• Published 6th Apr 2019
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Distant Reflections - David Silver

Equestria and Everglow have brushed against one another through the course of their histories, each time fleeting, but memorable to those involved. Many many years later, the unaging Twilight captains a space vessel to explore the universe.

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1 - Anomalous Readings

With a heavy sigh, Twilight turned in place. Not that the computer cared what direction she faced. "Journal Entry." A soft chime noted the computer had begun recording. "Travel proceeding smoothly. All systems nominal. Regrets: mounting." She approached the door to her chamber but looked back.

Decorating the walls of her room were the pictures of her friends in different stages of their life. There was Apple Bloom taking over the farm. There was Rarity retiring in front of a huge crowd of cheering ponies. She floated over a statue in her magic, a preserved acorn that dangled from a metal tree, representing Fluttershy's first planted tree.

Her friends had lived such wonderfully full lives. Their foals had done the same, and she had guided them as best she could, acting as Princess Celestia had for her in turn. But their full lives eventually ran to their end, and again, and again. Each generation a fresh round of discomfort.

She understood why Celestia had no real relationships besides her sister.

So when they offered a chance to help Equestria, but also avoid that pain, she took it. She could discover the answers that lay in the stars, to unearth so much, forever potentially...

She waved a hoof and the door opened.

"Hello, Twilight," greeted Carrot Top on the way past.

It wasn't really Carrot Top. Carrot Top was so very long passed.

"End journal." Twilight's reply wasn't really to Carrot Top, but Carrot Top didn't seem to mind, casually ignoring her computer command. "How're the hydroponics looking?"

"You won't be starving any time soon," she assured. "Funny thing, but it's still operating below spec." She raised a hoof, tapping at her chin. "But still well within tolerable levels. Like I said, you'll have carrots aplenty!"

"Excellent... Poor Spike really should have a treat though..." She trotted past Carrot Top, heading for the elevator. A quick ride through the smoothly moving platform brought her to the bridge. She emerged onto it, many ponies facing panels. They looked up towards her briefly, each nodding politely, but returning to their task.

"Anything on the scanners?" she asked on the way towards the captain's chair, hopping up and sitting down on it comfortably.

Vinyl Scratch glanced over with a soft bobbing of her head. "Incoming ship, Captain."

Twilight blinked softly. "And I'm only finding out now?! What ship?! Oh, Celestia, an alien species? This is so exciting!" Her funk evaporated at the idea, clip-clopping her forehooves. "If it's visible, put it on the main screen." She thrust a hoof at the largest screen in the room.

Dawn Event frowned softly at his display, stroking over his chin softly with a grumbling. "Captain Fast Shadow, I'm picking up an unknown vessel... Scans reveal life."

Fast Shadow perked her ears. "Are they a known species?" She was sitting up in her chair, her attention captured.

"Transponder isn't cooperating..." He raised a hoof and tapped at his controls agitatedly. "Under Score, see if you can make sense of this."

Under Score waved a hoof at his panel as he worked. "It is, perhaps, on a different bandwidth... and... Ah, thank Luminace, here we are. Broadcasting in simple binary... A match, ascii... ESS Friendship, followed by what I assume is an identifying serial number."

"Open a channel," barked the unicorn, breaking up the pattern of earth-bound ponies. "We should greet them as the Sun Queen would bid us." Steel Prism put a hoof in front of his chest, puffing himself up in the direction of the main screen. "We should assume they are a good people until we have evidence against it."

"Attempting to open comms, Captain." Steel and Fast sat side by side, apparently both captains. The one speaking, a goat with a headset that covered his ears and a dangling mouthpiece, was tapping at his controls with cloven hooves, mashing at large touch controls that were sized appropriately for such large digits. "No response on the standard channel, to be expected..."

Fast Shadow nodded in a small motion. "See if you can't find it, Mr. Note. I have confidence in you. Just in case, put us on yellow alert." Yellow lights were cast, the computer responding to her request without delay. "Hopefully, they're as friendly as that name implied, but being prepared is what keeps people from being hurt."

Vinyl perked an ear suddenly. "Incoming transmission!"

Twilight leaned forward dangerously, wings spread and ready to fall from her chair. "Let's hear it. Is it two way? Spike! We're meeting our first sapient species!"

"On the way," came the mature draconic voice over the ship radio. "Keep calm until I get there."

The screen became fuzzy as computers agreed on what codecs they could both speak. Handshake complete, it blinked to life, showing a goat dominating the screen, an earth pony behind him. "I think I've gotten through," declared the goat. He was like an Equestrian goat, but so was the pony? She had more details, less round. She was an equine, Twilight felt sure, but.... wait...

Twilight's mouth hung open as her eyes widened. She hopped down from her chair, gaping at the image as it panned to the left catch a unicorn, red in color, placing the goat mostly out of frame. "I... But... how?"

The earth pony was gazing at Twilight with an intense look, as if judging her, heavy in thought. "I..."

The unicorn turned an ear to the earth pony beside him. "You look as if you've seen a ghost. Hello." He nodded to Twilight across the comm system. "This is the ESS Horizon, seeking new things and exploring the universe is our goal. We come in peace. I am Captain Steel Prism. This is Captain Fast Shadow. And that--" He pointed to the goat that could still be seen in the shot. "Is Lt. Wandering Note."

"I am Bullette Belle!" suddenly cried out a voice in musical synthesis, as if her voice were produced by a computer with a deep commitment to bad autotune. The source of the voice dropped down from below to reveal a grinning filly's face, but they were made of metal, clearly a robot of some kind. "Opening friendship file! I look forward to the exchange of personal information for increased comradery."

Twilight heard the elevator doors opening and turned away from the screen to see the considerable bulk of Spike slipping in. He was a young-adult dragon, about twice the length of a normal pony, twice as tall even on all fours, and many times the weight and power. "Twilight, I'm, oh." He was looking past her at the screen. "Woah. Hey there."

"Friendship file--" With a glowing horn, Steel gently nudged Belle out of the camera's view.

"Greetings. I am--"

Twilight raised a hoof suddenly. "That's Captain Steel Prism. That's Captain Fast Shadow who I know I've met before. And that's Lt. Wandering Note, and that one that got pushed was Bullette Belle." Her eyes focused on Fast. "How?"

"I would ask the same question... I do not know you, but my very spirit knows you. I can feel it, a powerful echo. In a past life? I should imagine so..." Fast Shadow tapped her hoof against the lip of her chair, looking quite thoughtful.

All the other faces turned to face Fast Shadow. Belle's slipped into view, also facing her. "Stop looking at me like that. You are all aware of this..."

Spike waved to Twilight as he came up beside her. "This is Princess Twilight Sparkle, commander of the ESS Friendship. I'm her right-hoof dragon, Spike Sparkle."

Fast Shadow blinked softly. "Spike... Sparkle, no... that feels wrong."

"I... uh..." He put a large clawed hand behind his head, rubbing softly. "We made it official... After... It's a long story."

"We're married," explained Twilight, blushing brightly. "He took my name... Ahem, anyway! Hello! Hello hello hello! Oh Celestia, Hello. I am... too excited... A real alien species! We are so happy to meet you."

Spike nodded, seated on his haunches. It seemed quadruped motion suited his larger body more than his bipedal waddling as a baby dragon. "Real nice to meet you. You're the first, yep. On behalf of Equestria, we offer a hoof of friendship." He offered a very not-hoof hand towards the screen.

Steel sat up tall. "On behalf of Everglow and beneath the warm glow of the Sun Queen, we gladly accept this hoof. May our way forward be paved with the mutual glow of this union."

Dawn Event's voice drifted in from off camera, "amen."

Twilight gestured at the screen. "Spike, I don't think you understand! First contact! This is history in the making, right in front of us. And... I have to know." She turned back to Fast Shadow, trying to peer back in her own memory so long ago. "You said 'past life'?"

Fast Shadow stepped down from her chair, approaching the camera half way, standing in the middle of their bridge. "As the Author watches over us, she deemed some lucky, or unlucky, few would be supporting characters, always there when needed, to be present when the story had most need of them."

"Amen," came Dawn Event's voice from off camera.

A new face dominated the view suddenly, Under Score's aged face nudging Wandering out of the way and hogging up the display. "What she means is that when we die, we are reborn. Once this was an unfeeling act. Our new incarnations would have no idea that they once lived before, at most thinking they were walking in the horseshoes of aged champions."

Twilight flopped down on her haunches. "Amazing! So, wait... Fast Shadow?" Under Score moved out of the way to let the two make eye contact. "You're the same Fast Shadow, from back then? When... But... I thought that was another world..."

"It was." Fast Shadow had a faint smile, past behind it. "But not another reality, it turns out. Our meeting proves this. You came a long way, a long long way, those many lifetimes ago. I do not... recall it well, but your presence is a warm familiarity."

Spike reared up to make two gun motions with his hands. "You beat the tar out of me. Good times. No bad feelings, promise. I had to learn how to fight, and that's kind of how you do that."

"That does sound like me." Fast Shadow looped around back towards her chair. "It is such a delight to meet... Wait." She looked over her shoulder. "We can fly so far and so long because when we die, we are reborn. There is a time of growth, of course, but our crew replenishes itself. Are we close to your world?"

Spike shook his head quickly. "Nope. We've been drifting out here for... uh... Long enough that a regular pony would be way dead."

Fast's eyes darted between Spike and Twilight. "You are a dragon, and you... are not a standard pony." Her eyes lifted a little. "I see another there, how do they persist?"

Vinyl did not react to the question, though her ear was in view of the Everglow ponies. Twilight moved over to Vinyl and gently pushed her aside. She faded out of existence as if she was never there. "Not real..."

Under Score softly cleared his throat. "As fascinating as this all is, shouldn't we move forward with proper introductions? Assuming our environments are compatible, a face to face meeting feels prudent, where we can compare our notes far more efficiently."

Pinkie, or the thing that looked like Pinkie, suddenly looked up from her station. "Environments are compatible. Yay."

Spike hiked a thumb. "A computer really can't imitate her... I know you want them on the bridge, but really, Twilight..."

"Now is not the time for that," hissed out Twilight, turning away from the camera. "Yes, we should meet. I'd be delighted to shake hooves with a real alien species, even if I've... met your world once before. This is amazing." Her excitement returned as she turned to the other ship. "I'll put the ship on autopilot and be over there in two shakes of a colt's tail."

Bringing the ships close together, at least on an astronomical scale, Twilight got herself dressed properly for the occasion, a fine dress and dazzling crown on her head.

Spike wore a suit that covered his large form sharply, with a tie that dangling down in the air. Both had Equestria pins on their shoulders, proudly declaring their loyalties.

They picked at each other's clothing a little, helping it all settle just so. "We're as ready as we'll ever be." Spike nodded with confidence. "They seem like nice people. Better than it could have been. I was almost sure the first sign of life we'd run into would be some kind of super carnivorous flower that wanted to eat our faces."

"Stop it," laughed Twilight as she moved for a clean pad. "Yes, they do seem perfectly hospitable. I couldn't ask for much better for the first friends of the cosmos. They could have been sapient rocks that communicated only in specific oscillations of their very atomic structure. That would have been a challenge."

Spike hiked a brow. "You sure you didn't want to write science fiction instead?" He stepped up onto the pad and curled half around her. "Ready."

"Ready." Her horn glowed and several thin lasers came from the walls, syncing with her magic. "Target locked. Begin tran--" They vanished.

They appeared on a similar but different pad aboard the Everglow ship. "--sfer."

Spike blinked softly, looking around the new room. "Huh, right on target. Nice work."

Facing them was a white and black spotted unicorn wearing a uniform of some sort with a wobbly not-quite-round world on her shoulder. "Hello," she welcomed. "I am Lt. Star Dancer, and it's nice to meet you both. If you'll follow me, I'll take you to meet the captains." She stepped down from behind her panels and began leading the way. "We were wondering if we would have to retrieve you, but I see you have teleportation magic."

"She was teleporting before we even had spaceships," laughed Spike as he lumbered just behind Twilight. "It's only gotten worse with computer assistance."

Twilight was watching Star Dancer as they walked. "Are you... like Fast Shadow? I mean... being reborn?"

"Or I wouldn't be on this ship." She twitched an ear back at the two visitors. "We've been adrift long enough for the crew to pass away several times over." They emerged from the transporter room into a hallway that smelled of fresh grass. The walls were decorated with natural scenes, a comforting change from clean ship rooms.

"Comin' through!" A small Zebra filly rushed past, almost knocking Star Dancer over in her hurry.

"Come back here!" A brown earth-bound chased after her. "Sonja, you big dummy!"

Twilight tilted her head curiously. "I... Wait, how..."

Spike smirked wickedly. "When a father pony and a mother pony love each other very much."

Twilight rolled her eyes. "But if the crew is static, how can there be foals?"

Star Dancer pointed in the direction the children had fled. "They are us, the next generation. They must be cared for and tended to, so they will be ready to assume us when we are too old, or hurt, to continue."

"That only raises more questions..." But Twilight kept those questions to herself as they passed through an intersection and after a turn they could see open doors. "Is this where we're going?"

"Yep." Star Dancer swept a hoof ahead of herself. "Presenting Princess Twilight Sparkle and her +1, Spike Sparkle."

In the room they were entering, many of the ponies that were on the bridge were present. Steel and Fast were in the front, giving a unified greeting. Belle was grinning with an overabundance of joy. Under Score was watching the whole thing with careful reservation. "I had always theorized, but you have proven my hypothesis correct."

Spike canted his head as he entered just after Twilight. "What theory was that?"

"That all worlds that can be transported to also exist... some just so very distant as to be basically unreachable." He fixed his eyes on Twilight. "Tell me, how long have you flown, exactly?"

"Oh, well, first we'd have to agree on a time scale..."

"This is true."

Fast raised a hoof. "We can approach those questions another time. First, let me see you." She stepped up towards Twilight with a warm and welcoming smile. "You are just as I remember, as I am remembering. I... I hurt you, didn't I?"

"A little," squeaked Twilight, remembering the harsh combat lessons Fast had delivered. "But it was for a good cause. I'm not angry about it, and even if I was... that was forever ago. You're a captain! I mean... congratulations?"

"Co-captain," corrected Fast as she waved to Steel. "I proudly serve at his side."

"An honor." Steel nodded at Twilight. "While we are the first alien species you discovered, you are far from our first. We met our first just as we took the first timid steps towards the stars, and they were a good people, who offered friendship towards us, and we took it, catapulting ourselves into the space age."

Under Score nodded softly. "I can faintly remember it, so many lives ago. Back then, we had no idea... Twilight Sparkle, have you been minding my lessons?"

Twilight went rigid and stood up straight. "What?"

"My lessons," he repeated. "Everglow magic, quite different from Equestrian magic if I am remembering correctly, of which there is no certainty. Have you been minding those lessons? Have you grown in power, or simply age?"

"Under!" hissed Fast with a frown. "Do not be impolite to our guests. They are literally ambassadors from a new nation. It behooves us to treat them with respect."

"Captains," came the voice of Wandering over the local comm, audible to everyone. "I'm getting some strange readings up here. Something's contacting us, and I'm not sure it's friendly. You should hear this."

Author's Note:

So, welcome to the new story! It will have 3k updates, as KiKi, the guy patronizing this, is paying that bit extra for more meat on each update, hizzah! Welcome back Belle! This takes place in the same universe as the other Ponyfinder/Equestria mix-ups, though is clearly faaar in the future.

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