• 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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18 - Growing Pains

No Name was studying the long list of ship channels, his eyes sweeping back and forth over them, but his snakes were directed at Belle, speaking despite his obvious distraction, "So are ya gonna get that fox lady? Ah know ya wanna help, but this is above yer pay grade, ah 'magine."

Belle pulled back a hoof from which sparks had been dancing a moment before. "I am making progress." She met his snake's judging gaze. "It is proceeding." She rubbed her forehooves together softly. "Slowly," she added, her cheeks darkening in color lightly as her blush program engaged. "I want to help you. You are a high ranking friend and deserve my personal attention. It would please me to know you have reached a new life stage at my direct efforts."

No Name pointed at the holographic emitter that rest on the floor in front of her. They were in her room, where the room's emitters worked dutifully to keep No Name present. "Jus' checkin', but are there more of those? Hey, didn't even know there was one of that until Miss Fox went an' yanked it out of the wall fer us."

Belle shook her head, eyes closed a moment. "I am progressing slowly and carefully to minimize the chances of damage. You are in caring hooves." Eyes re-opened as she reached for the emitter, sparks dancing when her hoof got close to it, resuming her work. "What is the first thing you will do when true independence is yours?"

"Uh..." He frowned a little. "Sudden thought jus' came up. Why is it you talk like a, you know, robot, and ah don't, when we're both that?"

"I speak like a Bullette Belle," she corrected. "Robots do not speak like this, at least the well programmed ones. It is concerning to organic operators and can become jarring. My mother spoke like this, and she was not a robot. I learned it from her." She turned the emitter slowly with one non-sparking hoof, the other working diligently, creating connections and removing others bit by bit. "What vocal pattern would you rather I employ? I have access to many speech routines if you would prefer another?"

"Wait, really? Jus' like that?" He brought together two large hooves in a sharp clap of hoof on hoof. "Yer usin' a different accent?"

"Robotic privileges," she crooned musically. "With the correct program, we can alter routines that would require months of effort for an organic lifeform." She glanced up at No Name. "Do not think that makes us superior. Organics have strengths that I cannot match. The universe is better with both, together, gaining friendship points!"

No Name turned up one side of his mouth in a little smirk. "Ah wasn't plannin' no uprising of the robots of no one."

"This is good." She tilted her head up at him. "I would be duty bound to fight you, which would make me very sad. Please remain good, No Name, so that we can remain on the same side." She nosed up a panel with her nose and reached inside it, fitful sparks jumping from the interior of the emitter as she performed her electronic magic on it bit by bit. "You did not answer my query."

"Huh? Yeah. Reckon it won't change all that much. We'll hang out." He pointed at the emitter with a larger hoof. "But we'll be able to be together without you havin' ta run me inside you."

"I do not dislike that." She tilted her head the other way. "You are welcome to co-inhabit my processor at any time."

"But it's yer processor," he argued, snakes hissing softly. "Then ah really am a ghost. An electric ghost."

"You are fortunate," suddenly noted Belle as she worked her hoof in deeper, circling the sphere awkwardly to get the right angle. "You are a program. I am a combination of program and shell. You can move from shell to shell. Do you know that is what made my mother different? It is a trait passed down, like genetics, but we have no genetics in common."

No Name squinted at her, one brow raising. "Ah ain't feelin' that lucky, but ah guess the grass is greener and whatever. What do ya mean by bein' like yer mother? Ah mean, I get the genetic part. We ain't got that. Machines don't have that. We got software and stuff."

"Correct," sang Belle as she leaned in close, information dancing in her eyes as she worked. "You may be a ghost, but you are a loved ghost. You are valued." She drew her hoof back and nosed the panel closed. "Besides, some organics work very hard to touch that power. Which is very illogical. You cannot touch a power like that. Organics are funny like that." She tapped at the emitter softly. "Progress, 45%. Error: More parts required than immediately available."

No Name rose to his simulated hooves. "Uh, if ya can't finish that, am I stuck in here again? Ah was jus' gettin' used to bein' able to move around."

"Have no fear," she sang, bouncing in place. "It is time that you advance your ghostly powers, for you are better than any spirit matter. You are made of software!" Triumphant trumpets blared to life from within her. "It is time to take advantage of that. You have permission to operate outside of this room." She set the orb safely aside and began bouncing away.

"Uh, where ya goin'?" He watched her bounce right for the door. "Should ah just wait here?"

"Negative." She hopped through the door, but moved no further. "Join me in the hallway."

"Uh." He glanced around and down at the emitter. Without a motion, he tried to throw his consciousness into it, but it was powered off and unresponsive. It would not help him. "How? Even if ah hopped into you, which you said was alright but is still a little kinda odd, I wouldn't be with you, since you can't make no holograms or nothin' like that."

"This is correct." She turned in place and pointed to a portion of the wall that appeared just as any other portion of the wall might. "There is a display panel there. Move to it."

"How can ya tell?" He peered at the wall that looks so deceptively normal.

"Channel 6294," helpfully sang Belle. "All local fields emit on that channel. It is receptive to requests from all authorized programs, which you are. You can be displayed there and use its limited hardware. Please attempt it." She pointed at it firmly with a metal hoof. "Initiate!"

"Right... right..." He willed the channel open, words dancing in his vision alerting him to the fact. Then the spam began. There were countless things in the area all announcing their status and availability. He fell back on his haunches, raising his hooves over his eyes to try and banish it, but they were in his head, whispering their identifications and status.

Belle tilted her head at her suddenly paralyzed big friend before it hit her and she clopped her forehooves together. "This is my error. May I upload a program to you? I will not execute it."

"Yeah, whateva. Do it!" He could feel new instructions flowing into him. As she had promised, they were inert, awaiting a prompt to begin.

"Execute that to convert that channel's broadcasts from auditory to visual. I made this program myself. This information is far less useful in auditory mode." She bounced in place. "This is a thing that only two electronic friends could do! I feel closer than ever before. Friendship points earned!"

"If ya say so." He trusted Belle. In her phrasing, she had the most friendship points of anyone else, which wasn't hard since everyone else had barely a few. He snorted to himself, imagining literal coins that had 'friendship' written on them. "Yer rubbin' off on me..." He executed the program and the dreadful noise suddenly stopped. He was alone in his head. Opening his eyes, he could see what had changed quickly. Around every object that was ready to communicate on that channel were small fonted red characters with that information.

The wall that had seemed so innocent now had small letters noting it was a display panel with auditory sensors, both incoming and outgoing, as well as visual sensors. "Huh, wow, yeah. I can see it now." He looked to Belle and saw she had writing too. She had many more senses than the panel displayed, and other information beside.

Mood: Happy
Charge: 74%
I see you looking at me, hello!

No Name burst into laughter, his snakes all guffawing in different ways. "Clever little girl you are. Alright, so, ah can see this stuff now. Now I just..."

"Do what you would do for that." She pointed at the inactive holo emitter. "And as you did with me before."

"Right. Just hop in." He reached out a large hoof and willed himself forward. Suddenly he was looking into the room from the outside. "Is this working?" He could hear himself, and it sounded different, as it was coming from the speaker of the wall display that he was inside. "Woah. Hey, ah only have one voice now."

"While you only have one speaker," explained Belle as she bounced over to the wall, looking up at No Name. "Activate the display."

"Huh, lemme... There." He appeared on the screen and blinked. "Here ah am! This is so strange, but kinda neat... Wait, so yer sayin' to just hop from thing to thing?"

"Exactly correct." She bounced in place eagerly, victory music playing loudly. "If there is nothing in sight you can leap to, ride with me until another comes into view. This is a temporary measure until your emitter is fully prepared, but you should not squander this talent. I would berate any organic friend with equal vigor if they had an ability but refused to make use of it."

"Yeah yeah," he tinilly replied from his temporary speakers. "What else can ah do in here?" A small panel opened up with a cup full of fizzing drink. "Huh. Not somethin' either of us will need."

"You can earn friendship points with the other crew members if you learn their favored beverages." She raised a hoof to her chest. "My favorite is a lubricant, #46-B. Mmm. It helps my insides move. You do not have physical moving parts, so you do not require lubricants. Lucky."

"Ah'm all electronic or whatever..." He tilted his head from the display. "So, alright, ah got this. Are we gonna use it?"

"Affirmative!" She began bouncing down the hallway, smiling at each thing he hopped into along the way. They had a ship to explore in a whole new way.

"Captains?" Wandering twisted an ear back towards them. "An internal broadcast is triggering mild security alerts through the ship. It appears to be on the move."

Dawn waved a hoof slowly, manipulating controls only he could see. "There it is. It's identifying itself as Error No Name, Belle's holographic companion. Considering it is close to her as she moves, this checks out." He thrust the same hoof at the main screen where an image of the ship appeared, a line drawn to it with a picture of Belle's smiling face attached, showing where she was and moving. Around that spot were little yellow flashes. "I imagine she is involved."

Steel smiled faintly as he raised a hoof to an ear. "Bridge to Bullette Belle."

"Captain," she sang over the radio. "How can I be of service? Warning: I am not currently on duty."

"Affirmative there. I don't mean to take you away from your fun, but we're just checking, are you doing something new with your friend?"

"Correct." The sound of her bounce came through, her metal jingling as it landed. "He has learned how to interface with other devices."

Fast shook her head. "Good for him, but he needs proper security so he doesn't give us a panic attack. Stop by the bridge with him and let's get that sorted out."

"We are on the way!"

"Ah'm right here." No Name sat up on the main screen, suddenly present. "Huh, never jumped through a comm channel before, that was interestin'. Hello, Captains, uh, other crew."

Author's Note:

You may be a ghost, but is being a ghost all bad? Belle says to look on the bright side of your being.

These two are so cute together! Just saying.

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