• Published 6th Apr 2019
  • 1,161 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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23 - Welcome!

"Welcome!" cheerfully greeted the male-sounding creature before them. They had four legs that terminated in hooves and an equine face, but long feathery antennae sprang from their forehead and fluttering butterfly wings twitched on their back. "We are so excited to have you here." He threw his hooves wide, balancing on fluttering wings to hold him upright.

"Welcome!" called out another, a female bumble bee of a pony soaring above.

"Welcome!" called a male wasp, waving excitedly.

"Welcome!" continued the chorus as more and more of them arrived, all smiling broadly.

Spike glanced over his shoulder where Twilight rode atop him. "Huh, wow, this brings back crazy old memories, I bet."

"Yeah..." It had been such a long time since then, but the flood of welcomes did bring it up from the fog. "You weren't there, how did you remember?"

"You told it to me, and I listened." He smiled sedately as he plodded forward, carrying Twilight across the plank towards the more solid platform. "They don't look nearly as, uh, cult-like as you described though."

"Oh no," chimed a smaller flutter with dragonfly wings and segmented eyes that was suddenly hovering just beside them. "We made cults against the rules. They seemed like fun at first, but then things went a little odd, so no more cults."

"No more cults," called out the chorus even as they cheered and cavorted.

Twilight nodded to the small hovering insect-pony. "I see, yes... I'm glad to hear you've learned that lesson."

"And so much more," the flutter cried as they buzzed away on rapid wings.

"Excitable, aren't they?" Octavia came up beside Spike and Twilight, carrying Remi on her back. "It's a little infectious... I thought I'd be more scared, but..."

Remi gently scratched along Octavia's back. "You can see they just want to have fun."

"Like her," Octavia sighed out. "And... I will. She would want that. In fact, I should imagine she would be quite cross with me if I had this many happy people around me and I did not take full advantage of it."

"Now you are talking." Remi nipped one of Octavia's ears before looking towards Twilight and Spike. "Hey, what's the first thing you're going to do?"

Twilight twitched an ear towards them. "First, get off this walkway and into the station proper. Then, I will seek out their library."

Spike snorted as he smiled. "That's my Twilight, but you could get information directly from them, couldn't you?"

"And I will." she put a hoof to her chest, her hind-legs squeezing firmly to keep herself on Spike. "But I need to know what questions to ask. A basic amount of information from books or electronic sources will tell me what more I want to know. Perfectly logical."

"You like learning?!" A butterfly emerged from the crowd. The female was smiling brightly and had huge glasses on her snout, making her eyes appear large as they blinked. Her thin shiny antenna bounced with every word. "I love learning too! My name's Midnight Oil, because I love burning it soo much! Ha, get it?"

Spike nodded towards Midnight. "Nice to meet you. Twilight's wondering where the library is. You look like someone who would know, am I right?"

"Ohhhh yes! Yes yes, I know that." She clopped her forehooves together with mounting excitement. "Follow me!" She darted ahead, but never quite far enough to lose sight of her. "We'll learn together. Study buddies! Oh, this'll be so much fun." Other flutters looked on, some with admiration, others with jealousy, and some cheering her on for being the first flutter to make a new friend.

Octavia shook her head, watching them leave. "Well, that leave us a--"

"--Hello!" called out Belle as she sprang up behind them and began pronking along just beside them. "We are so excited! Look at all these friends!" She waved a hoof wildly at the still-filling space. It seemed all the flutters on the station were slowly pouring into the cavernous docking bay, all just as eager to see their visitors. "Hello!"

"Welcome!" they replied in a chorus, waving back at her just as happily.

Remi laughed, slapping her thigh as she did so. "You know, I have a feeling you're going to have a great time."

"Probability over 80%," agreed Belle with a firm bobbing of her head. "Sorry. I did not think of that."

"Think of what?" Octavia turned an ear towards Belle.

"I was responding to Error." She pointed a hoof at her own head as she bounced along. "He does not like it when I nod that rapidly."

"I do not see him." Octavia glanced left and right, but was still walking forward. "You look eager. Are you going to rush off to make friends?"

"Negative," she sang just as eagerly as anything else. "The first item on my itinerary is to complete the work on No Name's holo-emitter. That will require some purchases."

One flutter among so many broke from the crowd, but others were soon following them and a small cloud closed in around Belle, asking what she needed and already haggling prices despite no specific item yet being named.

Fast took a soft breath as she stepped free of the ship. "A little time off... I believe you had something in mind, Captain?"

"If you're still up for it?" Steel gently nudged against her before starting down the plank. "It's such a rare day the ship can afford to have us both off of it.

"Then we shouldn't waste it." She hastened her steps, pressing through the curious crowd of flutters, but one of them didn't get out of her way and she was forced to stop, peering at the elderly looking butterfly of a pony. "Can I help you?"

"Welcome," stated the elderly male flutter in more sedate tones, though the crowd eagerly echoed it much more loudly an instantly later. "I am the head scientist and chief of this station. It is an honor to have you aboard, Captain. If you or your crew have needs, please, reach out to me."

Steel came up beside Fast. "We are delighted to be here among such friendly faces. Did you say you were the head scientist?"

"I know that isn't typical." He ran a hoof along his mighty beard. "But most don't like wearing serious titles, so it fell to me. I do my best to see to my brothers' and sisters' needs. We have done good work here, learning things, but that is not what they are cheering for right now. If you can spare a moment to speak to them, it would delight them in ways you cannot even imagine."

Fast inclined her head. "If you would, which way to the natural reserves? You do have one, yes?"

"Oh, yes." He raised a gnarled hoof and pointed to someone in the floating crowd. An entire patch of flutters pointed at themselves and he shook his head, pointing again. With repeated pointing and flutters moving away from one another, the desired one was found and darted in close. "Reggie, our guests would love to see the park."

"Oh, the park!" He pointed back at his rump, where an ornate tattoo of a tree stood. "My favorite place! I'm so glad they built one of those on this station. It takes so much work to keep it healthy and happy, but it's worth every bit of it." He turned towards the bottom of the plank. "Follow me and I'll give you a tour!"

Both captains followed after Reggie, the fluttering bee-like flutter looking ecstatic about the situation.

They were not the last off the ship, many others, some appearing much like twins, spilled off the exploration vessel. As soon as the crowd learned the name of any of these twins, they tried them on the next, and it seemed to mostly work, even if the twins, and triplets, and so on seemed a bit uncomfortable with being addressed that way.

And the foals! Little versions of them came out, capering and darting about as energetically as the flutters. The flutters seemed to beside themselves with delight at greeting the little copies of the other ponies. A shrill cry made all heads turn as one of those little ones plummeted right off the walkway. Flutters darted in from all directions, the ones below being the ones that caught the colt in their shared grasp and brought him back up to the walkway safely.

The young filly Fast waved a hoof reprimandingly at the young colt Under Score. "You really must watch your step! If we weren't surrounded by flutters, you might be a pancake right now, and what would I tell myself later? She'd be so mad at both of us."

"I was just looking," he meekly defended, pointing over the edge he had just fallen from. "Their technology is so similar, but so different. I wanted to see!"

A larger zebra filly thumped against Under. "You woulda saw it real up close!" The other foals laughed, but they were moving along in a crowd, no hard feelings apparent for the moment of fright.

On the ship, the mare that usually oversaw the teleporter was instead on the bridge, sitting where Fast used to sit. "Lucky me," she intoned, twirling a hoof. "I get to perform first watch while almost everyone else hurries off to have fun." She rolled her eyes softly. "At least that means I get a nice long break once they get back. Now..." She began pressing keys only she could see with her horn's magic. "Let's see who's left on this bucket."

Figures and a map of the ship appeared on the main screen. "Wow..." The ship was down to a pathetic 10% of its usual crew. "I don't even think we could fly with that few... The captains sure are trusting these butterflies." She lifted her shoulders softly. "Not my problem. Oh..." She began pressing buttons.

Soon a green box appeared in her vision. "Fantastic, compatible Infonet!" She sat back in the comfy chair as she summoned up a movie. "Oh yes! They have the sequel! And... the sequel to the sequel. Even better. Time to binge!" With a brief spell, she conjured a big tub of popcorn into her lap and floated a handful to her mouth. "Time to enjoy being in charge." She put the movie on the main screen and the bridge became a private viewing theatre just for her.

Maybe being left behind wouldn't be nearly as bad as she had feared it would be.

Octavia passed through the door with Remi and the quality of the air was dramatically different. She took a slow breath of the fresh air with tinges of actual plantlife. "This is... nice."

"Welcome to the actual station." Remi waved left and right, highlighting the open plazas that led to so many different possible places. "The only question now is what you want to do. We have plenty of would-be friends to choose from, and I have a feeling we won't be paying much if we ask nicely."

"Whyever would we not ask nicely?" Octavia waved down a flutter nearby. "Excuse me, but I think I should like to begin with a little snack. What do you recommend?"

The flutter's eyes were wide, sparkling with delight at being called upon. "I know the best place! Wait, no, no. First tell me what you like to eat. I don't want to send you somewhere you won't like."

"Good man!" blurted Remi with a grin.

The flutter tilted its head. "I'm a mare... Um." She put a hoof behind her head. "Pardon me for asking, but why are you riding her?" She pointed a hoof down at Octavia.

Octavia coughed softly. "She asked and I allowed it. Now, something light, but sweet. I don't want to fill myself before trying to have fun, but I would like something."

The flutter brought her hooves together smartly. "Right there!" She pointed to a small booth that seemed to be selling some variety of cotton candy. "Sugar String. Best quick snack on the ship!"

Author's Note:

Oh what fun we'll have on the flutter station.
Who do you want to focus on? Vote! Vote for as many as you care to.
1: Octavia and Remi
2: Steel and Fast
3: The Champion Kids
4: No Name and Belle
5: Twilight and Spike

Written early for patreons who got this ahead of everyone else. Want to get early chapters, or even your own story written? atreon!

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