• 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.

  • ...

PreviousChapters Next
15 - Breath of Fresh Air

Even as they fought bitterly with the shadows that seemed to come from all directions, the ship did as it was designed to do, ignorant of their petty battles. "Air composition nonoptimal," spoke a calm voice from a panel nopony there was paying much mind to. "Initiating deep cleanse."

New fans whirred to life, ferrying toxic air into the recycler they'd just got online and carrying fresh air back out again into the rest of the flowing circulatory system. Something was happening, they knew at least. Octavia hopped away from a reaching shadowy hand as she glanced down at her left forelimb. "Toxicity is lowering, but slowly."

"Crew," came Steel's sudden voice over their radios. "We've located the source of the shadows. Sending the location to you now."

Similar chimes emitted from their suits, with a secondary noise coming from Octavia's LAP as it grabbed the map positioning without being asked. Dawn knocked the head off a shadow with a powerful swing of his brilliant mace, not that the shadow seemed to much care which part of it was being struck. "Then I suggest we egress. The sooner we can assure the safety of this vessel--"

"--the sooner a full repair team can come over," finished Dawn Jr, ducking under a swipe and scurrying around his enemy.

They burst out of the recycling room, hurrying down the hallway. As they did, Twilight's right ear raised. "Something's bothering me."

"Yeah?" asked Spike, loping along beside her. "I mean, besides the huge collection of hungry shadows bent on killing us?"

"Beside that." She waved that way as if it was nothing as she trotted along on her other three legs. "Captains? Why isn't Belle with us? Constructs are notably resistant to both the need for air and the effects of such draining. She would be ideal for this situation, would she not?"

"She is not trained in repair work," noted Dawn Jr.

"But she is capable of fighting," came Steel's reply over the radio. "I'll see if I can locate her."

"Clever," complimented Remi without shame. "If the shadows can't bother her, she'd be a great help. How m-- Oh." The motes of light that had been helping them winked out of existence, back to wherever they had come from. "Nuts, I liked those things."

Their battle towards the source of the shadows was slowed down. The undead creatures were only growing more numerous, and their side less so.

"And that is how you use the food replicator," finished Belle with a proud tone. "Did you understand that lesson?"

No Name lifted an ear from beneath her. She was on his back, her head resting on his, looking over his shoulder at the device. "Yeah, ah get it... but when am I gonna need it?" He shrugged expansively. "Not like I'm gonna eat anythin'."

"Knowledge is power," she sang with an excited electronic trill. "It is important that you understand how the things around you operate for ideal--" She lifted an ear suddenly. "Incoming signal."

A speaker inside of her played the voice of Steel Prism, "Belle? Your presence is required. Please report to the transporter."

Belle frowned a little. "I am engaged in educational activities! Crew training is of high priority."

"Keeping crew alive is of higher priority," argued Steel, sounding mildly annoyed. "They need you. High-density incorporeal undeath."

Belle bounced up to her hooves atop No Name. "Unacceptable!" She pointed the way. "We are on the way!" she sang out in discordant but emphatic agreement.

No Name began to lumber in the direction pointed. "Uh, was I asked for?"

"Is that No Name?" asked Steel. "Actually, yes. He should be safe from their attacks. He has no 'essence' they're looking for. Both of you, report to the transporter room."

"Recruited," he sighed out, hurrying his steps. "What I get for speakin' up."

"To the rescue!" crooned Belle in an elevating crescendo, looking more cheerful about the day. "Begin new lesson: How to rescue fellow crew members from impending doom." The last word warbled wildly even as she grinned.

A bright bolt of light sliced into the midsection of a ghostly figure just as it stepped into the hallway. Remi was already aiming her small laser pistol at a different threat, there being no lack of them coming from every surface. "Are you sure we should have come here at all?"

Dawn pulsed with light, washing back the shadows for a brief moment as he heaved for breath. "We have... little choice. We either win, or perish."

Spike raised a claw. "Running is also an option," he casually pointed out before dropping the hand with that claw, slicing at the closest shade. "Fighting to the last isn't the only thing we could do."

"I shan't argue that." Octavia lowered her horn, magic bursting free to drive back a shadow in her way as she tried with the rest to push forward towards that source, however thick the shades got. "If need be, Twilight, you can transport us?"

"I could try." She hissed as a ghostly hand got a hold of her left hindleg and she blasted it back. "This is losing its charm. I'm not having fun anymore. Spike, can we go home?"

Spike glanced off in a random direction that had basically a 0% chance of being the correct direction of Equestria. "No, I don't think we can." His teeth snapped, tearing off a chunk of shadow. "Unless you mean their ship?"

"This is no end to them," suddenly blurted Remi, diving between two sets of reaching arms, her pistol catching one of them, not that its little beam destroyed it. "I'm with Twilight, this stopped being fun a bit ago."

"Not a person assured this would ever be fun," countered Dawn Jr. He marched firmly, swinging his mace left and right as if to sweep the way as he pushed. "The gods demand much from we mortals, and I will not be found wanting."

Octavia waved back at the Dawns as she fired a horn bolt at a cluster of shadows closing in on her dangerously quickly. "We have a job, we have to get it done."

"Do we?" Spike practically leaped onto a shadow, tearing into it with all his claws and teeth working in concert, forcing it to fall apart into rapidly fading bits of grey. "Don't remember getting that memo anytime. We're more useful alive and failed than successful and dead."

"Can... that happen?" asked Twilight as if the concept had simply never really occurred to her. "Oh, of course it can. I'll die, like everything else. I'll just be another grave. I won't even have a grave. I'll just be gone, gone forever. Gone... forever." Her voice got smaller and shriller at once as she went, her psyche taking a sudden spiral downwards as she froze in place. "No! No! I refuse!" She slammed the ground beneath her as a bubble appeared around her then seemed to frost like a chilled glass. "Stay away!"

Spike skidded to a halt, looping back around to get at his suddenly petrified wife. "Twilight! We're not dead yet."

"And I won't be!" she hissed, trembling from inside her little bubble. "I refuse to just... fade away! I will survive!"

The shadows knew a snack was available, closing in on her from all sides and crashing into her bubble, but whatever it was made of was better at refusing them than the steel and plastic of the wall. They massed against its force barrier, but could only feebly scratch and wail, seeming to have no impact on it. "You won't have me," shrieked Twilight from the center of them.

Dawn suddenly turned, blocking Spike's way. "She is buying us time, though I doubt she planned that. We cannot help her and must move forward. If we can stop them, she will be saved."

Spike's lips peeled back with a savage growl, looking tempted for a tense moment to bowl through Dawn to get at Twilight, but it faded as he shied back. "We'll be back, Twilight. Be strong!" They fled together down the hallway. "If she isn't there when we get back..."

"I will accept what punishment you deem appropriate," finished Dawn with a soft nod. "She has drawn their attention. Their number has thinned."

Octavia closed in with Spike from the side, charging alongside him. "It's a strange thing, but I... lost some value of myself, I think, somewhere along the line. I'm Octavia, your loyal player, your friend, but if I was gone, would it be that great a loss to the universe at large?"

Spike groaned softly. "Why am I the only one that isn't crazy?! I mean, sorry, you don't deserve that, you don't. I... look, we have to save her. We have to!" He huffed dangerously as he burst through the form of a shadow, not even slowing to attack it. "I was just telling her to start caring, and now this!"

With a shower of light, Belle appeared, but it was not Belle, not as once she was. Both hooves were unfolded out into weapons and a determined look was on her head. From top her valiant steed, she began to fire in rapid staccato, each burst of a different weapon, her entire body disgorging destruction on any shadow within her sensory range. "Threat level: Purple," she stated in firm electronic tones. "Mission initiated."

"I don't have none of those," complained No Name, bearing Belle forward.

"I am your weapon," corrected Belle as she cleared the way. No shadow could persist near them without being torn apart. "You are my mobility. We are a team. We are one. Onwards Team Mongoose! Motto: Never Surrender!" She pointed with one of her weaponized hooves. "Proceed. Map file sent."

"Huh, oh." Suddenly he could see a map floating in his vision, for he was a program in a computer. "Yeah, I see it. Let's go." He stampeded forward, bearing his destructive little friend through the ship. "One thing. Didn't you say I needed the ship to keep me going? Why is this workin' at all?"

"We are one," electronically sang Belle, her smile only growing deeper.

"That ain't a damn answer an' you know it."

"It is the truth," she countered, washing a thick nest of shadow with flames, electricity arcing through the fire as it drove them away. "You are residing on my processor. We are one," she joyfully sang. "Never have I been happier. Continue mission!"

"Oh... huh..." The idea that his 'being' was actually inside the small deadly pony on his back was a strange one, but No Name kept his existential crisis to himself as he concentrated on getting her to where she wanted to be. "Sure are a lot of these damn things."

"They are damned," she agreed with a musical trill. "I am helping!" A great pulse of energy gathered in her core before exploding outwards in an expanding sphere of white energy that would have done Dawn proud, detonating the shadows on contact. "Captains, we are rapidly approaching. Error: Anomaly detected on scanners." She leveled her arms ahead and began to tear through what seemed like a solid but writhing collection of shadows that blocked the hallway.

Ahead of them, unaware of their presence, they pushed ever onwards. "It should be past this door." Remi hiked a thumb at it before slapping the panel next to it. It turned from red to green and, for once, the door just did what it was supposed to do and opened. The darkness beyond it was banished as lights flicked to life without asking.

The fallen bodies of crew members of the ship they were in littered the area, many with faces of horror etched on their frozen faces, some with their limbs held at unnatural and painful angles as if they had died in the middle of a powerful seizure or some force had moved them after they were gone.

Spike made a bit of a face, but his eyes did not linger on them long. "It's looking like a barracks. Where's the shadow source?"

Dawn Jr. rushed past him, eyes shining. "I detect evil... there." He stopped a rapid turning to key in on something. "Here...." He kept focusing, the hazy sensation coming into clarity as he slowly stepped forward. "Right here." He reached out a hoof and pulled back a blanket, brushing it roughly off the bed it was strewn on to reveal a book.

The book was clad in black leather, but seemed unexceptional. Despite that, Spike wasted no time, drawing in a great swelling draw of air as his helmet's visor lowered without him asking. It seemed the AI of the suit had learned what that meant.

Octavia snatched the book in her magic. "Shoot!" She threw it in an ungainly arc.

Spike didn't let it get past its zenith, engulfing it in flames. It burnt a strange purple color as it sizzled and evaporated under his attack, hitting the ground in a pile of ash where once a tome rested. His visor snapped back up, air rushing back in to replace the still recovering atmosphere of the ship. "I got it, I think? The shadows gone?"

Remi stepped into the room with a frown. "What in all the various hells were they doing with a bloody Necronomicon or whatever that was you just burnt to a crisp?"

Dawn looked left and right. "I don't see any shadows... Captains?" He raised a hoof to an ear. "Can you confirm if the infestation is present or not?"

Fast was the one to reply, "Whatever you did, it seems to be working. Negative energy readings are declining rapidly. What was it?"

Spike wrinkled his nose at the ash he had made. "Super evil book of evilness. Why would anyone even want something like that? Twilight, you alright?"

But no answer came.

With bullets, flames and surging electricity, Belle would tolerate no shadows in her presence, beating them back at No Name took slow steps, working through the thick knot of them. A strange curved surface started to come into view. The shadows tried to fight back against their tormentors, but their touches did nothing to the little Belle or her stalwart steed. They had no strength to drain that the shadows could affect.

"Friend located!" sang Belle, spotting Twilight huddling beneath her desperate bubble. "Crew member Twilight Sparkle located," she repeated over the radio as she washed away the shadows slowly but surely, clearing the mass off the bubble and out of the hallway step by step.

"Is she safe?!" blurted Spike in response.

"She is physically intact," came Belle's reply.

"But I doubt she's happy," grunted No Name, reaching to tap the dome as he walked past. "Hey, you in there? We're fighting the shadows back."

"Error!" suddenly squeaked Belle in an unhappy electronic wail. "She is safer where she is. Weapon efficiency will have to be lowered if she is not within cover.

Despite her words, the dome cracked, then faded away. Twilight immediately wailed, her plastic-clad hooves flailing at the air. "You can't have me!" she shouted, eyes screwed shut, not seeing what had been done around her. "Get away! Get away!"

"Efficiency lowered," sadly announced Belle with a downturned flow of her musical electronica. "Twilight, you are safe. Less than 30% likelihood of severe injury present."

"That isn't nearly as comforting as you think it is," laughed out No Name as he looped around Twilight. "The black thin's are goin' away. Something up with that? Not that I'm complainin' or nothing."

"Listen to your radio," softly chasisted Belle as she began to fold back up, her hooves becoming hooves and her back becoming the back of a perfectly standard filly for a filly her age. "Emergency has been handled!" Victorious music played from inside of her. Her ears went up, one of her hooves starting to unfold. "Large presence approaching, vibrations detected!"

With a great thumping, something large was clearly coming towards them. Hitting the corner ahead of them and sliding into view, Spike was there, crashing into the opposing wall just to bounce in a scramble towards Twilight without even pausing to wince at whatever pain that might have caused. "Twilight!"

"Spike?" Twilight blinked open her eyes, though all she saw was a blurry mess, her tears obscuring her vision entirely. "Spike! Help! Don't let them have me!"

Spike charged to her without delay, grabbing her up and holding her tight as if she were some lost doll he had just found. "I'm right here. Right here."

"Spike..." Her shivering started to abate a little, turning instead into a soft sniffling as she buried her face into his scales as best she could, mostly pressing her face to the front of her suit's vistor. "I was so scared... That wasn't fun! That wasn't fun at all!"

Belle's weaponized hoof dutifully folded back up. "Danger level: Yellow. Spike, are the others with you?"

"Huh?" He looked up from Twilight, just noticing Belle and her large mount. "Oh, hey, when'd you get here?" He stroked slowly along Twilight, even if there were two suits in the way. "Oh! You can tell, how bad's the air, is it getting better?"

"Analyzing." The sound of a little fan began as she drew air into herself. "Organic waste unoptimally high. Oxygen unoptimally low. Trend..." She went quiet, likely monitoring the incoming values to see which way they were changing if at all.

No Name cleared his throat. "To answer yer question, we just got here and beat up a load of those crazy ghost thin's tryin' to get to you. Everyone alright, minus Twilight having a breakdown or whatever?"

Spike was softly rocking her, shaking his head. "We're all exhausted and... that was rough. She can... do whatever that was? I wish she'd been here from the start." He raised a hand awkwardly, balancing Twilight along the way. "Captains, met up with No Name and Belle. Situation stable."

Author's Note:

Who brings a Necronomicon along with them on a space journey? What happy ending can there ever be in this decision?! People... Meanwhile, Belle and No Name get to charge in!

Join the special community of folks who like my stories here at atreon!

If you enjoyed the chapter, you should

Join my discord to chat!

PreviousChapters Next