• Published 6th Apr 2019
  • 1,160 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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54 - Red Alert

"As you command." They rose to their feet, hands balling slowly with a creak of the thick gloves they wore. It was a command, but the council, in truth, had little real power over them. They could destroy the council, the city the council rested in, and they would still be ready to face the rest of the day.

But they had chosen that route, to serve their people. They were the storm that could be unleashed on problems too vast for the normal person to even consider. "Consider it done." And they were gone.

Under pricked an ear, eyes darting to a flashing red panel only he could see. "Captains? We are being scanned."

Both captains sat up at attention at the news. Steel rose to his hooves, tail giving an agitated slash. "Is there a ship in the area? Why weren't we informed?"

Dawn shook his head. "Negatives, no signs of other vessels in the vicinity."

Under huffed, working his console busily. "This isn't a ship. The scan is arcane in nature. It seems our 'crying infant' has decided to take a look at what's scaring it."

"You two can come togetha-like." He clopped his virtual hooves together. "Work together, A--"

"Pass," cut off the filly. "Hard pass. C'mon, dad. We can do better than that."

The colt rubbed one leg with the opposing hoof. "If it made things better...?"

"Ugh, don't be a pushover." She rolled her eyes. "You have one body, right?"

"Yeah?" spoke Error, looking increasingly uncertain. "And?"

"How many bodies are we in right now?" A grin spread over her face. "Th' way ah see it, we're managin' just fine."

The colt's ears pricked up, his uncertainty giving way to a smile. "We can share! You are very clever, Sister."

"Good of ya to notice." She trotted over to throw a leg over the colt's withers, pulling him in for a rough hug. "Besides, we're, uh, half digital? We can get room when we need it."

Error gestured between the two little viruses that he had helped form. "But... as two threads, right?"

"Affirmative," they both said firmly, then began to laugh, more of a titter from the colt, a deeper-bellied guffah from the filly. The two siblings seemed to be in agreement on the proper course of action.

Error rubbed at his cheek. "Now, jus' to be clear, ya only got the one processor. Havin' two threads in there means you'll be, you know, kinda slower. Ah mean, shoot, all three of us goin' full speed like this knocked your mum clean out."

The filly looked to the colt, waggling her brows as if implying something.

He let out a little 'oh'. "Yes! It is my turn for ideas." He raised a hoof to his chin. "I propose we, while operating in our shared body, establish timesharing protocols, so only one of us is engaged at full speed at a time."

"The otha will still be awake," noted the filly. "Jus' a little slower." She brought her hooves close together. "So one of us gets full speed, so we ain't trippin'."

"And we can use other processors," noted the colt. "I really want to try that. Does the ship have a powerful processor? I bet I could get really fast there!"

"Don't be dumb." The filly booped the colt on their digital snout. "They need the ship computer to do ship stuff."

"Oh yeah," admitted the colt, blushing in his virtual cheeks. "I'll be careful, promise!"

Dimly aware, Belle's perception slid to the clock. What she was was approximately 50% longer than it should have taken to make a decision. Did something break? Were they in trouble? She thought only organic mothers had to have such fears! She slowly began to rise from the floor, taking slow and measured steps with her limited CPU time towards a console. "Belle to the bridge," she got out, her voice distorted with the lack of processing time to modulate it correctly. "Medical emergency."

"Hey!" Remi hopped through the sliding doors the instant they were far enough apart to admit her lithe form. "Someone called for a mechanic?"

"--cy," finished a transmission.

"Was that Belle? That didn't sound right." She frowned at where the sound had come from.

Steel heaved for breath, trouble mounting too quickly. "Remington, see what's happened with Bullette Belle, location sent." With a wave of a hoof, that location was instantly sent to Remington, visible on her personal HUD. "We are entering yellow alert." Alarms began to sound, informing everyone of the fact.

"Oh, c'mon! I just got here." Remington turned back to the elevator she had just dismounted, jogging to the call button and jabbing it with an agitated finger. "What's going on? Belle's thing isn't what the alert's about, I hope?"

"We are being scanned," came Under Score's unseen voice.

"Magically." added the equally around the corner and out of sight Twilight. "Look at these readings. This is no amateur."

"That is not as comforting as you seem to think it is."

"Sorry, I'm just, you know, excited." She clopped her hooves together. "An alien arcane user? I do hope we get a chance to compare notes!"

Remi slid into the opening doors and jammed a button on the way in, rather than talking with the computer that was already asking where she wanted to go. "Hang in there, Belle. Remi'll have you fixed up in a jiff."

"Captains!" Star Dancer ducked behind her console, a laser pistol held in her magic floating just over it and taking wild aim. Crackles of angry photons firing with little chance of hitting with her head ducked out of sight. "Transporter bay B here, and we're way under attack!"

"Security is on the way," came Fast's encouraging voice. "What are you being attacked by?"

"I ducked before, shit!" She rolled as the console she was using for cover exploded in sparks and crumpled under a giant rock. "Elementals! One of each variety, the big four. Damn it, damn it all!" She scurried for new cover, her laser firing wildly, catching a bipedal creature of lightning on the side, not that it seemed to mind much. "Help, please? Thanks!"

Apparently closer than Remi was to her target, the doors slid open and a great low thump sounded, the rocky elemental staggering back under the power of the immense round put into its front. "On the case," reported Sonja, already aiming a smaller gun strapped to her to unleash a spray of fire retardant foam at the flaming elemental. "All over it."

With attention drawn off of her, Star crashed out of sight and began speaking curious words to arcane powers, her hooves and horns glowing with the pattern of fractal patterns, visions of her spells dancing before her in augmented reality.

"Thanks for the assist," called Sonja, glowing with similar magic, receiving her spell and darting with augmented speed even as her munition barrage amplified. "This the best you have? Just interesting target practice!"

Remi licked over her teeth as she dropped to her knees. "They'll forgive me, later," she reasoned as she undid the panel with a tool she had drawn out. "Just need to--there we go." She let the cover slide to the ground with a clatter, already reaching inside, eyes darting. "Yellow to red, crossing green, 5 4 19 2... there." She shoved her tool in confidently, a small whirr as something got tightened or loosened at her command. "And one elevator su--"

She didn't get to finish, thrown as she was, the elevator going exactly as fast as it could, which was quite the dangerous amount of acceleration as it turned out. She slammed into the floor when it came to an equally jarring halt. "Ow... alright... safety... regs for a reason." She crawled back to her feet and jogged out of the elevator before it could resume its death trips. "Oh, uh, bridge? Advise people to be careful in elevator shaft 1 until it's cleared for safe use."

The captains both asked what exactly had happened, but Remi's attention was on the curiously still form of Belle. "Hey there, little robot mare. What's wrong?"

Belle looked towards Remi in a slow sliding that took far too long for how little movement was involved. "Processor... occupied. Please... help... Child processes..."

Remi scratched behind her head, trying to figure out exactly what was going on. "Alright, uh, yeah." She dug out a wire and slapped it into an open port on Belle's side. "Sorry for not asking, but hey, you called it an emergency, so forgive me." She slapped the other end into the console Belle was next to. "I'm going to access your insides now."

She got to typing furiously with fingers that proved they had uses besides giving ponies just the right scritching they desired. "You are seriously lagged, girl." With direct console access, Remi could see a delay after each keystroke. A computer as fast as Belle had to be very occupied, or broken, to produce such a delay. "And running hot." She was several tens of degrees above her normal rating, edging towards where she'd just shut down to avoid lasting damage.

With a sharp twist of her thumb, she turned up the ventilation in the hallway, getting air flowing over Belle to help her cool down. "Let's see what's going on..." She called up the process list and whistled softly. "You have a lot going on." Dozens on dozens of small programs did all the little things Belle wanted to have available. Oh, to be a computer and just arbitrarily decide what to devote processing time to...

But four programs took the lion's share. One, very obviously, was her. What most would call 'her'. Bullette Belle.exe Its priority had been dropped to lowest. "No wonder you're so sluggish." She resisted the urge to change that, however. "Let's finish getting a survey." There was a copy of her friend, Error, running at normal priority. There were two other threads she didn't recognize. Child00aue92.c and Child00aie93.a Child processes, just like she said. "I am going to..." She was still typing.

Inside Belle, everything stopped. Not a single one or zero moves. She pulled the plug on the whole thing at once, allowing nothing to change. "Let's just..." She typed busily. "Don't worry, Remi'll have you working again!" On the plus side, being entirely stopped from doing anything other than keeping still, She could see Belle's temperature lowering back to acceptable levels. "This is just a temporary thing." A person in stasis was hardly 'saved', in the end, and robots were no different that way. "I'm on the case..."

Sonja spat out some blood, a grin on her face despite the bangs she had received. "Elementals put down, captains. Are we clear?"

"Negative," came to reply along with a sword striking something hard? "Attacks are coming across the ship. Under, what happened to the teleport redirect?"

A new sound, a burst of fire? "Not effective, captain. I'm afraid we're--" She could hear a grunt, that old wizard trying to get out of the way of something? "--up against a high level arcane user. We may be outmatched."

"Bloody hell." Sonja began marching back to the elevator she had come from. "Security is on the way!"

"Hey!" Star scurried out of cover and after Sonja. "You are so not leaving me here."

"This is your station." Sonja rolled her eyes. "What are you going to do?"

"Consider me security until we get things under control." Star saluted as she ambled on her other three hooves. "We have a bridge to rescue, and I'm not being alone with a high level caster on the radar, forget that, Sonja."

Sonja snorted loudly, scowling at the thought. "Fine, but you better not get in my way."

"Pfft, you know you like a little arcane backup. Let's get to it!"

The two rushed to the elevator. Thankfully, it was not the first that had been lovingly modified earlier.

Author's Note:

The tension suddenly skyrockets. Turns out, even advanced space travelers do not look forward to dealing with a 15-20'th level wizard. Poor Belle, just trying to be a mom during all this.

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