Experiment & Results
The Stable 10 experiment was uniquely created by one of the lead Stable-Tec programmers, Doctor Fractal. Unlike a conventional stable, Stable 10 was an elaborate simulated reality maintained by the S.T.E.L.L.A. crusader maneframe.
The project began with Doctor Fractal studying the small farming community of Grass Valley. Once he had determined the group of subjects he wanted for the simulation, he summoned them all to Stable 10 for a medical checkup. During the checkup, he gave them sedatives and placed them inside of the shared reality.
In reality, a Stable was not constructed near Grass Valley at all. Stable 10 was one of the early locations approved by the Kingdom of Equestria to become a civilian fallout shelter. From that original set, it was determined to be the most strategic location for the experiment control bunker, Stable X.
The location visited by the Grass Valley residents for their "medical examination" did not extend much further than the entry level of the conventional stable design. Even the iconic cog door rolled aside from the entrance was hollow, nothing more than an an iron shell. Once sedated, the Grass Valley residents were transported to Stable Control. The "Stable 10" designation was then set aside for Doctor Fractal as the official title of the simulation experiment.
Initially, Stable 10 was meant to be "STELLA's Stable." It would be a way for her to gain much interaction and experience through the 500 ponies as she would test them through the decades.
Upon learning more about the nature of Stable 10, Stable-Tec leadership (including Vice President Scootaloo herself), called for additional oversight to be built into the scenario. STELLA would be compelled to present her findings to a regular pony analyst every ten years, and they would have the authority to make any changes if necessary.
However, knowledge about Stable 10 seemed to quickly disappear after the Great War. When Butterfly Stitch received the new assignment from the Stable Control Overmare, she discovered that the secondary review had never taken place after nearly 200 years.
Scenarios & Cycles
Because of the nature of the simulation, the scenario could be reset hundreds and even thousands of times. Many of the scenarios were branched off of each other with the original set of circumstances being the memories and personalities of the residents from the day they were first captured.
From there a scenario might play out through as many as a dozen "cycles," running a particular scenario with different variables or outcomes.
The subjects experienced time at an accelerated rate due to STELLA's ability to skip the time they spent sleeping. As such, the subjects had experienced over three centuries of life after the war when STELLA presented Stable 10 to Butterfly Stitch.
They do not know this however. With all the times a scenario has reset, the residents believe only a few years have passed since the war.
The experiment was an opportunity for STELLA to study the in depth psychology of each of the captive stable dwellers. With every different cycle or scenario she was able to create trend lines and statistical models about how each personality type would react to different circumstances.
A small group of ponies, which she began referring to as "variants," would tend to heavily involve themselves in one way or another during each scenario.
Silo Hopper quickly stood out as the most significant variant in Stable 10. At the beginning of testing, the simulated reality was set up to have the megaspell bombing replaced with a full on airship invasion (referred to as the Zebra Paratrooper scenario). During the first cycle, Silo Hopper shocked STELLA and the others by uncovering a hidden machine gun he had illegally stashed in their barn. This machine gun would help Silo turn the tide of battle in several run cycles of the scenario.
In later scenarios, Silo would end up being a mediator or decision maker when the group had to decide whether or not they would abandon the town to raiders, or go searching out for the simulated Stable 10 from their post-war irradiated home of Grass Valley.
Additional findings showed that variants like Silo Hopper would tend to choose the safety and security of their family over all other circumstances. Only when the family members were killed off earlier on in a cycle would they revert to acting for the good of the population as a whole. Testing the lines and limits of these preferences became a favorite pass time of STELLA.
Over the course of the secondary review, the Stable 10 experiment appeared lacking in scientific justification even by Stable-Tec's standards. After three centuries of experimentation, it didn't appear as though any new information was coming out of the residents. To Butterfly Stitch they seemed to be more like dolls in a doll house, playthings for STELLA's imagination and amusement. In some ways, considering later revelations from Doctor Fractal, that was perhaps by design.
Butterfly Stitch was disgusted by the idea that the residents were experiencing death and resurrection over and over again. Despite STELLA's assurances that the reset scenarios erase all knowledge of previous cycles, further examination of the evidence proved that that wasn't true.
In fact, Silo Hopper was remembering fragments from the past scenarios. Even more so, he was becoming aware of the artifice of their reality. To those around him, his ramblings and pleadings began looking like growing insanity. Even his beloved Marzee Tomato was struggling with what she saw in him as a psychological break.
This was growing worse with every simulation reset. Silo Hopper would forever be seen as insane, despite being the only pony truly awake to their circumstances.
When Butterfly Stitch initially suggested releasing him, STELLA flat out refused. In her unquestioning certainty, the Stable 10 experiment would never end, with the excuse that they would never again have such a perfectly testable population.
Near the end of her secondary analysis, Butterfly Stitch was contacted by Blueball, whom she had grown estranged from in the passing years. Blueball revealed to her that someone had sent him the override code that Scootaloo had called for in the event that STELLA's AI refused to alter the trappings of the Stable 10 experiment.
While questioning the nature of how this information came to them, Butterfly readily took advantage of the opportunity.
At the end of the analysis, they reached the live feed of what Silo Hopper was experiencing. He was chained to his bed in their farm house, institutionalized in a makeshift sanitarium. Butterfly once more demanded his release, and when met with resistance used the override code: ROSEWATER.
- "The simulation is just another level of the Stable itself… In fact, the simulation was greater than the Stables… Because there are so many more scenarios that can be set up and executed that go beyond the psychology of a subterranean ecosystem. That is a constant issue with applying experimental results to real world situations… You can never fully eliminate the trappings of the underground shelter setting." - S.T.E.L.L.A.
- "Well, that’s the thing. Even if the experiment is messed up, at least they get to die. ...Well, except for 76 I guess… But with Stable 10, Stella just keeps bringing them back. 500 ponies that she just keeps killing over and over again. Who knows how many times they’ve each died?" - Butterfly Stitch
Behind the Scenes
- The Stable 10 story is inspired by the Vault 112 "Tranquility Lane" experiment, The Matrix, The Truman Show, and Groundhog Day.
- The name Grass Valley comes from a rural Northern California town close to where SkyBolt grew up.
- The number for Stable "10" was intentionally selected as a representation of digital binary (1/0 - on/off). This was an early Easter Egg in the series revealing the computer simulation nature of the experiment.