• 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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40 - Budding

"Journal." Copper heard a specific beep that told her the computer was listening for the rest. "Heading to the farm. All attempts have, thus far, bore no fruit." She paused, ears dancing. "Pun not intended, but appreciated." She chuckled to herself as she resumed her trot. "Let's have a look."

The door slid open without her prompting beyond approaching. The interior was not as bright as she expected. She looked up to see vines criss-crossed over the lightning panels. "What the...?" She followed the vines back down to their roots to see that those plants had budded and grown quite a bit since last she checked on them.

She hurried over to one and plucked a leaf free in her magic, horn glowing as she hurried it to a platform. "Computer, analyze this sample." She dropped the leaf into its view. "Full plant sweep."

"Calculating," the computer replied calmly, with none of the excitement Copper was showing.

While it worked, Copper began a circle around the room, inspecting the other plants. Many had remained just as they were, with slow and stubborn growths that had worried. One other had joined in the growth, a pepper plant species that grew dazzling varieties of different shades of purple. She touched her nose to a lustrous purple fruit, sniffing it. "Smells good." Part of her wanted to take a nibble, but there was a mystery afoot.

Poisoning herself would not serve the ship well.

The computer chimes. "Report complete."

"Excellent, print it for me." She trotted towards where the printing slot was to receive the report. She had work to do, but, for once, it was positive! She hoped.

Twilight inclined her head left and right at the gathering. "So you--" She pointed at the younger Sonja. "And you--" She pointed at the other. "Are... the same person?"

"Sorta," started the younger.

"But not exactly," finished the adult. "Our souls are the same thing, but our bodies and minds are our own."

"Souls can remember things," chimed the younger. "Souls don't know what time is."

"As she said." The adult inclined her head at the younger. "So what she experienced with Spike feels fresh to me, and her affection became mine."

The younger rolled her eyes. "Except she's a grown up, so 'just being friends' isn't good enough for her."

Spike suddenly coughed into a hand. "That's the summary of the whole thing. So, uh, I ended up with two friends."

"And you're alright with that?" Twilight hopped up onto her bed and sat on her haunches, facing them all. "I'm not trying to judge..."

"But you are." Spike huffed softly. "I'll be honest. The idea of someone I don't have an awkward relationship with finding me attractive actually sounds kinda nice."

Twilight wobbled a hoof between the two zebras. "This isn't awkward?"

Younger Sonja crossed her arms. "We are not awkward."

"We've set boundaries," agreed the older. "The only one that can suffer collateral damage from this move are ourselves."

Younger waved a hoof excitedly. "I am his friend. We'll play games and have fun."

"I am his friend." Her eyes lowered to bedroom eyes. "We'll play games... and have fun." The way she said it left no room in the adult's minds that her fun and games would be entirely different from the younger one's.

Spike sat up, looking to Twilight. "Oh, right, so... Do you want me to find my own room? I mean... that part could get pretty awkward."

"Actually..." Twilight looked to the older Sonja. "Could we talk? Privately..."

The younger rolled her eyes even as she began trotting for the door. "I'll remember it anyway," she noted in sing-song.

Spike pointed at himself. "Are you kicking me out of my own room?"

"Just for a moment, Spike." Twilight pointed to the door. "Please?" When the door closed behind his reluctantly banished form, she sank to her belly, looking at the older Sonja. "How did you do it?"

"How did I do what?" She half-turned, displaying her heavy cannon. "How do I make a gun look so good?"

"Not that... precisely." She inclined her head faintly. "You saw somecreature you were interested in and you just... went for it. You didn't hesitate. I blinked, and you were already in a romantic relationship! Reveal to me your secrets." Twilight softly thumped the bed with a hoof. "How do I make my intentions clear?"

"You poor thing." She inclined her head towards her gun. "You're armed, but you aren't taking the shot. Take your aim, squeeze the trigger, regret nothing. If you miss, you will get another chance, but if you never shoot, you've defeated yourself ahead of time." She leaned in, ears trained on Twilight. "Of course, now you must tell me who you've got in your crosshairs."

Twilight sank. "I have a few I want to try approaching..."

"You haven't even selected a target? Trying to fire undecided will just be sure to make you hit none of them." She casually stepped up onto the bed and sank down next to Twilight. "You are wise to come to me."

Twilight's expression brightened, a smile spreading. "How is it zebras always seem to know exactly what I need to hear?"

"Call it a curse." Sonja inclined her head. "You've run into other zebras then? I wasn't even sure your world had any."

"Yes, many... I met and dealt with more than a few while I was princess." She raised a hoof behind her head. "The first was the most special, and also the one I made the least time for. I regret that..."

"Taken," flatly noted Sonja. "I like my guns like I like my partners. One, big, powerful. Going for a pair? Not my style."

Twilight recoiled. "I wasn't asking for that! Besides, me and Spike just set... healthier boundaries. Moving in on his special somepony would be a gross violation of that. I was... Never mind." She shook her head, sinking back onto her belly. "How do you pick somecreature?"



"One. Someone," repeated Sonja. "It's shorter, easier to say, and gets the point across. Why would you call someone a 'creature'? Unless they're not one. Don't call Sonja and me 'one', we're two." She shuffled, gunrack jingling. "You have your own tastes. Find the stallion, or mare, that fits those tastes, then take the shot."

"Who said they were either of those?" Twilight looked smug as she sat up. "You just finished telling me to refer to creatures as 'one'. Could be anything then, couldn't it?"

Sonja whipped Twilight with her tail. "You don't strike me as the adventurous sort, relationship wise. You probably want a pony." She shrugged. "Not saying that's wrong. More of my plus ones were ponies than not." She suddenly narrowed her eyes. "In other lives. This life, I have exactly one, and he's a big dragon."

Twilight laughed nervously at that. "Big and strong..." Two words she didn't often think of in relation to Spike, even if both were true. "Alright. Alright... Find the one that suits me more, then... go for it."

"Take the shot." Sonja aimed her gun at an imagined target. "Bang."

"Bang..." Twilight slid to her hooves. "Thank you for your time. I'll get out of your mane and let Spike back in." She hopped down to the floor and set off to the door.

"Captains," came Copper's voice over the intercom. "I've tried to keep this under control, but it's developed in new ways. Are we approaching any strange energy sources by chance?"

Steel and Fast glanced at one another. Fast spoke up first, "Not that we are aware of, but we are approaching a strange object. Are you noticing something?"

Steel made more subtle hoof motions at the others on the bridge and they got to work striking keys that weren't actually there. "What are you trying to keep under control?"

"Food production's been below optimal since before we docked. Attempts to revitalize it have met with abject failure, logs are available." The rustle of leaves could be heard over the connection. "But that's suddenly changed for two of the edible species of plants. They are growing far in excess of their usual rates. Computer analysis reports there's nothing toxic present. On the bright side, food's not an issue so long as you don't mind salads with plenty of sliced peppers."

Fast rolled a hoof slowly in the air. "But, on the downside..."

"The farm's overrun." More rustling leaves, a creak, of a branch perhaps. "There we go, got out. It seems to be accelerating by the day. I'm afraid they'll start bursting through the walls, and food that punctures the side of the ship would be... worrisome."

Steel sat up sharply. "Copper Prism," he stated with the angry finality of an upset parent. "In the future, you are to report irregularities immediately. We can't react to problems we don't know are there."

Fast set a hoof on his shoulder. "We'll send help to get that under control. Thank you for your report." She made a flat wave and the signal was cut with a little chime. "There's no reason to yell at her in the middle of a crisis."

"I wouldn't have made that mistake." He crossed his arms over his chest. "Putting that aside, I need to know what manner of radiation that orb's throwing out and how it's affecting our plants and how it could be affecting the crew."

The bridge became noisier as ponies tried to get that information.

Octavia looked to Bullette Belle. "Are you the real Bullette Belle?"

"No," miserably admitted Belle. "I am not the holder of your friendship points." She suddenly hurried forward. "Please allow me to explain!"

Octavia inclined her head. "Do go on. You feel far closer."

"Closer, perhaps." Belle raised a hoof to her chin with a tap of metal on metal. "The Bullette Belle you know is..." She fidgeted in place. "She lived a good and long life."

Octavia's ears sagged a moment before pricking back up. "I... see. I had thought I could thank her, at least." She rose to her hooves, only to find Error's leg in the way of fleeing. "Pardon?"

"She ain't done," he tilted his head towards Belle. "Don't go runnin' off like that."

"Please." Belle pressed her forehooves together with a hopeful smile. "You did meet me before, but I wasn't born yet." She tapped her cheek loudly enough to make the metal ring. "This is the shell that Bullette Belle wore. I am the intelligence that helped operate it. I was not..."

"You..." Octavia sank to her haunches. "You know I saw her secret then."

Belle's ears folded against her head with little ticks as they clicked into position. "She was entirely vulnerable, but you are a Responsible Adult and acted appropriately. She is not here, but I thank you." She lowered her hooves to the floor, seated on her haunches. "I would like to open a new friendship file with you. You already have points with me."

Octavia inclined her head. "I have more questions... What are you. Besides an automaton, I gathered that much. You were, are, her shell... What did you learn? Are you separate, a new thing? I'm trying to put this together, truly I am."

Belle sat up a little more proudly. "I was nothing, then I became something. I asked my mom many questions." She pointed at Octavia. "Bullette Belle gave many answers. My mother was a great person who saw so much. I am like her, but I am not her." She tilted her head sharply left. "I am a good person too, I hope?"

"Don't look at me," chuckled Error. "I'm just an odd thing along fer the ride."

"You haven't changed." She swatted at him with a hoof. "Stop being self-deprecating. You acted loyally for a friend, I can appreciate that. I'm not even mad at your... attempt at subterfuge."

"Uh..." Error shook his head. "Ah ain't who you think ah am either now. He bit the big one before her mom did."

"It's true," sadly rang out Belle as mournful music played from within her. "But we are here, and a friend has returned." She pointed at Octavia. "Yes?"

Author's Note:

Plants and relationships are budding fiercely across the ship! Are both to blame on the object they are approaching?

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