• Published 5th Jul 2017
  • 1,432 Views, 151 Comments

Purple Point: His Life in Space - Alden MacManx

How Purple Point manages his life in space aboard the Cosmic Lotus, and how others handle him. Let the battle begin!

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Apprentice Cruise

As the Cosmic Lotus departed Equus orbit, heading back to the Far Star, the ship’s Chief Engineer, Radiance Point, looked up from the situation monitors recently installed in his office, satisfied that all is well indeed with the ship. It would not do to have anything unseemly happen, especially with two Distinguished Visitors aboard, that being Princess Twilight Sparkle and her husband, Free Agent.

Reaching up and behind him with his glow, Radiance pulled down his coffeepot and refilled his mug, swirling the contents of the pot some before putting it back. “Time for another pot soon,” he snorted.

CONN chose that moment to announce, “Commander, apprentice training begins in fifteen minutes, in the classroom.”

“Very well, CONN. Thank you. I’m on my way,” Radiance said, getting up from his desk and leaving his office, carrying his mug of coffee, favoring his front right hoof slightly.

Radiance was first to the classroom, ahead of all the students but not ahead of his teaching aide, that being his sister, Sunrise Flight. “Ready to get this under way, Brother?” she asked when he entered the classroom.

“I’ve been ready for over a week, sister. Now that all the hard work rebuilding and refitting the ship is done, it’s time for her to do the job she was built for. She’s just as eager as the rest of us to get back to work,” Radiance replied as he set his mug down on the shelf inside the lectern.

“<Brother, only you would consider handling the training of a dozen young adults of different species as ‘not hard’,>” Sunrise commented drily in Twinspeak.

“<Compared to the work we have been doing the past three weeks? Yes, teaching will be the easiest of all the work we have been doing,>” Radiance replied.

“<No more dropping sheet wall forms on your hoof, right?>”

Radiance grimaced, looking down at his right forehoof. Some faint scarring remained, but he could still see the bones poking out after dropping the wall when he tried to force it through a hatch. “<Got that right,>” he sighed as the apprentices began entering the classroom. “<I’m just glad we had a doctor on board when I did that.>”

“<We all make mistakes, Brother. So, you’re a little behind on your allotment.>”

Radiance flipped a hoof at his sister as the apprentices seated themselves. First were the changelings, Furox the red, Xandros the chrome and Hexanerax the yellow. Then the two griffons, Triska the black and white female and Pholus, the deep red and dark brown male. Next in were the three unicorns, Radiant Steel, Gradient Test, the reddish gold and blue female, and Twinkle, the dark yellowish female. After them were the two pegasi, Wanderer the dark green and sooty black male, and Star Watcher, the bright orange female. Last in were the male earth pony Gravy Train and the female zebra Zorya. He looked at all of them impassively, noting the presence of his grandson but not reacting to it. He had told Steel that if he was accepted, in public, he would be treated just like the other apprentices. Only in private could they be family.

Radiance pulled three rubber balls out from under the lectern with his glow and started juggling them. “Good morning, apprentices. For those of you who don’t know me, which should be none of you if you did your homework prior to coming aboard, I am Radiance Point, Chief Engineer of the Cosmic Lotus, as well as Training Officer, because of all on board, I have the most experience in academia. Meaning, I know how to teach.

“Each of you are going to be given assignments for the next three days, until we reach the portal to the Far Star, where we will stop to allow the scientists as much time as they can wheedle out of the Captain and Exec to study the runes on the portal moonlets.

“You will be on a four hour on, eight hour off watch rotation, each watch being in one of six areas, they being Control, Sciences, Engineering, Hydroponics and Plant Growth, Medical and Ship’s Services. That will give each of you one four-hour watch in each place before we reach the Portal. After arrival, I will be questioning each one of you on what you learned on each station, which will help me decide what your next phase will be.”

Radiance bounced the balls off the floor as he paced some, looking at each of the apprentices. “Space, like the sea, is a very hostile place. Discipline, watchfulness, and an unending respect of the fact that space can kill you in seconds must be maintained. That is, if you truly want to go home again. If not, let me know and once we arrive, I’ll have Prince Destined or Princess Twilight take you back to Equus and have someone more worthy of being here brought back. After which, I will head back to Equus myself and have a few words with the Selection Committee who passed you to begin with!” he shouted as the balls flew around the room, missing everyone there before flying back to the lectern, his horn sparking and smoking a bit.

“Now, I have duties elsewhere, so I will turn you over to your immediate supervisor, Sunrise Flight. You have any problems, you go to her first. If she can’t fix it, she’ll come to me. If I can’t fix it, I’ll go to the Exec. If he can’t fix it, see my previous paragraph!” Radiance declared with force, making all the apprentices sweat some, even the griffons. All the apprentices had seen the film of the duel Radiance fought with Ortzi Goldbeak years before. The griffon apprentices were made to watch it three times. “Good day, everypony. We have work to do.” Radiance then grabbed his coffee mug, took a pull from it, and exited the room. Every apprentice saw the logo on the side of the mug, that of a unicorn holding a cracking whip.

Once Radiance left the classroom, Sunrise took to the lectern. Looking at the door, she said something that none of the apprentices understood, but Radiant Steel recognized as Twinspeak. “Okay, everypony, now that Professor Pucker Butt is out of the room, I’m in charge of you. Don’t worry, I’m not out to drive you all mad,” she said before resuming, “it will only seem that way.”

Pulling some papers out from the lectern, Sunrise went out amongst the apprentices. “Training time starts at noon, and you will all adhere to your schedules. Tardiness will be counted against you. You will be on this schedule until we arrive at the portal, where your next phase of training will be decided,” she said as she passed out the papers. “If you have any questions or issues, ask them. You can ask who you’re on watch with, you can come ask me even if I’m asleep, or you can ask the Professor. He has one saying that I fully support, that being the only stupid question is the one you do not ask when you need to.

“Now, I will take questions from the floor.”

A glance bounced around the twelve apprentices before one of them got the courage to speak. “Is the Commander really that intimidating?” asked the yellow changeling, Hexanerax. “The emotions I was receiving from him were… conflicting.” The other two changelings nodded in agreement.

“Only when he wants to be, Hex. He’s establishing the fact that, when it comes to you apprentices, he is in charge of you and responsible for your actions while an apprentice. He does not want any of you doing something dumb that could put him in a bad position with the Captain OR with House Path. He comes on as strong as his coffee first but earn his trust and he will back off.”

“But why could we not get a good read from him?” asked the Chrome changeling, Xandros.

“His willpower, Zan. He will not let loose anything he does not want you to sense. How many of you here know Commander Point’s full background?” Sunrise asked, looking at the class. All but one paw or hoof went up, the exception being the zebra, Zorya.

“Zorya, we will give you a rundown later. Let’s just say that one of the results of the magical accident that happened when the Gowanus Herald sank was a will that even the Triequirate would have trouble with, if he decided to go in a way they did not want.”

“As in The Wreck of the Gowanus Herald?” Zorya asked. “I’ve seen the movie, but there was no Radiance Point aboard. A Radiance Glow, yes, but not a Radiance Point.”

All eyes in the room looked at the zebra, who felt a little uncomfortable at all the attention. “Does anyone want to enlighten her?” Sunrise asked.

One of the griffons, Triska, the one with white plumage and black fur, took the challenge. “He IS Radiance Glow, Zorya. After getting everypony back to Vanhoover, Radiance Glow vanished. He turned up somewhere, falling under House Path psychologists for a couple of years before being released. The accident changed him, body, mind and soul. That’s why he was unrecognized for years.”

“Oh, my… I hadn’t heard that.” Zorya said, looking a little taken back. “We ARE fortunate to have him as an instructor.”

“Indeed, you are, all of you. His hope is to pass on two things to you all, they are being his knowledge and his self-discipline. Many has been the time he has worked until he was ready to drop in his tracks, working on something or other to benefit his ship and his shipmates,” Sunrise informed the apprentices. “He gives so much to others, yet he does not take anything for himself. Ninety per cent of his pay goes to a foundation to help orphaned and abused foals, along with ninety percent of his income from patents and inventions. He cares about you all, but you really have to con him into showing it in other than a hardnosed fashion.”

“The epitome of tough love, right?” asked Pholus, the male red and brown griffon.

“You can say that, yes. Up until very recently, he thought he had no family to care about him. He found out otherwise when we arrived back at Equus. How much does he care about them? Enough to do little to interfere with their lives, but more than enough to give one of his family the chance to prove himself here,” Sunrise told the group. “That one cannot expect any preferential treatment from him, either. Nor me. We’re both stubborn, as well as when we promise something, it will be delivered.”

“Because the two of you were one until about twenty years or so ago, Equus time,” said Star Watcher, the bright orange pegasus mare. “I had a chance to research you out when I found out I was accepted.”

“Like what you found?” Sunrise asked.

Star Watcher declared, “I was not only very impressed, I think I realized something about him and you. If we can prove ourselves to you, we should not have to worry about proving anything to anypony again.”

Sunrise nodded. “Very astute of you. Just remember that anything he or I see, read, hear, or experience, we DON’T forget it. Proving yourselves to us is going to take determination, observation, and discretion. Have you all got what it takes to be successful?”

“All we can do is try our best, come what may,” said Gravy Train, the brown and black earth pony stallion. “If we fall short, I would want to know why, where and how we can do better.”

“Rest assured, we will. Praise and censure will get equal treatment. Any more questions before we break from here?”

“Just one, Lieutenant. Which of us is your relative?” asked Furox, the red changeling.

“I will not tell you that, I would prefer that one do so on their own. Whether the one wants to or not, the one knows that our support is there.”

Radiant Steel stood up. “Radiance Point is my grandfather, and Sunrise Flight my great-aunt,” the chestnut stallion said. “Grandfather said he would try to get me here as an apprentice, but it was up to me to prove to him his choice was correct. Nepotism will not rear its ugly head here. Up until about five weeks ago, he didn’t know I even existed.”

“Nice to see you lost some weight, Steel,” Sunrise observed.

“I have not shed it all, but I’m getting there.”

That’s when Gradient Test, the quiet red-gold unicorn spoke up. “I have a legacy, too. My uncle is Kale Robe, the head chef of the expedition. Unlike my uncle, I’m not so much interested in culinary arts as I am chemistry and physics. I know that things work and happen, I’m trying to learn the WHY of it all.”

“You’ll certainly have a chance to learn here, Gradient. Now, let’s go to lunch. I’m just glad we have some cooks aboard now, and we don’t have to use an automat, like we have for the past month. After lunch, section one has the watch, section two relieves at four. You have your schedules. Let’s do it to it.”

Three days later, an hour after the turn of the watch, the twelve students gathered once again in the classroom, with their teacher and their Headmaster. Radiance Point strode back and forth at the front of the room, holding a sheaf of papers in his glow. “I have here reports from those you have stood your training watches with,” he declared, holding the papers high and shaking them before putting them down. “What I want to hear now is YOUR reports, your thoughts, your feelings on what you have experienced for the past three days. Do you think you have what it takes to go out amongst the stars?

“Who wants to be first? We have three hours before we drop out of warp at the portal, and I want to be done by then, so you can go witness warp dropout and the portal with your own eyes.”

Furox, the red changeling, was the first to stand up. “One lesson that stands out is that it is just not one pony or being that is important aboard, it is ALL of us, working together, towards a common goal, is what made the first mission so successful. If each of us keep that in mind, we will be going places.”

Radiance nodded sagely at the declaration. “Very perceptive of you. Does everyone else agree with Furox's statement?”

“Yes, Professor!” the whole student body chorused eagerly.

Something vaguely reminiscent of a smile played around Radiance’s mouth at the response. “Not bad. I knew I had some bright students. What do you think of Ship’s Services here, Furox?”

“It’s more than security, for sure. I’m going to have to decide quickly what else to do other than security, or else I’m going to get mighty bored,” Furox observed.

“Boredom will be the least of your problems. If you start feeling that way, see the teacher or me. You won’t be bored after.

“Okay, who’s next?”

Triska, the other Ship’s Services major, stood up. The black and white griffon looked right at Radiance. “Sir, I know I have a lot to learn about teamwork. I would like the opportunity to learn more,” she said bluntly.

“First of all, don’t call me ‘sir’ unless you mean it. I work hard for a living and I’m only a senior officer because Her Highness thought I should be. ‘Professor’ will do, or ‘Commander’ in a pinch. Don’t put a talon wrong and you will have that chance. What do you think about working with other species, like the ones from the Federation?”

“They may have different body types, but they are all good people inside. It’s not how they look, it’s what they do,” Triska replied.

“Think you can learn from them as well as from your shipmates?” Radiance challenged.

“if what I’m thinking is correct, Professor, they WILL BE my shipmates, so any distinction like that will be moot.”

“You came up through House Path schools, I can tell. It shows. Okay, who’s next?”

Wanderer, the male dark green and black pegasus, took up the challenge. “It takes all sorts to make up a ship, Professor. I want to do my part in that,” he declared.

“You think you can, up in Control? You got what it takes to lead us?” Radiance challenged back.

“If I did not think so, Professor, I would not have applied to be here.”

“Good to hear, kid. Sit down and let someone else talk. Next!” Radiance called out.

Radiant Steel was next to stand. “Commander, the Federation has a lot to teach us about technology. We have a lot to teach them about magic. Can you imagine where the two together can go? I know I can,” he stated. “I want to see if I’m right. The best place to see it is out here, not sitting on my duff in a classroom in Seaddle.”

“Nice words, kid. So, you like it here?” Radiance asked as he picked up his coffee mug and took a slug.

As Steel was about to answer, CONN interrupted the session. “Attention. Fifteen minutes to warp breakout,” she announced.

Radiance geysered his coffee (the Arisian Civet blend) at the words, fortunately not spraying anyone.

“CONN, we should not be coming out of warp for another two hours!” Sunrise protested.

“Her Highness expressed impatience, so the Captain ordered more speed after Commander Radiance went to sleep,” CONN replied.

“I’ll moiderize him…” Radiance muttered before speaking up. “Okay, class, we meet in the Observation Room in ten minutes!”

As the class filed out, Sunrise went up to her brother, carrying some towels so he could clean his nose. “Looks to me we have a fine bunch of students here,” she commented.

“I had no doubts about that whatsoever,” Radiance said after he cleared his nose of residual coffee. “They’ll need more training, but they have the right mindset.”

“And we’re the ones to guide that training, brother.”

Author's Note:

Now that the Lotus returned home safely, it is time to start teaching the next wave. Radiance Point is going to do the teaching. Good thing Sunrise served a five year apprenticeship all over the Lotus, yes?