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Just Like Old Times · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Celestia stared in horror at the small lump of glowing metal sitting on the laboratory bench in the darkened room.

“Are you alright, Princess?” the balding mare asked from the other side of the bench, her face faintly illuminated by the dim light.

“I’m fine, my little pony,” Celestia said, looking away from the lump of metal to meet the eyes of the scientist. “Though you seem as if you’ve seen better days.”

The mare blinked her milky eyes. “I’ve been doing this for more than twenty years. I’m getting old.”

“I fear it might be more than that.” Celestia’s eyes returned to the small lump of glowing metal. “Did you ever wonder if perhaps this glow might be dangerous?”

The mare frowned. “Can’t be any worse than sunshine. Isn’t as bright. You can’t even see the x-rays; they just go right through you. Hard to think they’d be bad for you.”

Celestia sighed. “If you say so. Still, you should go see a doctor, and perhaps take some precautions to keep the dust away from you. Lead blocks the x-rays, doesn’t it? Perhaps you should start lining the storage containers with that, at least. And don’t let ponies handle it with their mouths. Just in case.”

“But a third of my staff are earth ponies!”

Celestia’s eyes hardened. “If you are getting sick because of exposure to this metal, I don’t want anypony else getting sick. I will find some bits in the budget for these safety precautions, but they must be taken. Is that understood?”

The mare nodded her head reluctantly.

“You should have come to me when you first started doing your research,” Celestia said as she stepped away from the glowing piece of metal. “There are old legends about glowing metals, and the dangers they hold. Legends I had put from my mind, until I heard about your research. I would have hoped that a pony from a family of doctors might have thought to take more precautions, Professor Curey.”

“It’s metal, princess. How dangerous could it be?”

“You seem pensive, sister.”

Celestia shook her head at her sister’s words, tearing her eyes away from the horizon as the sun seemed to set the sky aflame. “I am. Does the name Curey ring any bells?”

Luna arched an eyebrow as she stepped up next to her sister. “The doctors?”

“Not that kind.”

“I see.” Luna grimaced. “Have you ever wondered if history might have a sense of humor?”

“It was once said that it rhymed. I forgot who said that, though.” Celestia stepped forward, hooking her hooves over the edge of the balcony as her eyes returned to the horizon. “Do you think we’ve done enough, sister?”

Luna sighed, stepping up beside Celestia to lean against her sister. “I don’t know. Few are malicious – far fewer than before, and yet…”

“It only takes one.” Celestia sighed.

“No one has come from the stars. That is what troubles me the most.” Luna stepped away from Celestia, leaning forward over the railing to try and catch her sister’s eyes. “It is too much of a burden for two ponies to bear. We should tell your student and Cadance, at least.”

“I fear that I would simply be adding to the load on their backs, without lightening ours.” Celestia finally pulled her head back, stepping back onto the balcony proper.

“They of all ponies have the right to know what happened. Where we came from. And what happened before. Time is running short. Less than two hundred years, if history is any judge.”

Celestia’s shoulders rose and fell with a deep breath. “You’re right, I’m being selfish. But they are so young and innocent. But maybe that’s why they’ll see what we did not.” Squaring her shoulders, she strode into her room, her horn glowing as she pulled the heavy bookcase aside to access the safe hidden behind it. Her horn glowed as the dials spun, and a few moments later, It swung open, revealing a pile of ancient tomes. The top one floated out, the cover adorned with the yellow and black symbol that once marked death for any who tampered with it, before she turned to Luna. “But what should we say?”

“Tell them the truth. That civilization once scorched itself from the Earth. That if we fail, we will all die.” Luna stepped forward, steel in her eyes. “That we can’t fail again.”
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#1 · 1
· · >>Haze
Family of doctors, eh? I see what you did there.

And with the title as well, now that I look at it. Cute.

Okay, I gotta admit: I’m a sucker for the Fermi Paradox and post-apocalyptic ponies, and you hit both of them. But that’s a freaking big idea, and you tried to put it into 750 words. And, to be fair, you did? You even have a few to spare!

But half the story is told by implication. I mean, I kind of admire that you shoved in as much as you did via implication, but Ian Malcom had something to say about that. I’m not sure if this story will even make sense to half the readers. They’ll probably figure out who Mare Curey is, but the second half hinges way too heavily on implication WRT: the Fermi Paradox.

I do like the idea, but I feel like if the story is going to end on the note it is ending on, it should be after bringing in the other ponies on what is going on, which would give you an excuse to not imply so much and actually be explicit. As-is, the payoff feels like it heavily hinges on the audience catching all the implications (which, if that was what you were going for, is why I censored the stuff).

I think you wrote a story for a certain sort of person, but I think that they might like it more if you actually gave perspective on it rather than merely referencing things that make them feel smart for catching the references.
#2 · 1
I figured out 88 refers to Radium pretty quickly. the line about the stars lost me, and even after reading >>TitaniumDragon explain it, it still took me a while to work out what it meant in this context. I believe it's saying all intelligent life inevitably destroys itself.

It's a story based around a revelation, but it's a worldbuilding idea I've seen quite a few times already, so it doesn't pack much of a punch on its own. It should be haunting, but when the characters stand around talking about what they may or may not do, I don't really share that emotion (and those who don't understand the hints will be completely lost and bored). I think this would be more effective by choosing a different moment, something more tense where the Princesses have to make a tough decision immediately..... I guess basically frame it within a narrative arc instead of a coy riddle.

Come to think of it, it reminds me of this terrifying Daring Do short story on FimFic, of which I can't remember the title or author right now. I'll leave it at that, because specifying it here would spoil that story by association! But those who know it probably remember what I'm talking about.
#3 · 1
non-serious afterthought:

The mare frowned. “Can’t be any worse than sunshine. Isn’t as bright.

hey yeah, Celestia magically controls a huge ball of nuclear fusion. why's she so worried about glowy rocks?
#4 ·
Literally my first thought on the absolute first line is. "Oh great, Twilight's got a Demon Core" and by line two was "No, she's just Marie Curie stand in... which explains the title." (EDIT: So it's not Twilight, but an actual "Curey" pony.) Celestia just immediately recognizes the dangers of a radioactive material AND has suggestions to mitigate it, when this pony, who's been studying it for years, is completely dismissive of the danger? Wait, "Curey"? Is there some ponification/joke as to why the name is spelled that way instead of Curie? I don't get the joke if there is. This second part, with the Sisters talking seems completely unrelated, but I suspect I know where it's going. Yeah, Equestria is post apocalyptic earth.

Okay, this isn't a bad idea (Seriously, you're hitting all my favorite things here, high science, the fermi paradox, equestria origins, etc.) but as written it tries to cram too much into too little space. The use of Marie Curie instead of Einstein or Oppenheimer, or... that soviet guy that refused to launch... That's the only new take I see on what's become a classic trope in the fandom. It needs a lot more focus on one aspect or another. Show us Curie's wonder at this new "magic" or show us the Sisters fear at repeating the past and furthering the "scorched earth" Fermi solution. Bouncing between both really shows me nothing.
#5 ·
So 88 refers to radium, right?

Why is it glowing, though? Radium doesn't, though its emissions can cause radiofluorescence in other materials. If they had some of those present, fine, but the metal itself wouldn't.

I'm not sure what the issue is. We get hints that there is a back story, but no hints as to what any of it is, so whatever is concerning the princesses, I'm not privy to it, and thus I'm not concerned with them. Radioactive materials can be dangerous, yes, but again, I have no idea what they're referring to. Just the danger of radiation? Their fear seems to go beyond that, since just telling ponies to stay away from it would suffice. Are they referring to past nuclear wars or something? I just don't know, and I don't even have the beginnings of something to start speculating. I just kind of get that this is a historical re-enactment of Marie Curie, but with a second scene tacked on that suggests the princess know about the danger, but not why or what they intend to do about it. Really, this feels like the beginning of a story that stops just when the takes are established.
#6 · 1
I wasn't terribly happy with either of my stories in this round, but I was just happy to have written anything, as I haven't entered anything into the writeoff in ages. Ironically, I thought this was the stronger of the two, as I felt like it had a stronger idea, but I guess the quality of writing in the other won out over the idea of this one.

This story has a lot of problems. I don't think this is the proper approach to the story for a 750 word version of it, and honestly, I think that it is probably too big of a story for 750 words to begin with, so trying to shove it into 750 words was a mistake.

I've been trying to bounce around ideas for a story because I think that there's a lot of potential in the idea of "civilization is doomed to destroy itself" and survivors of a past catastrophe trying to avert a repeat, while not trying to cling to an idea like technological stasis, seems very interesting to me. I don't really know if this is the right point to start it, even, but I like the idea of the sisters finally being forced to bring Cadance and Twilight in on the "conspiracy" so to speak.

The real issue, I think, is properly portraying the villain (so to speak) - impersonal villains are always hard to depict properly, and "the general shape of society" is a tough problem to depict in an interesting manner. It's sort of like a force of nature as an antagonist (like a volcanic eruption or asteroid), but it is much more vague to depict a proper struggle against such in an interesting manner.