• 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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14 - Into the Light

All three of them burst free of the darkness, coming down hard just in front of a frowning Octavia. The grey alicorn was peering into the darkness with obvious concentration on her face. "Hmm... This isn't alive."

Remi scrambled to her feet, finally having a surface to stand on. "You aren't getting killed today, three seconds left!" she declared proudly, laughing with a little hysterics at avoiding the cliche situation of getting out with one second remaining.

"Spike wouldn't have let us come to danger," assured Twilight as she dropped to her hooves from Spike's hands. "Even when he was smaller than me, he always looked out for me, and I love him dearly for it." She turned back towards the darkness, her eyes wandering across its featureless ink. "Octavia, you've clearly been studying this. Any findings?"

"It isn't alive," repeated Octavia. "I think this is more of a magical effect than an actual creature. Remington, what system were you getting online?"

Remi pointed off into the dark. "I was working on the life support systems, figured I'd start with the most pressing. They were cut, like someone just attacked with wire cutters and not an ounce of subtlety."

"Suit." Spike shook lightly in place. "Is the air still bad?"

A warning buzz was the only reply, the suit incapable of giving a more detailed answer. "Huh, well, it could be better, or not. I couldn't say. How do we get rid of that?" He hiked a thumb at the darkness.

The radio suddenly came to life for all of them, "Dawn and Dawn Junior has arrived, they're fighting his way towards you."

Remi hiked a brow. "They sent two of them? Practically cheating." She crossed her arms under her chest, huffing softly. "When do I get a twin?"

Spike suddenly smirked at that, his mind leaping. "When you can guarantee you won't do things with them."

Remi's cheeks lit up, but she was laughing. "Aw c'mon! That's like super mega incest. I wouldn't do that!" She didn't sound entirely convincing as she pleaded for innocence.

"Incest?" It took a moment longer for it to click in Twilight's mind. "Oh, don't do that. You have more than the required charisma and social skills to find a genetically superior combination. I feel certain you could obtain breeding rights with whomever you pleased, if you put your mind towards the task."

Octavia blinked, turning her head towards Twilight. "Did you hear a single word that just came out of your mouth?"

Spike put up a hand to either of them. "Ladies, focus. Big inky blob of doom. Can we make that go away?"

"Ah, yes." Octavia brought her little warrior miniature out of her cloud of tools. "You're just the ticket. Now..." She turned up a hoof for it to land on as she focused on the darkness. "Begone!" A wave of her power washed out in all directions, passing harmlessly through her allies and the walls, striking much more physically at the darkness itself, fighting it back. "Begone!" she droned, the edges of the shadow becoming tattered and fraying as it pulled back. "Begone!" She stomped her free forehoof down, glaring at the darkness as it began to fall apart, dispersing to leave nothing behind but fading wisps.

Twilight perked an ear. "That was a conjuration effect, interesting. Everglow magic, I feel certain. You must show me that technique, later." She began to trot forward. "Remington, can you assure the system you repaired is still operational?"

Remi patted Spike on the way past him. "Thanks for the save, by the way." She hurried ahead and darted back into the room the trouble had started in. "I had just gotten something online not long before the lights clicked on, then the trouble. Keep an eye on my six for any of those shadows."

As she poked her head into the wall to see what had become of the wires she had been tinkering with, Spike approached Twilight. "You were in serious danger."

"I know!" she said far too cheerfully. "I haven't felt this alive in... I don't even remember."

Spike crashed to his haunches. "This is not how you want to get your warm fuzzies, Twilight. I don't want you getting hurt."

"And I wasn't," she countered. "Thanks to your quick action." She smiled at him gently. "As if you'd let me come to real harm."

"I... not if I can help it... But things happen." He put a hand on his other arm, rubbing lightly on the plastic-covered surface, his body still shedding bright light everywhere. "I need you to value yourself, Twilight. You should care about you as much as I care about you."

"That's a lot of concern," she admitted, shying back half a step.

"It is... and you should have it." He closed the distance. "Because you are a wonderful pony that I want to spend forever with, and I won't get to do that if you risk it for a thrill and it goes badly."

Octavia smiled gently at the two of them, but did not join the conversation, instead looking around for trouble, her tool orbiting in a fidgeting sort of way around her head.

"Aw." Twilight touched her nose to Spike's, gazing into his eyes. "This isn't quite as stimulating as life-threatening situations, but close, and perhaps more pleasant on other levels."

Fitful crackles of electricity jumped from inside the panel Remi was working in. "Dang shadow undid some of my work. Tell me it won't bring the shadow back if I finish fixing this."

"We stand ready." Octavia looked to the others. "We will protect you should that occur, but I feel certain it will not."

"If you say so." She pressed two cords together before a fresh flare of light jumped out. "And..."

Spike raised a hand to to the side of his head. "Captains, how's Dawn doing?"

"Approaching," came Fast's voice. "Things calm down?"

"We're fine," cut in Twilight. "Situation stable. We're fixing an issue right now for life support."

"The crew of that ship's surely looking forward to that," encouraged Fast. "Be cautious, the ship is still overrun."

Octavia lowered her horn towards a section of wall as she lowered her goggles, Vinyl's old goggles, across her eyes. "Speaking of..." As shadow figures burst free, her horn brilliantly glowed, peppering them with powerful streams of raw force that made them quickly regret their decision. "Twilight, your assistance?"

Twilight reared up onto two legs, speaking strange arcane words. Intricate patterns appeared on the ground around her as power welled up in visible beams of bright pinkish-purple, making her fur and hair waft in the breeze she had created despite her suit blocking the direct path any such air would have to travel. Her spell was slower than Octavia, but the once-earth-pony was keeping the line, blasting at shadows as they appeared.

Spike swiped at a reaching hand, a shadow trying to grasp at them from below the floor in a blind flailing. "What are you doing, Twilight?"

"Hope it's good," distractedly added Remi, her face still in the panel.

"Drive them back," spoke Twilight with authority, waving a hoof forward. The air cracked and opened, little golden gates appearing as four motes of light swept through them, the gates closing behind them. Each little bundle of light twinkled softly, dancing on unseen eddies.

Octavia hiked a brow. "While fascinating, what will--" She didn't get to finish her question, thin beams of light emerging from the balls, striking the shadows and forcing them to recoil. They began to pepper any shadow that dared to enter the room, calmly floating along. "That... works. Nice trick." She nodded towards Twilight with a soft sigh. "I only have so much magic to go around."

Spike tilted his head at Twilight. "Why didn't you use that when you were all swallowed by darkness?"

"It wasn't a creature," replied Twilight as if it were obvious. "If they have no specific thing to strike, they would serve no purpose." She fell back to all fours, wings fluttering. "Remi, status report?"

"Status... gold." She pulled her head free and danced back a step. "Oh hell!" She had just spotted the floating wisps. "Was that what I was hearing?"

A low rumble was heard, fans coming to life through the ship. Remi gave a powerful thumbs up. "Alright. That'll start evening out the air instead of having dead zones. We need to get to the next spot to get the recyclers going at more than a whisper."

Twilight frowned with thought, but Spike put it together faster. "Right, if we got the recyclers going without circulation, we would have just made the spots around them nice and not helped the rest of the ship."

"Got it in one." Remi tapped Spike on the nose. "Clever and brave and handsome? Your lady is lucky to have you." With some of her usual cheerfulness returned, she stepped towards the door leading out. "I'm not going first though."

"I'm here." Dawn emerged from the hallway, taking up the archway of the door. "I safely presume the sound of fans is your doing, or do I owe a divine being prayer?"

Octavia inclined her head towards Remi. "Our vulpine friend managed that, though I imagine you will still offer your prayers regardless."

"Am I that predictable?" Dawn turned back to look down the hallway in both directions. "The infestation is terrible. We'll have to deal with that. I would consecrate the ship, but that would be easier with a ship that isn't a floating coffin. Where to next?"

"Is everyone alright?" asked a voice that sounded much like Dawn, but just a little higher.

Remi suddenly burst into laughter. "Oh wow, is that Dawn Jr. Come in here!"

A smaller equine head poked up from around Dawn, peering at them with a similar expression and suit to keep out the bad air. "Now is not the time to gawk. We have work to do and, gods willing, we will see it done."

Spike raised a scaled brow. "I thought you usually avoided working with your replacements, as a rule?"

The older gestured with a toss of his head. "We should keep moving. It is as the gods will it, and I have no argument for them."

"Fascinating." Twilight looked between the two who could have been older and younger brothers. "I have so many questions, but we do have more pressing issues. Remi, where to next?"

Remi pointed the way as she slipped out past the two clerics. "You two can show me the power of your gods later. Octavia, you and Spike come with us. I'd rather split up, but with shadows everywhere, maybe we don't do that? Twilight, keep those light boys with us." She began to lead the way despite her earlier protestation.

Spike let everyone else filter out of the room, following with the light wisps dancing around him. "Huh, I never saw you summon these before."

"I never had a reason to," countered Twilight. "But I learned the technique to call forth projections of great beasts from Everglow's planes. I can even do a few Equestrian ones."

"You're kidding." Spike hiked a brow. "You can, what, make a manticore out of nothing?"

"Basically." Twilight shrugged as if it wasn't that big of a deal. "That won't help us right now. The archons are far better at attacking our current enemy and have a natural antipathy towards them. They are perfectly ideal for the situation."

"Lantern archons," added the younger. "Divine servitors of the celestial planes. You speak the truth, they hold no love for beings of the shade, undeath of any variety, or the unclean, and these qualify as all of those at once."

Remi perked an ear as she led the way through the hallways. "Should I be worried? I'm not the cleanest thing around."

"You're only one of three, their priority is clearly set by the situation," argued the younger.

The older nodded. "Besides, they are bound to Twilight's will while her spell persists. They will only attack what she wishes them to." He suddenly spat a quick word that trembled with the divine as he stomped down powerfully, driving a glowing hoof into a reaching hand. The energy jumped from his plastic-clad hoof into the reaching digits and a ghostly wail filled the hallway as it wrenched back. "Be cautious."

Spike snorted annoyedly, eyes darting for signs of trouble. "By the way, I feel a little, I dunno... tired? It's not the usual 'I fought for my life' tired, I think?"

The younger Dawn let out a soft sigh. "They must have touched you. They draw away the strength of life, seeking to plunge it into the same darkness they dwell in. When we get back, we will purge you of this, but for now, caution."

"He speaks the truth," agreed the older, turning his head to follow Remington. "How long do you predict it will take to restore life support?"

"I won't know that until I put my eyes on it." She slapped a closed door as they arrived at it. "Which involves getting past--"

Twilight casually touched her, putting her hoof right above Remi's tail. Even as the fox yelped in surprise, Twilight's horn glowed brightly, whisking them both away.

Spike blinked at the empty space that had held them both. "Uh... man, maybe not act before thinking?" He lumbered towards the door, grabbing at its seal and heaving, trying to force it open with low draconic growls of effort.

Octavia raised a hoof to her ear. "Octavia to Twilight, everything alright in there? I presume you teleported past the door?"

"Did you identify the magic?" came Twilight's enthusiastic reply. "We're engaged in battle right now. Let me call you back."

Spike grumbled as he worried his fingers deeper into the wedge, slowly forcing the door open. "Damn it all, Twilight... Why are... you such a difficult wife?"

"Allow me." Octavia stepped up beside him, reaching out a hoof to touch the door. "Two in tandem is superior to one." Her horn glowed and strange magic swirled around her, her tools glowing as her occult power rushed into the stubborn door. Creaking with Spike's struggle and hers combined, it began to slide visibly, opening before them.

Inside they could see Remi and Twilight dancing in combat with a plant. It was as if the entire room was overtaken with vines, and the vines wanted to get to know the two females in the most aggressive way possible. Remi made a swipe, hacking off a bit of a reaching vine as she danced away. "Good to see you, little help? No fire! Absolutely no fire!"

Octavia raised her ornate wand. "No fire, hm, that would have been my first thought."

"Precisely why she told us," explained the older Dawn. "We do this the old fashioned way."

"Let us." They both spoke words that seemed almost identical, the power of the gods surging through them as they drew great maces that glowed with that power. As one, they stepped forward, smashing and battering any vine that dared to approach them.

Spike fell to his haunches, blinking at the sight of the two devout ponies tearing a path forward. "Huh... Oh!" He remembered there was still a fight going on and pushed into the room, ripping and tearing at the stubborn foliage with razor-sharp teeth and claws. "What even is this?!"

Twilight extended a wing to point to the central cluster. "Plants native to the recycling process have gotten out of control. They need to be pruned, not entirely destroyed. Get it back behind that striped line on the ground." She pointed to where the bright yellow and deep black line cut across the ground.

"That doesn't tell me, oh." Apparently Octavia made up her own mind. "That makes sense." She coiled on herself, drawing out a dagger that began to float beside her as her tools tucked themselves away. "As Dawn and Dawn said, the old fashioned way it is."

The strange musical sound of the wisps' attack was the first hint. The shadows had joined the party, ignoring the plants in favor of those that did battle with them. Twilight squealed as a shadow rushed right through her, stealing some of her essence along the way. "Rude!" She lowered her horn, taking her energy away, not able to reclaim it, but driving a chunk of the shadow away with a bright bolt of force.

Remi squeaked as a tendril got a hold of an ankle and pulled her off balance, slamming into the ground just in time for shadowy hands to grab at her painfully. "Shit!"

Dawn held his mace high in his teeth. "Begone, in the name of the sun, purifier of the universe!" He glowed brightly, energy washing out in a wave of white across the room, driving back reaching hands for just a precious moment. "To arms, the battle is not yet complete."

Younger Dawn brought his brilliant mace down on a shadow, but it was like attacking something made of jello, impacting but without the satisfying thump of striking something that was shattered by it. "Fight for your lives."

"It's past the line," suddenly called Spike, shoving the plant past that barrier of yellow and black. "What now?"

Twilight made a sudden downward flick of a hoof, her magic grabbing a lever and wrenching it down. The walls on either side of the line began to close, only to grind to a halt, only about a quarter of the way closed. "Close that," she shouted, turning her attention to blast an oncoming shadow.

"Open this, close that." Spike grabbed both ends of the stuck gate, pulling and grunting even as the plants recovered from the attack, reaching for him. "Faster..."

Remi slid in and slapped down on something in the track of the door and it closed shut with a sudden bang, its progress no longer barred. She counted her fingers quickly to make sure she hadn't lost any.

Author's Note:

Fight! Fight for your life!

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