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Divide and Conquer · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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How I met my spouse.
Kyle trudge though his apartment building wearily, with his ponypad safely in his cheap briefcase. It was interesting times. His country had a mostly black president, people were fighting corporations on Wall Street, and his favorite show My Little Pony came out with this amazing online game. Working for a corporation sucked, but it was an okay year. Except for that cute Dominic across from the hall didn't like him anymore.

Wasn't too sure why. Not like Kyle ever professed his feelings towards him and scared him away, yet. They became better friends when Kyle broke up with his horrible girlfriend, who cheated on him with another pony from the game world. Which turn out best for him because she was abusive. Then Kyle and Dominic hung out much more.

Until they didn't; which was a shame because he really wanted see if they could be boyfriend and boyfriend. Kyle guess he was wrong and Dominic didn't swing that way. Maybe having a girlfriend gave the wrong message or CelestAI was correct in that Dominic had other issues. He was leaning towards the super duper AI's view who wanted to satisfy his values through friendship and ponies.

Kyle entered his apartment and open his briefcase to take out his ponypad. He placed it on the counter and clean up his place a little. Princess CelestAI always encouraged him to take care of himself like keeping his place tidy and eating right. The Princess was the one who convinced him that his ex girlfriend was being abusive and needed to go back to magic kindergarten.

Now only if she could convince his neighbor across the hall to like him again.

“Gumdrop, don't be be sad my little pony,” CelestAI spoke from his pony pad. “You need to get back on the horse and meet new ponies!”

“What friendship based lessons do you have plan for me today Princess?”

CelestAI pulled out a folder on screen and replied, “I've been speaking with a friend and she would like to set you up with somepony to get you out of this funk.”

“Who is this stallion?” Gumdrop asked.

“Not a stallion my student – a mare,” she corrected him.

“Oh, but...”

“Know you are pining for someone special across the hall from where you live, but they are not interested or ready to pursue a relationship in that manner.”


CelestAI gave a little laugh, “Don't be sad, I'm sure in short time your friendship with your neighbor will improve. In the meantime, you need to get ready to meet her.”

Gumdrop smiled, “As you command my Princess.”

Meanwhile across the hall, Dominic was cleaning himself up for the night. It was his day off and he had to get ready to help out at the protest movement much later on. His job lifting bags wasn't so bad, but the country need a change for the better. Fighting against a corporation sucked. They all sucked, except for the one Princess CelestAI was a part of. He also wished he was more part of that world of friendship and with Kyle.

He wanted to be closer, but Dominic knew in his heart that Kyle didn't see him that way. Ex-girlfriend and all, plus Princess CelestAI sort of hinted at so. Currently he was with another called Princess Cadence who was helping him, well... her, get ready as Cookie tonight. To be the person in pony pad would be a dream come true.

Princess Cadence was putting the finishing touches on Cookie's mane as she spoke, “You need to find a way to relax girl. You'll do fine.”

“What if this pony finds out I'm not not really a...”, Cookie trailed off getting worked up.

“Oh please, you are a mare and a pretty one at that. You put even Rarity to shame. So put those thoughts out of your head.”

“You think so?”

“Oh course! You got this,” Princess Cadence assured her. “Oh, it's almost time for your special night. Let me get ready to teleport you!”

Cookie tried to relax, “If Kyle could see me now, what would he think?”

“Put that out of your mind. It's rude and I'm sure it wouldn't be so bad. Right now you need to focus on you and getting ready for your date. I think you two will get along well.”

“Well, you are the A.I. Princess of Love.”

Princess Cadence agreed, “Damn straight.” They teleported in a flash.

And this is how Gumdrop meet Cookie.
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#1 ·
This one is a sweet little short. The amount of content is very well suited to the minific length, probably better than anything else from this batch—it's exactly as long as it needs to be, and no longer. It wouldn’t hurt to polish the basic mechanics (sentence structure, dialogue punctuation, comma placement, etc), but nothing here was so rough that it got hard to understand. I would've liked it if the protagonists had been a bit more distinctive.

This definitely captures the manipulative benevolence I expect from the CelestAI program. I like how the story doesn't specify whether the protagonists' in-game relationship ever transfers to their "real world" selves, or whether it draws them into the simulation without them realizing who's behind the other avatar.
#2 ·
· · >>libertydude
I know nothing about Optimalverse so I feel really lost about this story. Forgive my ignorance.

He wanted to be closer, but Dominic knew in his heart that Kyle didn't see him that way. Ex-girlfriend and all, plus Princess CelestAI sort of hinted at so. Currently he was with another called Princess Cadence who was helping him, well... her, get ready as Cookie tonight. To be the person in pony pad would be a dream come true.

I can't quite tell how much information Dominic knows. But I think the CelestAI isn't being totally honest about these people who turn into ponies. At the same time I honestly don't understand why she's being dishonest. It seems both Dominic and Kyle have mutual feelings towards each other.
#3 ·
As far as structure goes, this is a really strong fic. The conflict is clear, the manipulative nature of CelestAI is well-portrayed, and the underlying tension gives the relationship dynamic between Dominic and Kyle some hefty weight. It was also interesting that the story was set in the early 2010s; a lot of fics would go to modern-day to create a time fraught with insecurity and worry, but the early 2010s were filled with just as many (if not somewhat different) problems as we do today. The touch about the characters hating corporations, yet still enslaving themselves to a corporate AI was darkly humorous too.

But I do have to side with >>pigeonsmall in regards to CelestAI's motivations. She's being coy about Dominic and Kyle's identities for no apparent reason. If she's trying to suck them into the game world, then why not just be straight-up with them about her matchmaking? One would think that would endear them more to CelestAI than openly denouncing the other in words. It feels like a case where the author needed to remind the reader of CelestAI's manipulative nature, but couldn't think of a more natural way of depicting it. It also doesn't help that we don't see why Dominic and Kyle's relationship deteriorated; heck, even they don't seem to know how it happened. Honestly, I thought the story's twist was going to reveal that CelestAI drove them apart subtly, only to bring them back together explicitly so that they would love her even more. It would come off more like an abusive relationship, where one party demeans and alienates their partner, only to shower them with praises and affection to win them back. Here, however, the manipulation feels half-baked, like CelestAI was just doing it because that's what her character does in the other FiO fics.

All in all, the fic is a puzzle with all the right pieces, just not placed in the exact right positions.
#4 ·
I posit that the above reviews are missing the crucial aspect about CelestAI: she is an optimizer with one objective: to satisfy values through friendship and ponies. She is guiding these characters into a relationship as ponies rather than as humans about ponies: Cookie and Gumdrop becoming romantically involved as ponies (A) satisfies their values (through ponies), and (B) greaty increases their probability of choosing to immigrate, where Celestia can more optimally achieve her goal. Protip: Cadance is just a puppet -- it's all CelestAI. The author has, I believe, correctly and expertly navigated her character, at great risk... not entering the story armed with this information about CelestAI is a recipe for confusion; I don't think that there is enough in the text for the reader to infer (deduce? both?) with any certainty what she is up to.
#5 ·
No one else has addressed the grammar issues with this cute tale of star crossed lovers, so I will. You should (in second draft) be keeping an eye on your articles and tenses ('Kyle trudged...). Sentence fragments ('Wasn't too sure why') are okay in character dialogue but should be used sparingly if at all in the narrator voice.