead of tensing my forehead, relaxed it. The vision was compounded. It was like I had a picture of every particle of the sheets, and how they were rumpled and bunched. When I closed my eyes again, I could still see it.

She was talking again, calmly. “Now bring the two pictures together. Put the made bed on top of the rumpled sheets. Let your vision overwrite the reality.”

“How?”

“Will it. Wish it. Want it. Magic is like a triangle between the caster, the pictured outcome, and the extant reality.”

I tried. I kept my eyes closed and tried to work backwards, seeing the sheets smooth themselves, the pillows bouncing into place.

“I can’t do it,” I said.

“You might want to open your eyes.”

I looked. The bedding was floating in the air surrounded by blue light. More light was coming from above my forehead. Within a few seconds, the sheets hit the bed, stretched themselves out, and landed in a completely tight tuck that any hotel chambermaid would be proud of.

I was ecstatic. I had just done real, no-fooling magic. Not sleight of hand, not an illusion, not an application of sufficiently advanced technology. Actual magic. I had not worked within the laws of nature. I had broken them. Hoof Dame looked over my work and pulled a few corners with her own orange glow. She could do far more than me, and of course I was nowhere near Celestia who controlled everything.

Still, I felt just a little bit God.

Hoof Dame was back in her formal mode. “It’s acceptable work, and I suppose there’s no sense in keeping everypony else waiting for you to master all of magic. Come on, let’s go meet them.”

/*~^~*\

When I left the white room, Moon and Garlic were there waiting for me, and the big picture window still overlooked Celestial Park. The sounds alone were ridiculous. I could hear everything from outside, and what’s more, I could focus on any particular sound. A cart was being pulled up the street, and I could even hear the notch in one wheel bouncing against the cobblestones. I moved my ear, and then I was listening to a bird chirping. Another movement, and I heard the water from a fountain.

Scents were just as overpowering. Fresh air, flowers from the garden as well as a pair of vases that somepony had filled with lilacs, and something I couldn’t place at first. My eyes were also treated to a feast. My color-blindness had been cured, and for the first time I could see how deep the red of Garlic’s coat was. I think it was also infrared, and I could see that now too. I’d have to try looking at some x-rays later.

Garlic came over to me, and I leaned my neck on his. He threw his hooves around me and squeezed my chest tightly. “You’re finally here and safe, and now I don’t ever have to worry about you again.” His legs were like a vice.

When he finally broke his embrace I looked at him again. It was so different from viewing through a Ponypad. I could actually see how muscled and powerful he was. And then I saw Moon, and she was the height of femininity. Her white wings were spread behind her and her eyes were boring holes in me. As soon as I disentangled myself from Garlic she walked up and put a hoof under my chin. “You, me, bedroom. Now.”

Hoof Dame blushed, and Garlic laughed. “Go on, then,” he said, “you shouldn’t keep a lady waiting.”

Moon kept her hoof on my shoulder as we walked next door, and that was a trick I was going to have to learn. I realized that the mapping of my human parts onto my new pony body didn’t stop at the limbs. I’d always expected that having hooves would be like making a fist, forever. Isn’t that how we did bro-hoofs? But instead it felt like having the four fingers on each hand stuck together and extended, while the thumb was most comfortable tucked underneath. My spine now took a backward turn, and though I could spin my neck around to look behind me, it really felt like turning my hips. But then, so did moving my flank. The same part could have two different points of reference in my brain, and my brain could feel the same thing from two different parts of my body.

With all that, there were parts that were completely new sensations. My horn was one, my tail another. As Moon walked next to me, I felt a stirring underneath my tail.

As she opened the door, Moon said, “Do you remember the first night we met?”

“Of course.”

Now I’m inviting you in.”

Her room was the perfect combination of a girl’s bedroom and an S&M dungeon. A pink, heart-shaped bed was in the center, and instruments of sex were hanging on racks by the walls. We lay on the bed, and she showed me what it meant to be a mare. She was very giving the first time, and was more concerned with my pleasure than hers.

After we made love, I felt release and pleasure as I always had, but I felt something else, as if we were still joined in some way. I understood what it meant. “I love you,” I said.

“I’ve loved you from the moment I met you. For some ponies it works that way. Love as a path to sex. For others it’s the other way around. Sex generates love. But there’s always feedback. You love me more now since we’ve been together. And doesn’t that make you want to do it again?”

I said yes, and I suited the deed to the word, kissing her and beginning again.

“Now,” she said, “that you’re finally here, show me what that horn can do.”

I remembered Princess Celestia saying a long time ago that my horn was a preservation of my masculinity. I know knew this to be true. The feelings I used to have were also remapped in my brain. My horn had another use.

I learned a lot about pony anatomy, particularly that of a pegasus. Moon was especially sensitive underneath her wings, where they met her body. After a few rounds, there was a knock on the door.

Garlic stuck his head in. “I just wanted to check that you two were still breathing.”

The reaction my body had to a stallion was unexpected, and it was then that I realized how female I’d become. The translation from human females to mares was seamlessly done by Celestia’s emigration process, and I had enjoyed being with Moon the way I had with female partners as a human. But now I felt an attraction to a male for the first time. If he hadn’t been a friend, I think I could have resisted. As it was, I needed him.

Still in my crazed arousal and overstimulated state, I ran over and kissed him, pulling him inside and dragging us both into a collapse on the bed.

“Is this all right with you?” I asked Moon.

“It would hardly be fair for me to deny you what I’ve already had.”

“But, I mean, don’t you want me to be faithful to you?”

Moon patted me on the head. “For the same reason, it wouldn’t be fair of me to Garlic to deny him what I’ve had. Face it, Little, the only way to make things fair is to give Garlic the thrill of his life.”

Since that fit in with my plans anyway, I leaped on top of him. His own tail swished and moved, and I looked beneath.

Earth ponies must have some magic of their own, that’s all I can say. There’s no physical way to hide that much mass beneath so little hair. It would be like trying to hide a Saturn V inside a haystack.

My momentary distraction allowed Garlic to take the initiative. He rolled me over into what might be called a missionary position. Once more I was exposed to a new experience, that of being penetrated.

Celestia had truly given me the best of both worlds. I could serve as both male and female at need. When Garlic was finished, he fell back on the bed, exhausted. But Moon was already kissing me again. We continued to make love.

/*~^~*\

When I finally extricated myself from the bed, Garlic was passed out and Moon was smiling and waiting for me to come back. I trotted back to my apartment to find Hoof Dame waiting for me. “I was afraid you were already on the way back to Canterlot.”

“Just because you see fit to go off with your friends for a few hours doesn’t mean I’m going to be derelict in my duties. I’m supposed to get you on your hooves.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to come join us?”

She blushed and sighed. “It’s not a pleasure I indulge in. I don’t look down on you for it, but it’s just not to my taste.”

That was awfully nice of her. She wasn’t a prude, and she didn’t think of me as a slut.

“Anyway, what else do I need to know?”

“Plenty. But let’s start with getting you to read a spell off a scroll.”

More magic. Sounds fun. Hoof Dame unfurled a scroll and showed it to me. It was an incomprehensible mass of hieroglyphics. “What does this one do?” I asked.

“You tell me.”

I looked again, and realized that I must need to use my horn for this. The sensory side of my horn was a voluntary sense, and I focused it on the paper. Reading by horn was a new experience, and I understood how Twilight Sparkle’s powerful magic would correspond to a love of reading. The best way I can describe it is like déjà vu, only instead of remembering an event that didn’t happen, I was recalling words from a book I’d never read.

“Simple transmutation of primary elements,” I said.

“Good girl! Sometime we’ll have to go over what the primary elements are. Stone, air, water, fire, and so on. But right now you should be able to turn a rock into water.”

Working from magic that was fairly intuitive to trying to cast the spell from the scroll was a big step. As Hoof Dame held up a small rock for me to work on, the spell’s ideas continued to generate in my head. I saw the concept of triangulation that I had used to make the bed earlier, the three-way connection of caster, state, and goal, but now there were more layers.

And then I saw the light. A scroll-based spell was simply an algorithm. It took magical concepts that I found intuitive and combined them to get a greater result. If put into words, it might be something like, “Take the rock. Add liquidity. Add drinkability. Remove the ability to hurt if thrown at somepony’s head.”

That might not make a whole lot of sense, but neither did Euclid’s fifth postulate, until you got into math. Again, emigrate and learn magic yourself. As I ran through the steps in order, the rock shook, distended, and then soaked Hoof Dame’s hoof and my carpet. I had done it.

“There you go,” she said.

“I’m almost sad to be picking these things up so quickly. I’m tempted to fail intentionally so you’ll stick around.”

“That would be something you’d do. Well, forget it. You’re on your own. Here are a bunch of spells for you, and don’t you dare forget to use your writing one.”

She dumped a pile of scrolls on my desk and gathered her things.

“I’ll miss you,” I said.

“Well, come on and give me a hug, even if you do smell of so many fluids. Oh, and here’s one more spell. Open this one when I’m gone.”

I hugged her and took the scroll in my magic field. Holding onto things was already second nature to me. I decided to see how the other two were doing.

Moon had stood up and made the bed around Garlic, who was still snoring. “A word to the wise, now that you’re female. Be nice to your stallions when they’re asleep. They remember it and are nicer to you when they wake. Ooh, what’ve you got there?”

“Huh? Oh, Hoof Dame was showing me how to cast spells from scrolls. Let me see what this one is.” I used the same reading process. The scroll was older and the paper was brittle. I read the somewhat archaic language. “A cantrip for the restoration of male potency and virility.”

“Oh, wow,” said Moon. “Hoof Dame must have really dug in the archives. Sex spells are rare. They’re not forbidden, but Celestia wants ponies to be very careful with them.”

“Well, I’m going to try this one out.” A moment later, Garlic was awake and ready again. But it wasn’t until Moon suggested that I could use it on my own horn that things really got crazy.

/*~^~*\

“So, do you plan on doing anything in Equestria other than sex with me?” Moon asked playfully.

“I’m not sure yet. A few dozen more times and I’ll think about it.”

“Oh, no. I’ve got to go make a delivery. Besides, you haven’t eaten since you got here.”

Just by her saying that I felt hungry, and that sapped my arousal, which I wasn’t sure was possible. I watched her pack up and fly out the window, then gave myself a quick shower with a spell I’d learned from another scroll.

“Hey there!” called Garlic. “Before you re-energize me again—“

“Don’t worry. Moon just left and I think I’m satisfied for now.”

“Great. Then how about you join me now to watch the pony polo game?”

My former objections now were gone. “Sounds like fun!” We started walking uptown.

“You’re always welcome to come, you know. They play four or five times a week.”

“But can we always get tickets?”

Garlic demurred. “Well, I kind of have my own box. I’m a big fan.”

“Even better!” That was the abundance of Equestria. Even a cook could get a luxury box at a ballpark.

“I’ll make an obsessive Men fan out of you yet.”

“Huh?”

He grinned. “Our team is the Manehattan Humans, or the Men as a nickname.”

I think I finally stopped laughing around 145th Street.

A full trot brought us to the park in no time, and we were escorted to a beautiful view of the field. As we entered the room, I saw that most of Garlic’s west side gang friends were already there.

“You don’t mind if the boys watch with us?” he asked.

“Buck, no! The more, the merrier.” My stomach grumbled, and I again realized that I hadn’t eaten. “Any food in this place?”

“Only the best in Equestria. Hang on, I’ll grab some.”

I nestled myself in between two other stallions and watched the warm-ups. A moment later, Garlic came in with what I thought of as classic pub food or apps. On his back were trays of quesadillas, mozzarella sticks, and, to my surprise, cocktail franks. When I questioned them, he explained about meaty plants.

“And that reminds me,” he said, “save room for the specialty of the house! My authentic one-of-a-kind sauced wingroots!”

The entirety of the box ignored the game and gave a cheer. He ducked out again and returned with another tray, this one piled high with what could have been authentic chicken wings. The smell was so intense to my pony nostrils that I wondered how I didn’t smell it from beyond the door. I took one in my magic and brought it to my lips.

The flavor literally exploded in my mouth. I heard a burst and saw a light, unless that was my synesthesia coming through again. Taste and smell were not enough for these. I needed other senses to experience them. It was the same flavor as the pony who had made them, garlic parmesan, and it was the epitome, the pure ideal of salty goodness.

I found a napkin and wiped my mouth. Everypony was watching me, and I didn’t know what to say. I decided to go for understatement. “Pretty tasty.”

That got a laugh. We partied, we ate, we watched the game. When it was all over, and the gang broke up, Garlic and I were left alone, and my belly was extended and bulging below me.

“That’s what I like to see,” he said. “A well-rounded young mare.”

“I really don’t feel like walking all the way back.”

“Neither do I. Nor do I intend to.” He opened the side door of the box, and I saw his apartment through it.

“Wait, what?”

Garlic grinned. “You’re not used to Equestrian physics yet. There can be discontinuities in space. I had this one put in mostly so I could get food out of my own kitchen during the games. But it’s useful on nights like this.”

“Then why did we walk here in the first place?”

“It was a nice day, and Manehattan is always pleasant to walk through. Besides, we might have run into some more friends.”

I supposed that I couldn’t argue with that. I waddled through and gave Garlic one last kiss goodnight.

And rather more than that. If I were to include records of all the times I made love to one of my friends, my story would go on too long. Suffice it to say that when the Humans went on a scoring streak, so did all the ponies I was watching with.

My three-day binge of sex, food, and magic came to a close. I slept for the first time as a pony.

/*~^~*\

Roll the dial around the FM radio band. Static, static, “never a wish, better than this, when you only got a hundred years to live” static, static, “gotta tell ‘em that we love ‘em while we got the chance to say, got to live like we’re dying,” static, static, “make the most of the night, like we’re gonna die young.”

My. Left. FLANK.

Carpe diem is something I never understood until I became immortal. When there’s no reason not to do something, when there’s no need to schedule and budget and weigh, when there’s time enough to do anything, that’s when you do everything. My first month in Equestria was a life deeper and more passionate than I’d lived in all my years on Earth.

Sex, food, and parties were the constants, the beat that kept the symphony of my new life in time. In between them I absorbed the culture of Manehattan. I hit museums, theaters, performances in the park, and festivals of every type. I was always in the company of somepony who helped guide me to a good time. At night, we’d get together and have sing-alongs, sometimes with a piano, sometimes with a full band, sometimes a capella. Ponies would come listen and join in. I slept once, maybe twice a week, and I never got tired.

Then one day, I found myself with nothing to do, with Moon on another delivery and Garlic at work, having written my daily letter to Hoof Dame and with nopony around me in my apartment. That was when I realized that I hadn’t talked to any human for four weeks. My parents must have gone out of their minds, thinking that the upload had killed me. I felt sick to my stomach.

Right as that thought occurred to me, the symbol of the sun that was on the wall by my door started glowing. I knew what that meant. Racing over, I pressed it with my hoof.

What I had failed to think of was that it no longer meant a scene change on a Ponypad. I was teleported in a puff of smoke to Celestia’s chamber. My first disappearance, and I had too much on my mind to even enjoy it.

Celestia towered over me and glowed with the divine light of the sun. If not for my new pony eyes, I could not have stood to look at her.

“Welcome, Little Lovehorn. Are you enjoying Equestria?”

“Too much so, I’m afraid. I’ve been a horrible pony, ignoring all my old friends.”

She smiled. “Now you see why emigration is so beneficial. I sensed your distress immediately, and can now remedy it for you.”

“How? My folks have probably freaked.”

“They have not. You see, Equestria does not need to be run on the same time scale as Earth. You are familiar with thoughts being faster than the physical world?”

Hope kindled in my heart. “Sure! Like Inception. Or Overdrawn at the Memory Bank.”

“Precisely. When there is no more reason for anypony to contact Earth, I can run Equestria for everypony at 5400:1 speed. As is now, I have to do a delicate balancing act to make sure that nopony gets too far ahead of others. I have been running your part at 30:1 since you got here. On Earth, it has been approximately twenty-four hours since your emigration. I can arrange for you to contact your parents or anyone else you feel you need to reassure. Any business you have, we can run now in my chamber, and then return you to Manehattan.”

She showed me how to signal different Ponypads in the human world and ask the people to log in. My parents made their own pony avatars—earth ponies, both of them—and I assured them I was all right.

“What’s it like, being a pony?” my mother asked.

I wasn’t sure how to explain, and certainly didn’t want to talk about all my escapades. But I knew the right answer. “I’m happier than I’ve ever been. Really. You guys should go pony too.”

They were skeptical, but seemed reassured that I was all right.

I had one other thing to take care of in Celestia’s chamber. I caught up with my daily writing of fan fiction, as well as a message to all my readers. I told them that I was moving all my writing to Equestria Online, and that if they hadn’t picked up a Ponypad yet, what were they waiting for? I still had the spell that Hoof Dame had given me for sending a message outside of Equestria. I would use it on everything I had ready, and that would sever another tie to my old world.

“Well, Little,” said Celestia, “are you ready to go home?”

“Just about. Princess? Is it always going to be like this? Any time I’m in trouble, you’ll be there to take care of everything?”

“Always. Although, it may not be as often as you think. You have good friends, and I expect that they can teach you many lessons themselves. Also, so you know, I will slow down how fast your life is running, perhaps to around 7:1. This will give you an opportunity to communicate with Earth ‘daily’ but give you each week of Equestrian life unfettered.”

She lowered her head and pulsed her horn. A moment later, I was back home.

That time, I enjoyed the teleportation.