• 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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36 - Let There be Light

"We're shooting at it?"

Spike softly shooshed at the zebra filly on his back. "No talking unless it's important on the bridge."

On the main screen, it was a strange thing. The sphere was slowly being lit up, bit by bit. Each new portion made the image jerk with the addition, but they kept coming, one little portion at a time.

"We are piecing together a view," explained Dawn Event as he and Under Score worked. "We can only get a very small view with each flash, but with a little work from the computer, we can assemble something resembling a full picture."

Under nodded in easy agreement. "Just a little math."

"And some faith," added Dawn.

"Mostly math," grumped Under, tapping at buttons only he could see. "It should take about another half an hour before we have a full image prepared."

"Gods willing." Dawn swiped from left to right across something. "There appears to be nothing hindering our progress."

A new pony appeared, Dawn Event. Belle shook her head firmly, a buzzer playing loudly. "That is an incompatible choice."

"Why not?" asked Dawn. "I dun see nothin' wrong with it."

"Dawn Event is married to the gods." Bell crossed her hooves. "And they don't even give good hugs. Attempting to engage in physical romance will only result in lost friendship points."

The pony became smaller, and brighter. A pink mare with a whip wrapped around her left foreleg and a mane that hung over her eyes. "This god does. You have a note about it," spoke the holographic god in a soft motherly tone.

Belle began to blush, cheeks coloring despite the complete lack of blood in her body. "Twilight is not ready for that! Please resume course." She turned to Twilight with a sheepish smile. "Forgive Error, he is trying to help."

"What god is that?" Twilight inclined her head faintly. "I apologize, but I don't know... your gods very well, except one."

"If she were available, your compatibility rating would be high," sang Belle confidently.

"You know which one I'm talking about?"

Belle pointed at Twilight. "I have conducted extensive research on your past and personality for optimal partner location. You have had previous contact with Princess Luminace. She is not available for direct contact."

"I... don't think it's normal to consider a god as dating material..." She rubbed her cheek softly with the flat of a hoof. "Besides, she's a mare."

Both artificial lifeforms looked at her funny.

"What? A mare and a stallion make a family." Twilight waved it off. "That's just common sense."

Belle pointed to herself. "I am neither a mare nor a stallion, technically. Can I not make a family?"

"Same goes for me," noted the holographic deity.

Belle raised a hoof towards her ear. "Spike?"

"Yeah?" came his reply, playing from inside of her like a speaker phone.

"Was Equestria regressive in terms of same-sex and non-binary pairings in relationships?"

"Huh?" started Spike with obvious surprise. "No? I remember a lot of same-sex couples getting married. Not really my thing, but, hey, you do you and all that. Wh--"

Spike had been cut off, Belle looking to Twilight. "Your focus on non-romantic friendships has caused you to develop unhealthy thoughts."

Twilight blinked softly, crashing to her haunches. "I don't... I mean, there were some close friends. My best friends were mares, but we weren't... like that..."

Belle looked to the hologram, who nodded softly in return. Both turned their heads to Twilight. "You wouldn't have known if they were interested," they echoed at once.

Twilight's cheeks began to warm. "That is beside the point... Besides... they're gone." The blush faded as she drooped a little. "It's a bit late to consider a relationship, however unlikely that would have been."

Belle patted the side of the down princess. "We will find you potential partners who are alive," she assured with a big smile. "I am still available! With regular maintenance, my lifespan has no set limit." She suddenly pointed at the hologram. "Being an entirely digital construct, he can be copied. Barring complete catastrophe, we are functionally unaging and immortal."

The pink goddess image became No Name without sound or preamble. "'Least that time you threw us at her like a combo."

"Does that help?" asked Belle with a big hopeful smile.

No Name casually wrapped a leg around her and pulled her close. "It does." Even as victorious music played from Belle, he was holding her close.

Twilight inclined her head faintly. "I can see you two are close. It's... strange, but also kind of nice." A ghost of a smile taunted her lips. "I'm behind a robot for finding a special somepony... Can we continue?"

"Affirmative." Belle bounced back up to her hooves and away from her affectionate partner.

The image was created, slowly circling on the screen. "It is obviously artificial," noted Under Score.

They could all see that. When zoomed in, huge jutting metal towers with what may have been lights, if they were lit, crowning them. Panels and other hints spoke of its mechanical origin. It was a huge mechanical sphere of some sort. "It hasn't reacted to our peeks," added Dawn. "I don't think it's sensitive to casual photonic activity. Sensible, few artificial things are."

Steel nodded in agreement. "With how little we were in actuality doing, there would be little reason to be concerned. Still, it looks like it's not quite active."

"I see the lights," agreed Fast. "And nothing's moving. It's just... there. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but a dyson sphere is typically constructed around a sun, is it not? Why is this thing an entire solar system in size?"

"'Cause it's a weapon," declared Sonja with no filter.

Spike grabbed for the zebra, but the filly danced away from his hands. "That's not proven. It could be a lot of things. Maybe it's more of a wall. A three dimensional wall to keep the universe out."

Steel's brows furrowed. "Or to keep something in."

A new image appeared, No Name becoming Octavia. Belle gestured at the image. "This one has a 65% compatibility rating, due in large part to familiarity. Sharing the trait of unaging and the same home world, you have much in common to speak of. Predictions state the odds of successful romance are high!"

Twilight flopped down onto her haunches. "I have a vision of a strong... well-built stallion, which she is not."

"More like your brother then?" suggested Belle. To Twilight's gaping expression, she inclined her head. "I asked Spike for further details. He was quite helpful. You should thank him later." She pointed to the holographic Octavia. "She is refined, skilled with music, and magically adept. You like magic, and have worked with her before. Does she not appeal?"

"It's not that she... isn't appealing, I guess." Twilight rubbed at her cheek softly. "I do like that she's also unaging... That is... compelling..."

Belle began to bounce, detecting victory. "You should begin amassing friendship points! Even if you never attempt romantic options, which I think you should, your compatibility is high enough that a good friendship is almost assured with sufficient effort."

"We... were friends." Twilight squinted a little at the holo-Octavia. "But I thought she was... what she is right now, an artificial construct."

"And what's wrong with that?" asked the Octavia with the wrong accent. "Like us construct sorts don't have feelings."

"Typically... no?" ventured Twilight with an awkward smile. "Current company obviously excluded. I treated her as an unthinking machine for... so long. She must be annoyed at me, on some level, even if she doesn't say anything. She's too polite about that..."

"Was that a personality trait she displayed previously?" Belly bounced towards Twilight with a big smile, even her eyes had been replaced with grinning emojis.

"Yes? Why are you looking at me like that?"

Belle sprung up, touching noses with Twilight. "Because it is clear you are already familiar with her and have amassed friendship points. You need only resume this function!" She landed, one hoof pointed at holo-Octavia. "This is now your assignment. Meet, talk, and gain at least 100 friendship points."

"You're going to have to explain how to quantify a 'friendship point'." Twilight rolled a hoof in the air. "If she laughs at a joke, is that 1 point?"

"That depends on how sincere and powerful the laugh is," advised Belle. "With your permission, I will eavesdrop on your communicator and advise you as points are earned so you know when you have reached your goal." Up came the hoof. "Do you accept this quest?" One of her eyes became a green uppercase Y, the other a red lowercase n.


"Acceptance verified." Romantic victory music began to play from inside her. "Please proceed." Error vanished, the room going dimly lit. The lesson was over. Belle was sitting there with a content smile on her face.

Twilight took a step towards the door. "I... guess I'll go talk to Octavia then. We really should catch up." Talking herself into it not being about romance at all, Twilight strode from the room on her new quest.

Remington ran a comb in easy motions through Octavia's mane, helping get it just right. "You ponies are great fun to comb, did I ever mention that?"

"I was made for more than combing," sighed out Octavia. "But I do appreciate the effort. Is it really that enjoyable?"

"If I want to be technical about it, grooming is a thing a lot of animals do. How would Belle put it, an easy way to get points?" She laughed as she moved around to get at Octavia's other side of her mane. "Speaking of Belle, most robots I meet aren't so damned chipper without being programmed to be boringly monotone in their cheerfulness."

"Is she even programmed?" Octavia followed Remi with an ear, but remained still so the grooming could continue without interruption. "She strikes me as more of an emergent creation. More like me or you. We learned by what was around us and it shaped us."

"You think?" Remi settled down, half-leaning on Octavia as she worked. "I never asked her, and I'm not even sure she'd answer. I already have my mare right here." She smooched Octavia's side. "And she's all I need."

"I listened to Vinyl for long enough to know when 'But I'd take more if it was offered to me' is hidden in a statement." Her tail lashed softly. "You aren't typically a one-partner creature, are you?"

"By space law, you can't force me to answer that." Remi folded her arms under her chest, the combing pausing.

"That isn't a thing." Octavia rose to her hooves and turned towards Remi. "Though while I can't force you, I certainly can--"

A chime interrupted them. The computer spoke, "Twilight Sparkle." Octavia's ears danced in surprise.

"Let her in."

The door slid open and Twilight trotted inside. "Octavia? We really should..." She paused, seeing Remington was there. "Oh! Is this a bad time? I didn't realize you had company already."

Octavia smiled her refined little smile, approaching Twilight. "It's good to see you. I... heard from Spike. Are you feeling alright?"

Twilight blinked rapidly. "It was a mutual decision. There are no hard feelings." She raised a hoof, but it fell almost as quickly. "We're still living together, even. We're just back to being, you know, siblings, and not married..." She laughed nervously. "Okay, that sounds weird when I say it like that."

"It was a little odd, but you two were perfectly innocent about it." She turned to point at Remi who was already approaching. "This is Remington, you've met her, but not as my boyfriend."

Remi thwipped Octavia right on her pretty nose. "Girlfriend, even if you prefer the boy part. Respect the pronouns."

Twilight's cheeks began to darken even as confusion came in a heady rush. "Boy... But..." Her eyes roamed over the biped, but she was certainly shaped as one might expect a female mammal biped to be shaped. "I don't understand..."

Author's Note:

We learn more about THE SPHERE and we dive deeper into relationships. I'm sure we can figure both out without explosions! Maybe?

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