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Alone Together · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Show rules for this event

And that was it. The last hydrogen atoms in the universe had fused, deep in the heart of the red dwarf, warming it one final millidegree. From here on out, the heat in the star would slowly drain to the all-welcoming entropy of the cooling universe, until even the most blue-shifted of observers would see nothing but endless black across all of space.

True, there was no actual sound in the moment, but observing the event, Luna reached deep into her ancient memories, to a time when there were planets and atmospheres, and living things that experienced phenomena through crude, biological mechanisms. In those nearly-forgotten corners of her mind, she recalled tiny bright specks settling into dark waters and disappearing into the depths. She remembered they went "plip."

"Plip." She thought again, this time with intent, with direction. The thought, some seconds and many eons later, reached some vaguely tangled wisps of atoms that constituted what Luna still thought of as her sister. At some point in deep time, they'd had bodies, they'd been creatures like the near-infinite quadrillions of sapients that had come before and since. But here, in the final winter of all things, minds (such as they were) had to spread across regions larger than galaxies just to find enough energy to even be recognizable as anything more than entropy.

By the time the thought had reached Celestia, that last red dwarf had cooled enough that those biological ponies of old could've trotted on its now solid surface. Celestia perked up as the message wound its way slowly through her nebulae. It took even longer for her to understand it, sluggish as she was. She'd let Luna occupy the lower-entropy superclusters near that last star, while she resigned her own self to spreading even thinner amongst the decrepit matter where even the protons were falling apart.

With the thought came her own recollection. Over millions of years, particles light years apart slowly bumped into each other. Those moved, and bumped others, sometimes interacting, sometimes not. After a few billion years, some slight macroscopic effects could be noticed, much like the charge in a single neuron can grow only after millions of individual atoms do their work. And, much like those neurons, it takes that, a billion times over to construct even a single thought between ear and mind. When the ear is several gigaparsecs away, it takes even longer. But even so, as the eons wound on, Celestia slowly remembered.

They'd camped on the shore by the still lake after another seemingly endless day of walking. Both of the sisters were hungry, but they had no food, and precious little else, as they'd had to flee when their home had been attacked, and they'd lost their parents. As the cold of nightfall settled in on the newly orphaned ponies, Celestia had built a modest fire there on the shore. Most of the details were fuzzy with time (and space) save for the very end of the night, the end of a conversation as the two had lain by the fire.

"Tia," Luna had said. "I don't want to be alone out here."

"You're not alone! You have me, silly."

Luna had sniffled. "But what if you go away too?"

"Oh Luna, I would never leave you!"

"You promise?" Luna said, shivering.

Celestia moved a bit, curling up behind her sister, and nudging her in closer to the dying embers. "I promise. We'll be together forever and ever."

"How long is that?"

Celestia chuckled, then grabbed a cloud of embers from the fire with her magic, and scattered them through the air over the lake in front of them. "Until all the stars in the sky burn out... and then some!"

Luna watched in wonder as the hundreds of little specks of red light slowly settled and drifted down toward the dark water.

Celestia leaned in toward her sister's ear, and as each little spark of light touched the water and went out, she whispered. "Plip... plip... plip."

When the last of the embers had died, and the final ripple faded, what was left was a reflection of tens of millions of little points of light, gleaming down from the heavens.

The two sat in silence for a moment, snuggling close against the cold, before Luna finally broke the spell with a happy realization.

"That's a lot of plips."
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#1 ·
· · >>Xepher
In which plip goes the water.

I couldn't find anything wrong with this. Having two very different sections seems like a risky move, but you pulled it off because the second section feels like a breath of warm and fresh air after the first section of cold and calculated technical prose. With the story centered on Celestia's promise to Luna, it sort of loops back to the first section: not just in how the first and the last word is a version of plip but also because it brings the reader's mind back to the present when "all the stars in the sky [have burned] out... and then some!" So: tone is stunning, details are concise but essential in bringing out the flavor of each section (lots of technical details for the reader to understand just how these nebular beings live, and then terse and punchy prose for the flashback), and the characterization is just heartwarming with the short dialogue given the background you've given them.

Overall, a heartwarming story through-and-through! Should get gold or at least silver.
#2 ·
Does purple prose exist in sci-fi, or is it just... blueshifted? *insert shades* (Sorry author, I'll see myself out!)

But yeah, very techy opening stuff. It's big word city up in here, which... kinda works I guess?

Celestia as the Celestial. Not sure if trite or clever...

Okay, you got me with the last part. I'm a sucker for a callback, and I honestly didn't see how "Plip" was going to figure in until those last few lines. You hit your "D'awww" quota, author.

That said, the radical shift from the cold, sci-fi thing, to the warm fireside moment IS abrupt. My problem is I'm not sure if that's a point for, or a point against.
#3 ·
· · >>Xepher
This has some fantastic imagery. Minds spread out over billions of light years, taking eons for a single thought is brilliantly imaginative. And then the camping scene at the end brings it back to earth, keeps it relatable.

I do have one nitpick. Aside from the names Celestia and Luna, it's not much of a pony fic; it's only one find-and-replace away from being an entry in one of the original rounds. A good entry, mind. But it was something I couldn't help but notice.

#4 ·
· · >>Xepher
A unique and fascinating take on immortality that appeals to both the fantasy side and the science side of my brain. It's a brilliant premise that slides in perfectly with the sisterly love aspect of the story.
Plip is a great word.


On my first read the 2nd half wasn't working for me, but that's because I missed the implication that Celestia and Luna are meant to be a lot younger than they are in the show, which is a necessary detail for the scene to have the desired impact. I feel like this is on me, but I think it's still worth pointing out.
#5 ·
· · >>Xepher
Genre: Red Dwarf

Thoughts: First off, this shows an excellent use of its cosmic scope, and highly effective contrast between the opener and the cute pony scene that follows. It leaves a lasting bittersweetness to see Celestia's foalhood promise kept out to the near-eternity that's ensued. Possibly the strongest "pure" use of language in this contest. Very good read!

I think possibly a less-obvious challenge this might face is that it may not work at an expanded length. Usually we (or at least I) think about the necessity of expanding a 750-word Minific into 1000+ for FimFiction publishability, but this feels very complete just the way it is.

Tier: Top Contender
#6 · 2
>>Comma Typer

Thank you all for the kind words, and glad it seems generally well received. I haven't been able to enter one of these in a while now, so even though I only found time 2 hours before the deadline, I'm very happy it worked out as it did.

As axxuy points out, not much "pony" to this, at least in the first half for sure. I'd argue that the only reason it works though, is that we have the background of Celstia/Luna as day/night eternal sisters. Without that background (aka, if I remove it from pony) that would need more words to flesh out and make us "care" about the characters in the fireside scene. But... Yes, it would just be more words, and it could definitely be done.

Pig-Serpent mentioned how they missed the "young" part in the second scene. I did try to mention they were fleeing as they'd just become orphans (yeah, why not double down on the darkness? I guess I was thinking) but that's really the only clue to the timeframe, so easy to miss.

CoffeeMinion: Red Dwarf... yeah, I'll take that! :-) But you're also right, I don't think it expands TOO easily. Certainly not to true short-story length, but I already had to trim slightly, so I think I could add another 250 words (e.g. making the timeframe in the second scene more obvious) and... to be blunt, it's REAL easy to burn word count with cold, detached techno-babble in that front half. I don't think it SHOULD be longer, but... if I want to publish, there's probably one more good paragraph to add in there with maybe even a funny observation or somthing.

Thanks again, all!
#7 ·
Oh wow, I just found this... https://youtu.be/uD4izuDMUQA?t=529 It's really worth the watch from the beginning, to get the full sense of scale. But from the timestamp on the link, the next 60 seconds basically describe this story!