• Published 6th Apr 2019
  • 1,160 Views, 588 Comments

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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11 - Eyes In the Stars

The main screen flickered sharply to life, showing a four legged, and two armed, figure. The tauric shape was facing the camera that was recording them. They spoke with a male voice, "If you are seeing this, please consider helping us. Our ship has suffered critical damage that we do not have the supplies to repair, rendering us without the ability to course correct. If help does not come, we will crash into the very planet we were intending to orbit. Our life support and other critical systems are operational, so we're fine, for now, until we become a great ecological disaster."

Fast raised a brow at the message as it began to repeat itself. "Well, the crew may be fine, if they are approaching an inhabitable world."

"Which they may or may not be," noted Steel. "Can we get a lock on where they are going?"

"Already performing that." Dawn was softly tip-tapping at buttons only he could see, his eyes darting from one virtual console to another. "First I had to... yes, here we are. I have a lock on their ship. Putting it on screen."

The tauric mammal was minimized to a little window to repeat his entreaties. Taking up the open space was a view of a ship. It looked large and egg-shaped, entirely unsuited for in-atmosphere navigation. A scale on the image also revealed--

"It's huge," breathed out Fast, sitting up. "What manner of ship is this, and how can they be that large and not have all the spare parts they could ever have need for?"

Spike rolled a claw as he settled, examining the image. "Is it our place to ponder that? So long as they're telling the truth, what's it matter how?"

Steel shook his head softly. "You have a point, but Fast would hand my back end to me if I ignored any potential threats."

Fast looked smugly satisfied with that. "We can at least contact them, from here. Dawn, any update on their trajectory?"

A map of the region appeared, showing all the stars the sensors could pick up for many light years in all directions. They sped forward and backwards as the computer worked through calculations, a small icon of the target ship appearing, dotted lines spreading forward in the direction it was moving in a spreading cone, showing its possible points until it intersected with a planet, turning green when it hit the outer edge of the cone, then yellow, then red. "This is when it will strike with a greater than 50% chance."

A timestamp appeared on the screen, converting almost instantly to a timer instead, counting down. "We have four days," counseled Dawn. "After that, they're impacted."

Steel thrust a hoof up at the display. "Tell me about that planet. Inhabitable?"

"Uncharted, of course, but...." Lines went down over the globe, the sensors of the ship scanning it as best it from that incredible distance. "Liquid water detected, temperature... agreeable. It is within the habitable zone of its star. Odds of habitability, 22%."

Remi lifted her shoulders. "Funny thing, even with water and being in the right place, still a low chance of stepping off a ship and not dying in one of a thousand ways. Yay space." She rolled her shoulders. "Technically just coming here didn't have that much of a better chance, but I didn't ask to come here, so that was an easy risk to take."

Fast nodded towards Remi. "Your talents may be called upon. Their ship is in need of repairs. It is possible, though they didn't mention it, but they may be lacking expertise in addition to supplies, and the faster they are repaired, the better."

Remi saluted sharply. "You can count on me!" She suddenly swatted Spike on the shoulder. "You'll come with me, keep me safe, right big boy?"

Spike's earfins raised as he sat up. "Hm? You want me to come along? Sure, I guess, if the captains are alright with it?"

Steel waved a hoof dismissively. "That'll be fine, but first we should contact them." He moved the same hoof to his ear. "Wandering?"

"Yes, Captain?"

"I hate to interrupt, but--"

Wandering nodded gently at Twilight. "Twilight was just telling me about the time she survived a literal god's challenge. Dawn Event would be beside himself if he heard the tale, I feel certain."

"I'm glad to hear things are going well," gently agreed Steel. "But we need you at the comm station. Can you resume your session later?"

Wandering drooped his ears. "I'm sorry, Twilight. I'd really like to hear the rest of this story. Would you kindly share the rest of it as soon as they let me away to hear it?"

"Of course." Twilight reached a wing to pat the despondent looking goat. "I forgot just how... adventurous I was. This had really taken me back." She put a hoof to her cheek, smiling a bit oddly. "Maybe that's what they were trying to tell me? I felt a touch of this when I was fighting for my life, hm. I have a theory..."

Wandering raised a cloven hoof. "Please don't act on that theory just yet, ma'am, but I'd love to hear it when we get back together. Steel, Sir, I'm on the way."

"We're waiting for you."

Octavia reached into her pocket and pulled out a considerable object. It was sized to fit around an arm and had a screen on it. "I bet you don't even function anymore..." She turned it one way and the other, holding it in her magic, her horn glowing softly. "You're just like the pony that wore you, scandalous thief she was..."

She raised a brow, spotting a detachable part. With a twitch of her head, she bid it pop free, revealing it was a plug. "What are the odds?" She slid from the bed she was on and began wandering the walls, looking for an outlet the plug could go in. "Either it works, and it functions, or it does not, and nothing is truly lost..."

There it was, a panel, but it had no outlet in it. Still, she reasoned, where there was a panel... "Computer?" A soft chime told her it was listening. "Reveal outlet." A querying chime and a buzz played. "Right here." She pointed at the panel. "Show me what's behind it."

A new chime played and the panel withdrew, revealing an array of ports and plugs. "Fantastic." She smiled lightly, looking over the collection. "Now... which one... fits..." She lowered the magically held cord towards it and wobbled it left and right, searching for the one that... "Close enough, I think." She thrust it in gently. The port clicked and tightened around it. A soft chime played. "This also works."

A dim image appeared on the screen of the device and Octavia smiled. The brightness was far too low for her to see much, but that was slowly fixing itself. It was the symbol of an empty battery, but a sliver of red was pulsing. It was charging. "Marvelous!" She set the thing down there next to the wall, allowing it to charge. "This... is great." An ancient gift of her... lost friend... She could feel tears building in her and turned away. "Don't be a foal about this... She's been dead longer than she's been alive." The tears overwhelmed her.

She could see nothing but them as she squeezed her eyes shut. That had been the wrong thing to say to calm herself down. "She wouldn't want this!" she cried to herself. "She wouldn't... have wanted this... She would want me to... do amazing things, in her name." She shook her head violently. "The rock goddess sleeps, so it falls on me to perform in her stead."

Wandering took his position and began pressing buttons quickly. "Should I hail them, Captains?"

Fast and Steel shared a glance before they nodded in agreed thought.

Wandering pointed to the main screen as a new window appeared.

It was a different figure, a slender human female slumped in a chair. Her eyes rose towards the camera. "Oh by the gods... someone heard us..."

Steel was on his hooves in an instant. "I am Captain Steel Prism, of the ESS Horizon. What is the nature of your emergency?"

Twilight, who sat towards the back of the room beside Spike and Remi, tilted her head. "She looks awful."

"Things have declined since we... started the message." She sat up in her chair, but it seemed to take considerable effort. "Systems are in decline. All power... diverted to cryopods. We are... a colony ship... Please, there are... millions that need your help..."

Fast raised a hoof towards the speaker. "Where is the one who was sending the message? You are obviously not them." Wrong number of limbs, to start.

"Volunteered... to cease rations." She slumped back in her chair. "Life support's on minimal to keep power in cryo. The... many... outweigh... few." She slumped to the side, passing out.

Dawn scowled at the image. "She is not long for the world if we do not act. Captains, orders?"

Steel waved his hoof towards Dawn. "Can you determine what's wrong with their ship? Bring us closer. Let's see what we can do."

Remi suddenly clapped her paw-hands. "Alright, need my help then? I'll have the air conditioning running right in no time."

Fast snorted softly. "I imagine their condition is a bit more serious than you're treating it, but yes, all hands capable of mechanical assistance will be required. Suit up, assume you're entering a hard vacuum, and report to the transporter bay."

Remi grabbed for Spike by one of his fins, moving to drag him away, but he didn't immediately go, instead looking to Twilight. "Hey, wanna come along?" he asked with a smile. "You can meet new people, save them from danger. You know, like the old days."

Twilight blinked, looking confused a moment before it clicked her smile echoing Spike's. "That sounds delightful. Permission, captains?"

Steel nodded quickly. "Get moving." They fled as he turned to Fast. "Technically, they have not given us permission to board, but the distress signal and her unconsciousness obviates most legal claims that we are acting in any way other than kindness."

Fast waved the concern away. "At a time like this? I forget at times how law-abiding you can be. We are obligated to help anything that puts out a distress signal unless they specifically tell us the signal was sent in error, and this is obviously not the case. We save these people, or watch them die shortly before or during their impact on a potentially life-harboring planet, potentially spreading the misery."

"I'm not arguing against this course of action." Steel sat down on his chair. "This sounds like a more technical issue than a violent one, which I am glad for, though I can lend little assistance."

Dawn raised his eyes from a virtual console to the main screen as a new window appeared, showing the internals of the ship they were approaching, some of it yellow and red. "I've found several system faults. There are redundant systems, but the redundants are down, operating far below acceptable levels. Remington, I'm sending a copy of this to your comm."

"Copy that," came her cheerful voice. "Turn the reds to yellows, got it."

In the elevator, Remington lowered her hand from her ear just as the elevator stopped, but they had not arrived on their target floor.

Octavia stood there, with a determined look in her tear-stained eyes. Wrapped around her left foreleg was a strange bracelet with lights and a display. "I'm coming with you," she announced. "I can help."

Twilight blinked softly at Octavia. "While I'm glad to see you, I thought you were a musician?"

She pressed onto the elevator, joining them. "I'm more than my music, as a friend was kind enough to remind me."

Spike smiled at that. "Good to have you with us, Octavia. You can fix things?"

"Who do you think was fixing things when you couldn't figure it out." Octavia rolled her eyes. "I had a little help, but I have that with me." She lifted her arm-band. "This is the Luminace Assistance Piece, or LAP."

Twilight gasped sharply. "That Luminace?!"

Octavia inclined her head faintly. "I was not aware Luminace was a specific thing, to be truthful." She pressed a button with her magic and held up the armband, showing the illustration of Luminace in a slow walk, a scroll floating in front of her.

"That's her!" Twilight jumped, grabbing Octavia's arm in her hooves, her face almost plastered into the screen. "I haven't seen her in... I don't even remember! How did you get something from her?! I am so beyond jealous right now!"

Spike casually pulled Twilight away and kept her away from the surprised Octavia. "That's not how we ask questions, Twilight. Be polite."

"Yes, right, polite. Sorry." She cleared her throat softly. "Please, tell me how you came into possession of that. I must know, please?"

Remi barked with laughter as the elevator stopped. "That's a question for after the mission. Right now we have a literal ship full of people that need us to act quickly, so let's get suited up." As she walked, she raised a hand to her ear. "Captains, Octavia insists on assisting us, and she looks determined. Objections?"

Fast's voice replied quickly, "Keep an eye on her. For her mental well-being, we don't want to discourage her taking action, but we can't let her harm herself or others."

"Roger that." Remi grabbed a belt off a line and slipped it on. "I should just keep one of these on and skip coming back here. Not like it's heavy." The armor deployed, wrapping her in plastic. "Not like I can't tell it to be just a belt when I don't need it."

"You have a point there." Spike was soon wrapped in space-age plastic. "I'm ready. Twilight, Octavia?"

Twilight waved a plastic-clad hoof. "All ready!"

Octavia was the last, peering at the wide variety of belts. "Is there one made for alicorns?" She spread her wings slightly before folding them back tight. "If I'm no longer playing that ruse, I would rather my wings be available."

Spike reached for a larger belt. "It scans you when its deploying, just has to be big enough to spread over you. Put up your hooves and I'll help."

"Thank you, Spike. You were always the gentlepony." She raised her hooves. "Twilight is lucky to have you."

He blushed faintly at that. "She helped make me, if you think about it." He slipped the belt over her outstretched hooves and worked it down over her barrel to rest around her midsection. "There we go. Can you hear it?"

"It's saying hello." Octavia perked an ear about, but the sound was coming from nowhere in particular. The belt began to unfold over her, becoming a plastic suit like the rest of them, wrapping up her wings without a problem. When it reached her arm, it flowed around her LAP precisely, leaving its screen and buttons exposed and ready to use while forming an air-tight seal against it. "How lovely."

"About that." Spike turned for the door, heading onwards towards the transporter bay. "You weren't wearing that when we first realized you weren't a hologram. Were you hiding it?"

"I was..." Octavia glanced down towards it. "I thought I'd never wear it... but... that isn't what she would have wanted. That... in fact, wasn't what she specifically requested. She wanted me to wear it, and do great things." She drew in a sharp breath through her teeth in a hiss. "It took me quite a few moons, but perhaps I could honor that wish now."

Remi suddenly swatted the emerged alicorn across the back. "Glad to have you with us. I'll tackle the mid-section life support first. Could you--"

Octavia raised a fine brow. "Pardon me, but I haven't the foggiest to what you refer."

Remi grumbled as she fished out her comm from a pocket. "That thing looks advanced enough." She waved the comm over her LAP. "There, look at the map."

Map file detected. Importing...

A map appeared on the LAP, showing an overview of the ship. The trouble areas were colored properly. Remi thrust a claw. "There, take care of that red spot. That thing double as a comm? I'm guessing it does."

"I... admit I am not entirely certain." She raised the LAP to her mouth. "Detect local stations."

Scanning... Multiple stations found, adding to bookmarks.

An image of Luminace making marks on her scroll appeared, winking before she vanished.

"I want one," sighed out Twilight, watching the Luminace-blessed device functioning. "Spike! I've decided. All the anniversary gifts we skipped; get me one of those and we'll be entirely even!"

Spike snorted loudly at that as he waved at the transporter bay door to open. "Yeah, right after you get me my catchup gift. How about we start getting gifts from here on in if we're going to start doing that?"

Twilight pouted mightily, but didn't belabor the point as they all filed in.

Star Dancer was there, watching the door. "There you are. I was wondering if you all managed to get lost. The teleporter's locked in, so hop aboard and we'll take a trip. No scrubbing this time, so there's that."

"Good luck!" sang Belle as she bounced out from behind the counter. "Make many friendship points!"

Remi gave a sloppy salute to Belle on her way to the pads. "I'll make so many points you'll have an overflow error counting them all."

Belle gasped melodically. "That would be the best reason for a soft reboot ever! I look forward to it."

Octavia looked around as she settled next to Remi. "It will be a pleasure to use one of these when not in impending physical danger."

Twilight nodded in agreement. "Let's go save some ponies, or humans, or whatever they are. They deserve our assistance."

Author's Note:

Time to set off on a mission with one fractured mind and one that has a few interesting cracks. What could go wrong?!

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