• Published 6th Apr 2019
  • 1,182 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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41 - Growth is Life

"The plants are under control," reported Wandering, goat ear turned towards them. "Several guards are standing by to help keep the plants from getting unruly. On the positive, all the pruned food is edible and has been harvested for immediate use."

Steel nodded at the announcement. "Very good. Are they still growing?"

Under Score raised a hoof. "All calculations show the rate is increasing. Food supplies are a problem we don't have."

Twilight suddenly sat beside the older-looking unicorn. "Can I help?"

Under inclined his head. "You wish to resume your training?" He struck unseen keys and very visible buttons appeared for Twilight, floating over in front of her. "Join me."

They began working together with curious questions asked and answers given. Both were smiling.

Wandering Note inclined his head at them, one hoof striking unseen keys.

Fast Shadow's eyes darted, letters appearing in front of her. They didn't often send silent text messages to one another, but she knew what it was. It was from Wandering note. "I could be mistaken, Captain, but the way Twilight is seated, and the way she's talking. I think she may have a thing for Under Score. I wonder if he noticed?! :heart::heart::heart:"

Fast chuckled softly at the message, starting to type her reply. "That is between them and not our business, Wandering. It's good to see Twilight emerging from her shell."

"But it is my business," came the silent reply. "Monitoring the mental and social well-being of the crew is my duty aside from handling the comms." He was watching the two out of the corner of his eyes. "How to put this... There are more romantic entanglements than usual. A greater number of initiated or accelerated relationships."

Fast sat up at that. "Dawn?" When the priest looked towards her, she continued, "Were you able to discern any effect this is having on the crew? Whatever it is that is making the plants grow?"

"Negative." Dawn worked at his controls quietly. "Gods smiling, we have had no physical abnormalities reported. The computer has noticed no strange patterns; internally or externally."

But mentally? The computer didn't search for that. Fast frowned in thought, striking the unseen keys in reply to Wandering, "Good eye. Let's keep monitoring that. If people want to get involved, good for them. That's not against regulation. It will be awkward if it fades when we leave the big ball."

"That would be terrible," came his reply. "I will be busy counseling for a while."

Octavia wobbled a hoof between the two not-living-but-arguably-sapient things before her. "And you two are in a relationship then?"

"Yes," sang out Belle. "We are lovers." Her eyes became actual heart symbols, pulsing a moment before her usual eyes returned.

Error laughed at that. "That sounds off. We're friends with cuddle benefits." He inclined his head. "Besides, neither of us are built for messy 'lover' stuff anywho."

"I should... imagine so," continued Octavia with a lack of confidence, her eyes darting from the small female robot to the larger male hologram. "Though, forgive my mentioning... You." She pointed at Error. "You can be whatever you care to be. You've already demonstrated this."

"Can't much argue that," agreed Error with a slow nod, his mouth-snakes hissing in the air softly.

Belle inclined her head with soft metal clicks. "Error is capable of biological mating patterns, though it would be ineffective." The last word had a sad downturn to her voice, equally morose music punctuating it. "We are not biological." She suddenly raised a hoof to her chest. "But we are capable of reproduction." She looked to the left at her larger friend. "Have you completed your decision regarding our reproduction?"

She just as suddenly reared up onto two hooves, waving her forehooves wildly at Error. "You still have 4 days, 6 hours, 12 minutes and 7 seconds before a response is required!"

Octavia blinked slowly. "Pardon my ignorance, which I feel is only growing by the moment. Forgive me, but how does a robot go about that?" Her cheeks suddenly warmed. "If that isn't an uncouth subject matter to bring up in the first place. I feel more ignorant by the moment."

"Hey, I have no idea neither now." Error nodded towards Belle. "Why don't you break that down for us? If I said yes, what would the next step be?"

Belle crashed down to her haunches, looking off with purpose at some bit of the wall. "Connection established," she announced, and the room changed, her connection with the holographic projectors allowing her to alter its appearance to her will. A large desk of parts appeared. "The first step would be a decision." She pointed at Error. "Will our child be digital, or physical?"

She inclined her head. "I am jealous of your abilities. As a mother, I do not object to my child having more opportunities than I have, so I would consent to a digital creation. You, being the father, have an equal vote."

Error inclined his head left and right. "Huh, well, just fer theory, let's say ah wanted a physical kid?"

"Oh no!" called out Belle, bringing up both hooves to clop with a metallic ring against her cheeks. "We would have to discuss and debate until consensus was reached." She inclined her head faintly. "For the purpose of this demonstration, I will concede loss and permit your desire."

She reared back up onto two legs and grabbed for the holographic bits and bobs on the table. "We would begin to assemble a body for our child. This would be in accordance to Steelheart tradition, though we lack a Steelheart priest. Oh! We can enlist Dawn Event to fill in that purpose. I feel certain he has the proper religious files."

Error stepped over on heavy hooves and sat across from her, reaching to start pushing pieces around with a little smile. "We'd literally make our kid?"

"Correct," sang Belle. "But that is not the key part.

Octavia was slowly shaking her head, watching the two with amazement. "What is the key part then, if you don't mind?"

Belle pointed to her head, then to the dead center of Error. "Our minds would become one. Our code would be allowed to hybridize and compile for an agreed upon number of iterations." She tilted her head. "Our originals would be safe, but the result would be a new program, a new life, created with portions of us both. That would be our child, installed in a body or running digitally." Victorious music swelled within her. "It would be like us, but it would not be us. That is our child."

Octavia slowly set her hoof down. "That is... That is lovely, I think. I hope you two make a lovely little foal together." She smiled a little at the two. "Though it seems there is no 'expecting' period."

"Incorrect," sang Belle, though she was smiling. "The iterations will take considerable time. Both of our programs are large and complicated. Many iterations will result in non-viable programs, and each takes sizable processing time to complete. We will have to wait, just as organic parents, for our child to be ready to live. Each iteration, it will be perhaps closer to ready. The ones that work will have a chance to improve. The ones that fail to compile will be discarded." She inclined her head.

Octavia's brows went up together. "Wait..." She circled the illusory table to Belle. "Will you be running these iterations?" She reached out and gently tapped Belle on her head. "In here?"

"Affirmative," sang Belle, holographic hearts rising from her head as she began to bounce in place, looking so very happy.

"So... you actually will be an expecting mother." Octavia sank to her haunches. "Incredible... I must apologize. I thought... I thought several unkind things that I now realize were entirely wrong. Belle, congratulations. If I can help... if you feel overwhelmed while you are expecting, I would be honored if you called on me."

Error shook his head. "Hey now, we're not like, you know, everyone else. Why can't I help too?"

Belle blinked rapidly, metal clicks echoing around the room before she hopped upright with such force she landed on the table of parts. "We can run in parallel! That's so romantic!" She leaned in and touched her nose to Error's, gazing at him fondly. "We will have to be in constant communication."

"Guess I'm a mom too," Error laughed out. "Do ah get a baby shower or somethin'?"

"Go on in." Twilight waved at the room she just came from. "I'll find another quarter."

Spike started to move, only to stop with the second half of Twilight's statement. "Wait what?"

"You're showing me up." She smiled, bright, but also forced. "You've gotten a family, however odd it may be. Congratulations, but--"

"We're still a family, Twilight," cut in Spike, frowning.

"Of course." She patted him on the shoulder, then looked up past that shoulder to the young Sonja riding him. "But proper adult brothers and sisters live apart. I love you, and I always will, but I'm giving you room to be you. Wish me luck." She trotted off in the hopes of finding her own special somepony, though she had someone in mind already.

Sonja tapped at the top of Spike's head. "You have a funny sister."


"But I hope she gets happier."

"Yeah." Spike smiled a little, resuming his journey towards the room. "She's basically family for you too now. You should get to know her too. We can all try to help her."

"I'm a kid," petulantly complained the small zebra. "She doesn't want to play any fun games. Older me will have to handle that."

"I heard that." Older Sonja met them inside the room, touching noses with Spike and sticking out her tongue at her younger self. "When Twilight finishes moving out, I'm moving in."

"Me too!" cried Younger Sonja.

"No," replied both Spike and Older Sonja.

Younger Sonja crossed her arms. "This is unfair and you know it..."

Octavia sat down next to two other ponies. "I am ready. Shall we begin?" That is when she noticed something different about Twilight. "What are you wearing?"

Twilight reached up and tapped at the big goggles on her face. "This lets me see Augmented Reality. I'm learning how to perform technology-based magic, like Under Score."

Under inclined his head. "With the proper surgery, such a helmet would not be req--"

"--No, thank you," cut in Twilight. "This is good enough."

Octavia smiled at that, raising the arm that had the LAP attached to it. "I know how you feel, Twilight. I use this to engage in modern activities. Do you have some manner of computer?"

"Oh, yes!" Twilight was all smiles as a PDA floated out from her side into view. "Look at the lock screen." She tapped it to wake it up and it showed a big display of Twilight's cutie mark and she began to giggle. "It's a little thing, but I like it."

Octavia chuckled softly. "Now I'm almost jealous. I don't know how to make the LAP do that. Now... teacher?" She looked to Under Score. "We have things to learn, do we not?"

"We do. Let's put our toys aside for the moment."

Twilight instead unlocked her PDA. "I need this if I'm going to do any technology-based magic."

"There is that," allowed Under. "But I need you to focus on the lesson, and not the gimmick of the device you are holding." He turned to a screen on the wall that was already displaying various arcane facts and figures. "We left off with..."

Octavia raised a hoof. "Pardon me, but I was given to believe you wanted to know as much about our magic as you were helping us understand yours."

Twilight sat up proudly. "I'm not giving up mine. I already expanded from Equestrian magic to Everglow magic and I didn't give up Equestrian magic. Did you?"

Octavia inclined her head. "I... suppose I did not, but I also was never much an expert with Equestrian magic..."

Under Score coughed softly. "As I was saying..."

Author's Note:

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