• Published 6th Apr 2019
  • 1,147 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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2 - Resistance is Unoptimal

They all moved together towards the bridge, making swift progress through the brightly-lit hallways. Spike looked aside at Steel Prism. "You alright having us there? I mean, we'll stay out of the way, but this is still a lot of trust."

"You are friends of Fast Shadow, a captain, and her confidant. I trust that you will not be in the way." The elevator doors opened automatically for him, but he only entered partially, holding the doors open for everyone else to hurry inside and stepping in last. "Bridge."

A soft chime informed them that the command had been heard and they began to be smoothly transported through the Everglow vessel.

Fast dipped her head. "It seems our habits have not dimmed with time. Our meeting is a sign of interesting times. I should be more worried, but I feel instead... excited. My life to now has been preparation." She took a sharp breath, sitting up. "But that excitement will not make me forget that the safety of my companions is paramount."

Spike curled, eyes on the door, and trying his best to not take up more of the elevator than he already did, which was more than any single other creature there. "So what kind of contact are we talking? You reached out to us and that wasn't so bad."

Under Score pointed to the doors an instant before they opened. "Let us find these answers for ourselves. I am just as curious." He strolled free onto the bridge. "Wandering, what..." He trailed off, attention seized by the main screen.

Displayed there were countless butterfly-like creatures, with the thorax and abdomen of an entire pony. Their wings were soft purples and blues, interrupted by other colors that emerged from the crowd only to be lost again. Their eyes were focused on whatever camera was revealing them.

One pointed, then they all pointed. "Your brilliance is--" They were all speaking at the same time in a curious echo. "--judged worthy of adding to our own. Rejoice! Remain calm and it will be done shortly."

Wandering gestured up at it with a cloven hoof. "That doesn't sound good to me, Captains."

Steel scowled as he plopped down in his seat. "Can they hear us?"

With a firm strike at his commands, Wandering nodded, communications live.

Steel fixed the many fluttering things with his gaze. "Greetings. I am Captain Steel Prism, of the ESS Horizon. Please explain your words."

The sea of fluttering shapes undulated as many canted their heads to one side of the other. "Your brilliance will be taken and stored safely." Their voice shifted, still a chorus, but higher in tone, "added to our own." "Safe forever," the mass seemed to almost sigh, all those faces smiling with a sublime joy.

Fast scowled at the image. "Will we survive this kind gesture?"

"Your brilliance will. Such lovely shades you have. We are coming." The screen became almost as static, but it wasn't static. Countless fluttering shapes were flying past the camera in a truly staggering quantity.

"Cut channel. Red Alert." Fast Shadow sat up with a scowl. "Weapons and shields online."

Twilight's eyes widened. "Wait, are we fighting?!"

"Were you not paying attention?" Spike nudged his wife lightly. "They want to suck all the colors out of us, permanently."

"But my ship!"

"Has a shield we can turn on from here and no weapons," Spike finished the thought for her. "Can you open a channel back to our ship real quick?"

Wandering soon had an image of their empty deck. The illusory crew wasn't present, with no living person benefiting from their existence. Spike nodded at it. "Shields up, red alert." The image became tinted red as the commands were followed.

Steel swiveled an ear towards Spike. "I had not realized you had that authority."

"Dude, we're the only two crew on that ship." He lifted his impressive shoulders. "Having all the control by one person ever? Asking for trouble."

Twilight sank to her haunches, a hoof at her cheek. "This is too much. After a lifetime of nothing but drifting, we find new friends and our lives are under sudden threat. Do you know what those things are? Are they a new thing, like us?"

Dawn Event glanced back from his panel. "All weapons are online and ready. Shields at full power. May the fury of Blaze prove the stronger today."

Fast gestured with her hoof and it was apparently enough for the computer to figure out what she wanted, showing a top-down image of where the fluttering mass was in relation to their ship and Twilight's ship. It was rushing towards them at an unfriendly rate. "Fire when ready. Don't bother with evasive maneuvers. Cosmic flutters would just laugh at the attempt."

Steel nodded with resolve. "Exactly right. They don't use ranged weapons and this ship can't even pray to match their individual maneuverability."

The main screen showed sudden red lines between their ship and the fluttering mass. "Direct hit," called out Under Score. "Moderate damage." The seething mass swirled and suddenly split in two, one going for either ship.

Twilight bounced to her hooves. "What are they going to do to our ship?!"

Fast's teeth clenched. "If you don't have any weapons, just be glad you ran into us before they showed up. Keep up the pressure, convince them we're not worth the trouble."

One of the masses rolled over Twilight and Spike's ship in a swirling mass. Twilight surged ahead, horn glowing angrily. Spike came down on her back with a sudden crash, driving her to the ground beneath his great claws. "No," he spoke firmly. "No."

"But... Spike! All of the momentos. All of... everything. Every... Spike! Let me go right this instant!" But he was not letting her go, holding firmly with his bulk.

She vanished, appearing a few feet away. "I'm going back there, with or without you!"

"Not without assistance you aren't." Spike rolled his eyes. "Even you have limits to how far you can jump, especially with a Twilight Emergency in effect."

A soft chime came from the smaller screen that still showed their bridge.

Twilight twitched an ear at it, then back at Spike, her jaw going slack. "Did you just... You locked me out of the computer! This is mutiny! Spike!" She rushed to him and began beating at his side with her hooves. "Why are you doing this!?" Her impassioned strikes did little to the side of the grown dragon she had wed.

The ship shuddered beneath them, sending Twilight tumbling flat. "They're testing the shields," barked out Dawn Event. "They will not pierce us that easily."

"Wide spread volley, launched." Under Score was typing furiously, hooves dancing. "They are suffering losses."

"Shields at 74%." Dawn frowned at something on his screen. "ESS Friendship's shields have failed."

The image of the other bridge began to change, the red fading to grey, other colors starting to draw away, consumed somehow.

Star Dancer's voice suddenly piped up over the ship comm, "incoming transport from the ESS friendship. Allow or deny?"

Fast scowled, looking towards Spike and Twilight, but both looked surprised and confused. "If it's smaller than a cat, deny. Otherwise, arm yourself and allow."


In the transporter bay, Star Dancer grasped a laser weapon in her horn's grasp. "Let's get this over with..." She pressed the allow button with a mental swat.

With a bright flash, a new pony appeared. Grey in color, with both wings and horn, the relatively tall pony exhaled loudly. "Thank heavens.... Those blasted things ate my appearance." Octavia shook herself out, seemingly in good condition, minus being exposed as the queen she had been reshaped to be so many years prior.

Star cocked a brow at the new visitor. "You come in peace, I assume?"

That was when Octavia noticed she wasn't alone and went red in the cheeks, folding her wings tight as if that could hide them. "Oh... dear. Yes! Yes, of course. I was fleeing what was happening back there." She pointed at the wall behind the transporter, which wasn't even towards her original ship, but the meaning was clear.

"Are Twilight and Spike here?"

"They are," admitted Star with some reservation. "Friends?"

"Technically my captains." She sat softly. "Please don't tell them what you saw." She willed out a small shard of glass from in a pocket, focusing on it as she shimmered, becoming her usual earth pony self. "My presence alone will be quite a shock to them, but a good one, I hope."

Star shook her head slowly at the sight. "Right... You just stay here for now. We're still in red alert, and they don't need you on the bridge." She reached up and tapped at her chest. "Captains, the transport was a success and I'm not being attacked, so this situation is resolved for now."

Spike frowned at Twilight. "What do we have on the ship that would transport over here without us being involved?"

"I... don't know, but I want to find out." Twilight started for the elevator.

Fast put out a hoof, though she had no hope of physically blocking the way from her seat. "Sit. No disrespect, but we're still in a battle situation. Status!"

Under Score brought down a hoof with a swat. "Dispersion array fully charged, firing!"

The graphic of the overall battle showed a sudden widening circle from their ship, forcing the swarm away from the ship. The swarm scattered, rejoining with the other half of itself in an organic swoop before it launched back into the infinite void that had spawned it.

Twilight's ears perked. "We won? Great! Can we go back now?"

"Twi..." Spike hiked a large thumb at the display that had shown their bridge. It was almost entirely black, the feed riddled with artifacts from a poor connection. There were no colors to be seen.

Steel pointed at the same screen. "I want a full scan. Get me the status of our guest's ship."

"On it," called Dawn, already hard at work getting that.

Fast hopped up to her hooves. "Cancel red alert." The red tinting faded away. "Now, while they work on that, Twilight." Twilight looked towards her. "What would be coming from your ship? It's now on my ship, which makes it my problem. Should I be concerned?"

Twilight shook her head quickly. "You're looking at the entirety of our crew, so I don't know. I'm just as curious... If neither of you are letting me go back there, let's at least face this mystery."

Fast, Twilight, and Spike filed onto the elevator, leaving the others to continue their duties. Spike drummed his claws on the ground as the room moved through the ship. "The holograms can't jump ship, right?"

"Not without some serious preparation before hoof..." Twilight frowned softly in thought. "Star Dancer, that was her name, right? She's not in danger, I hope?"

"She reported the situation was stable." Fast advanced for the door, her nose reaching it just in time for it to open for her. "Star, what's going on in here?"

Star pointed across the counter towards Octavia. "She says she's part of Twilight's--"

"Octavia?!" squeaked both Twilight and Spike in unison.

Spike reached her first in a few large steps. "But you're just an illusion, a hologram." He reached for her and casually bowled over the earth pony. His expression only got more confused. "Wait... Uh... Woah... When did..."

Octavia scrambled to her hooves and backed away, ears pinned. "It's a long story..." She looked over and saw Fast, her eyes widening suddenly. "You!"

"You!" echoed Fast before she burst into laughter. "Today is a fine day for ghosts of the past... but... not the past...? I can't place it... You are... like a thing that could have been, or maybe was? I can't explain it."

Star tucked her floating laser pistol away. "So you two are familiar then. Great. So she's a guest too then?"

Twilight was staring at Octavia, dumbfounded. "But... we've been... So many moons! You were always there, ready to play music. I thought... How are you not a hologram!"

Spike casually reached forward, grabbing at a point just a little above where Octavia's back seemed to be, catching one of her wings carefully between two claws and pulling it away.

"Spike, what are...." The illusion faded from her eyes. She could see the semi-transparent ghostly image of Octavia's normal form, and the taller, winged, and horned form of the true Octavia showing clearly. "W-what?"

Octavia carefully extracted her wing from Spike. "I visited a blasted world, once long ago, with... Vinyl... Harmony rest her soul. It left its impression on me, and you can blame that for my continued existence."

Fast shook her head. "You... were not winged... Hmm... well... if there are no objections, I will treat her as a member of your crew, Twilight, Spike?"

They both nodded. Twilight pointed at her. "This is... Today has been beyond overwhelming." She sank to her haunches. "But... It's you... really? I... Really?" A tear spilled from her eyes. "Am I dreaming?"

Octavia smiled awkwardly, glancing between Twilight and Spike. "It is I, Octavia Melody, no rank. I snuck aboard when I heard where you were going and what you were doing... I couldn't bear the thought of leaving the side of another pony that knew the sharp sting of being unaging in a world that refused to ever slow down. Please pardon me."

Spike smiled easily. "I think it's pretty awesome. Welcome aboard. Shoot, you should have said something, I dunno, like a hundred or two moons ago?"

"I wanted to! I swear, but there never seemed to be precisely the right opportunity... I had deceived you both..."

Fast cleared her throat. "Very good then. You are now an ensign, barring Twilight giving you a different rank under her. What do you know how to do?"

Star rolled her eyes. "Oh, sure. I have to endure years of education to earn a badge, she gets it for stowing away; true justice."

Octavia dipped her head towards Fast. "Thank you. You are... a captain? Last we met... You were alone."

"Was I? I would like to hear more." Fast turned back for the elevator. "It is a rare treat to encounter someone or something that can tell me more about my past lives, especially one so very faint and distorted as that one." She inclined an ear. "Status report, how is their ship holding up?"

"Poorly," came Dawn's terse reply. "It's ripping apart at the hinges, suffering complete dissolution. And... there it goes."

Fast looked over her shoulder at her three guests. "I'm afraid you're stuck in our company for now, but I should like to thank the Author in a--"

"Thank somepony?!" Twilight clopped a hoof down, going red in the face. "I could have saved something, anything! I could have..."

Spike set a hand carefully on her shoulder. "You could have gotten killed at any instant as the ship failed around you... That's not what anycreature you were saving trinkets of would have wanted."

"That's not the point!" She suddenly stormed off, only to run into the elevator doors that were not opening for her. She stared at them, as if her anger was enough to convince them to operate.

Fast shook her head. "Why were you exploring the universe without even basic weapons to defend yourself? That is beyond trusting." She was looking to Spike, leaving Twilight to stew.

"Yeah... Twilight thought friendship could solve it all." Spike shrugged and looked to Octavia. "Welcome aboard, again. Seriously, it's great to have another Equestrian around."

"Nice to be here," assured Octavia with an uncertain smile, looking past him to Twilight. "I don't imagine she's alright with this, however... May I attempt to speak with her?"

Spike slid a little out of the way and grandly waved towards Twilight in approval.

"Thank you." Octavia stepped gently across the metal floor, hooves tinking with each step. "Twilight, I understand what you're feeling."

"How can you?!" Twilight wheeled on her, scowling daggers.

"Very easily... My abilities rely on the memories of the past, their physical markers." With a glowing horn she began drawing her implements free. "I have to meticulously clean, repair, and sometimes basically re-assemble these at times, to keep them existing through countless moons." She shook a doll of a pony with a cocky smirk at Twilight. "I never knew how to stitch until this poor thing began to come apart. Ponies around me just sneered. Why not buy a new one, they'd ask. But I couldn't. I couldn't. It had to be this one."

Twilight's rage ebbed faintly, replaced with curiosity. She reached and placed a gently hoof against the floating doll. "Did... you keep something from Vinyl?"

Octavia flinched back a step. "A barb most cruel... but yes... Of course..." She cycled through her implements until a pair of goggles was at the fore with bright red lenses. "The last she... ever owned." Octavia glanced away. "She gave them to me, while she was still alive, one of her final acts... She said to make magic with it, so I have. They let me see things, and think of her, both gifts I hold dearly..."

Twilight took a shuddering breath, eyes locked on the goggles. "If you were to lose those..."

"I would be driven to tears unending... Twilight, I... I know... This is a pain most terrible. You are not alone." She reached out, setting a hoof on Twilight's shoulder. "Let us endure this together."

A hand came down on her other shoulder, Spike there with a gentle smile.

Twilight's vision slipped between Octavia and Spike back and forth rapidly before a strangled laugh escaped her. "No fair... my friends aren't letting me be mad."

"Guilty," admitted Spike with a little grin. "Besides, it's time to learn, and adventure, and we're on a ship of eternal ponies, not holograms. How awesome is that?!"

Author's Note:

So that's why the hydroponics bay was never producing quite as much as it should have been. So! Now we can begin episodes. As they go off and get into trouble. What obstacles would you like this odd crew to run into? Comment below!

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