• 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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6 - Intruder Alert

Spike ducked when he could and swatting when he couldn't, knocking Steel's floating blades back as they kept coming in. His opponent had two floating swords that wouldn't give up, trying to find weaknesses to poke him in soft places. "It's like Twilight decided to take sparring seriously."

"I trust from your words that she does not often." He danced back and around, coming in quickly just after one of Spike's lunges. "The more martial of us do this routinely. Even if ranged weapons own the day in this time we live in, our pasts' demand we not entirely forget what it means to cross blades."

"That's pretty--ow!" At last, a sword got past his defenses and poked him in the side. "Good one, I'll have to pay you back for that."

"I eagerly await your attempts." Steel pawed at the smooth ground with the clop of his hooves, backing away to restart the round. "I believe that puts us at 5:2."

"I'm still warming up to real sparring partners, and I don't want to rip anycreature in half." Spike rolled his shoulders before he spread his wings. "I'm a lot of dragon, if you didn't notice. Still, you and Fast are good at this. I like it."

He dipped his head towards Spike before raising his blades. "There are limits to how 'real' we can make these matches, if we wish to be reporting for duty immediately afterwards. Should you wish it, have you seen the--"

"--Captains," came Dawn's voice, one could hear the frown on his face. "A sudden burst of aetheric energy on the third deck, towards engineering. No damage reported on the console."

Steel slid his blades into their sheaths, trotting from the room without delay. "Let's see what could be wrong."

A new voice spoke from the intercom, Under joining the conversation, "Aetheric signature partially deciphered. It was some manner of transportation spell. A variation of a teleport is not out of the question. I recommend caution."

Spike clapped his hands together before proceeding on all fours. "Sounds like we may get our chance. I'm with you."

"First we will witness it. Do not assume all strange things are hostile." They proceeded as one into a clean hallway between the sparring lounge and the elevator that could get them to the third deck.

"Yeah, I'm not a jerk," assured Spike as he plodded along with a little frown. "But if they are here to cause trouble, we get to stop them."

"We're on the way," advised Steel, hoof raising to his ear as he walked. "Spike Sparkle is with me."

"Keep us informed, be careful," advised Fast Shadow.

Twilight frowned softly. "I'll go too."

Fast raised a hoof. "Belay that thought. Steel Prism and Spike Sparkle are already approaching the situation. The burst wasn't strong enough to warrant much more reaction than that until proven otherwise. You want to be a real member of this crew, and that starts with following orders to keep us all safe."

Under inclined his head towards the virtual screens that he and Twilight could see. "Tell me what you saw, when the burst occurred that is. Could you make any sense of it?"

Her frown only deepened, but there was some thoughtfulness in it. "The fact that there was a spike was obvious." She reached a hoof towards the floating screen that wasn't actually there, poking it and driving her hoof right through the figment. It seemed to register her attempt, beeping and changing what it displayed. "It doesn't appear as it would when I was studying magic directly. This will take some getting used to."

"Exactly why practice is important," gently counseled Under Score. "You have the ability, but technology has changed the exact nature of the game. Let us replay it and I will show you the signs I looked for."

Steel peeked around a corner, only to draw his head back in a recoil. He held up a hoof to his lips in a bid for quiet.

Spike shoved his head up and around Steel to get a peek for himself. There was a furry back end. A swaying bushy tail swayed back and forth, black on the top, an orange-red in the center, and dark gray along the bottom, leading to a shapely bottom if one were into bipeds.

She? stood on digitigrade legs, perched on the tips of her large paws, purple claws (perhaps painted?) pressed into the floor. Leather strips ran down over her bottom and across her her lower back in a solid sheet, providing some amount of modesty and perhaps armor. Spike could see a belt pouch on her left side that she was reaching for, drawing out a screwdriver into view before it vanished into the dark hole in the wall she was working on, the panel cover resting against the wall beside her.

"Just a twist," half-sang the intruder in a female voice. With a sudden turn of the hand that held the screwdriver, sparks danced from the interior of the wall and she danced back with a hiss. "Blast it." Away from the wall, it became clear that she was entirely female shaped, with modest curves on her chest as a human might, but she was no human. Her furry ears, largely orange with dark grey tips, were dancing as she scowled at the instrument that had jolted her.

The fox-like intruder advanced, throwing the screwdriver from her left hand to the right. "Now I get serious."

Steel slipped past Spike, stepping into view. "That's quite enough of that. Identify yourself."

She bounced away, springing several feet in a sudden response to his presence. "Don't sneak up on a lady like that!" She crossed her arms, screwdriver still firmly held. From the front they could see the rest of her leather armor/clothing. A sword hung on her left side and a dagger was attached to her right leg. "And you... are a horse. Cute!"

"And I'm a dragon, less cute." Spike stepped out, circling Steel to stand at his left. "And you're not supposed to be here. Who are you?"

"There's nothing wrong with dragons." Her amber slit eyes swept over Spike's considerable form as her pink tongue tasted her lips. "This your ship?" She waved the screwdriver in a vague indication of the entire vessel they were on. "I was trying to access the comms. You have good security on there, top ratings. I would have broken into it if you gave a little longer."

Steel took a single step closer. "You have had more than sufficient time to interfere with our ship. You have also failed to identify yourself. Begin with your name."

"Isn't it polite to offer yours before demanding someone else's?" She leaned forward, setting her hands on her hips as she smirked, eyes half-lidded. "I'll just have to lead the way. The name's Remington, Remi to friends, which you are--"

"Friendship file opened!" sang Bullette. "Nice to meet you, Remi." She hadn't been there a moment before, springing from the hole in the wall with a big grin. "I am Bullette Belle and look forward to the nickname you will assign me."

Remington recoiled half a step in surprise before bursting into laughter, a hand covering her face as she howled with delight. "Oh wow, that is possibly the best robot I've met in a while."

"I am a perfectly standard filly for my age," hotly spat Belle in a discordant note. "Friendship points deducted."

Steel rolled his eyes. "Belle, we both know what you are."

"Let me have this," she warbled, voice wildly flowing from high to low notes in autotuned displeasure.

"Aw, stop being such a stick in the mud." Remi reached for the pouting robot and gently stroked one of her ears. "You are the cutest filly I've met in years."

Spike shook his head, breaking his ready stance to approach casually. "You don't strike me as a danger, really. So hey, I'm Spike. Spike Sparkle. Nice to meet you."

"Spike Sparkle?" Remi raised a furry brow. "Love it." As soon as Spike was close enough, she casually grabbed his cheeks, screwdriver still held in her right hand and pressing against him longway. "A big cute dragon with a cute name. We're going to get along just fine."

Spike squeaked as he was grabbed, shying away, but Remi came with him, seemingly quite intent on stroking and petting over his head. "Hey, cut it out!" He reversed course and ran into her with a sudden headbutt. She toppled over backwards but never let go of him, sliding to the ground with a thump, leaving him standing over her prone form.

"This is a little fast." She snickered as she tapped at his cheeks. "But if you're ready for this step."

He squeaked and scurried back off of her, cheeks burning. "Hey woah! That wasn't what I was going for."

Steel advanced to take the space opened between Spike and Remi. "I am Captain Steel Prism, and you are on my ship. Explain why, now."

"To make friends," helpfully provided Belle, bouncing in place a little, apparently happy about Remi's presence. "What is your favorite color?"

"I'm partial to purple." She stood up from her fallen position. "What about yours?"

Steel put out a hoof in front of Belle. "My question first."

"You are too tense." She tucked her screwdriver away. "It was an accident, a happy coincidence. It happens at times. At least this time this looks like a fun place." Her tail lifted a little, swaying with unconcealed excitement. "Are there others? How big is this ship?"

Spike sat on his haunches. "Uh, sure, but why were you messing with the ship?" He hiked a thumb towards the gaping hole. "Not really polite to pop onto someone's ship and start messing with their stuff."

"It was the fastest way to get your attention. I'd say it worked perfectly." She rolled a hand from knuckle side to palm side up. "If I had gotten in, I just would have said hello. Now, I answered your question, your turn."

Steel let out a slow breath. "You don't seem to be a threat... You are still an intruder, having not been invited here. What manner of accident would carry you to a lone ship in the vastness of the universe?"

"Oh wow, the odds of that..." Spike was counting on his claws, trying to figure the odds.

"The odds are 1 in--" Belle was lost to everyone, quoting great lists of numbers that seemed to have no end. The odds of a random point in space being a spaceship were staggeringly low.

"The odds are better than you think, since it doesn't toss--" She made a throwing motion. "--me where I couldn't live, so empty space, ruled out."

"--calculation error!" Belle tilted her head. "Revising with new parameters." The numbers resumed. The odds were still not great.

Remi turned, her tail brushing Steel's face in the motion, though his magic tossed it aside before it could stay in contact for long. "You never said how large of a ship this is."

Steel raised a hoof to an ear. "Steel reporting in. Intruder appears to be a harmless biped beast folk. They have technological skills, or so they self-report, and are without easy means of going back wherever they came from."

"Beast folk?" came Twilight, replying before Fast could. "What sort of creature is that?"

"Bring her to the bridge," Fast got out. "Don't let her out of your sight."

Spike directed his head towards the hole. "Hey, Belle, can you close this up?"

"Affirmative!" She abandoned her counting and soon had the panel back in place. She put her hoof over each screw and the sound of an engine began to whirr form inside it as she slowly sank her hoof against the metal, somehow working each screw back where it came from. "Repairs complete!"

Steel was already turned away. "This is the ESS Horizon, charged with mapping and discovering the universe."

Remi followed as the crowd began to move. "The entire universe? That's a big job. Bigger than most people."

"There have been over ten generations," easily replied Steel as he pressed the elevator call. "And there will be many more. This generation has already proved to be one of the more interesting ones, and I thank the Author for placing me in it."

Spike raised a finger. "So I didn't bring this up much with Twilight... I mean she was delicate enough as it was, but, you know... fast travel, long distances... How do you know there's anyone still getting the reports you're sending?"

"You're smart and cute," laughed Remi as she stepped onto the elevator. "I expect most people to not get how time works. She looked to Steel with her amber eyes. "But my money's on you having an answer."

"I do." He held the door open button until everyone was inside. "Our travel is only near the speed of light when we are performing short-ranged maneuvers. We spend most of our time outside the universe. That is how we breach the speed of light, by bypassing it entirely. Our time is not as severely dilated as you initially imagined." A thought occurred to him, a brow raising. "Spike, was your ship traveling..."

"--Yes," he interrupted. "We don't have, uh, whatever crazy warp technology you're describing... Whatever we knew of Equestria is almost certainly long gone. I... never thought of a good time to bring that up to Twilight." He rubbed behind his head. "I'm not sure there ever would be a good time to bring that up, unless she suddenly decided to head back, which we can't, seeing as our ship, with the coordinates, is dust." He twirled one finger. "Yay..."

Belle suddenly bounced. "Mystery explained!"

Remi was smiling at the robotic filly. "What mystery is that, you little sugar-powered mega-filly?"

"I am not powered by the metabolizing of sugar." Belle shook her head softly, denying a simple fact. "The mystery to which I refer is the discovery of the ESS Friendship. Locating a ship mid-travel can be very difficult." She brought her forehooves together. "But if it is still in normal bounds of space, this task is much simpler."

"That's why we exited," added Steel. "To investigate, and I should imagine that is when you saw us."

"Huh... So you saw us first, slowed down to take a peek, and there we were... What are the odds?"

Remi put a soft furry hand over Belle's metal snout before she could start quoting the exact odds. "About the same as my appearing on this ship. It must be destiny." She tickled just under Belle's snout. "No offense little girl, I just wanted to give my view."

"View received," joyfully accepted Belle. "Your proposal is within acceptable limits of error."

With a soft chime, the elevator arrived on the bridge, allowing them to step free into the view of the others. Twilight was facing the door, tapping a hoof impatiently, but that turned to an astonished gasp. "Oh! What a pretty creature. Bipedal, carnivorous. Potentially toxic or venomous considering the bright colors. Spike, you should avoid accidental contact."

Spike snorted at that. "Way too late for that, and I don't think she's poisonous... right?"

"Not in the way your friend there is thinking." Remi winked at Spike as she sauntered into plain view, examining all the crew present. "I'm Remington, but Remi works too since we're crew buddies for the moment."

"Tag added: Crew!" sang out Belle in blissful tones. "Please specify duties."

Fast Shadow swiveled her chair towards them. "I'm told you have some talent in engineering? You can fix things?"

"I'm better at making them work in roundabout ways, usually in breaking them just so." She clicked two claws together on a hand with a little grin. "But sure, I can keep a thing working if that's what you want me to do to earn my keep." She crouched just enough to put her eyes even with Twilight, matching her gaze. "I like a good slice of meat, and you just may enjoy the process."

Spike claw came down just in front of Remi as he coiled around her to put his form in the wav between the fox-woman and his partner, a low growl resonating from deep inside of him.

"I believe she's attempting to make a move on me, Spike." She canted her head a little. "It's been... a long time since the last time. I don't even recall it clearly." She raised a hoof to her chest. "Thank you for your offer, it's flattering, but we don't know each other well enough to consider that, are not of compatible genders, and I have no interest in breeding at this time."

Steel shook his head as he assumed his command chair. "Glad that's sorted, though you bring up an excellent point. We haven't had to enforce any rules concerning... relations."

Wandering perked an ear towards them. "Shall I pull up the standing Everglow rules for such conduct?"

Remi blinked softly, confusion clearly growing. "Wait, you told me you're the tenth or so generation. How can you be that if you aren't... You know, making some beds rock around at some point?" She suddenly poked Spike right on the end of his snout. "And she just assumed my gender, how rude. I'd think a space explorer would know better than to assume everything fits in neat orderly little divisions."

Spike rubbed at where the purple claw had pricked his nose. "Wait, I mean... you are a lady... whatever you are?"

"I am a lady," Remi defended with a mildly extended tongue. "But that doesn't define the rest of it. I'll show you, later..."

"Captains." Dawn was looking intently on his virtual screen, watching reports only he could see. "Ships. Approaching rapidly. No transponders detected."

Fast was on her hooves instantly. "On main screen!" She barked. Three separate windows appeared, showing the approaching vessels. Each had a distance displayed, rapidly shrinking. "Pirates," she hissed. "Even in the middle of nowhere, you can never be entirely free of them. Red alert!"

Steel waved a hoof towards Dawn. "Raise shields." He waved the other towards Wandering. "See if they respond to hails. A fight avoided is a fight won."

Twilight hurried to Under's side, her eyes on the same panels he was monitoring. "Sorry for stepping away. I'm ready to help."

Spike blinked softly, seeing her join in the work. "Huh... I have to learn how to do something here..." Being good at sparring didn't give him a lot to do on the bridge.

"I'll show you how to work things." Remi softly ran a hand over his back. "But, for now, we wait and watch. Nothing to fix just yet."

"Uh, yeah. Hopefully there won't be anything to fix."

"Hail responded." Wandering pointed to the main screen where a new window appeared, showing a brightly lit bridge. It was clearly not designed by ponies or other residents of Everglow, with rock-like strctures that seemed unformed and uneven rather than clean metal lines.

One of the rocky formations vibrated softly with a soft humm. Words appeared below it on the screen, "Come to a complete halt and prepare to be boarded. Cooperate and senseless waste will be avoided. We desire what you have, and you lack the strength to stop us from taking it."

Wandering's ears folded back. "The computer has a lock on the speech pattern, thankfully."

Fast bared her teeth with a low hiss. "Am I being translated?"

"You are now." Wandering pressed a button with a cloven hoof.

"This is the ESS Horizon, a peaceful ship of exploration. We are fully capable of defending ourselves and will not submit to being robbed. Break off intercept or we will assume hostile intentions and react appropriately."

The humm changed in tones and with it, new words began to appear, "Your resistance is noted and disregarded. You will be boarded." The transmission ended, leaving a still image of the last frame of the rock-like aggressor.

"Time to show you how to use the weapons." Under brought the weapons online, sliding the control for one of the guns towards Twilight, simply pushing one of the controls towards her. Virtual controls were quite easy to move around. "That is the forward-facing direct kinetic gun. It can swivel in a 45 degree arc."

"You have to aim ahead of the ship," counseled Spike, getting a peering at from Under for his effort. "What? I've played video games before. Kinetic weapons you have to work in the time before the shot actually reaches the target."

"He is correct," sighed out Under. "Though even energy weapons do not reach their target instantly. The only way to improve is practice, which we may be getting today."

"Fire when ready," ordered Steel. "Dawn, sweep their ships, look for weaknesses and faults. If you can tell me about what they're carrying, that would be appreciated as well."

"Already on that, Captain. With the soft light of Luminace, I will pull back the veil of ignorance, that we will prove the superiority of our friendship. Blaze watch over us." He saw no clash in praying to two gods in practically the same statement, hitting virtual buttons rapidly.

"Do not forget to praise Alupraz," musically chastised Belle, bounding just beside Dawn.

"She is a mother goddess with no place in this conflict. I would not trouble her with this."

Remi drew free her blade, swinging it casually through the air in her right hand. "They said they'd try to board. If they do, I'll be ready to give them a warm welcome."

Spike shook his head. "I mean, that's cute, but how about some real space weapons?" He hiked a thumb. "Permission to go arm up, just in case?"

"Granted," spat out Fast. "How long until we're in weapons range?"

"Two minutes, Captain." Dawn rolled a hoof slowly, scrolling through data. "They are not slowing."

Steel raised a hoof to his ears. "Security, high alert in case of boarding. Everyone else, prepare for battle situation."

Spike led Remington from the room and back into the elevator. "I don't know how to use that stuff in there anyway. Maybe I'll figure it out, eventually." He shrugged softly. "Not really my speed. I'm not big on technicals."

"Make that two." Remi held up two fingers as they rode along. "I can break apart something electronic and put it back together, but I hate getting buried in geeky stuff like that."

Spike snorted softly. "That reminds me... You said you're a lady and more?" He hiked a scaled brow. "Care to explain how that works? Are you a noble or something?"

"You sound like you've met one before." She reached for the door when it chimed, but it didn't open for her, waiting until Spike advanced on it. "Right, not official crew yet. Probably a good idea. You don't know me, and I could cause trouble." She flicked her tail with a grin, looking as if she didn't entirely object to the idea.

Spike lead the way towards the armory on quick claws. "It's just over here. We got, uh, armor a little more advanced than what you're wearing. We're in space, think space stuff!" He clapped his hands before resuming his walk. "Lasers and phasers and tasers and--"


"Yeah, those too!" Spike grinned as he pressed his hand to the panel just outside the armor. "Open up."

"User identified." The door slid open for them.

Remi slid right past him without delay, tail caressing just under his chin as she went. "Now what are you offering me? Such a generous little dragon you are, bringing a girl to your treasure hoard on the first date."

"Huh? Look, uh, Remington?"


"I'm, you know, married." He shrugged softly. "I wasn't really looking for--"

"Who to?" she interrupted with a bright smile. "Someone I met?"

Author's Note:

Say hello to Remington! She'll be joining the crew for this episode. Surely nothing could go wrong!

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