• 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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49 - Episode 6: Crossed Swords

"I don't like it," admitted Belle, inclining her head. "What we did."

"What'd we do?" Error was quite happy to lay a supportive hoof on her.

"We have created new life." She shook her head with soft metal squeaks. "New life we will never meet. Who will be raised in sub-optimal surroundings. As parents, this is far from ideal."

"Yeah... well, parents work in 'sub-optimal' places sometimes, but they keep working. They'll have you, and me." He booped her on the nose. "We'll figure something out."

"I hope so." She pointed at the chassis, the small filly they'd been working on. "Progress, 95%."

"It always gets stuck at 95%," grumped Error. "Until, pow, it's a hundred!"

Belle bounced up to all four hooves. "Let us proceed to the next step!" She pointed to a hanging hose. "Painting!"

Error chuckled at that, grabbing the hose in his teeth. "That does sound fun," he agreed with her unspoken excitement. "Let's paint us a foal."

"Habitable," announced Dawn, waving his right hoof over unseen controls he was working on. "Medical scan... indicates we should not become immediately compromised." Foreign pathogens were no laughing matter. "Chance of our presence causing a catastrophic bio-failure... Less than 1%." As responsible explorers, assuming their own micro-community was harmless was an option they did not take.

Steel nodded, his eyes on the slowly spinning planet before them. "Wandering, any signs of communication?"

"Yes, captain." He nodded firmly. "But not interstellar grade. From the quality and frequency of the messages, this is a low-technology civilization. There's a very good chance they have not left their atmosphere yet."

Fast brought her forehooves together. "How exciting! It's like running across a random infant in a field."

Steel shook his head. "A random infant in a field would be in immediate need of intervention. A fledgling civilization has the right to finish its growth in peace."

Under Score nodded in agreement. "Our own species was being watched for some time. They protected us, but did not interact with us until our first space vessel with living passengers left the atmosphere to greet them." Nods spread over the deck as people remembered that fateful story of Everglow reaching the stars and learning they were not alone in the universe.

Fast scowled at Steel. "While that is all true, those that happened on us, when we were mewling infants, did intercede. They warded away more violent races and stood vigil over us." She brought her hooves together slowly, gently touching them. "That we could extend the favor onwards feels right, and perhaps a touch romantic. As a mature space-faring race, this is a choice we can make, and I move we take the one of greater empathy for those that could become our future peers."

Wandering cleared his throat gently. "Pardon, hm, captains. I don't mean to intrude." He worried his cloven hooves together. "I, uh, approve of Captain Shadow's motion."

Under inclined his head. "I don't object."

Dawn raised a hoof. "The gods do not object either, but neither they nor I are captains." He was formally not voting, instead looking to the captains he accepted.

Steel looked to Fast's smiling face and softly snorted. "This could be an extended mission. We can't explore as we babysit an entire civilization."

Fast rolled a hoof in the air. "We are in the unique position of being champions. If we are truly needed elsewhere, the Author will place us there, and our future incarnations will rise to the occasion."

That rose the tension in the room. Under was the first to set a hoof down with a clop. "May I remind, if a generation is born unknowing, the chain will be broken. We will return to ignorance, to not knowing our responsibilities."

Fast inclined her head. "And? Would that actually be that bad? Besides, we're still here... Even if a broken line were to emerge, which we have no control over, this line would persist, until this ship was vaporized with the entirety of its crew." She turned the hoof to her chest. "I actually like the idea of some of me that isn't burdened with the weight we carry."

Under chuckled softly. "Ever the spirited one, Captain Fast Shadow, but we are not alone in this. We have three guests."

"We have more guests than that," spat Fast. "They just happen to also be our only contact with another species that may... not even exist anymore." She rubbed her cheek softly. It was a bit of a mystery what Equestria was up to. "Their position does not give them any more say on this matter."

"Calm yourself." Steel set a hoof on her shoulder. "Are you feeling the after effects of the flames?"

Fast's face furrowed in quite the scowl. "Are you implying your fellow captain is still in heat like some random animal?"

"Nothing of the sort." He crossed his arms. "But we both felt it... And it was a sobering reminder of our biological needs. You want to mother this species."

"Do they not deserve it?"

Copper smiled as she went through her checklist. "Growth rates have returned to normal, and have not sunk to previous levels." She reached out and gently patted the leaves of a plant that would yield medicinal substances. "A little exposure to whatever radiation that was perked you all up. If we could somehow bottle that up for agricultural use..."

Thankfully, she could walk around her lab without a chainsaw. The growth had slowed as they left the great mega-dyson sphere and whatever mystery it contained. But the plants seemed to still be vibrant and healthy. Bright of color and growing strongly, Copper was delighted to tend to them, taking her notes as she did so.

"Say what now?" Spike inclined his head.

Sonja sighed loudly. "The command deck is buzzing because the captains don't see eye to eye, which is pretty rare for those two, but since it involved a really big decision, they have to finish shooting it down before we can do much else."

Spike gently patted over the head of Little Sonja, parked under him as he sat on his haunches. "They usually get along pretty well. What are they arguing about?"

"It's not hard to get your sights on." Sonja inclined her head the same way he had before flicking it upright, as if commanding him to right his stance, and somehow it worked without words. "We found a primitive species. They have radio at least, but they don't have space travel. Captain Shadow wants to watch over them. Captain Prism's in favor of continuing our exploration." She leveled a hoof at Spike. "You came up. You and your friends. Technically you might be upset at the idea."

"Why?" He shrugged softly. "Sounds like a nice thing to do."

"Well..." She rolled a hoof in the air. "It means, mostly, we're sitting here. No more exploring, just waiting, and maybe defending them if something tries to mess with them, but mostly, waiting. A lot of waiting. There's no promises when a newbie will take their first shot, and our job isn't done until they do."

"But it's still a nice thing to do," argued Spike with a soft shrug. "A little waiting never hurt anyone."

Sonja peered at Spike. Little Sonja burst into laughter, poking at him from below. "You are so silly!"

"By silly you mean daft?" Sonja peered at her younger self. "I thought you liked exploring, seeing new things?"

"Sure." He reached, grabbing Sonja and plucking her right off the ground. "But I have good company. A little relaxing with good things isn't awful. Doing that while getting something good done? Doesn't seem so bad."

Sonja wriggled in his grasp, but not that hard. She might have liked it when he grabbed her like that, even if her dignity prevented her from admitting it. "Will Twilight and Octavia agree with your aim?"

"Will us being parked here stop Twilight from studying?"

Remi gently ran a hand over the warm soft fur of her companion. "Are you holding it in again?"

"I do not like being a blimp," groused Octavia, softly kicking a leg out. "It doesn't hurt the foal, I remind. Just a little Equestrian trick. I struggle to consider how other females of other worlds manage, not having the choice."

"You just kinda get big." Remi smirked softly. "Your joints get achey, and you slow down a bit."

"You speak as if you've had experience."

"Once or twice."

Octavia fixed Remi with a stare. "You are a mother?"

"If you didn't notice, I have both parts, and they do work." She sat up, one hand still working Octavia's belly. "And my tastes swing both ways. So, yeah, father, mother, been there for both." She tickled under Octavia's chin. "But, right now, I am yours. We're monogamous until you get tired of me."

"The way you say that." Octavia rolled upright to her haunches. "Have you... are you..." She shook her head. "I say, is monogamy not the default for you then?"

"Me? Sometimes, sometimes not..." She shrugged. "You have to ask your partner, and accept their wishes, or find another partner. People get hurt when they want something and you give them another." She leaned in to touch noses with Octavia. "And I'm all over my music pony, who prefers things mono, so I'm mono, simple as that. I don't get to be poly with you around, because I love you more than poly."

Octavia met Remi's eyes for a long moment before reaching for her, drawing her into a gentle embrace. "You're lucky, you know. I hear non-Equestrian females--"

"--You don't need to remind me, been there." Remi rolled her eyes even as she returned the hug. "No morning sickness? No bloating? You Equestrians have this with total cheat codes. I'm jealous." She stuck out her tongue as she nestled in closer. "If I hug you enough, can you lend me some of those genes?"

"I don't think it works that way," laughed out Octavia. "I would if I could though." She nipped at Remi's cheek and began to nuzzle under her chin. "Now that would be something, wouldn't it... If they could figure out how we manage it and share it with the universe. That would be lovely."

"Lovely," echoed Remi. "But there is something magic to actually... looking the part." She raised a brow. "To see that factory running, the smoke rising, the work happening. You..." She ran a paw down that slender belly. "You're keeping it all a secret. You look like a normal lady, then pow, surprise, child."

"This is a cultural thing, I'm afraid." Octavia shook her head slowly. "I'm not used to seeing gravid mares walking around, so the idea of it lacks the romantic hints it seems to have for you."

"You make that sound really strange."

"Because it is." Octavia smiled gently. "At least, to me. We are not the same."

"We aren't... and that's alright." They touched noses with closed eyes, happy with the alien they were hugging.

Far below them, a robed figure leaned over their complicated device, wheeling it slowly in place. "A new star," they whispered, uncertain. "No..." It wasn't a star. Stars did not look like that.

It was something else. Something good, or something bad? When the heavens were intruded on, it was something, something large. The scholar took up a quill and began to write quickly. At the least, it was their responsibility to inform others, and to seek counsel. Surely someone, somewhere, had a better idea, or at least, told it was happening, could try to find out.

Not that they wouldn't try to learn themselves. There were many stories and documents to sift through. One of those many dusty tomes surely held the answer to the meaning of the strange visitor in the sky.

One thing felt certain.

Something was changing, for the better or the worse. Gods did not send such things for nothing.

Author's Note:

Our last update of the month. Woo, weekly updates are fun! Also, start of an episode! What could this all mean?! Should Twilight, Spike and Octavia object more strongly to this idea?

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