Author Topic: A Fanfic (Friendship != Magic)  (Read 1825 times)

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Offline aspect

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A Fanfic (Friendship != Magic)
« on: January 10, 2012, 01:48:57 am »
Dear Princess Celestia,

Today I learned that studying friendship is not all about working out in the field. Ever since I came to Ponyville I've been recording my observations on friendship, but today I looked over what I've supposedly been learning and realized it was a disorganized mess! Sometimes I've even learned essentially the same lesson twice and mailed it to you as if I learned something new. What's worse, I've never come up with a novel experiment into the nature of the magic of friendship; my investigations have been entirely haphazard. I've forgotten what I learned back in magic school; science isn't just about a blind categorization of facts, it's also about learning deeper truths. From now on I will try to systematize what I learn, investigating the original insight that led to this work, the equation F = M. I will attempt to generalize observations into testable hypotheses. I will compare my discoveries to those of other scholars. Lastly, I will seek applications for my theoretical work, and be a better friend, a friend who does not need to relearn the lessons of friendship.

"I can have Spike send it tomorrow morning when he wakes up," Twilight Sparkle mused to Owloysius before signing it. "Hmm..." Her quill snapped back into the inkwell as her eyes wandered back up through her letter and settled on the equation, F = M. "No, maybe it's not finished yet..."

She turned to her research notes and her dwindling supply of parchment. She had spend the last two hours organizing the lessons she had previously learned about friendship, and attempting to render them in the sort of mathematical equations which so succinctly expressed the magical truths she had studied in school. If friendship really is magic, it should be subject to the same logic. She knew the great ponies who had created the math of magic had not had an easy time, and did not expect anything to come to her instantly; but she was still disappointed with her vague scribblings.

She had expected to have an equation ready for the letter, something summarizing and extending her previous letters. Instead she had an inky mess of parchment.

Under the influence of her pink glow, a blank sheet shuffled its way to the top of the stack, and her quill hovered before it. She stamped a little nervous rhythm with her hooves and closed her eyes, impatient that a greater insight was not coming to her, then bobbed the pen magically down to the paper.

Friendship = Magic, she wrote stiffly. Twilight had had a teacher in magic school who told her, it is still accomplishing something in science to write what seems obvious; to make it explicit, so that it can be subjected to careful scrutiny.

She furrowed her brow in said scrutiny. Did friendship truly equal magic? There must be some equivalence or Twilight and her friends would not have stopped Luna's misguided plan. But equivalence is a stronger claim than in actually merited.

So she placed a question mark above the "="; but then thought better of it and crossed it out. There were more specific mathematical symbols available. Friendship \alpha Magic? Friendship ~ Magic? [see note]

Twilight jotted these down as possibilities, then found she have more to write about. More proposed equations, and possible tests. As she thought about what she new about the mathematics of magic, she discarded possibilities like Friendship ~ Magic2. Exercises from school floated back into her mind and she tried working them out under various assumptions about the nature of friendship.

Slowly, a single crossed out statement morphed into a new direction for her research.

Slowly, Twilight Sparkle drifted to sleep.


Twilight opened her eyes suddenly to the morning birdsongs and sunshine entering her library. She smiled as she noted Spike snoring, then stood up happily to look over her work. Stiff muscles from falling asleep at her writing table did nothing to dull her pride at making some headway.

She picked up the sheet of mathematics briefly. Next to it, she noticed the unsigned letter to Celestia. What mathematics she had done last night, though exciting, was nowhere near the point of reporting, so she added her usual signature. Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle. She set the two documents, the letter and the mathematics, on the writing table side by side. To send the letter she needed to wake Spike. To continue her mathematics she needed to go out and buy more parchment, and perhaps another quill.

She though it over and decided her cheery mood was more suited to a walk in the bright morning than to bugging Spike to get up. She could get just enough to carry by herself and be back before he even got up. So she tossed her mane happily and, humming to herself, went out to get parchment.

Spike awoke slowly to the vague memory of the sound of the door being shut. "A few more minutes, Twilight," he muttered without thinking. As he realized no response came, he opened his eyes and sat up groggily. "Twilight?" he said, then eventually got up and wandered groggily around the house gathering his senses.

As he realized she had gone out without him, Spike looked around and noticed the mess on the writing desk; there were sheets of parchment covered with notes, a few books, and off to the side, a letter to Celestia and a neat page of unintelligible intellectual gibberish. Spike realized he had been needed and was asleep. He quickly bundled up the two sheets and sent them burning their way off to Celestia, then hurried out the door to see if he could find her.


Celestia was patiently arguing with a thick-headed minister who seemed to think he was doing her a favor by wasting her time, when the letter appeared and she happily took her leave of him. Magically untying and opening them, she smiled as she read Twilight's words. She loved how Twilight had taken so seriously the task of studying friendship, which Celestia had only offered as an excuse for Twilight to stay with her newfound friends in Ponyville. Turning to the second sheet, however, Celestia was at first a bit puzzled, then gasped she recognized some of the equations. She furrowed her brow and her expression became darker as she read. So much was here that she thought Twilight had never suspected, would never glimpse.

What Celestia had thought was harmless research had suddenly come unpleasantly close to secrets she could allow nopony to uncover.

She turned from the letter and called for her guards to ready the royal carriage. Twilight Sparkle's research must be stopped.

To be continued... because it's two in the morning and I can't just finish writing it.

By \alpha I mean a Greek letter alpha drawn to look slightly like an equal sign. There isn't even a Wikipedia article on this relatively rare mathematical symbol, but roughly speaking it means "is proportional to." The symbol "~" is even less specific: it means "is eventually proportional to." Twi is trying to quantify here just how little she knows.

(Link to prove the \alpha symbol exists )

EDIT: Naturally school has caught up on me, I suddenly need to know tensor products and category theory for this physics class I'm in (can anybody teach me? :P) but I will try to continue this... Wednesday maybe?
« Last Edit: January 21, 2012, 04:11:45 pm by aspect »

Offline Ryffnah

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Re: A Fanfic (Friendship != Magic)
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2012, 04:45:57 am »
Nicely done.  I like how the vaguely scientific and mathematical nature of magic in the show is taken seriously here.  I'm definitely curious about what Twilight is too close to uncovering...
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Offline aspect

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Re: A Fanfic (Friendship != Magic)
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2012, 03:13:36 am »
In search of quills and parchment, Twilight trotted happily through the town of Ponyville, absently collecting her thoughts as those around her got started with their day's business. Some of her neighbors, surprised to see her without a book levitating in front of her eyes, tried to say hello, but she was no more observant with her head in the clouds than in a book. She found herself noticing the slope of somepony's roof, the patterns of tree branches, or the rhythm of her own walking, and being reminded of mathematical structures she had studied years before. Each seemed old theorem or equation took on potential new meaning in light of last night's success taking the mathematics a little more literally; each fact she had formerly known became a potentially useful question about magic.

Though Twilight's mind tended to work best with a sheet of paper in front of her, she had found it useful to develop a habit of seeing how far she could get without one, so tilting her head upwards and muttering to herself she chose a few example numbers and tried to see if any of the ideas which had just sprung to mind yielded plausible calculations. Try the tree first... branching structures yield a hierarchy where the number of levels is the logarithm of the number of leaves...

Twilight stopped in front of the Quill and Sofa, but only by coincidence. "So information propagation within the spell will be the logarithm base ... three?.. of..." she said, tried out several eyebrow poses until one seemed to remind her of the needed decimal points, then strolled on. She wound up at the café just about as she wrapped up what mental calculations she could do with branching structure. Not yet conscious that she might be disrupting her day's schedule, she decided to sit down for a bit and see if she could remember another of the questions which she had thought up a few minutes before.

"...Twilight! Twilight. Twilight... Hey Twilight!..." Applejack at first waved a hoof from her table and then walked over to Twilight, by which time the repetition of her name had sunk in.

"Oh, hey, Applejack! Do you remember the derivative of- oh nevermind, I was just, had my head in research heh..." Twilight smiled and changed the subject. "I never see you in town in the morning! Don't you always have work to do on the orchard?"

"Well, Apple Bloom claims it's under control... But anyway the café is servin' apple pies made with Apple Family apples and I figured I'd try some, and the time to do it is when they've just opened and it's fresh-baked!"

"Oh? I never knew you to let somepony else do the cooking, Applejack! It's good to see you're relaxing for once. You spend all your time working!"

"No, see, the idea is maybe I can get them to buy my fresh pies from me instead, I'm just comparing the goods."

"Oh." Twilight lifted an eyebrow. "Do you have time for all that baking? You're busy enough as it is."

The waiter found his way to Applejack with her slice of apple pie and Twilight ordered some earl grey tea. "Oh! What am I doing? I just came out for some parchment, give me that tea to go..."

The waiter, obviously considering the establishment below to-go beverages, tried to hide his disdain. "Perhaps I can find a paper cup somewhere..."

"You're one to talk, Twilight," Applejack said, grinning. "You keep mighty busy yourself! And you know I put every penny I earn back into Sweet Apple Acres."

"I suppose we've both probably got twice as much we'd like to do as time," Twilight sighed, thinking of things which needed done besides research.

Applejack grinned encouragingly. "Nonsense, Twilight! As long as friends help each other, there's plenty of time for-"

She stopped mid-sentence as some yelling began in the middle of town. "Help! Help! Somepony help!" Twilight and Applejack left their table and ran toward the two unfamiliar ponies crying out. "There's a wagon trapped under a rockslide in the mountains!"

"We can help!" Applejack and Twilight said almost simultaneously.

The two ponies turned to them gratefully, as did the other Ponyville ponies who had gathered around.

"We need enough ponies to move the rocks. They're trapped a couple hours away by wagon and we have room for-"

"I can handle the rocks!" Twilight said, then decided their startled looks needed reassurance. She hesitantly tried to summarize her credentials. "I'm... Celestia's student of magic, Twilight Sparkle. Probably one of the best there is as doin' stuff with my horn..." She added a little nervous laugh to weaken the boast.

The two ponies found this pretty funny for some reason. "Oh our Mistress will be glad to meet you I bet-"

"Now Twilight," Applejack interjected, "I may not be a powerful Unicorn but don't make it sound like you're volunteering to do it without me. I'm coming too."

Twilight and Applejack followed the two out to the edge of Ponyville. They turned out to be travelling entertainers, folk of simple means but with a flair of the theatre about them. Their caravan had gotten caught in a rockslide and one of the two wagons was trapped along with its occupants; everypony else had stayed behind to move rocks, while these two and their "Mistress," the owner of the show, had gone for help. Twilight wondered why, then, the Mistress was waiting in the wagon while these two ran into town.

The two entertainers were named Chalkmane and Trundle. Though still in a hurry, finding help immediately upon entering town had put them in a good mood. The trapped wagon, they said, was not very crushed and everypony would be safe.

"Mistress, we've found help!" Trundle said as they approached a brightly painted wagon along the road outside town. He seemed to want to say something more, hesitated for a moment, then grinned and said it- "from one of the most powerful Unicorns in Equestria! She says she can move the rocks all by herself!"

Twilight and Applejack shared an eyeroll. A startled "oh?" came out of the wagon and a head appeared soon afterward, out of a door in the side. The Mistress' eyes widened. "What town did you take us to" she started to say under breath, then disappeared for a moment and came out of the wagon adjusting a cape onto her back.

She stood squarely in front of her guests and said dramatically, "I, the Great and Powerful Trixie... thank you," and bowed suddenly and deeply, "humbly for your generous help, Twilight sparkle and," she paused, and glanced up at Applejack.


"Applejack," Trixie continued as if she had not missed a beat. "we are in your debt and we beseech you to make yourself comfortable in our simple travelling home." With a flourish of her cape, Trixie went and held the door of the wagon open. "It's an honour and a pleasure to have you," she added, while Twilight and Applejack hesitated momentarily.

Trixie was all courtesy and no sincerity, but at least she was being polite. And there were ponies in the mountains in need of help. After a glance and a shrug between them, Twilight and Applejack trotted into the open door.


"Gone? What dost thou mean? Where has Celestia gone?"

"I'm afraid she didn't say, your Highness. Nor," he added, anticipating the next question, "did she specify her errand. Only that is was urgent."

Luna didn't let herself get angry in front of the palace staff, so she made no response and walked away. She told herself there was no reason to be upset about Celestia throwing her schedule out the window and missing a supposedly important appointment; she would just go back to reading, or take care of other business.

But she had been in a brooding mood for months and couldn't help but stew. She found the note a few minutes later, while pacing the halls. She was curious why it would be discarded so carelessly, and then interested to find out how Twilight Sparkle was doing. Her expression brightened as she glanced over the mathematics. Twilight's research was leading somewhere!

Then she thought of Celestia; she well knew her sister's conservative views on magic research— it increased inequalitiy between pony types, and all sorts of other excuses. And the letter was just lying on the floor. She thought about it for a little while... was Celestia going off to see Twilight, to keep Twilight from doing something? Had Celestia seen something more important in the letter?... and then re-read the equations. Her eyes widened as she remembered a scrap of conversation from thousands of years ago, and realized what wonderful thing Celestia was trying to prevent from happening.

So! Luna realized Celestia's conservativism could work against her. Celestia wouldn't teleport to Twilight, or even fly. Whoever reached Twilight first could appeal to her judgement first.So then, Luna would simply have to find Twilight first.

The royal sister vanished in a dark mist, a fiery light in her eyes.