• Published 6th Apr 2019
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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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31 - Vacations Must End

Copper Prism was the sun at the center of a constellation of prancing little foals. They squealed and cavorted joyfully around her as she shepherded them onto the ship, ending their little adventure. "Did you learn anything new?"

Under Score was perfectly happy to begin going over what he had learned, which at least kept him at her side and in sight. Her duration of foalsitting was coming to an end.

Remington rode her lovely steed, playing a song to commemorate the moment on her new, flutter-grade colorful, flute. It was a lively little travel ditty to accompany the clip-clops of her friend beneath her.

"You're getting better at that," complimented Octavia as they went, ruining the tenuous illusion that she was a common pony. "I do hope you continue practicing."

"With you as a teacher? They'd have to keep me away first." She stuck her tongue out softly before resuming her playing, only to pause a few notes later. "Say, we need to play a song together some time. Flute and cello, that can work right?"

"Certainly they can." Octavia turned an ear back at her rider. "Most two instruments can, in the care of talented players. Fortunately, that is a number I feel certain we can manage." She carried her friend back onto the ship, ending their delightful little time.

Belle appeared with a digital pop. Looking around, she could see she was in some kind of very small cell. There on a cot was No Name, two snakes holding onto either end of a harmonica as several others blew into it, creating soft haunting tones to pass the time.

"You are growing more skilled," complimented Belle with a big smile, bouncing with little sound effects each time. "I feel certain they did not program their isolation area to appear this way."

No Name sat up, ears pricking towards her. "Guess they wouldn't. So, did they catch you too and throw you in here?"

"Negative," she sang, bouncing towards him. "I am here to secure your freedom. Mission abort."

"Huh, you alright now?" He tilted his head softly at her.

"Your freedom is more important." She reached out and poked him on the chest. "I would rather your existence be continuous. You are not prepared to lose any portion of your life and, as your friend, I should do everything I can to avoid it." Bouncing back, she pointed towards the closed bars of their cell. "If you agree to come back with me, we are both free to go."

"Why would I turn down going anywhere with you?" he asked with a little smirk. "Yer the reason ah came here in the first place." Rather than even wait for her reply, he copied his current self into her.

But that was a place of software. His body went completely still. He stared straight ahead. But it wasn't a body. Software didn't have bodies. Belle turned away from the unmoving form and vanished from the scene, leaving it behind.

She awoke, hopping to solid hooves. "The program has accepted the shutdown request," she reported with a musical tilt.

The flutter officer spoke to someone not there, confirming that the program had gone dormant. He glanced at Belle suspiciously. "You won't get mad if we delete it now, right?"

"Negative, you may proceed." She inclined her head softly, ear pricking at something only she could hear. "That is not you. You are inside me."

"We're all clear." The other officers took off as if there had been an explosion of flutters, all going off in a different direction to resume their various patrols. The one in front of Belle nodded at her. "Thank you for your assistance, now never do that again. Uploading viruses to other people's computers is rarely seen as a friendly act."

"Loss of friendship points noted." Sad music played to commemorate the event. "I will endeavor to not repeat this mistake." She turned to the ball she had been resting against. "Get your body back."

With a brief copy, the most up to date version of his program was back in the holo-emitter, which flickered back to life, becoming No Name in the holographic flesh. "That's better."

The officer blinked softly. "Well... you have a nice day." And off he went, trotting away.

"Did he just say they deleted me?" No Name had a bit of a frown as he stood up to his full height. "I'm right here."

Belle tapped at her chin with soft tinks of metal on metal, considering how to phrase that in as kind a way as possible. "You are in many places."

"One... less place now?" He shook himself out and began to stretch muscles he didn't actually have. "Does that mean I'm still inside you? I'm still inside the ship computer? I'm... in everything I ever jumped to? Girl! If you don't stop destroying my world view, I'm gonna..."

"Close my friendship file?" she asked, dread clear in her discordant whimper.

He threw a leg over her and drew her up close. "Hug you until you squeak." He grabbed her in his jaws and threw her up onto his back, trundling back towards the ship. "This was so much easier when I was just a single hologram in a single room."

"Is that a state you wish to return to?" she asked quizzically, head tilted as she rode No Name along.

"Life's a one way road, even fer holograms, or viruses, or whatever ah am." He shrugged mightilly as he picked his way through the crowd. "Ain't goin' back, can't make me! So there."

"This is acceptable," she sang, hugging him from above. "Let us continue to explore."

"Ah think ah explored plenty, thanks." He turned a holographic ear towards her. "Headin' back to the ship, and you're out of votes on it."

"Aw." Sad music played, but she did not fight his wish.

With the soft sound of the elevator doors opening, Steel and Fast stepped out onto the command bridge. Star Dancer's horn flashed as she banished the media in exchange for ship diagnostic displays. Her popcorn vanished with a pop and she sat up and hopped off the captain's chair. "All in order, Sirs!"

Steel nodded as he came around the corner to see a lot of nothing interesting going on. "So I see. Why don't you go ahead and take your turn?"

"Nah." Star moved to trot past the incoming captains. "I feel relaxed enough already."

The two peered at her as she retreated into the elevator before looking to each other. Both shrugged and moved to take their seats. Fast poked a button she could see, turning the display to an external shot of the ship and the area around it. "We'll be heading out in not too long. Where should we head first?"

"Somewhere we haven't been before?" ventured Steel with a little smile.

"You always say that." She rolled her eyes but had her own smile on. They were explorers. It was to be expected.

Twilight was with Spike, but she was not riding him. She was trotting along beside him. "It's time I start resuming responsibility for my actions."

He inclined his head faintly, eyes forward as they walked. "Hm?"

"I mean it. You've been... my caretaker all the time." She lifted her shoulders. "Not that I don't appreciate it... But I'm a grown mare, and it's long past time I resumed acting like one."

"You know I'm not mad about it."

"And you still should be, at least a little." She circled in front of him, cutting off his walking. "Speaking of that, there is an important thing we need to do, now."

Spike came to a sudden stop to not crash into Twilight. "What do you have in mind?"

"Spike, I think we need a divorce." She sat down and crossed her arms. "We should see other creatures. I do hope we can remain good friends, but, I think you know, this isn't working out."

Spike blinked softly at her, silent for a moment. "Who gets to keep the room? I'm not looking forward to an extended legal battle."

Twilight stared at him with growing confusion for a moment before it struck her and she burst into merry laughter, throwing her head back and only growing louder. It would have been obnoxiously happy, if not for the tears streaming down her face.

Spike reached for her, gently lifting her from the ground and resuming his walk on three legs, one arm occupied holding her close. "That was very brave of you, Twilight. It would be my honor to go back to being your brother, and friend." Though her laughter had turned into choked sobs, the energy between them was clearer than it had been. "I will always be your friend."

"Always?" she asked between her sniffles.

"For as long as I can be." He smooched the top of her head just beside her horn. "You promise to do the same?"

"Forever and a day," she got out quickly, hugging him tightly before sliding back to her own hooves, leaving his grip. With one last snotty snort, she shook her head. "I needed that... I think. Spike, I think it's time to return to the ship. This trip has been... eventful, and insightful, and I'm exhausted."

"The best kind of vacation," posited Spike with a little smirk. Together they returned to the ship.

There would be more adventures ahead of them.

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