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Recap / Triptych Continuum 0 G Network Coverage

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"You believe in living dangerously, don't you?"
"You have no idea."

Trixie is just coming out of a thaumaturgy shop, sorting out all the form copies she had to sign in order to purchase platinum wire, when a salespony hails her from the street, having decided that somepony with a channeling tool in her mark must be interested in new and exciting magic. And as it turns out, he's right, because he's selling — Slate!

What's Slate? It's potentially Equestria's first reliable long-distance communication tool. You write on one Slate with the special chalk, and your words will appear on another Slate. You can keep in touch, call for help during emergencies... And yes, Trixie is very interested. So interested that she just has to find out how the new device would work in practice before she considers putting down her bits for it.

The Tartarus is in the details. And in this case, so is the agony.

Read it here.

Tropes found in this story include:

  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Slate itself. The Continuum's Equestria has always had communications as one of the biggest gaps in their available Magitek, and at first glance, the Slate seems to be the first step on the path to solving a huge number of problems. But it requires a special chalk to write with (which can't be held in the mouth, as that affects the operation) and, after use, a special cloth to clean it, or the Slate remains full and can't be used again — with both chalk and cloth requiring regular replacement. They require a distinctive, oversized style of writing, which means it takes very few words to fill one up. They come with an instant auto-wordfill feature which is prone to making mistakes that can't be taken back. It's a charged device, which means you need either a very heavy charging station (or the even heavier master charger) to get it back in operation after it runs out of power — or a thaum funnel, which appears to pull magic out of the environment, with the salespony carefully avoiding all questions about what that does to both said environment and anypony nearby. They require relay stations (which also need recharging) to send the words, most of them are either in wild zones or on top of barns, and they keep getting destroyed. Especially the ones on barns. About one percent of Equestria has coverage, and that's with some very generous rounding up. And in the end, it turns out that the salespony sued the device away from the now-deceased inventor, and so may have no actual concept of how to improve Slates at all. Trixie directly calls it a great idea which wound up in the wrong hooves.
  • The Barnum: The salespony firmly establishes himself as this at the end when Trixie tells him that he's talked her out of buying Slate, and he attempts to charge her fifty bits as a consultant's fee, because how would she have known not to purchase without him? However, since he's dealing with Trixie, it also makes him Too Dumb to Live.
  • Break Them by Talking: Or in this case, Talk Them Out Of Buying It By Talking: at the start of the sales pitch, Trixie's clearly interested in the Slate — but the more she learns about both the product and the pony selling it, the more frustrated she becomes.
  • Delusions of Local Grandeur: Subverted. Trixie's reaction to finding out the salespony has no idea who she is? A font-implied mutter of "Thank Celestia for small favors..." (The story takes place after the events of Magic Duel, which means the Continuum's Trixie is at the start of her transition into becoming The Atoner.)
  • Driven to Suicide: Invoked. Trixie feels the most useful thing to do with a Slate should a monster attack her in a wild zone is sign it to the contract, which would then result in the trope.
  • Exact Words: All over the place, and never to the customer's benefit.
    "And the Slate only works within range of those stations?"
    "Oh, it works anywhere! It just won't send or receive unless you're close to a station!"
    "So how do I know when I'm in range?"
    • And then there's the roaming fees: the payment required for the salespony to consider following you when you roam and potentially set up relay stations in your wake. Sometime. If he feels like it.
  • Insistent Terminology: The salespony keeps saying everything you can do with the Slate beyond the purchase, including cleaning and recharging, is optional. Of course, the other option is to throw away a useless Slate.
  • No-Dialogue Episode: Inverted. The entire story is told through nothing but dialogue: two characters speaking in turn, with all body language and tone implied. There isn't even a single 'said' in the whole piece, and the total exchange reads a little like an old-fashioned Radio Drama.
  • Read the Fine Print: Trixie does and discovers that the salespony will effectively own any words she writes on the Slate, with the salespony protesting that no one is actually allowed to read the full contract until after they've paid for the device.
  • Run or Die: "Head start fee."
  • Slasher Smile: Trixie just about ends the story with one, and when the salespony wants to know why she's smiling, she tells him to give her two thousand bits — for a head start fee.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Trixie understands if the salespony doesn't want to discuss the details of how the enchantment was performed, but she needs some details about how it operates during actual use. Her attempts to pin down the functional parameters (and increasing frustration towards same) drive the dialogue along.
  • Take That!: To mobile phone service providers, their contracts, terms, conditions, bundling, roaming fees, yearly upgrades, data collection, charging, data usage allotments...
  • Third-Person Person: Averted. As with Iron Will, Trixie's use of the trope is reserved for her stage persona. In direct conversations, she speaks normally.
  • Traveling Salesman: With a dash of Con Man, Hustler, and The Barnum: the Slate works, but its current operational parameters are so limited (and the contract so onerous) as to make it effectively unusable.