• Published 6th Apr 2019
  • 1,148 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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4 - Towards the Light

Belle began to wander towards the disturbance by default, not being told to avoid it. "Initiating discovery," she sang as she bounced towards the curiosity.

Fast raised a hoof. "Hold."

Spike was grinning a little. "Well now that you can do it without killing anycreature along the way, we can go?"

"No." Fast shook her head. "Sending a fresh face of the crew with Belle sounds like asking for trouble. I would want a senior member of staff present."

Under raised a hoof. "I volunteer. This is a matter of aetheric activity, my specialty. I would wish to investigate it myself."

Twilight nudged up against Spike suddenly. "Let me go, please! New magic? How can I stay away?!"

Spike gently booped her on the nose. "You aren't going without me, you know that."

Fast waved a hoof at the both of them. "Spike, you're on physical guard duty. Under, investigate and provide Aetheric backup. Twilight, gawk and take notes."

"Hey!" It wasn't as if that wasn't exactly what she planned to do, but, "The way you phrase that... Where do we get suits?"

"This way." Under left his station and started for the elevator, leading the others behind him.

"Walk in the light," bid Steel as they departed, his voice continuing even as they got on the elevator through the comm system. "Be safe. We can always look later, but replacing you is more difficult."

Spike glanced to the side at Under Score. "Huh, if you, you know, had an accident, they could replace you, couldn't they?"

"In a matter of speaking. I would be very dead, but another would rise, but I can be the slowest to be replaced, unless you wished to settle with a younger and less experienced version of myself." He stroked his beard once before moving for the door. "This is the armory. Are you at all familiar with the selection?"

Twilight zipped from one thing to the next with wide eyes. A grand array of weapons ranging from something meant to be held in one hand, if one had a hand, to great things that looked unwieldy at best. The only actual armor suits looked big and bulky. "This is all incredible! But it implies you have suffered a great deal of conflict." She frowned faintly. "Considering our past meetings... I suppose that's logical."

Spike grabbed something meant for two hands, but it fit in his large claws reasonably. "Never had a laser gun before... I like it."

Under raised a brow at Spike curiously. "That is not a laser, but I gather your world is not as accustomed to such devices, so how do you even know what it could be?"

"I read a lot of comics, duh." He turned it around, practicing its heft. "Anywhere I can practice with it? And if it's not a laser, what does it shoot out?"

"We have little time for that. I already have my weapons. Select something for yourself, Miss Sparkle. Now, for armor..." He wandered off, viewing what appeared to be a selection of belts.

"Must I?" She reached for a little pistol, floating it around in her magic as she studied it critically. "I hate to be an armed invader. That's hardly a friendly message."

Spike suddenly slapped her on the back. "Put that down. You have more than enough magic on your own, and you'll be busy taking notes anyway."

She stuck out her tongue at her large reptilian companion. "An excellent point." She set the gun where it came from. "Now why are you considering belts?" She trotted towards Under Score.

"These are suits." He reached for one and it stuck to his hoof. He curled the hoof around and stepped into the circle awkwardly. Thankfully, it seemed eager to get on him and took over the moment it was over his head, sliding down around his midsection, then rapidly expanding outwards, becoming a full suit of flexible plastic, transparent over his face. "Here we are, fully contained."

Spike raised a great brow. "Will they fit me?"

Twilight grabbed one with her magic and floated it over her head, her glow still over it until it got to her midsection.

"New user detected," she could hear electronically in her head, far more even in tone than Belle, a neutral female voice. "Adjusting... Measurements complete. Expanding." The belt began expanding just as it had with Under Score, becoming a full covering of the strange space-age plastic from top to bottom, clear over her face. Despite being fully sealed, she could breathe normally.

Under pointed to one on the far right. "Try that one, and blame Wandering Note. He felt it remotely possible an antean could join our crew, though most of us felt it quite unlikely."

"Not sure what that is, but sure." He picked up the belt that didn't seem that much larger than the others. "Nothing ventured..." He pulled it down over his head and the belt began to widen, making it easy for him to push it down to where a belt should rest. "Huh, step one down."

"New user detected," spoke in his ears as the belt went through similar steps, expanding out over him to create a protective suit of plastic. Spike spread his wings, testing how to suit reacted, but it seemed to be clinging to them perfectly well, allowing him to flap without a lot of hinderence.

"Huh, nice. Guess we're ready. Oh." He attached his gun on a hook he spotted, keeping it ready at his side. "Nice."

"It reacts to the presence of weapons at the time you put it on," advised Under as he reached a hoof for his ear. "Away to Captains, we are suited. Proceeding to transporter."

"Let us know when you're there," replied Steel formally.

They were soon in front of Star who pressed a button with her magic, sealing them in. "Prepare to be cleansed of your sins," she said with dramatic flair, grinning as the harsh soaps washed over them. Fortunately, their suits preventing them from actually coming into contact with it, sterilizing them thoroughly of any life forms they knew of.

They were dried with hot gusts of air and steam as ultra violet radiation bathed them, their visors going dark to protect their eyes during the process. When one tried for 100% sterilization, there were many steps.

"Pardon me." Twilight was trying to stand still as the sterilization process continued, but she had to ask, "Why does this seem far more... involved than what Belle was put through?"

Star shrugged softly. "Lucky you, you don't have an exterior of metal with a nanoporous mesh that can be electrified on demand. She can do 99% of the work before we even start." She rolled a hoof slowly as the room began to lose its air around the suited ponies and dragon. "We're not done yet, just so you know. This may hurt just a little, but it'll be over with soon."

As it turned out, the suits could only protect so much from various radiations and heats, and that limit was tested in great waves, adding more 9s of accuracy to the kill count of the microbes that could be hiding on the suit, reaching ever higher for that elusive 100%. "And for the piece de la resistance!" Star pressed a button with an actual hoof and everything went dark inside the chamber a moment, a strange shudder passing through all three of them. "All clean, captain. Whatever bugs survived the first three waves are certainly gone now."

Under turned to his two cohorts. "That was technomantic in origin. If you had less life force than the typical house pet, it would have snuffed it out." His voice was distorted a little, coming over a radio instead of by vibrating air. They were in a vacuum.

Spike lifted his broad shoulders. "If you have that, why didn't we start there? Wouldn't that be enough?"

Twilight looked over her shiny clean suit. "Not if they wanted to be sure. This way is just as harsh on any non-living contaminants we may have brought into the chamber. This is too exciting!" She clopped her hooves joyfully. "Journal Entry." She blinked softly, realizing a moment later. "Oh..." Her computer was so much debris in space. "Oh..."

Fast's voice came over their suit radios, "I've opened a journal for you, Twilight. You can make entries as you please. I feel I should warn, they will be repeated with our updates home."

"Thank you." She rubbed at one leg with the plastic-sleeved hoof of the other leg. "Journal Entry." She heard a soft chime. It wasn't her chime, but it was a chime. Good enough? "And so begins our first mission to catalog a mysterious source of magic on a primitive world. I never thought I'd have this chance, to witness the potential birth of magic on a world, or perhaps its first awkward steps. I will dutifully take notes on the experience and make another journal later. End Journal." Another chime informed her that the file had been saved.

Spike bumped into her suddenly. "I'm going to bet you didn't think to take your actual journal out before we got suited."

Her eyes widened. "Oh no!" Her horn glowed from inside her suit as she pulled the book free, but it couldn't get out with the suit in the way. "Oh no oh no oh no!"

"Deep breath, Twilight. Just open a journal entry and leave it open. You can dictate instead of writing."

"Oh, yes, of course! I... uh..." She put a hoof to her forehead. "I think I might have lost a few marbles. My apologies. I'll get back up to speed. Journal Entry." A soft chime announced that she was being recorded, and she smiled, knowing she could review it later to take proper notes. A thought occurred to her. "Journal, can you include video?" A new chime sounded, and a red 'REC' appeared on her visor. She clip-clopped her covered hooves with a grin. "Perfect. We are ready to start the mission."

"Send them down," came Steel's voice.

"Aye aye, Captain." Star's horn glowed as she worked the control. "Three to the surface."

The world faded away as technology and magic worked together to grab them up and hurl them through the space between here and there. They appeared on the ground with better accuracy than Belle had enjoyed, standing side by side with soft pops.

Belle was facing them, bouncing in place. "Welcome to Alupraz!"

Spike hiked a brow at her. "I don't remember this planet having a name, just the solar system, and it had one heck of a name."

"I was first here," she sang out. "I call dibs on naming it."

Fast replied with a smile in her tone, "Noted and indexed. Welcome to Alupraz. In the unlikely event of encountering a native, their name will take precedent. Other than that, your claim should stand. Now, how are things looking down there?"

Twilight slowly turned in place, her eyes as wide as they could be. "I'm standing on an actual alien world." She suddenly looked down. "I'm standing on alien life! Oh no!" She scurried to the side to a patch of bare rock. "Sorry, poor things. Fluttershy would have such strong words for me..."

Spike shook his head slowly. "It's moss, Twilight. Things look clear." He reached out a covered claw and gently tapped at some of the moss. "A bit springier than I would have expected. Durable... I doubt it even noticed Twilight was standing on it. Speaking of that, Belle?"

"Yes?"

"You did chemical stuff, right?"

"Atmospheric analyzation stage 1 complete!" she sang with joy.

"Great. Just curious, but could we breathe this if we had to?" He sat down on his haunches, looking around slowly. "Just in case."

"Analyzing... Oxygen levels, B-, Carbon Dioxide Levels, C+, Harmful Compounds ... ..." She frowned a bit, taking another big sniff of the air with her nose fans. "F" She sadly tooted. "Complications are likely to occur within 1 hour. Death is likely to occur within 8 hours. Advice: Do not breathe."

"Afraid I kinda need to do that," half-chortled Spike. "But I'm not taking off this suit, that's for sure. So which way?"

Under pointed with a firm hoof. "Where she saw the aetheric disturbance. I can still detect traces of it. Let's see if we can still find it while there's enough to be studied, or perhaps find the source of the phenomenon." He strode ahead, but paused almost as quickly. "After you." He nodded towards Spike.

"Right, bodyguard." He moved to the fore and began leading the way. "While we were on that ship, practicing how to scrap was basically all I had to do when I wasn't re-reading old comics. Well, and talk with Twilight. Love her, but that gets... interesting after a while."

"I heard that!" She was bouncing from bare rock to bare rock, trying to not step on the moss that covered most of the ground. "What's wrong with my ability to hold a conversation?"

"It wasn't you exactly," he promised. "We just ran out of new things to talk about, and I could swear we had the same exact conversation at least three times in one day. I counted. It's already better. We just need some, you know, new input. New stuff to react to, beside each other, alone on a ship."

"Not entirely alone," came the radio voice of Octavia.

"We didn't even know you were there though! I mean... Still, glad to have you with us."

"Glad to be here."

Steel cut in, "while it's always good to see my crew forming solid bonds of friendship, let's focus on the task at hoof. Under, status?"

"It came from... there." He pointed to a rough hole in the terrain, where one could walk down an incline beneath the surface of the world. The moss, it seemed, did not expand down along that tunnel very far past the entrance. "How curious. From this close, my sensors are picking up increased activity."

"Level 2," sang out Bullette in agreement, springing forward and landing on Spike's tail.

Spike lifted his tail in surprise, looking over his shoulder. "You are adorable, just so you know."

"Friendship points awarded," sang out Belle with a big metal smile. "Permission to use as a mount?"

"Oh, uh... sure?"

She scrambled up along his back and parked just behind Spike's neck. She looked quite ready to face the universe with a new large mount to call her own.

"Never change," came Octavia's gentle tone, a smile unseen but felt.

Twilight's horn began to glow, illuminating the area around herself as the sun faded from view with stone in the way. "We should be extra careful. We don't know how precarious the roof is here. The slightest disturbance could bury us all."

"Affirmative."

Under frowned faintly as he plodded up beside Spike. "I can feel it... We are drawing closer to--"


The ponies in the command deck all went still. Under's statements had cut off rather suddenly. Fast looked towards Dawn. "Are they on sensors? What happened?!"

Dawn was spurred into action, tapping at his console busily. "The area's gone dark, Captains. Something's interfering with it. May they walk in the light." He made a cross-like motion across his chest with a hoof, his head slightly bowed.

Steel's teeth clenched. "How soon could we provide assistance?" His words were tense, almost a hiss.

Star replied over the comms, "Even if you all jumped into suits right this instant and were already in here, you'd be in sterilization for ages. Besides, Captain, you know I respect you, but someone has to fly this ship." She pressed a button with a loud chime. "I know we're the 'champions' or whatever, but there are limits."

"She's right," huffed out Fast, forcing herself to take a breath. "We have to remain calm and do what we can. Dawn, stare at those sensors as if the gods may spring from them. Wandering, if you hear so much as a peep from their comms--"

"--of course, Captain." The cloven operator tapped at his console. "I'm trying to penetrate the interference. Maybe another frequency..." His console emitted a series of strangely modulating beeps and chimes as he tried different methods of penetrating whatever strange fog was cutting them off from their away team.

"Captain." Dawn was watching the main screen suddenly.

Steel stood up suddenly. "What am... I seeing?" A great cloud of smoke was erupting from where Belle's transponder had been providing a red blinking point, as if a huge volcano had decided that was the ideal time to detonate and plunge the entire world into a forced winter.

"When chance is stretched too far," spoke Dawn in calm tones. "--look for causes. This is not happenstance."

Steel brought down a hoof with a loud clop. "Then what is keeping us from our crew? Are we being attacked? Any signs this is reaching beyond the atmosphere?"

Dawn glanced towards something only he could see, augmented reality screens dancing before his eyes. "None, Captain. Whatever is in action, it appears confined to the reaches of the world itself. Our comrades will have to face it, but we have little to personally fear."

A sudden note, soft and wavering, cut through the tension. Eyes turned with surprise to see Octavia standing there, a cello propped against her. Where had she been hiding that? She began to play softly, a hopeful melody, a tranquil one. There was little they could do in that moment, but to wait.

She bid them do it with peace in their hearts. The mood began to calm. Though they had to wait, it was just a little easier with that gentle music playing.

Wandering Note smiled as he worked. "There was a time, so many lives ago, when I would have been the one to start such a song to put heart's at ease. I'm glad to have you with us, Miss Melody."

Author's Note:

The adventure, it begiiiins!

What did they walk into?

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