• 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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35 - Encounters

Spike sat towards the back of the bridge. He was not part of the command structure, but he had been invited, and there he was, listening. There, on the main screen, was a picture of the near-black object they approached. "I have a question."

Steel's right ear swiveled, but the rest of him remained focused forward. "Yes?"

"Do you have a lamp on this ship?" Spike put his hands together and opened his fingers in a pantomime of such a device. "Try to light it up a little and see it better?"

"We do," replied Under Score. "A versatile one, at that. Most commonly used in self defense. As it turns, focusing light into a narrow enough field results in a rapidly-moving weapon."

Visions of lasers firing danced in Spike's mind. "Awesome, but not quite that focused. We're not trying to cut it, just light it. Can you do that?"

Under Score moved through menus only he could see. "Mmm." He ran a hoof along a slider in his vision. "Yes, we can relax the focusing quite a bit. Of course, we are not a sun. The weapon could only meaningfully light a very small area from this distance, or we'd need to be significantly closer."

Fast smiled brightly. "A fresh set of eyes is sometimes exactly what's required. I would like to see what we're dealing with, and a little light will be less concerning for it than other, more aggressive, probes. Under, work with Dawn Event and see if you can't get us a peek at this."

Dawn softly nodded his head. "I can time the sensors to piece together a view as you direct the light." He hummed softly. "I'll need to be working in tandem, and taking into account the time it takes for the light to make a round trip. But, by the gods' mercy, we will at least have a look at what we face."

"Let's get to it." Dawn was already moving both hooves, adjusting controls only he could see. He began talking with Dawn of technical things, passing controls back and forth between them. They were on the case.

Twilight sagged with defeat. "Alright, show me the most compatible ones."

"With pleasure! Error!" Twilight blinked at the loud call of an error. Had her mechanical friend broken suddenly?

Error poked his head in on a screen nearby. "Ya rang? All done with girl stuff?"

"No, but your assistance is required." She turned to face where Error had appeared. "Please accept my communication."

Error's ears danced. "Oh, right." He nodded once, establishing unheard communication channels with Belle. "Uh huh? Okay." And with that, he vanished.

Twilight peered at the panel that had returned to showing where in the ship they were and the time of 'day' it was. "What was that about? Are you suggesting I... romance with your friend?"

Belle blinked with a loud click. "No. He is my romantic partner and pursuing romantic options with him would cause a loss of friendship points due to jealousy," she confessed without even a shred of guilt or remorse. "I do not recommend."

"So I shouldn't 'amass friendship points?'" Twilight's perplexment on the strange life of the robot that was also her teacher was on full display.

"My friends being friends with my friends brings me joy," she sang. "But do not attempt romantic options." Her voice lost all its sing song with the latter half. "Now then, those who rate highly." She waved a hoof at a holographic double of Spike that appeared. "He rates extremely highly. Not only does he already know all of your worst character traits, but he rewards friendship points instead of taking them away when you display them. Calculations show that if you wanted to form a romantic relationship with him, the odds of compatibility are over 98%!"

Twilight took gentle hold of Belle's head in her magic, turning the filly-robot towards her. "We were just married."

"My calculations are correct," she sang with joy.

"And we just divorced?"

Belle tilted her head left and right. "The loss of friendship points is a sad event. Do you require counseling on--"

"He's not a valid target," she tried in more clinical terms. "Due to familial relationships."

Belle sat on her little haunches, soft ticking emitting from inside of her as she processed it. "Very well," she said as if it were no big deal, the hologram of Spike vanishing. "I present option 2!" Under Score appeared, the older stallion with his long braided beard. "Sharing interests in studying, magic, and discovering the unknown, Under Score's compatibility rating is 78%! Warning: Under Score has low skill in amassing friendship points. You will need to be patient to approach this romantic target."

"When you say it like that, he has a lot in common with Star Swirl," she mused out loud. "I..." She swallowed softly. "But he isn't that stallion. He's just another stallion bedazzled with magic and its applications. Much like me in ways." She set a hoof on her chest. "I... You know what, add him to the list of 'maybe'... I confess, he loses some points for... age? That feels so shallow to admit. I'm older than him! But he looks the part!"

Belle inclined her head left and right with little mechanical sounds. "Why do you not fix it? You are a spellcaster of considerable talent and ability. I predict the chances of your success to be in excess of 80%. You would amass a great deal of friendship points!"

Twilight raised her hooves into view, as if considering their ability to shape magic, and with it, the stallion they were speaking of. "You... have at least half a point there."

"Friendship point gain recorded." Victorious music played from inside her as the image faded.

A holographic double of Belle herself appeared. "I present option 3!"

Twilight thrust a hoof in front of the actual Belle's face. "Hold it right there. You didn't want me to even glance at Error because of your relationship, but you're showing me... you?"

Belle inclined her head, a holographic question mark floating over her head. "I would not become jealous because you're exploring romantic options with me."

"I would," noted the holographic Belle. "You're gonna start losing those friendship points." Though her voice was Belle's, the accent was more of Error's.

Twilight squeaked, not expecting the hologram to show signs of self-agency. "Oh! Error? Look, this is really hard to wrap my mind around. What would a romantic relationship with a robot even look like, setting aside infidelity issues a moment."

Belle, the actual one, bounced on her hooves. "I am aware of many of your personality traits and find them more appealing than detracting. I know how to cuddle and talk."

"She knows how to do both of those things," agreed the holographic Belle.

"I also have excellent memory of personal details. Our anniversary and your birthday would never be forgotten," triumphantly noted the actual Belle. "I would always be looking for ways to amass friendship points, and never forget to be thankful for when you return the effort." She lifted her shoulders. "While I would be unable to biologically interface with you in a reproductive fashion, we could create new synthetic life together."

She suddenly turned to her holographic double. "That is an act I meant to bring up to you in 12 days, 10 hours, 17 minutes and 2 seconds."

The double blinked at that. "Oh, uh..."

"You have 12 days, 10 hours, 16 minutes, and 57 seconds to reply," she sang out, spinning back to Twilight. "What is your decision? I require your immediate reply."

Twilight blinked at that. "To... make artificial life with you?"

"We do not have sufficient friendship points for that act." She waved a hoof as if Twilight had made a silly joke. "Do you wish to lose friendship points with Error? Do you wish to consider me as a romantic target?" She smiled up at Twilight, tail swaying eagerly.

"You are already taken," noted Twilight. "Thank you for the offer, but I'll pass."

"Removed from the pool." Suddenly the holographic Belle vanished. "Let us continue."

Sonja was lying down, on top of Spike. Her chin rested right on top of his head, her tail's soft lashing tickling faintly on his back. "It's so strange, when I think about it. Not the seeing. I always saw, but the idea of not seeing. You wouldn't know. You have so much history you basically have the seeing already."

Spike had resumed working on his model even as he was laying on his belly, carefully putting pieces together. "You mean, someone who's a lot younger, but also doesn't have past lives?"

"Exactly." She huffed out, her breath felt at the end of his nose from above. "That's so strange to even imagine. They think the same thing, right? Look at me and go 'wow, that has to be so weird!', but they're the weird one, not me."

"A matter of perspective." He reached for a little stick that glowed as he ran it over a joint, sealing the two parts together meticulously. "We're all a little strange. It's why we're different people, instead of all part of some cosmic hivemind or something."

She pushed up, sitting up on his back. "That makes sense..." She tip-tapped at his withers from above. "So... that was nice, talking... Does that mean we're a thing now?"

Spike had the restraint to set his stick aside before laughing. "If you want to be friends, sure. If you mean romantically, that's still off the table." He pushed the model away and suddenly turned. She squealed with surprise, suddenly being grabbed by all four of his massive hands, both front and back. "So, it's up to you. Am I hugging a friend, or tossing out someone who can't take a no to a romantic proposal?"

Her ears pinned back on her head. In defiance, her gun fired, a soft 'paff'. The styrofoam ball bounced off his snout, rolling away across the floor. He released her shoulder to instead tap the end of her snoot. "I'm afraid you don't have the power to try and come at me that way. So which'll it be?"

She sighed loud enough that it almost seemed like she was deflating. "Fine! I'd rather have a dragon friend than not at all." She suddenly wriggled free of his three-way grip and scampered away. "So now that we're friends, enough model time. Let's put together something real!"

Spike rolled back to his belly and sat up. "They're perfectly real."

"Perfectly real nothings." She shook her head quickly. "Let's make things that actually do things. I'm old enough to make something a bit more than a puff ball shooter." She shook her entire body, shaking off her gun and her rig to the side with a crash. "You could use one too! You have fingers. I bet you'd be good at it."

"Are you saying we should make guns?" When she bobbed her head, he raised a brow. "Now, I'm the new dragon around here, but the computer lets you make guns?"

"Sonja, that's me, has special permissions when it comes to guns. They wouldn't keep holy symbols away from Dawn Event or stop Steel from getting his first sword pretty early. It's what we do." she buffed a hoof on her chest, looking smugly superior. "The older I get, the more the computer allows me to do. I could make something projectile that launches something solid."

"Like... bullets?"

Her eyes widened. "Oh gosh no. Not until I was at least 16." She shook her head firmly. "Slower, and bigger. C'mon, it'll be fun!" She bounced towards him with the energy of a filly. "C'mon! Once you try a real gun in your hands, you'll wonder how you lived without it."

Spike felt a smile coming along. The playful and eager filly was so much easier to grasp, and appreciate, compared to the one with love on her mind. "Sure. Let's make a gun."

"Two," she corrected, wobbling a hoof between herself and Spike.

Author's Note:

It amuses me, bouncing back and forth between relationships and the slow mystery of THE SPHERE. Are you enjoying it? Am I going too slow? Too fast? Lemme know!

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