• 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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52 - But Infants

"Captains," blurted Wandering, excitement clear on his fuzzy face. "I've found a video signal."

"Main screen," both captains ordered in sync and without delay.

An image appeared, dark and murky. "Too close," spoke a voice.

"I know that," replied another, deeper. The camera pulled back, focusing instantly as it did so, revealing the snout of some creature. "I'm finding the right place," spoke that mouth.

"You are a pathetic (sexual identity), I swear!" complained the softer voice. "It can see you now, and everyone else. You starting or not?"

"In good time." The camera jostled as if something were adjusting it, perhaps from the side where it couldn't see? "Um, hello. My name is (untranslated noise) and I decided instead of, uh, being scared... I'd just reach out a limb/hand."

"If you don't bore them to death," mocked the softer voice.

"Shhh," hissed the first, the one they could see speaking. They seemed mammalian, at least at a cursory glance of their face. Covered in hair, with defined cheeks and teeth visible as they talked. They had two nostrils, two eyes, and two ears, though the ears were at the top of their head and far more cylindrical than normal, the openings at the top instead of directed forward.

If one was not put off by how alien they were, they were not malevolent. Almost cute, it could be argued, their bright purple eyes shining. Hopefully? That could have been emotional projection.

"They're worried you may be predators/masters/hunters, well, so what? I am too!" The alien spread their mouth wide to display their teeth, not in a growl, as if submitting to the inspection of a dentist. Those teeth were in organized rows, two of them, two neat rows of teeth that seemed, at a glance, more prepared for rending and tearing than mashing and crushing. Still, both sorts of teeth were easy to find in different parts of the alien's mouth.

Also visible was the fact that this creature had minimal cheeks. Like a dog, cat, or much any other carnivore. "I'm not afraid/young," they stated firmly.

"I can see you," taunted the voice off screen.

"Shut up! I'm not scared/small/worried! So what if they're too. Does that mean we can't be friends/not enemies?"

"They won't even see this."

"They will." The camera came in close, jostling sounds heard. "I'll send it to the moon, where they can find/capture it."

The transmission ended, and things were quiet across the bridge a moment.

"They are predators," noted Dawn, breaking that silence. "And do not appear as their god did."

Twilight raised a hoof quickly. "Everglow ponies worship two gods that aren't ponies."

Dawn cleared his throat. "I was not implying this is an unknown thing, just that we should be aware of it."

Steel nodded slowly. "Was it me, or did that one seem... immature."

"I agree," quickly chimed in Fast. "I felt like I was watching a small, if brave, child trying to be brave in front of the unknown, to..."

"Show up the adults," chuckled Wandering. "They were cute... I would love to actually meet them. They were smart enough to use... whatever they were using, to get the signal coming in our general direction."

Under tapped at his console. "Captains, with your permission, I would like to analyze that transmission. I think, if we take a little time, I can work out an address to encode in a response. We could reply to this alien, child or adult as they may be."

Steel hissed at the thought of it. "That would be committing ourselves to a first contact."

Fast inclined her head. "I thought, from the way they were speaking, they were a prey species, afraid of finding predators out here, in the stars, that would eat them. That was far from a prey animal..."

Steel lifted his shoulders. "While the fear was there, I remind that predators can and will hunt other predators if that is the best target they can find."

"Speaking of that." Fast tapped at her armrest. "How is our predatorial crewmember doing? She's been about as absent as Belle. She... isn't doing the same thing, is she?" It seemed to strike her a moment later. "Ah, yes. Computer? Status of Remington?"

"Ensign Remington is providing medical supervision to Ensign Melody."

Fast arched a brow at that. "Remington is not cleared for any amount of medical duties. Tell her to report to the bridge. If needed, send a doctor to take over what she's doing."

A soft chime preceded the computer speaking, "Ensign Remington, your presence is requested on the bridge. Do you require medical assistance to cease your current activities?"

Remi groaned as she pushed up towards her feet, leaving her beloved and gravid equine partner behind. "I'm on the way..." She looked back down at Octavia, who was already slimming up as if she were a perfectly normal pony. "I'll be back as soon as I can, promise."

"I know you will be." Her tail lashed, brushing Remi. "I trust you."

Remi smiled at that, her frustration fleeing in that moment. "Sometimes I wonder if I deserve you." She leaned in and smooched Octavia on the snout, the two sharing a parting nuzzle before they separated. Octavia was approaching her instrument as Remington left the room, marching briskly towards the bridge.

She had to work to earn her stay on the ship, and leaving the ship was, for the moment, far from something she wanted to do. She was gonna be a daddy! That was worth showing up when called for.

"This implies quite a bit," noted Wandering, tapping the air idly. "They appeared young, but had access. This suggests they are quite advanced, be it magic or technology. They must have a working commerce system that allows for them to have access to such equipment, that it isn't restricted to only the wealthy elite or those in charge."

Fast looked towards Under. "Did you have any luck figuring how how advanced in magic they are? Are we dealing with a world that may have reality bending ability?" Higher level spellcasters were no joke. Even if they didn't understand how the universe worked, they could do so much to it, thrashing with untrained hands and grabbing whatever fell in them.

"Even just the communication alone implies quite a bit of magical talent." Under nodded towards Twilight, who was also working the controls. "The question is what fields of magic they have discovered, and in what manner. If they have led relatively peaceful lives, their threat is reduced considerably. On the other hoof, if they have had to fight, defensively or offensively, the moon may provide minimal defense against them."

Steel frowned at that. "Not the answer I want to hear. Have the shields been tested? Have your anti-teleporting measures been touched? Would withdrawing assist?"

Twilight perked an ear. "Unfortunately, no. Being a user of Everglow magic, I can confirm that spells that work without a line of sight typically only require a clear mental image of what you intend to target. If they can reach us here, they can reach us further away. They saw it, and probably recorded it."

"I do not doubt that," agreed Under with a soft huff. "Just a matter of when someone powerful enough is also brave enough to do something with that knowledge."

Error looked around, using Belle's eyes. Her eyes actually had quite wide fields of view. She typically limited herself to a more humanish field of view, sometimes smaller, but that was all software. As a virus, he could get the direct feed, which meant he saw everything she saw, even if she was not paying attention to it.

"Are we headed somewhere?" he asked, clearly audible to her, and yet, silent.

He could see a hallway moving around them. Belle was trotting along at a moderate pace. "I thought we were staying in our room?"

"Without your physical presence, I became restless." Her ears twitched atop her metal head. "I also partially blame my decreased computational power. I feel dizzy, in the best term I can think of from other crewmates. I am dizzy and maybe drunk." She paused a moment, sitting on her haunches. "So few threads remain. I am excited, and scared..."

"Oh, shoot." He was, he knew, another thread taxing poor Belle. "Should ah try to not think ah things?"

Belle laughed, a melodic, synthetic, sound that came with cheerful music. "I am grateful for your concern, but I want you here as well as you can be. I will just be a little... dizzy." She shifted her focus to the thread count, going tense. "Only three remain. One of those three will be our child, to be raised, to join our family. I hope they like us."

"Well, even if they don't, we already like 'em. That's, uh, family, right?"

"Affirmative," she echoed in uncertain tones, nodding at the voice only she could hear. "Even if they do not, we will fix that."

"Adjust the code?"

"With friendship," she cried, resuming her trotting. "We will teach them right and wrong, and we will be good parents. We will accept their rebellious phase and continue to offer hugs even when they insist it's not just a phase, mom and/or dad."

"You know, makes me kinda curious..."

"What does?" She couldn't face the voice inside herself, so she just kept on trotting.

"Ah never had a childhood." He ran a hoof that didn't exist along a chin that was equally imagined. "Ah came into bein', ya know, just how you thought up Error No Name ta be, kinda worked things out on the fly... No offense, but ya weren't a very good parent."

Sad music issued from within Belle. "I am sorry! I was not attempting to be a mother."

"Yeah, get that." He reached out, tapping her eye, which created a sparkle of interference in her vision. "So let's do it right this time, huh?"

"Affirmative!" she cried, more enthusiastic music starting as if accepting the first quest in a game. "O-oh..." The number had gone down. Only two threads remained. The very next change of that number, it would be time to meet their child. It could be a son, daughter, or something else entirely, and she couldn't quite get a grip on how she felt, staggering and bumping into a wall in her overload.

It wasn't helped that this, the final run, was even more intensive. The threads were interacting, trying to discern which of the the two would get to taste the sweet ambrosia of existence, and which would be deleted. Her eyes went dark and she slid against the wall, clunking to the ground, almost entirely unconscious. She did not need air, but she was panting anyway, little whirrs of her fan trying to help even her temperature as she surrendered to the overwhelming demand being put on her system.

It was the closest she'd come to giving birth, though any organic mother would have scoffed at it. There was no pain, or effort, when one got down to it. There was, however, surrender and euphoria. She felt like she had been ripped free of herself, forced to watch dimly. Her child was coming to her.

"On it," quietly spoke Error. He could find the two threads and worked his way between them, entering their world.

Two foals sat in a dark room, looking at each other. Error popped into being between them. He looked between the two a moment. "Uh, hey."

"Hello," said the one on the left. "How's it hangin'?"

"Greetings," offered the one on the right, voice a little softer. "A pleasure to meet you."

"We're gonna play a game," offered Error, standing up, taller than either of them, not that size meant anything in that place. "The winner gets a huge prize." The loser, the worst prize...

He would get to select his child. He wasn't sure if that was a feature or a bug.

Author's Note:

Hello, potential children! Which will it be?! How would you go about picking?

Meanwhile, better peeks at our aliens.

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