Purple Point: His Life in Space

by Alden MacManx

Facing the Past

As the Cosmic Lotus sped its way through hyperspace toward Equus, covering in hours what took months or years to do on the way out, Radiance Point found his enthusiasm ebbing. Out of all the ponies on board, as far as he knew, he had little reason to head home. Sure, he had his Foundation, which does a lot of good for a lot of orphaned and abused foals, but that was set up from the beginning to run without his supervision. No, he had fully intended to leave Equus and never return. If all had gone as expected when they left, he would have remained aboard the Lotus, maintaining the ship as an observation station for scientists. Now, he found himself heading back to Equus, with a lot of new information and friends, but still, he felt uneasy.

His unease made itself known to his friends aboard in different ways. The first, most obvious one was that his personality shifted to one of unease. His sparkling eyes became haunted, almost frightened as they neared Equus. Second, he stopped drinking coffee completely. Third, while he still did his duties up to his usual standards, he started delegating jobs around the department, leaving him with less to do. Fourth and most telling, he would spend much time in the Park, by the pond, with his music player on, just lying there.

Naturally, ponies picked up on this. The changelings, and Apastron, noticed that Radiance was by turns depressed, frightened or ashamed at the prospect of returning to Equus. When they asked him, he gave all the same answer. “I choose not to talk about it at this time.”

Undaunted, his friends went to the best source of information on Radiance Point- his twin sister, Sunrise Flight. She knew all about his past, since Flix created her during the Halfway Happening, plus she was much more approachable.

She gathered much of the Engineering staff, as well as Ixia, in the Park when she knew her brother was asleep. “You have been wondering just why Brother is becoming distressed at the thought of going home. I can tell you, just don’t say to his face you heard it from me. He will know I told everypony, in fact he expects me to, but if you do not say so, he won’t get mad.

“It all goes back to his time aboard the Gowanus Herald. There, Radiance Glow, as he was known then, was not as you know him now. He was under the control of his alter ego, a cruel, manipulative pony with a short temper, little tolerance, and an unbelievable skill in keeping that old rust bucket operating profitably.

“After the incident that led to the sinking of the Gowanus, he dropped out of sight for the better part of two years, under the care of House Path physicians and psychologists before being allowed out again, under a different name, Purple Point. His appearance was radically changed, as was his temperament and his very soul. He vowed to be completely different from the way he was as Radiance Glow, and he lived up to that vow.

“Then, the song came out, describing Radiance Glow as a hero, saving twenty out of the crew of fifty after the ship rolled over in a bad storm. He felt deep shame about it, knowing the truth but being unable to admit to it. After all, everyone thought Radiance Glow was dead, consumed by the magic power he used to teleport those who reached him to safety in Vanhoover. It got to where merely hearing the song, or even the opening chords, would send him into a panic attack. Everypony on the crew is aware of his breakdown during the first All Hooves party.”

After a pause for some water, Sunrise went on. “That was bad enough, but a decade later, the film came out, which went further in portraying him as a heroic figure, which could not be farther from the truth. This only deepened his shame, driving him farther along the path of proving he was NOT Radiance Glow.

“When the Cosmic Lotus program was announced, he immediately volunteered for it, having already made a name for himself in many of the circles required to fit in to the mission. He left Equus as the keel was first laid down, and never looked back.”

Ixia spoke up. “Now, he’s heading home, with a different name than when he left, as well as a different appearance. What he’s ashamed of is having to lie for all those years about himself, and now heading back. Everypony will know the truth about him and facing questions like that is by turns terrifying him and making him more ashamed.”

“It’s been over forty years since you left Equus. Who would remember the ship sinking after all this time?” Apastron asked.

“More than you would suspect, Apastron. You also have to factor in that many ponies on Equus now know the full story, seeing as a certain someone did happen to spill the beans some years back, a certain someone whom I owe a great debt to, but will not mention his name.” Sunrise said out loud before muttering, “Prince Flixtradamus Antithesis Path…”

After the laughter died down, Sunrise went on. “Most ponies will know of Brother’s past, and mine. Brother just does not like the thought of facing all the questions. To be blunt, he is deeply embarrassed and does not know what to do. He really hates being in the public eye, because Radiance Glow was quite the glory hound back then.”

“Any ideas on what we ought to do, Sunny?” Fornax called out in his gravelly voice.

“Basically, just support him. Don’t try to jolly him out of his depression, it won’t work. Listen to him when he does decide to talk and be supportive when we get to Equus. The publicity when we get back is going to frighten him to a great degree. I can’t predict how he will respond to it.” Sunrise told the group.

“Let us hope he is routed away from press conferences, and locks himself in with Pif’s working group, passing on all the technological information he’s found out.” Ixia said in hopeful tones. “I’ll suggest it to the Captain.”

“You do that, Ixia. The rest of you, lend support, but don’t smother him. He hates that. Now, let’s get back to work. We’ll be arriving the day after tomorrow.”

Later that day, Danorax and Apastron were on watch in Maneuvering. “I just wish there was something we could do for Point,” Danorax said. “Seeing him depressed is worrisome. Like Sunrise said, he has little to go back to. He does not think he is a hero.”

“The best heroes never feel they deserve to be called by that name,” Apastron replied. “He will take credit for things he has done, like fixing the ship after your first wormhole passage, because he feels he has earned the title, not that he would ever use it. In this case, he does not feel like he earned anything, because his alter ego was such an indescribable ass to everyone aboard the ship. Sure, he saved twenty ponies, but he feels that was just necessary to atone for Glow’s poor personality.”

Danorax froze in place for a few seconds, staring at the monitors as his mind raced before accessing the changeling network. “Did I say something wrong?” Apastron asked.

“No, you said something right.” Danorax answered. “The key word is ‘atone’. I think I know a way to help Point.”

“What’s your idea?”

“It goes back to his time aboard the Gowanus. His personality then was almost a complete opposite to the way he is now. There is one thing he has not done to the crew that he feels he should do but does not have the nerve to do so.”

“Apologize?” Apastron asked.

“Exactly that. He remembers his life there and can’t forget what he did to whom. I think he needs to apologize to all the survivors, not for saving them, but for his behavior before the wreck. Until he does, he cannot put the incident behind him.” Danorax explained.

“That’s not a bad idea. Are you going to bring it up with anyone after watch?”

“Yes, I will. First Ixia, then the Captain. I will suggest that the survivors of the Gowanus Herald be gathered together and have Point go in and apologize to them for his behavior as Radiance Glow. There is one other pony he should apologize to, but that will not be possible, seeing as he passed on over fifty years back. Maybe more. I’ll have to re-synchronize calendars when we arrive at Equus.”

“Who is this other pony?” Apastron asked.

“His father. What drove Radiance Glow to the breaking point was his abuse at the hooves of his father, never complimenting him on his achievements, just ridiculing him because he did not live up to Radiance Shine’s standards. One night, Radiance Glow snapped and beat his father to a bloody mess, all four legs broken in multiple places. That happened before he signed on the Gowanus, which left Baltimare not two hours after Radiance fled. By the time the City Guard started looking for him, he was long gone. I know this because Sunrise explained it to all of us while Radiance was in hibernation for a year.” Danorax explained.

“I can’t picture Radiance Point ever doing such a thing to anyone.” Apastron said, a little shock and horror tinging hir voice.

“I can believe it. Before Halfway, Ortzi, who had finished second to Commander Bluequill in the Cosmic Games not long before, said something about Point using magic to cheat at cards, something he had been saying for years. Point challenged him to a duel, giving the griffin every possible advantage. Point beat him in under forty seconds. Want to see the fight?”

“Yes, I would. I just can’t picture him ever doing anything like that.”

Danorax called up the fight and played it on the monitor. “Point never likes starting a fight, but he will not hesitate to end one.”

“Oh, my. I see Ortzi suffered no lasting ill effects from that.”

“No, he didn’t. In calling an honor duel, by winning, he legally had the right to everything Ortzi owned, but he gave it all back to him, handing down a penalty of fifty days as ship janitor, absolution of his debts to Point, and one hour a week in observational training.”

“Now that sounds more like the Radiance we know.”

Danorax sighed. “Just know this about him. Years ago, he was challenged to an honor fight by a Griffonian noble, to the death. Point won that fight in forty-four seconds or so, but nearly at the cost of his own. He sold back the estates to Lord Razortalon’s heirs, for a monetary consideration and lifetime House membership.”

Apastron shuddered a little. “Radiance does nothing by half measures, does he?”

“Not at all. That’s why he’s so good at what he does. But, sometimes he must be protected from himself. Now looks like one of those times.”

“In that, I have to agree, Dano.”

After watch, Danorax sought out Ixia and brought up his idea with her. After listening, she said the idea had merit, and will investigate it. “It’s something I have not thought of, that’s for sure.”

After Danorax left, Ixia did some research of Point’s psych profile, factoring in what she had learned from Danorax. “Captain, can I get a few moments with you?” she asked over the intercom. “It’s about Point…”

When the Lotus broke out of warp near Equus, Radiance was kept busy doing shutdown checks while the ship moved into orbit. He did his best to avoid any of the publicity, press conferences, and the other hullabaloo caused by the arrival of the Pegasus, a job he managed to succeed at for a day or so before being confronted by his friend Ixia, his friend Apastron, and his sister, Sunrise Flight. The confrontation was held in his quarters.

“Brother, we have something to tell you, and you will listen to us.” Sunrise said sternly.

Radiance easily caught which way the wind was blowing and sat down. “I’m listening.”

“Tomorrow, you are going to be brought to a private conference. There, you are going to meet with the seventeen surviving members of the crew of the Gowanus Herald that you rescued and apologize to them.” Ixia told him.

“I beg your pardon?” Radiance said, startled.

“You heard her, Brother. What is bothering you is that you feel that you have not atoned for your behavior as Radiance Glow. We’re in Equus orbit now, a place you never imagined coming back to. The prospect is terrifying you, and your job performance is as depressed as you are. If you want me to, I’ll go with you, but you are going to be doing all the talking.” Sunrise said in tones that Radiance knew meant he should not argue with her.

“You’re worried now, Point, but you shouldn’t. Think of this as a step towards forgiving yourself.” Apastron said in kinder tones.

“You have always felt you do not deserve absolution for what you have done,” Ixia said. “Trust us in saying we feel you do. What happened seventy-four years ago here deserves to be put to rest, first in your heart, then in theirs.”

Radiance just sat there, surprised by what he had just heard. “I never thought of that,” he said faintly, almost in a whisper.

Sunrise looked at Apastron and Ixia. “Come on, let’s leave him be for a while. He’s just been whacked with a clue-by-four, and it will take some time for the new thought to seep in,” she said before leading the changeling and starwalker foxtaur out of the room.

Radiance looked in the mirror he kept in the main room of his quarters. He studied intently the red and white stripe in his mane but remembering when the length of his mane was red and white stripes all the way down. “I am SO…” followed by a string of multilingual epithets that lasted a good two minutes, epithets so strong the metal mirror tarnished some under the force he put behind the words. “…screwed,” he finished before passing out on his chair cushion.

Late the next day, Radiance and Sunrise were in a shuttle, heading for the lunar base. “Sister, can I confess something to you in confidence?” he asked.

“Of course, you can, Brother. You trust me, I trust you.” Sunrise replied, putting a wing around him.

“I’m scared, Sister. I’m scared like I have never been scared before in my life. None of those ponies have any reason to like me,” he said in a near-whisper.

Sunrise could feel Radiance shaking under her wing. “I know you are, Brother. You have been running from your past now for too many years. It is now time to face it and deliver unto it a power buck that will knock your past so far out it can’t even FIND the Far Star, much less you.

“It’s all right to be scared. You have what you feel are good reasons. Just think of this… every last one of them has to thank you for their lives. You saved them when they otherwise would have died in the unforgiving ocean depths. You SAVED them, giving them a chance to have or even see families again. Keep your mind on that, okay? If any of them think otherwise, in order to get to you, they have to get through ME first. Got it?”

Radiance nodded. “I got it, Sister. I’m still scared, though.”

“Look at it as if we had to get the Lotus moving again when we fell through the portal. Nothing you figured was tested, you were running on optimism and sheer guesswork. It worked, right? So, will this.”

“I can only hope and trust to the Princesses that all will go right.” Radiance said, still in a worried whisper.

“Let me tell you something Galen said when you had your breakdown at the beginning of the flight. You have more courage in one hair of your tail than most ponies have in their entire bodies. I have faith in you. You can have faith in yourself, too. Take some of my faith. I have some to spare.” Sunrise said in a conspiratorial whisper.

Radiance looked at his sister with an amazed look. “You do? Where do you get it from? Have you been holding back on me?” he said, a little strength coming to his voice.

“I bought some on Chakona while you were up on the ship installing the warp drive. I keep a supply of it in that red box I keep in my nightstand,” she said with a straight face.

“How many bits did it cost you?”

“None. I used the Chakona government’s credit card, so thank them, okay?”

Radiance leaned into his sister’s side, feeling some of his tension and anxiety drain off. “I’ll have to send a thank you note to Prime Minister Sunflare, then. Maybe some of my Arisian Civet coffee as well.”

“You do that, Brother, and I’m sure she will have you turned away at Chakona Gateway if you so much as set hoof on it. In fact, I may send her that suggestion,” Sunrise said with a small laugh.

“How did I ever manage without you, Sister?” Radiance asked with a small laugh of his own.

“You haven’t. I’ve been there all along. You just didn’t know it. Now you do.”

“Yes, that I do. Let’s get through this meeting, shall we?”

“Easy, Brother. This is not something to dread, it is something to put behind you, so you can move along in life. Honestly, you may be an inventive genius, but you are so single-minded, it takes an asteroid impact just to get your thoughts moving in a different direction!”

Radiance smiled, leaning against his sister. “You don’t have to put it that way, Sunrise.”

“I can’t think of a better way to put it, Radiance.”

Sunrise led Radiance to a conference room in the upper levels of Lunar Dome Three. Pausing at the door, she said to him, “Now, get in there and do what you know needs doing. Just remember, you’re going IN to the room, and you will come OUT of the room feeling a lot better than you do now.”

“You’ll be there with me?” Radiance asked, still a little apprehensive.

“I will be, but you will be doing all the talking. Now go do it like I know you can!” she said firmly, opening the door.

Radiance went in to the room, aided by a wing push from Sunrise. There, grouped at one end, sat eighteen ponies, a mix of pegasi, unicorns and earth ponies. They were, of course, much older than Radiance remembered them, but he still recognized every one of them, except one, while they all looked at him with a ‘who in Tartarus is this fellow?’ expression on their faces.

Radiance stood at the far end of the room, away from the gathered ponies, Sunrise next to him and behind. “Hello, everyone. I am Radiance Point, Engineer’s Mate of the Cosmic Lotus. Thirty-two years before departure, I was known by a different name, that of Radiance Glow.

“How can I prove I was Radiance Glow? I can think of many ways, the question being if I can convince you of it,” he said, looking first at a unicorn seated towards the back. “Steam Line, you lost a pot of three hundred sixteen bits to me when your kings over queens full house lost to my four threes, which I last carded on your deal. You were so angry, you threw your hat across the cabin and out through an open porthole. You bitched for weeks about it.”

“What was so special about that hat, that had me so upset about losing it?” the old unicorn asked with some belligerence.

“You won it in a card game off the captain of a Neighponese freighter ten years before.”

“What was different about the cap badge?”

“It was missing a single sapphire piece the size of a grain of rice at the three o’clock position of the chrysanthemum. The mounting prong holding it in had broken, and the piece still had a sharp point on it that caught the light oddly whenever you wore it. The piece missing was a blue sapphire piece, part of an array that repeated blue, green, yellow, orange, red and pink four times around the outer circle.”

The assembled ponies took this information a bit stoically, thinking. A pegasus then addressed Radiance. “What were the last words I said to you before you teleported me to Vanhoover?”

Radiance smiled. “Jerdian Lighthoof. The pony who made a hero out of me, a pony that was despised by all on board. You asked me if I would be all right. As the energies wrapped me in white flames, I said to you, ‘No, but YOU will be,’ before I sent you to Vanhoover.”

“That was in the movie,” said a burly earth pony in the front of the assemblage.

“Of course, that was, Wide Load. What wasn’t in the movie was that I always called you…” Radiance then let fly with some rather vile epithets. “I started that because when I first came aboard, you tried shoving me into an open bilge. Instead, I threw you into it. Headfirst.”

Wide Load’s eyes went wide. “There was nopony around when that happened. I was sure of that. I never told anypony.”

“For good reason, knowing that if the Captain or Chief Engineer at the time had found out, one or the other would have pitched you overboard into the screws. At ahead flank. Captain Green Tide would have done it, and all aboard at the time knew it, even me,” Radiance said to the old earth pony.

Wide Load nodded, saying “Good thing Green Tide pissed someone off at the Home Office and wound up getting thrown off the ship four months later.”

“Literally, thrown off the ship,” another old timer said. “He made quite a splash when he landed. Sank like a stone, he did.”

“That he did, and good riddance to bad leadership. I remember all of you but one, the gray and black stallion with the chestnut mane and bright green tail, who reminds me of Delectable Dinner. I take it she is no longer with us?” Radiance asked.

Jerdian answered the question. “No, she passed on about fifteen years ago. This is her son, Cast Iron, who was born less than a year after the Gowanus sank. He has been part of our survivor’s group his whole life. He followed his mother’s path and is as good a cook as she was. Delectable Dinner included him in our meetings. When this meeting was called, we insisted he come along as well.”

“Fair enough, Jerdian. Now, for the reason you were all called here. The whole time all of you knew me as Radiance Glow, technically, I was insane. My father had abused me to such an extent, my mind had snapped, and my alter ego surfaced, beating him to a bloody mess. The ship left Baltimare two hours later, with me aboard. I had noticed in the papers that the ship was sailing that night, and after finishing paying my father back, I headed straight to the pier and signed on as an oiler.

“That alter ego was in charge the whole time aboard. I was arrogant, abrupt, impolite and generally very hard to live with. After the sinking, it was almost two years later when I was allowed to go out from the hospital in Ponyville, having been deemed sane enough to go out in public again. My whole life after that had one primary overarching goal, that being I was to be as UNLIKE Radiance Glow in all possible ways. It succeeded, in my eyes.

“Living my life that way was my self-imposed penance for being so impossibly rude, brutal, domineering, and unfriendly as Radiance Glow was. What I want to do is apologize to you all for putting you through the grief I caused you while we were crewmates on the Gowanus Herald. None of you ever did anything to me that warranted such a reaction from me. I will now say two words Radiance Glow never used.

“I’m sorry.

“I’m sorry I caused you all trouble while we were crewmates. You never deserved my ire. I ask for your forgiveness.”

Radiance then looked right at Jerdian. “Your song, and later the movie, pictured me as a hero, when I knew I was nothing like a hero in that life, not no way, not no how. It shamed me, knowing what had really happened, and then the tales later made me into something I knew was not. I left Equus, fully intending to never return.” He stopped talking then, head down, nose almost to the floor.

Cast Iron spoke up for the first time. “Radiance, you are a hero to all of us here. Without you, they would have all perished when the ship sank, and I would never have been born.”

Steam Line stood. “You saved the ship more times than any of us could count, what with your skills in the engine spaces. For a young punk like you, you sure knew a lot and learned fast on the equipment there, coming up with ways to get us back into port while running on patches and prayers. Sure, you were all you said and more, but you did save us all.”

“Just like how you kept the Cosmic Lotus running after passing through the portal for the first time.” Cast Iron said. “Of course, by then, we knew who you were. We’re proud to have known you.”

An elderly pegasus stood up. “Just how many times you managed to keep the deck cranes running just long enough to load or unload cargo before they broke for good?” she asked.

Radiance smiled slightly. “In six years and five months, four hundred sixteen times. I still remember the lecture you gave me shortly after pulling out of Baltimare the first time, bosun. I’m glad to see you don’t use expletives every third word now.”

The old bosun, Topgallant Sheet, smiled. “No, just every third paragraph now, dammitall,” she said to much laughter.

“So, every one of you never held a grudge about my behavior before the sinking?” Radiance asked, daring to hope.

“You saved our lives, giving us all a chance to enjoy life, unlike those who went down with the ship. You did what you could to whom you could before sacrificing yourself, or so we thought,” Jerdian said. “When we found out who you really were, we wanted to reach out to you, but Princess Twilight advised us against it, because she was unsure about how you would react. When we got the word about the meeting here, all of us dropped what we were doing to make it here, to thank you.”

“Thank me?” Radiance asked.

“Thank you for our lives, Radiance. Without you, where would we be now?”

“Under the cold ocean waves, Jerdian.” Radiance said, the tension he had been feeling, the knot deep inside his body and mind that had been there for years, ebbing like the tide.

“There is one other thing you should know, Radiance. A secret that has not been shared outside our little group, but a secret you should know,” Topgallant Sheet said, putting a wing around Cast Iron.

“If you think I should know this secret, Topgallant, I will keep it safe. So, will Sister,” Radiance said with a warm smile.

“Delectable Dinner was my mother,” Cast Iron said. “You are my father.”

Sunrise Flight had to move fast to keep Radiance from breaking his horn when he collapsed in a dead faint.