• Published 6th Apr 2019
  • 1,182 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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24 - Sweet Surprises

Octavia walked towards the confectionary stand. She could see a flutter, no, a pony. They had no bobbers or wings. An earth pony, looking almost out of place as they sat there behind the little counter. "Hello there. Do you work here?"

The stallion nodded softly. "Been the family job for a few generations now." He hiked a hoof back towards his rump. "I even came out of my mom pre-branded for it. Seems destiny agreed we're stuck here now."

Remi had a better angle from atop Octavia to peek. There on his rump was a big wad of cotton candy, or sugar string as the flutters and the signage called it. "Huh, good to know what you're supposed to be doing, but you sound maybe upset about it?"

He shrugged his shoulders softly. "The flutters are excited to see you, because you're new. They're already very used to me, so they only stop by when they want a snack." He tapped a hoof against a metal drum. "Speaking of that, looking for one? We have a new flavor, Cosmic Raspberry. It'll knock your taste buds out of the galaxy."

Octavia's left ear twitched. "I see... That sounds mildly painful."

"It sounds tasty." Remi poked her mount on the back of the head. "We talking sour, sweet, hot, cold?"

"Sour," replied the stallion, dipping his hoof right into the vat and coming back with a big floofy clod of the stuff that bounced with his movements. He brushed it against a paper cone and it transferred with practiced ease. "Here you are."

"Well, since you've gone and come this far..." Octavia leaned forward as if to try it, but stopped and peered over her shoulder. "This is a test, isn't it? You want me to stand up for myself and ask for a more normal flavor."

"Well now you ruined it. If you do that, you're just doing what you think I want, which isn't better." Remi shrugged softly."So go ahead, do what you want. Do you want to try the new flavor?"

Octavia's horn began to glow as the cone lifted into the air and hovered towards her. "Pardon us, Sir. We have a treat to enjoy." Her magic split into to pieces, ripping a bit off the fluffy mass to try. "Ooo." It was a powerful taste despite being so airy. "He was not boasting emptily."

"Let me try." Remi snatched for some, but the cone floated away deftly. "C'mon!"

"Nope, this is my revenge." She trotted along with a smug look, enjoying her treat. "Maybe you'll be a little nicer to me."

The overweight male flutter gestured grandly to a selection of parts that lined the wall. "We have all the electronics you could ever want. Some of it's even new!"

Unheard and unseen by him, No Name tilted his head at the wide collection. "I'm being made out of second hand parts?"

"We are all made of second hand parts," musically countered Belle as she bounced along the wall, peering at the options. "I require a CF-238, Revision 3.9 or higher. You have disabled the RFID tags."

"Mm? Never thought of it that way... oh! I keep them behind a shield to avoid contamination or damage." He reached out and tapped a hoof against an invisible wall that crackled and shimmered when touched. "Their tags are working just fine, just your scanners aren't gonna have much luck getting through this."

"Adjusting." Belle inclined her head as she processed the wavelength of the wall. "Processing... Frequency located." In her vision, the information their tags were broadcasting became faintly visible, then snapped into being as she focused on each one in turn. "That one!" She thrust a hoof up at what seemed like a random circuit board. "I would like that, please."

"You ain't supposed to sound that eager," chastised No Name. "Now he knows you want it bad."

"But I do want it," spoke Belle out loud, responding to the friend the merchant could not see.

"You having an AR chat?" asked the merchant with a smile. With a quick button press, the wall faded away and let him grab the board before it reset itself without prompting. The board balanced on his hoof, he nodded towards Belle. "179 credits please."

"Don't you go paying that." No Name was giving her quite the glare. "Ask for less. Haggle a little. Go on."

"But that could cost friendship points..." She sat down and nodded towards the merchant. "I am speaking to another friend. They are suggesting I request a lower price."

"Do you think it's not worth this price?" countered the merchant with a confident smile.

"He asked that on purpose! He's in your head."

"You're in my head," noted Belle with a raised metal brow.

"Well, yeah. Also yer a damn robot, act it and talk with your inside voice."

Belle's voice rang out around No Name, her physical shell not speaking, "If you really want. I prefer vocal expression."

No Name pointed at her. "Now you tell him it's fine but you only have so many credits, so if he could let you get away with 120 credits, he'd be a really nice person."

Belle inclined her head to the left and right. "It is of acceptable quality and make, but my finances have a finite quantity." She reached up to rub behind her head. "I propose 120 credits."

The merchant whistled low. "120? Are you trying to starve my kids?"

"No!" blurted Belle, looking horrified. "I did not mean to cause harm! No Name, this was a bad idea!"

"Calm down, Little Belle. He's haggling. Ignore everything but the numbers. Suggest something a little higher."

Belle coughed despite having no lungs. "Pardon me. I was... distracted. I propose 121 credits."

Even as No Name brought a hoof to his face, the merchant burst into laughter. "You are very new at haggling, I see. Look, you're a nice little robot and we both have things to do." He lowered his hoof, bringing the board with it. "150. Pay it and go on."

"That ain't bad," mused No Name, stroking his chin. "Ah mean, ain't got a damn clue how much it's really worth, but try for 140 to close the deal."

Belle perked up, looking more confident in how things were going. "You are very generous. I propose 140 credits." With a soft sound of metal sliding against metal, the credits began to spill from her, 140 in total. "Here."

Though she hadn't planned it, it was quite difficult for a merchant to say no to money literally already given. "It's a deal." He set the board on her hoof. "Do you need anything else? What are you making, if you don't mind my asking?" With a sweep of a wing, he brushed the credits away from Belle and back towards himself.

Belle opened her mouth wide and slowly inserted the board. Once it hit a certain point, internal machines pulled it smoothly in as if it just belonged inside her and she closed her mouth with a metal click. "You are correct. I require additional parts. I am constructing a small computer to operate alongside a holo-emitter. It must fit inside the holo-emitter case. Next item!" She rattled off the next part number.

Steel took a deep breath. "You can really tell the difference between 'natural', and the real stuff." With closed eyes he just stood there, savoring the blend of scents in the air. The smell of trees, the waft of a real wind system. The sound of insects and teasings of grass and flowers. They were in a park, a real park. It made his holo-experiences seem so hollow in comparison. "It makes so much... seem so clear now."

Fast nodded softly, though her eyes were open and a little smile on her face. "My memories of vast natural vista seem so much more sensible, the feeling I could so distantly know, but not know." She gently touched her side to Steel's. "Now I understand... I'm glad we had a chance to come here. So many generations past and future won't get this chance, so I now consider myself even more fortunate. Author be praised."

"Author be praised," he murmured, opening his eyes. "Now, we did plan to get some sparring done, and I haven't abandoned those plans." He turned in place, looking around. "There." He pointed to a flat grassy field in the distance, above them. "It'll take some climbing to reach, but that looks like a great spot for a little practice."

"A little climb will get the blood flowing." She started forward. "And I bet I'll beat you there."

"You're on." He accelerated and they both began to trot briskly through the forest, loping as horses do, and as felt natural. For just a little moment, they were not captains, just two ponies enjoying being ponies.

Then Fast thumped right into Steel. She backed up a step. "How did you..." She trailed off, realizing that wasn't the pony she had been trotting alongside.

Steel came up beside Fast. "Giving up?"

The other pony turned towards them with a perked ear. It was Steel, if Steel had been born a mare. Her cheeks were a bright red. "Pardon, Captains. I... I'll go." She scooted to the side, looking shamed. She didn't wear the badge of a captain. Her simple mark labeled her as nothing more than an ensign.

Fast was peering at it. "You're a champion, and clearly an adult. Why are you so low ranked?"

"I'm not a proper champion," she muttered, glancing away.

Steel coughed into a hoof softly. "Steel Prism is a stallion," he noted. "But once in a while..." He gestured to the female Steel Prism.

Fast suddenly thumped into Steel from the side. "You take that back this very instant! If ever I am reborn as a male, you better give me the same respect." She looked thoughtful, sifting through her memories. "I don't remember ever being male before... Except that one time, but that was magic, not a rebirth."

Steel inclined his head. "I did not decide. What is your name?"

The female Steel lowered her head, tail hanging. "I go by Copper Lens, Captain. I didn't mean to interrupt either of you. Please, go on and pretend I don't exist."

Fast hiked a brow. "I think that's been done enough already... Tell me, who told you to hide away like this?"

"No one." Copper inclined an ear at Fast. "I'm not Steel. All those memories... are not mine."

"That's not true." Steel raised a hoof to his chest. "I remember being a mare once or twice. It happens."

Copper blinked softly, confusion clear on her face. "It's... not a mistake?"

Steel reached to pat Copper on the shoulder gently. "If it is, it is the Author's mistake. Now, I plan to finish a race with my co-captain here, and then we're going to fight each other until we're sore and tired. Sound fun?"

Fast inclined her head towards the clearing they had been heading towards. "You're welcome to come along. You have any combat training?"

"Mostly the memories," she confessed, her blush just as bad. "I trained in botany. I came to the park to see what they've done. It's... quite amazing."

"Isn't it," agreed Steel. "And I plan to enjoy it by rolling around in it while fighting for my life. Fast?"

"I'm coming. You take care of yourself, Copper, and stop hiding. I know... it feels odd to meet another you, basically any time, but we are crew-mates on top of that. You can speak to us." She broke away from Copper and soon she and Steel were racing off to where the sparring could begin properly.

Copper watched them go quietly before shaking her head. "Maybe if I had been born a little earlier..." With another Steel already there, so close in age, she hadn't dared to even try asserting herself as a proper champion. "For now, flowers."

Author's Note:

Your votes were all over the place, so I'm drifting about, following them all! Did you know the champions don't always clone perfectly?

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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