• 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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26 - Construct Online

Belle held a panel shut with a hoof as her other forehoof traced a sparking line, welding the two parts together. "We are complete."

"It doesn't look like much..." No Name's snakes hissed softly in agreement, each taking a slightly different angle to peer at it, though he remained a digital construct. "Just a ball."

"The important parts of things rarely look impressive." She pointed to a flutter passing by. "Their core is a wet bit of muscle that would rapidly cease functioning if removed. It is both ugly and full of errors, but it allows the function of a person."

"Well, sure, but we're makin' it ourselves. We can make it as cool lookin' as we want to." He rolled a hoof at the orb. "But here it is, a ball."

"And a ball it will remain," sang Belle with a smile. "Until you enter it. Please proceed."

"Fine fine. Ah trust ya." He blinked out of existence, transferring from Belle into the ball. She could feel it, a sensation an organic being would find quite odd, but for her was part of her being. She was uploading him, or allowing him to be uploaded, in that case. He was running in a sequestered part of her code.

"One day we should try running in the same primary space," she mused as it finished. "You must activate the sphere, not that you can hear me. Consider this a test."

No Name was in a dark place, a still place. There was nothing around him, but him. "Mmm..." Still, he was there, which meant something was running, or he would have had nothing to jump to. He willed the program to identify things into functioning and his snakes looked around wildly. There. A dim little label was floating in the darkness. Power, well, that seemed simple enough.

He was beside the button, not walking, simply deciding to be next to it. Programs didn't have to 'walk', right? He reached for it and pressed it firmly, though he felt certain even that was still something he didn't 'have' to do. Felt nice though. The area around him suddenly became a mess of numbers and bars, filling up quickly. When about half of them were full, they all collapsed and Belle's smiling face appeared.

"Welcome to your holo-OS, designed and programmed by your best friend, Belle! Please speak a deep and dark secret to proceed and prove your identity." Unlike the real Belle, though this one was cheerful, it didn't have the robotic warble in its voice.

"Deep secret?" He tilted his head a little. "Couldn't just go with a password, huh? I know she's scared of... Wait, this is a trick. You ain't Belle, and telling you her secrets would, you know, dock me friendship points."

"Answer accepted."

The area was gone, he was gone.

He was reborn. Suddenly standing before Belle, towering over her like the old days. "Wha?"

Belle was clopping her forehooves happily. "Welcome back! Your transmitter is inside you, like before, but there is no external computer involved. You can exist anywhere."

He lifted each of his legs experimentally and took a step forward. "Huh... Yeah, just like ah remember it." He suddenly put a leg over Belle and pulled her closer. "Thanks fer goin' through all the trouble."

"Receival of friendship points noted," she sang with the biggest smile, leaning against him. "Remember you are a hologram."

"Ain't somethin' ah could forget."

"Which means you can be anything you want, with a minimum size of slightly larger than your emitter, which you have seen." She bobbed her head softly. "You are a shapeshifter."

"That's it, you jus' like messin' with mah head. Ah'm a ghost, Ah'm a program. Ah'm a shapeshifter. Well, fine, fine then. You know what shapeshifters do?"

Belle blinked at him with a metal click. "What do shapeshifters do besides shift shapes?"

"They bite people!" He suddenly nipped her on the ear with a clang of struck metal, though he hadn't done it nearly hard enough to harm her. "Gonna bite you for a while."

"Oh noooooo," she wailed, wriggling and laughing at the same time as she was held and nibbled at.

A futter touched down beside them, a dragonfly type. "Do you need help?" he asked the wriggling Belle. "Your hologram... may be malfunctioning?"

Belle rolled up to her haunches with a little electronic snort. "He is perfectly functional!"

"We're jus' playin'," assured No Name with a smile around all his many snakes. "You ain't never bit someone nicely before?"

The dragonfly pony blushed in his cheeks. "Oh! Oh... You should get a private room for that kind of play." He lifted into the air on buzzing wings. "Um, have a nice day." He banked away and fled.

Belle reached up and swatted at the words. "Incorrect!"

No Name squinted at those floating words. "Exhibitionist? I don't think he understood what we were doin'."

Belle poked him right in the chest. "You are a program. Go fix it. I do not wish to be labeled for sexual deviancy. It is not appropriate for a construct operating under my assumed age."

No Name inclined his head faintly. "I don't think either of us even care about that kind of thing."

"We do not, so it is a lie." She pointed up at the floating virtual words. "Please fix it."

"Yer assumin' ah know how to do... that..." He squinted harder at her words. There was a label there, so easy to lose, but it was there. "Be right back." Suddenly his sphere thunked to the ground, his program no longer animating it.

Belle tilted her head. "I wonder when he will realize he is in more than one place at a time...?" She gently nudged the sphere, knowing the sleeping form of her friend was hiding inside.

"This place is... fun." Octavia turned an ear back towards Remington. "But something bothers me."

"Mmm?" Remi leaned in over her equine friend. "What's that?"

"Your presence." Octavia looked over her shoulder. "Don't you have things you want to do? Playing my chaperone the entire time hardly seems entertaining for you."

"You are a friend." Remi gently stroked over one of Octavia's twitchy equine ears. "Spending time with you while you're having fun is fun."

"You say that..." She turned back ahead, trotting along the row of stores, each brightly lit and a dazzling array of colors. "Part of me wonders if your interest isn't entirely innocent."

"No part of me is entirely innocent." Remi smirked softly, her eyes rolling. "If you're asking if I would do naughty things, yes, yes I would, given a chance. But here I am, not doing that, because I'm not a damn monster, thanks. She flopped against Octavia, her legs swinging in the air, arms wrapped around Octavia's powerful neck. "I want you to be happy again, to enjoy life."

"We have not been friends for that long, but you attached yourself to me almost immediately." Octavia's previously stroked ear twitched. "Pardon me for finding that... concerning on some level."

"Now with paranoia?" Remi casually flicked the other pony ear. "One day I'll move on, poof, no more Remi in your life. I want to leave you better than I found you. You and Twilight, I swear. If she didn't have Spike, I would have glommed onto her first."

Octavia's ears danced together as she turned towards one of those stores, trotting inside. "Very well, if you insist, then I have a demand as well."

"Mmm? Now you have my interest..."

"Not for long I won't. Sir?" A flutter hopped over the counter, approaching Octavia with a curious, but happy, face. "I want you to select an instrument suited to her anatomy."

Remi sat up with a blink. "Hey, I'm already learning the flute, and I like how that sounds."

Octavia gestured back. "Nothing wrong with a flute. Show us your selection."

"Wind instruments, this way." The shop mare trotted, but her hooves were not on the ground, trotting in the air as her wings carried her. "We have flutes and trombones and so much more! Ever try a saxophone or a Tubu?"

"Tubu?" Octavia arched a refined brow. "Never heard of that."

She gestured to a grand thing that looked like it would wrap entirely around a pony several times before reaching their mouth. "This is a Tubu. It's like a Tuba brought to the next level! It's also very heavy, but us four-legged sorts can handle that."

Remi peered at it skeptically. "Well I only have two lovely legs, so I'll stick with a flute. Octi, why are we getting a new flute? We have one."

"That flute is mine. You deserve one of your very own." She glanced over her shoulder. "As you said, one day, you will move on, and I would have you leave equipped to continue playing... and not with mine."

"But you've played yours." Remi's smile grew. "Every time I play it, it's a little indirect kiss."

"I clean my instruments quite thoroughly," assured Octavia with a shaking of her head. "Now, that one looks nice." Her horn glowed, drawing an arrow in the air pointing at a bright silver flute, though it looked more bluesh towards the front and red towards the back, as if the light reflected oddly depending on the angle viewed.

"That really is a flutter flute." Remi slipped off Octavia, walking on her own feet towards it. "May I?"

The flutter bobbed her head. "Go on. Do you know how to play a flute?"

"I'm learning." Remi took it in her hands, running her furry fingers up and down it gently before bringing it up to her lips and giving a soft steady blow. A note began to issue forth, changing as she brought her fingers down on the holes, playing a little aimless song as she moved from one hole to the next, testing the instrument. "Sounds different," she decided. "But definitely a flute."

Octavia nodded shallowly. "I'm impressed you could hear the difference. Every flute is just a little different. Do you like it?"

"Yes, do you like it?" The storekeep was practically vibrating with excitement. "I have a nice carrying case to go with it."

Remi reached with the flute and gently poked the flutter right on the nose. "You're lucky you're adorable. Now, Octavia, you really want to buy this for me?"

"I do," she stated simply.

"Then I will yield to your wishes." She dipped her head, ears going flat to the side for the duration of the motion. "It is a nice looking flute."

"Very good. Give us that carrying case as well." She pointed to where the cases were arrayed. "Walking around the station with a flute in your hands sounds dreadfully inconvenient at best."

"And now the trick." Remi leaned towards Octavia. "Do you have money?"

Octavia looked ready to hotly refute the question when she came to an abrupt halt. "I..." She turned to the shopkeep, her magic reaching into side and drawing out a bag. "Do you accept these?" She set down a jingling bag of Equestrian bits.

The shopkeep half-pounced the bag, pulling it wide open and stuffing their face inside. "Oh wow, actual coins! What are they made of?" They came back, one coin in their mouth, biting at it in an unsuccessful attempt to determine its composition.

"A gold-platinum mixture, magically stamped to ensure validity." She inclined her head faintly. "Seeing as Equestria is not in this sector of space, it could also be seen as a collector's item, could it not?"

"Collector's item... But not money." The shopkeep crossed her arms over her chest, hooves bobbing lightly. "You should sell these to a collector, or maybe a researcher, then come back with the money. We'd both win then." She gently pushed the bag away, denying it. "The directory is just outside."

Remi began to head out, setting the flute down on a random surface as she went. "Sounds like our adventure continues. Let's go sell some money, for money."

Author's Note:

No-Belle, Octi-Remi? Which ship are you rooting for?

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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