• 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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5 - From Nothing, Everything

Under frowned faintly as he plodded up beside Spike. "I can feel it... We are drawing closer to it. Look!" There was a soft red light from up ahead, pulsing in a slow methodical brightening and dimming. "It's growing stronger." Each bright phase was just a little longer than the dimming.

Twilight stepped forward with bright eyes shining through her clear mask. "How incredibly fascinating! Do you suppose it has any sapience, or is this an entirely... automatic response?" She paused suddenly, ear perking with the faint crinkle of the plastic covering it.

"Connection lost, local storage being used," spoke the female voice in her ear.

"Connection lost?" she repeated. "Connection to what?"

Spike peered ahead, stepping forward across the hard stone slowly. "No idea. Belle?"

"Connection to ship terminated." Belle turned her head smoothly to face Under. "Proceed with the mission?"

Under waved a hoof forward. "They couldn't help us anyway. It may be a property of the stone above us." He stalked forward to just behind Spike, matching his pace. "I will not miss this opportunity."

"Agreed." Twilight was at his side in a flash. "This is too exciting to miss!"

As one, they pressed into the dark of the cave, but it wasn't nearly as dark as it should have been. The red light they were approaching seemed to reach out, soon all around them in pulsing redness. The walls were rough and naturally carved, with no sign of sapient life.

Spike raised his head softly, a voice whispering gently to him, but it was not the sound of the computer's voice. "What will I be?" it asked.

"Uh... Who's asking?" Spike glanced around nervously, but the others there were peering at him with some confusion.

Twilight pointed at herself. "I didn't say anything, did I?" She looked to Under. "Did I?" Her tone implied she wasn't entirely certain on that matter.

"What will I be," whispered to Under Score.

He frowned softly. "That is exactly what we are here to determine. Are we approaching you?"

"What joy," spoke the voice to all of them. "What terror. To know, to be certain. To close so many paths, and open others. I am... scared. Is that what I am?"

Belle looked around at her friends, but they all seemed distracted at best. "Am I missing something? I wish to participate!" But she was the only one not heading the speech, no matter the electronic pleadings she offered.

Spike sat on his haunches and clapped his hands. "I have it. I read a comic with something like this. Did you learn our language by listening to us?"

"Listen... No, absorb, yes. To listen. They will listen. They do not listen. What will I be?"

Under hiked a brow at Spike, but they were moving forward again, towards the light they were... speaking with? "What do you know of yourself?"

"You have answers," stated the voice in neutral certainty, as if noting the sky were above them and the ground below. "What will I be?"

Spike hiked a thumb back at the little robot filly on his back. "Why aren't you talking to her?"

"Yes, why are you not talking to me," she sang out discordantly. "I cannot open a friendship file until I meet you."

"Her... Him. They will have those. They will be those. What will I be?"

Under suddenly stopped. "Dear Sun Queen above... You are this planet's god."


Twilight jerked back. "Like Luminace? It's... been some time since I thought about her."

"God..." The red light grew brighter and brighter. Unseen to them, the smoke billowed freely into the atmosphere, alarming their friends. "That is what I will be."

Under stroked at his chin and beard as best he could with plastic covering all of the parts involved. "Dawn will be quite upset when he hears what he missed... Very well, if you are what will become the first of this world, I would bid you to be a good one."

"Good. Bad. What would be good?" The voice became more curious, hopeful. "Answer-bringer, tell me more."

They sank, all but Belle slumping to the floor, eyes closing. Belle blinked softly with her electric eyes. "Hello?" But they did not answer her. Her attempts to poke and shake Spike awake proved fruitless. "Awaken! Life signs... detected. Why are you asleep?!"

They were separate, yet together. It was a formless dream where each could envision what they knew of divinity. Strange snatches of thoughts gave life to old memories. Twilight could remember Luminace's gentle presence, of the kinship they felt, a mutual desire for knowledge.

Spike remembered the darker touch of the Night Mare being visited upon his friend, Applejack. Her struggle as he knew it came to the fore, and her freedom from that influence.

Under was a deep well to reach into. So many lives to sift through, so many different meetings with different gods. He had met Luminace, and most of the others, sometimes in kindness, sometimes in bitter opposition.

They all experienced these things in fitful flashes of moments stretched across a seemingly infinite moment.

"What is goodness?" asked the voice, louder, feminine instead of neutral, its gender apparently decided.

She did not await their answers, drawing from them, bidding them dream of goodness, and its opposition. Lofty heights of joy and the deepest pits of greed and darkness. "I did not know... but now... now I can learn." She gained the concept of right and wrong through the absorption of their thoughts, a gift that would have been denied to her for untold millenia with only her life's primitive life to learn from.

"To be good. To be evil."

Spike blinked open his eyes, slit eyes contracting against the pulsing light, much brighter than it had been. "What the?"

"Consciousness regained!" joyfully sang Belle, bouncing up and down in front of him, her metal hooves dangerously close to bopping him on the snout. "Are you operating at full capacity?"

"Yeah, sure, I think I'm alright." He sat up and looked around. "Twilight? Under?"

"Mmm?" Twilight sat up onto her haunches, shaking her head. "That was... something... Journal, did you record that?"

The journal obediently opened a window in her vision, showing her sleeping on the floor, then waking up and rising to her haunches. "Oh... I suppose not."

"Nnng, I am reminded why I never got too entangled with the workings of gods." Under put a hoof to his head, though two layers of protection separated the two. "At least Luminace is usually gentle in her approach and method."

The red light suddenly snuffed out completely, plunging them into darkness until Twilight lit the area with her horn.

The redness gathered on the floor from the sides of the cavern they were in, taking on the form of a pony, tall and slender of leg. With a long horn and spread wings, this was clearly a pony of the three tribes. "Thank you," she bid gently. "I know better, and will try to guide my people, but they are not people yet... I will wait, and guide... One day, they will be made in my image."

Twilight clopped her hooves once before they fell to the floor. "Wait... Oh no! I mean, whatever is growing here may never have been intended to be ponies."

"Hello!" cheerfully greeted Belle, waving wildly at the glowing red alicorn. "What is your name?"

The goddess inclined an ear towards Belle, acknowledging her for the first time. "A name..."

"Do you not have one? I am good at naming things. I named this world!" She bounced in place, only growing more excited.

"What is this world called?" she asked, fixing her attention on Belle.

Spike suddenly tackled Belle, covering her mouth with a hand and pulling her back. "Yeah that's enough of that." He smiled nervously at the new godling. "You really should make up your own name."

"You did not name yourself," retorted the goddess, stepping closer. "Let her speak. You are being evil."

"Evil?" He dropped her like she was red hot. "I wasn't trying to be!"

Twilight rubbed behind her covered head. "This is too exciting. Well, I'm Twilight Sparkle. That's Under Score, Spike Sparkle, and Bullette Belle."

"Hello!" sang Belle with a big smile. "Welcome to Alupraz. That is the name of this world."

"And it will be my name," decided Alupraz. "I am Alupraz, and I will be good to my life." She raised a hoof to her belly, rubbing gently. "It still grows. Will you stay while I wait?"

Under frowned softly. "That would be... an unfortunately long period."

"You have given me thought, and words. You will be good and keep me company." She smiled gently, an expression she had only just learned. "To leave me alone would be evil, and you are not that. You have struggled long against evil. Be good, and stay."

Belle tilted her head left and right. "This logic is difficult to counter."

Spike sat on his haunches, sitting up tall. "Yeah, see, let's assume we're cool with that." The goddess fixed her vision on him. "Which we are!" he hastily added. "There's a problem though." He held up two fingers close to each other. "We have expiration dates. You're talking... what... hundreds and hundreds of moons?"

"Possibly billions of years," countered Under with a soft huff. "During which Alupraz, both as a god and a planet, will experience great changes and upheavals, as is the nature of things."

"That sounds frightening." Alupraz took a step towards Under. "And you will leave me to that... alone? What I ask is not an evil request..."

"Calculating..." Belle's eyes danced with numbers and figures as she worked through things. "Probability of our continued existence if we remain here until theorized arrival of native sapience, 0% with rounding."

Alupraz's expression fell, knowing something akin to sorrow for the first time. "I can fix it. I am a god. You told me this. If I wish you to live, can this not be made so? You will not perish."

Twilight stepped forward, pity and sympathy shining in her eyes. "I felt this way once before."

"Did you? I did not see it..." Alupraz was watching Twilight, hope in her eyes. "What did you do?"

"I had to... say goodbye... to friends I loved dearly, one by one." She raised a hoof to her chest. "But they did not leave entirely. They can't."

"Why is this?" Alupraz turned to Under. "Your thoughts are clear and clean. Explain this."

Under chortled softly. "I'm the worst one to ask. I have a hunch she's about to mention something very sentimental."

"And true!" spat Twilight with a snort. "They won't leave me because they are a part of me, in here." she tapped the hoof to her chest. "I remember them, and those memories shape who I am. Even if we leave, we've become a part of you. What you are, Alupraz, we helped form that, as all friends do."

"You gave me a name, and a voice, and a body." She looked down over herself. "You've given me feelings and emotions... and I am unsure I like them. They are uncomfortable and horrible... but once given, it cannot be given up. How do you endure this?"

Spike pat her on the back. "You get used to it. Speaking of that, our friends must be really worried, any way you could let us talk to them?"

Alupraz inclined her head. "Are your friends not here? You may speak."

Belle pointed straight at where their ship was through the stone above them. "They are in geostationary orbit. Communication has been severed."

"There are more of you... That explains some of the things I saw. No, experienced. Seeing is new." Alupraz blinked her red-lidded eyes, the eyes themselves a sparkling off-white with iris' the same color as the water of the world that shared her name. "I will keep you alive. Is this not enough?"

Under shook his head. "You are asking us to perform evil. If we stay, we are letting our other friends down. They will be sad, and diminished, for our absence."

"No... I am a good god," she shrank back a step, her new hooves clopping on the stone floor. "I am asking only to not be lonely..."

Twilight sagged in place. "One way or the other, someone will be hurt today... I... am so sorry. I had no idea... I didn't..."

"What she said." Spike shrugged softly as he sat up. "We didn't mean to make someone just to be lonely. That was, uh... our bad. We did the evil there, I guess." He rubbed behind his head. "But I guess we can't take that back?"

"You have done evil," sighed out Alupraz. "Even warriors of goodness can perform darkness. It is, perhaps, unavoidable... Do you regret it?"

Belle waved a hoof wildly. "Regret routine running at 120% capacity!" She didn't sound that regretful despite her assurance.

Under cleared his throat. "We do what we can to minimize the chances of harm. That is why we wear these." He tapped at his own suit of plastic. "We did not wish to contaminate the life growing in you with our own."

"But you contaminated me," countered the goddess. Alupraz let out a slow breath. "But what is done... I should have slept longer, to stir when thought first began. I see that now. Your thoughts kindled my motion."

Twilight suddenly raised a hoof. "But! This means something!" She was smiling, looking almost giddy.

Alupraz blinked at Twilight, confusion clear on her face. "What is the good news you hold?"

"You being here, waiting for thought, means there will be thought." She clopped her hooves. "I assume, Under, you've visited other worlds and this doesn't happen every time you visit a world without sapient life."

Under shook his head. "I do not recall writing of this manner of event before. Missus Sparkle may have a point. You formed in response to a future need, which means that future will come in time. There are countless worlds that never give rise to thinking life."

Alupraz drew back a step. "Truly? Truly... I am a special world." She smiled gently. "I will tend to my life. I will guide them, and they will become bright eyed. They will explore the stars, find the other sleeping worlds, like you. Is your god happy with you? Did they send you to awaken me?"

Under snorted softly. "If Dawn were here, he'd already have said yes before I finish this sentence. I do not presume to understand the thoughts of gods, even one as young as you, Alupraz."

Spike hiked a thumb towards the exit. "We really should... get moving and contact the others, so they don't get too worried about us."

"Chemical alteration detected," noted Belle, the fans in her nostrils drawing in air.

"I am changing," explained Alupraz gently. "To make life like yours, I will need to become habitable to it, and guide my life towards it. I will be a good world to them... Will they love me?" She reached out and tapped Twilight on her covered snout. "When they can view me without this in the way." She trailed the hoof over the clear hood that separated them. "It will take so long. Perhaps I... No, first I will do as you said."

"As I said?" Twilight took a step back, putting some personal space between them. "What did I say?"

"I must say goodbye." She approached Belle and casually picked her up in her hooves, squeezing the metal filly close. "I met you last of my new friends, and you are the only one I can touch truly. Are you certain you cannot stay?"

Belle was joyful to return the embrace, hugging the god that was also the planet, newborn and facing an eternity of solitude. "My programming requires that I return. Friendship file created! Points awarded."

Alupraz turned to Spike. "Guardian, protect your little goddess. She needs you. I only wish I had someone as loyal and caring beside me." She set Belle down carefully.

Spike blushed, turning a dark red as his love was called out. "Oh, uh, yeah. I mean... She's a pony worth protecting, you know?"

Alupraz turned to Under. "You who would walk separate of the gods, know that at least one thinks kindly of you, even if you have done evil. Try ever for goodness, and never stop seeking."

Under dipped his head lightly. "I don't plan to. If I may suggest? Now's a fine time to learn yourself. Few planets are aware this early, if ever. Take stock of what happens, and where it leads. Know yourself."

"I will... Thank you, for this chance, and this sorrow, bitter as it is. It is better than nothing." Alupraz turned to Twilight. "And you... You gave me a body." She spread one wing, then the other. "But you also gave me solitude. You also gave me how to face it, as you have done, but you also showed me something else..."

"What... is that?" Twilight raised a brow, curiosity in her eyes.

"You showed me what its end is like. I will cherish that memory, and hold it close. One day, I know, I will experience it for myself, and I will weep tears of joy when the first of my life knows me and I can greet it." She dipped her head and began to fade away. "Now goodbye..."

"The chemical composition of the atmosphere is stabilizing," announced Dawn, looking between the main screen and the many virtual ones of his station. "Cloud cover is starting to clear... By the Queen's brilliance, they should have some of her radiance shortly."

Steel nodded, but his eyes were on Wandering Note. "Any signals?"

"Just one." Wandering tapped at virtual keys with a little frown. "Twilight's journal has established a thin connection and is busily uploading its recordings. I've tried commanding it to pause, but there isn't enough bandwidth to do much more than receive the upload. At least it means her suit is intact enough to do that."

Fast pointed at the main screen. "Can you display the upload?"

Steel put a hoof across in front of her. "Belay that. Fast Shadow, there are laws, and that is private. The archivists back home can sift through it, but it's against policy, and etiquette, for us to view her journal without her express permission."

Fast took a slow breath. "You are right, of course... But this involves their safety. Wandering, tell us the moment you can get a word in edgewise."

Dawn sat up sharply. "By the gods..."

"What is it?" Fast turned her head quickly. "Something on the scanners?"

"Only internally..." He moved a hoof in a cross of a motion across his front. "I can feel the presence of the divine, so close, yet removed. I do not recognize it."

Steel flinched. "Gods come in a lot of variety, as I know you are aware. Are we speaking about a nice god or a not so nice variety?"

"They... Captains, permission to meditate?" He stood up from his station. "I will need to contemplate on this to better answer you."

Fast hopped down from her command chair. "I'll take his post."

"Permission granted," finished Steel. "Keep us updated." He waved towards the elevator, wishing all due speed to their resident priest.

Dawn hurried away, striding purposefully into his room an elevator ride and a few hallways later. His was a quiet room, and its scent changed as he entered. Incense began to fill the air without his requesting it, the room long ago programmed for his needs. He set on a simple mat and crossed his legs, sitting more like a human might than a horse.

He said no words, for he knew not the words that would please this new entity, and he did not presume to guess. He cleared his mind and thought on the impression he had felt, trying to learn more, to see, but all that he could see in his mind's eye was the world below, spinning slowly, full of the first traces of life.

No god, as he knew it, greeted him, or even emerged for him to bear witness to. It was a world... A world was not a god, right? He snorted softly. "You are being foolish." Who said a world could not be a god? "I came to explore and learn, start by unlearning what you thought to be true." None could say with certainty that a world could not be a god.

If his senses kept trying to tell the truth to him, perhaps it was up to his mind to accept what was before him. "Greetings, planet. Are you the one I see?"

"I am Alupraz." A figure stepped out from behind his vision of the planet. She had pale-red wings and bright red body. Her eyes sparkled off-white with blue-purple iris'. "And you are not my life."

Alupraz, he remembered, was the name Belle had given to the world. "Did she learn of you, and name the world after you?"

The goddess inclined her head at him. "I do not understand your question, but I greet you. Will you come and stay while I await my life?"

"I am Dawn Event, humble servant of gods." He dipped his head low, not that it mattered in his vision.

"Then serve me, Dawn Event. I am a goddess that sorely desires company, for those I knew are leaving me. I have said my goodbyes to them, but I can say hello to you. Will you fill the hole they have left behind?"

Dawn took a slow breath, realizing what dangerous ground he was standing on. "Honored goddess, know that I would, but I cannot. Would you tell me more of yourself, that I may carry word of you across the sea of stars?"

Alupraz's ears perked up at him. "Would you do that? Will it help?"

"Others will offer prayer, and that will provide company. A sincere prayer knows not the meaning of distance. Tell me, how should I pray to you?" He gestured in the vision, conjuring images of the altars of the gods he knew, and he knew many. "How best should we praise your divinity?"

Alupraz's careful expression began to lift to wonder and joy. "I feel no lie in your heart. You have truly served me well, Dawn Event, servant of the gods. Will you praise me, send your thoughts to me, that I will not know solitude over these long years?"

"Not I alone, for I will share what you give to me. Tell me how I should prostrate myself before your brilliance." His mouth moved despite not speaking, so intense were the visions he endured, wherein he spoke clearly.

"I...do not have these things. I must make them." She gestured to the side at the world that floated beside herself. "Think of my world, and me." She turned the hoof to herself. "I am the mother of my world, life growing slowly within me. Mother Alupraz, engrave the name in your prayers, and do not allow solitude to come."

Alupraz approached silently, her hooves making no noises against the cosmos as she approached. "When my children are ready to reach outward, hear my joyful cries, and return. Offer to them the same friendship you are offering to me, bring them up in tender embrace of kinship, so they can dance the stars with you."

"They will know your prayers as well," noted Dawn in grave tones. "I am far from my world, beloved as it remains in my memories, but its gods live well and close within my heart. I do not forget them, and I will not forget you. You will not be forgotten, for this is my fate. As I am woven ever forward in destiny, so too shall you."

He blinked open his eyes, his vision blurry with tears he did not ask for spilling free. "Captains..."

"Status report?" asked Steel firmly.

"The goddess is friendly... Praise unto Alupraz."

Author's Note:

I owed some words to Kiki, so you get 1k extra words as we close out this episode. Alupraz, explored!

What should the next episode be about? Comment!

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