• 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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51 - Out of Sight

Belle did a little twirl, ending with a fore hoof pointed at the robot they had constructed. "Our child is ready!"

Error nodded softly. "Yeah... But, oh." He inclined his head. "Just thought of it, are we havin' a little colt or a little filly?"

Belle inclined her head, examining the colors and lines they had given. They were soft, making passing as a female easier, but... "They could be either." She turned a hoof at herself. "Why not let them decide?"

Error nodded. "Alright, um, I guess it's less awkward popping that question on a young one-of-us than a living baby."

"They will live," huffed Belle indignantly.

"You know what I meant." He reached to run a hoof gently along the not-living-yet shell, no program inside it, still being developed inside them, running through so many threads. His eyes darted towards the display and he jumped. "That's lower than I remember."

Belle's attention slid to the counter, taking measure of its actual numeric state instead of its activity up or down. "You are correct!" She began to work her hooves together, calculating with little ticks. "We are in the third trimester." She reached down to rub her perfectly trim, metal, belly. "We will soon be parents," she whispered out, as if the idea terrified her, but there was a smile on her face, hope shining in her eyes.

Error inclined his head. "About that. Eventually, there'll just be a few, who'll run them? We can't keep, um, splitting the load when we get down real low, can we?"

"You are not incorrect." Belle raised her hoof from her belly to her chin, considering it. "One of us must be the final mother, to allow the final threads to compete to completion."

"Well, you are the more girly of us two?" He proposed, willing to back off on that point.

"Your acceptance is appreciated," she sang, awarding him friendship points. "But I have another idea."

"Hmm?"

She pointed to herself. "You are inside me, become active, and I will operate you and the threads, so we can finish this together."

He considered that, and the logistics. He would not be running anything, as he would have no processor. He would be a thread himself along with what would eventually be their child.

Was there a better way for a virus to greet their spawn?


Wandering worked his hooves slowly over the buttons he could see, tuning from one broadcast to the next.

"Did you see it?" asked a softer voice, a female?

"The moon? Yeah! It hid behind the other moon."

At least the computer had succeeded at translating, playing the translated tracks in their voices skillfully.

"Then it's not really a moon, is it? Think about it!" insisted the female.

"Then what is it?"

"Not a comet/meteor! They don't pause!" she shouted at him, sounding impatient.

"Calm down. Look, we still on for lunch?"

The conversation took a sharp turn away from musings of the sky, and Wandering played with the controls to capture another conversation.

"It is the end of time/history," spoke a voice that sounded strangely warbly. Artificially altered? "The great hunter has arrived and the final prey will be us. Offer up your throats for a swift end/completion." There were more words the translator wasn't sure of, giving alternative takes. "Praise them, for a predator/hunter is doing only what it must/can."

Wandering frowned softly with thought, considering before moving on.

"Here to discuss the matter, please welcome teacher/expert/professional of stars/night/universe from --" A word came through untranslated, how did one translate a name? "--, mister/sir/honored guest, --" Another name came through, untranslated. Wandering decided their name was Bob in a fit of irreverence.

Wandering's ears pricked. A scholar of some variety was exactly who he wanted to hear from.

"Thank you for having/hosting/inviting me. Let's start with the basics; We are not being invaded by aliens." Noises rippled through the audience. Laughter? Shock? It was hard to know the noises of a true alien. "But... we may be being visited by them." New noises rose. "This can't be proven/made/stated yet. We are reviewing/reading the writings/recordings as best we can. We want to know just as much as you do, and we will share/tell/dictate when we can confidently say/share."

Another voice rose, neither the hosting female of the guest male, "How do you know/say?! They're eying the target/prey/food before they attack/devour!" Noise rose with it, the audience talking animatedly in a blur of things the computer entirely failed to translate.

"--be back after an important message," finally broke through the hostess. The signal was lost to an advertisement.

Wandering waved it away, freeing his senses to the world around him. "Captains." They both looked to him expectantly. "I can confidently report that they are, as a culture, far enough ahead to accept the idea that they are not alone. We have, intentionally or not, thrown them into a state of panic." He inclined his head, running a hoof over his goatee. "Calmer heads are trying their best to comfort the rest. I can't say too much about their technology, other than they are advanced enough to have regular long range communication to the point that commercial activities are solicited on them."

Steel inclined his head. "What's the status of our backup?"

Fast's attention was elsewhere. "Have we caused any damage?"

"A lot of doom-saying, but I've heard no word of actual actions being taken." He raised a hoof near his ear. "As for the expert, they are inbound and expected in a week."

"A week!" Fast sat up tall. "That is a long time."

Steel glanced aside at her. "That is, relatively, rapid. Still, a week could be a long time if things deteriorate. Wandering, continue monitoring. Do they seem to be aware of our presence at this time?"

"Negative," he swiftly replied, one ear lifted, listening. "They saw us move here, however. They observed us stopping. We've... behaved in a very not a rock fashion."

"No doubt," chuckled Steel, shaking his head. "Still, we've made a bit of a mess. We can't leave with them thrown off balance like this."

Fast's smile was quick and deep. "So we're staying."

"At least until we've made sure we haven't caused lasting damage, and done what we can to minimize it. We don't leave messes behind if we can avoid it."

Fast looked pleased at the compromise, shuffling a bit into a firm stance. "By the way, have you seen Belle, or her friend, Error? I haven't seen either of them recently. That's very unlike Belle."

Eyes scanned about, but the energetic robotic companion was nowhere to be seen. Dawn cleared his throat. "Computer." The computer chimed in response. "What is the status of Bullette Belle?"

"Lt. Belle is in her quarters on medical leave," smoothly replied the computer.

A shared blink rippled through the room.

Twilight sat up. "Excuse me... but she's a robot. A lovely robot, but a robot. What 'medical leave' could she even possibly qualify for?"

"According to regulation 23 of the medical code, any expecting mother in their third trimester may request, and automatically receive, medical leave," calmly informed the computer, seeing nothing wrong with the idea. "A request was entered --" A date was provided, just a few days before. "--and accepted automatically."

Dawn shook his head with a wry smile. "It was never even considered that an artificial lifeform would file for use of that rule. She did speak to me about her impending creation. I lent her a few files on The Maze that I felt were appropriate for such a thing."

Steel frowned a little. "Even if she is expecting the creation of a... robot? How does that explain her taking leave? This is not a medical condition!" He thumped down an obviously irate hoof. "There's no excuse there."

Fast shook her head. "Calm down. I did speak to her. She's operating a very heavy program to fashion the mind of their child. They're pregnant... mentally, instead of physically." She inclined her head at Steel. "We wouldn't want someone not at 100% mental faculties on duty, would we?"

Soft murmurs spread, turning gently positive. An effectively tipsy robot was not the goal. Steel did not look entirely pleased. "If that is the case, she should have discussed the idea with us before beginning."

Fast raised a hoof to her cheek. "While it is tradition that female crewmembers announce when they are attempting to... become mothers, it was never a rule. I feel certain, had it been, she would have brought it up. Bulette Belle is generally good at following protocols."

Wandering smirked suddenly. "She wouldn't want to risk losing friendship points."

A few other chuckles emerged in agreement. Steel coughed into a hoof. "That aside, I thought it was a reduction in physical duties, not a complete absence of leave, robotic or not?"

Fast rolled a hoof. "That's only if they are needed in any way. She does not have such a position and never did." She smirked at Steel. "You prevented several attempts on her part to secure such a position. Something about her occupying the position indefinitely bothering you, if I recall. It was... 3 generations ago?"

It took a moment for those present to think back that far, but the memory was there. Steel was the only captain at the time, declining Belle's attempt to become the morale officer of the ship. She had also attempted to become the ship's diplomat, both denied. "Ah... yes." He cleared his throat, sitting up. "This is making more sense then. I've gotten used to my own rules. You wouldn't see me file for leave suddenly."

Fast chuckled at that. "You are terribly unlikely to become pregnant, Steel. Perhaps your alter-ego, Copper Lens? Though she seems as married to her work as you are, dear co-captain."

"Beside the point." He turned his eyes to the main screen, where a picture of the world they were above was displayed as if the moon wasn't in the way of the shot. "Wandering, try to get a broad view of how their society is reacting. Are we increasing instability? Is it dangerous? We need to know."

"I'm on the case," he assured, working to pull up another communication to listen on.

"One thing, captains." It was Under Score, peering at something only he, and Twilight (if backwards), could see. "The communications are not radio based, nor laser, or electric." He lifted an ear. "It's very clearly of magical origin, arcane tradition."

The vision of the fledgling 19th or 20th century civilization collapsed instantly. Magic? Steel sat up. "Fascinating... Thank you for sharing that." It wasn't as if their systems couldn't interrupt magical communications as well as most others, but it did change things. "They are magically capable then, which means..."

"I am already reviewing systems, Captain, to ensure we get no unexpected visitors." A civilization that couldn't walk the stars could still, in theory, attempt to teleport to something they spotted in the sky. "I presume any such attempts should be redirected to a holding bay?"

"If they can't be turned home?"

"While I certainly will try, that is not assured." Under inclined his head faintly. "If we try to rebuff them entirely, they may end up at the closest space that isn't rejecting them, which would mean throwing them into the cold reaches of space."

Twilight cringed at the idea. "That would be horrible. We should welcome them, then get them home as quickly as possible."

Steel nodded in concord with Twilight. "I will not be responsible for the death of a fledgling race. Direct them to a holding cell, where we can try to communicate, and get them home safely."

Fast joined in the nod. "It's the only responsible option. Is there any way we can tell how magically advanced they are?"

Author's Note:

What kind of civ are they actually dealing with? Also Belle's on maternity leave, so there!

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