• Published 6th Apr 2019
  • 1,164 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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17 - Episode 3: Decompression

Under glanced towards the captains, seated at his stations. "Reports are clear, the ship will be repaired to the point of being able to deccelerate gracefully before any extreme tests of their structural integrity."

Fast rolled her eyes. "There are no ships I'm aware of that'd survive that test. Full speed into a planet... Gather our crew when things are fully under control." She pivoted in her seat, but Steel beat her.

"How is their crew doing? Are those in stasis confirmed one way or the other?"

Under lifted an ear back at him. "They've suffered 10% permanent losses in their sleeping population. Active crew is reporting 40% losses, 30% heavily injured, 20% lightly injured."

Steel's brows went up as one. "10% unscathed then? Lucky souls. How are our own?"

Under gestured at the empty seat that would have held Dawn. "Dawn and Dawn reported that they are willing to return to duty. The others are slower to return to ready status."

Fast tapped at her chin. "Belle and No Name are back on board, I recall? They aren't off duty are they?"

Under Score tapped at virtual keys softly. "They are on board, but Belle submitted a leave request. She had plenty of time off racked up, so it was approved automatically."

Fast's lip quirked in amusement. "A robot with time off... My ancestor was a curious soul, but what she did is what we have, and so we have a robot with full crew rights."

Steel lifted an ear towards her. "Do you disagree with your past decision?"

"No, no... She would be very upset if she even heard me considering not giving her those rights. She works very hard to be a part of our family, organic or not. If she asked for some time off, she gets it." Fast leaned back in her seat, tail giving a little lash. "This has been a rough outting. At least we didn't lose anyone permanently."

"I beleive that you would be better adjusted to the idea of friendship gathering if you had more friendship files open." She tilted her head at her large friend who she sat in front of in their room. "Have you opened files with others besides me? They have began files for you."

No Name hiked a brow at her studious expression. "I'm sure I have a lot of files, at least one per person, you figure. Probably a big web of relations or somethin' like that. Ah ain't so hot at how AI works."

"Invalid!" She thrust a hoof up at him. "This is not about the functionality of our thoughts. The first Bullette Belle was a plant, not a machine, and she still opened files despite her mind not operating in that fashion in the slightest. Who do you consider a friend? Who do you think could be a friend, but aren't yet?"

"Well, you, duh... Yer my friend fer sure." Several snakes gave off soft hisses of agreement. "Spike seems pretty chill fer a dragon, and we see eye to eye. Ah like that, reckon he does too. We could be friends, but I don't know him so good."

Belle clopped her metal hooves excitedly. "Fantastic. Friendship file opened. I feel certain he has done the same. You should approach him and endeavor to earn points while providing opportunities for him to earn points with you."

He squinted at her like the alien robot she could be at times. "And jus' how do I go doin' that?"

"Ask him about what he likes. Answer his questions." She tapped her hooves with each reply. "Spend time together and exchange further knowledge of the working of the other. With familiarity, the first level of friendship can be gained."

"You make it sound easy," murmured one snake, the others sharing skeptical looks at Belle.

"It is challenging," she countered. "But very worth the effort. If I did not spend the time earning points with you, we would not be such good friends, and my happiness levels would be dramatically reduced."

"Nonsense." He waved a large hoof at her. "You have other friends you woulda spent time with."

"They do not understand some things." She tilted her head faintly. "I have exactly one friend that understands what it is to have an electronic mind. I do not like to think on it often, but when I do, you understand what I am saying and feeling." Celebratory music issued from within her in a loud jingle. "Only you are qualified for this friendship task!"

"Huh, that's... somethin' at least." He lifted his shoulders softly. "Alright, so, somethin' botherin' me about the whole electronic life. Right now, I'm inside the ship computer, right?"


"I don't have no body. It never bothered me none before. 'Spose ah was just used to bein' a damn ghost, but now you teased me, and ah kinda like having a body, but none of them are mine. I just kinda borrow them. Don't feel right, and ah ain't even sure if I should be feelin' that. Am I jus' being a selfish jerk?"

"Negative," she wailed in a discordant blast. "Physical autonomy is a wonderful thing." She began to bounce in place. "But it is also fraught with peril. In your current state, your body could never be permanently harmed, because you do not possess one. You are safe."

"Sorta." He shrugged softly as he turned to the window that rest on one side of the room. It wasn't actually on the hull of the ship, just showing a picture from it. "If the ship goes, I go with it just like anyone with a body. I have a body, just not one that's mine. I can't control it none, but if it goes, ah go."

"You have a point..." She slowly tapped at her chin with a hoof. "See? These are conversations only we can have with confidence that the other can truly comprehend the emotions involved. We must upgrade your holographic emitter to be able to store and operate your program independantly!"

"Can we do that?" He sat up with obvious surprise. "That'd be kinda great. Ah mean, much as ah like the... idea of warming you up, it's also a little weird."

"Friendship is weird," noted Belle with a slow nod. "But worth it."

"Status on Twilight and Spike Sparkle?" asked Fast, looking towards Under Score.

Under inclined his head towards the main screen as it become full of an image of Twilight reading a book, muttering to herself softly. "She's currently catching up on her studies. Spike reported that she needs a little time to come to terms with what she has experienced."

"Where is he?" she asked, reaching a hoof towards the screen and sliding it to the left, bidding the camera to silently pan in the opposite direction, letting her view the room. There was Spike, curled in the corner, watching her out of the corner of his eye, and a datapad in a hand. "Ah, he remains close at claw, good. They really are close."

"As if they were married," chuckled Under, waving the image away. "They seem even closer after this. Neither appears to be in any hurry to leave the other's side." He looked over to Steel. "Apologies for assuming, but are you wishing to be informed of our other guests?"

Steel lifted an ear. "I hadn't said a thing... But yes." He rubbed at a cheek with a hoof, hiding a faint blush at being predicted. "We don't need to see into Octavia's chambers!" he hastily added. "Double that if... you know."

Under rolled his eyes. "Ah, the spirit of the young... On the positive side, we've identified the physical sex of Remington without a medical examination." One of Fast's ears turned towards him. "It doesn't match her more obvious appearance," he shrugged as he said it. "I had a feeling."

Steel coughed into a hoof. "That is not our business. We are not studying her. I trust Octavia is physically well?"

"As far as automated systems can determine." Under shrugged. "She has put in no call for medical assistance, nor approached the field of view of Dawn, so that's as far as can be said at this time."

Fast raised a hoof. "Is Remington still in Octavia's chambers?"

"Yes." He was studying his screen, seeing things only he could see, and studying them as if they were quite detailed, but he offered no other details.

"I see... well, if neither are complaining, I won't get in their way." Fast shrugged softly. "Wandering, see if you can locate a friendly port within reachable distance. I think it's time we all took a leave for a change."

Wandering's ears lifted in unison. "With pleasure, Captain!" His cloven hooves busily tapped at the air, sifting for such a port they could reach without refueling. "I can think of a few things I'd like to do when my turn comes up. What have you in mind, Captain?"

"Technically none of your business," chided Fast with a little smirk. "But I'd actually like to go on a nature hike with Steel, if he's feeling up for it. Some sparring under a real sunrise afterwards?"

Steel perked up at the description. "That sounds lovely, though having both captains off the ship at once..."

"I know..." Fast softly sighed. "It's hard. If the station is under pony control, perhaps?"

"Perhaps," he agreed, nodding with growing excitement. "See if you can't find one, Wandering, and direct us once you do."

"Aye aye, Captains. Mmmm... Ah, here's one, a remote Flutter facility, monitoring a nebula?"

Fast rolled a hoof. "Not technically ponies, but the flutters are so friendly to ponykind, it's hard to find meaningfull difference. Take us there. We'll probably be cause for celebration, an entire ship of ponies come to visit."

Steel chuckled at the vision of it. "That sounds about right. They do like their colors, in nature and outside it. It should make the hike all the more interesting, if you're still interested."

"It'd take quite a bit to stop me." Fast nodded with certainty. "Take us there, Wandering. It's time we all got a little vacation, somewhere safe and secure."

"With pleasure."

Belle perked an ear. "The ship's direction is shifting."

"Didn't feel nothin'," noted No Name with a little frown.

"You must monitor your internal communications more rigorously." She bounced in place, one hoof raised at him. "You are in direct communication with the ship. You are part of the ship. When redirections are made, you are informed, but you are not monitoring those channels."

"Never needs to before," No Name confessed with a shrug. "How do... I do that?"

Belle raised a hoof to her head. "The ship sends such alerts on channel 4,928. Enable alerts and you will be informed of engine activity."

"4,928," he grumbled to himself, looking distracted as he searched his thoughts for where 'he' ended and the greater computer he dwelled in started. "4... uh...."

"Repeat after me," said Belle in slow methodic tones, her voice almost even and free of her usual melodics. "Channel 4,928, enable alerts. Feel what happens, so you can do it without asking the computer to do it for you."

He dutifully repeated the command and a bright red cursor appeared in his vision, alerting him with rapidly typed text that the channel alerts has been enabled. "Huh, that did have a feelin'... A strange one."

"All feelings are strange until accustomed to," agreed Belle easily with a smile. "Now you know how it feels. Repeat that to enable other channels."

"You... have a list of channels I'd even want to do that with?"

Sudden loud printing noises began to issue from deep within Belle as she leaned her head back, a slip of paper slowly emerging from her little snout as a long list of numbers and titles spat free of her in what seemed like an unending torrent of information.

"Huh, that works... We are two strange little machines, ain't we?"

Author's Note:

No Name and Belle spend some quality time, and it looks like the whole ship may get some R&R, woo! They earned it, right?

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