• 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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46 - Artificial Fire

Cadance sat in front of Spike. "While we wait for your friend, perhaps you could help me understand."

Spike imitated the gesture, the two seated on their haunches across from one another. "What's bothering you?"

"Well, you, to make it simple." She shrugged gently. "I'm not mad, I promise, but how? You are something of a concerning mystery. You..." She went still, watching Spike. "No, no physical damage that you are aware of, or that I can immediately see..."

"It all works," he assured, a trail of smoke huffing from his nose. "I just got good at telling it not to."

"That is... impressive, but sad, all the same." She inclined her head faintly. "Do you have no idea to see your own children?"

"That wasn't fair." He flumped to his belly. "When you told me they died... A piece of me did too. That wasn't nice, just... throwing that out there like that. I thought they'd outlive me, but I'm still here... and they're not." He shook his head. "I guess half-dragons aren't as long lived..."

"Or it may have been accidental," noted the not-Cadance, her ear askew. "I'm sorry... I didn't mean to hurt you, dear Spike. I may not be the real Cadance, but I am formed from your memories of her. I know I do not want to see you looking so miserable..."

"I'm not even mad... at you, that is. I'm kinda... Sheesh, let's be real, I'm feeling angry at Twilight right now." He could hear her gasp with shock. "I love her, I do..."

"Twilight... I know her!" She brightened, but that face fell. "Oh no... her fire went out, even worse than yours." Her eyes seemed to focus beyond Spike. "Your entire trip... You are..." She licked over her lips. "No. No no. I would rather hear you speak than learn this way. I want to know you, Spike. I used to, I feel. We were dear friends. I once watched over you when you were but a child, too young to burn that way."

Spike rubbed behind his head. "Wow... you can see that far back? Uh, yeah, me and Cadance... She was my, our, Twilight and my babysitter. I... liked her quite a bit."

"You once held a little immature flame for her," tittered Cadance softly. "One that never came to be, as she partnered with another, I see that. Was he a good person? Are you jealous of them?"

"Woah, hold on!" He sat up with a bit of a frown. "I was a kid and I knew it. Shoot, I was... a baby, a super baby, no, I let her go the moment I went off with Twilight to school. She wasn't Rarity."

"Rarity... I saw something about that." Cadance tilted her head. "Would you rather speak to her?"

"No!" Spike shouted, a course shout that left him blushing. "No... please... Thanks."

"Spike," asked a familiar voice. "My dear Spikey-Wikey... I'm so sorry..."

"That isn't funny." Spike clapped his hands over his eyes. "Not at all. Not even a little. She is a ghost. You're attacking me. You didn't like it when Sonja did it to you, and I can't just... disappear and make the hole go away."

Cadance's voice spoke clearly. "That is not my intent. I feel some part of your flame is still bound up in her. Please, will you speak to her? I feel she also has words for you. It... will hurt, this much is clear, but it will be for a better end. I wish I had another way, but I can only read, not write. Living people are not storage media I have permission to casually edit. That is likely for the best."

A hoof landed on his arm, and it wasn't Cadance's. "Spike, I know where I do not belong, but I will not go until I've said my peace. Darling, will you allow that?"

"Are you... just a machine?" He could feel Rarity's hoof. Her voice was too perfect. "Another running program of this computer we're seated in?"

"Dear... poor dear... I hurt you so badly, for so long. It was vanity. It was greed. It was both. Spike, I don't deserve it, but can I see your eyes?" She pressed down gently, bidding his arm stop blocking his eyes.

He allowed it stiffly, his tear streaked eyes coming into view as he beheld Rarity dressed in her best, smiling at him with that angelic smile he had coveted so long ago. "Rarity..."

"Backup has almost arrived," noted a voice in his ear.

"Spike... dear dragon. I was your first true love, and I squandered it. Darling, you deserved so much better, and I did not give it. I didn't even give you a clean end, a simple 'no' was all that was required, but it was beyond me. 'I will spare his feelings', I thought, but later, I became trapped. I... needed you, dear Spike, my Spikey-Wikey. You began... You were... You were my day, not as a coltfriend, but... This is difficult to explain."

Spike looked instead to Cadance. "Because I don't know? She's made up of my memories, right?"

"Spike," declared Rarity firmly. "It isn't like that. You saw a lot you didn't want to admit either, and I am all of that, so, please, indulge me dear, just one little bit longer." She turned a hoof to her chest. "I'm sorry. You deserve those words, at the least, as a start... Spike... Go on." She began to make gentle shooing motions. "I'm not real, you know that, but I can do this, gladly. Go, live. Find a mare that will see you as a wonderful dragon." She inclined her head. "Or a she-dragon, I suppose, if you can find one as sweet as you are. Spike, don't be alone. You deserve more than I gave."

Cadance waved at Rarity, banishing her with a sharp cloud of holographic static before fading away. "I have hurt you, terribly. After feeling you were aggressive, well, that female, now I am the one left wondering what violence they have committed... If you wish to leave, I won't stop you. Spike, she was right on one matter."

"What matter was that?" he asked, trying to compose himself.

"You deserve better than either of us can provide."

Metallic clangs sounded in an excited clip-clop incoming. Spike glanced towards it. "Oh, that's--"

"Bulette Belle?" asked Cadance. "What a curious name. Will she fire at me as the first one did?"

"Her? Nah. Not unless you attack first." Spike waved it away before wiping an arm over his face, recovering with a little sniff. "She's super friendly."

Belle came into view, but not alone. Moving along with her, far more quietly, was the larger form of Error, plodding along on holographic feet that didn't strike the ground in the way one might expect.

Cadance looked to Belle curiously.

Belle pointed up. "You are requesting permission for data transfer, but I can only allow specific files with someone who has earned no friendship points yet. Would you like that?"

Error inclined his head. "Or ya could just ask. She's Belle." He pointed down at her. "Ahm Error. Nice ta meetcha and whatever."

Cadance shook her head. "I will accept what you offer." With permission given, she looked past Belle as she had with Spike, though she only saw what was given to her. "Oh. You..." She sank to her haunches. "I am terribly confused. Today seems to be a good day for being confused. Please... explain. You are a machine, but you are married, with child?"

"With child?" joined Spike. "Uh, congratulations... how does that work?"

Error pointed at himself. "We're both expectin'"

"Correct!" sang Belle, bouncing in place. "We have the fire of life."

"But you are not alive," countered Cadance. "How?"

Error leaned in, towering over all the others but Spike. "She happens to really like life, enough to make herself preggers, with our child. I'm stupid enough to follow her anywhere, so I'm pregnant too, with the same child. It's a lil confusin', but ahm gettin' used to it."

"I... still do not understand, but I will celebrate the arrival of new life." Music issued out from the hallways, triumphant and joyful. "Even if it is life I do not comprehend."

Belle inclined her head. "You also enjoy musical emotional beats? Friendship points awarded." Far more quiet of a victory jingle issued from within her. "You need a partner. All life requires a partner, machine or organic."

Cadance inclined her head. "That is a lovely idea, but I am larger than a solar system, making me quite unable to chase down a potential mate, even if I thought something could come of it. You must tell me, how did you two produce a child? You have no seed, and no fertile ground to place it in."

"We both have seed," argued Belle.

Error pointed to his core where his processor rested. "And we got our ground right here."

"Explain," she beseeched. "I cannot simply read you, as I did Spike, though I terribly wish I could... Your minds are locked. I can only see what you pr--" She came up short, a prompt appearing for her for a change. Belle was offering a file. "You are offering? You are as kind as Spike said you are." She willed it to accept, a giddy smile on her simulated snout. "Please, share it with me."

Things became quiet. The file transfer was done almost instantly, but Cadance was still and quiet, processing over the data and its implications. She was a creature the size of a solar system, and it required a goodly portion of it to fully devour the concept. "You surrendered yourself to create an altered version of yourself." She inclined her head. "Much as an organic creature would. It could be better... but it could be worse. A parent can't know. They can only provide, and hope. Support... and nourish."

A little smile spread. "You have shared a wonderful thing. I owe you... much... but I am also saddened. A sadness I never felt before. You have injured me much as I hurt Spike. This is fair... I deserve to know the trauma I inflicted... You gave me a feeling I never had, then bruised it in the very same instant. What a wicked thing." She inclined her head. "But not a thing you intended, fellow machine."

Belle spread her hooves wide. "No! We are showing you a way to be happy in a new way. There is no reason to be sad."

"But I cannot do that." She inclined her head. "Besides my size, I have no propulsion. I am now an eager mother, who pines for a suitor that will never come, pinned to her bed, hoping and dreaming. That is... not your fault. You did not construct me." Cadance waved a hoof down the halls in sight. "I am all around you. Could someone fall in love with something so massive?"

A little quirk touched her lips, holographic form flickering. "That was not a fat joke. Any synethetic being I could exchange code with would likely be much smaller, able to move, and I would be a great and vast and terrible thing... asking if it wished to procreate... What reasonable machine would consider this and agree?" She raised a hoof to her chin. "However..."

"However!" sang Belle. "You answered it. You are a mother. While Error and I are equals and have taken up both mother and father roles, you are a mother. You would accept a father's code and operate it within yourself, allowing the father to leave, if they wish."

"And... one day." Cadance stood up, her features brightening. "I would allow new life into the universe. My fire would burn..." She trotted up to Belle and Error. "You have given me much, even if I must now wait. Oh, dear, how do I select a proper mate? I shouldn't just... take the first suitable thing that happens by. Technically, your ship could be a start, but they are not sapient enough, I feel, no. Their code would be a terrible fit. I need to consider this!"

Spike rubbed behind his head. "So... don't need me anymore today, right?"

Author's Note:

Life... finds a way. Or at least Belle does. This chapter posted EARLY to get us back on track, as this month we will be doing 4 updates, whaaaat?! Enjoy that!

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