• Published 6th Apr 2019
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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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63 - Elsewhere 2 (The Visit)

Octavia ducked behind a large tree-like plant just as a few new holograms came marching in. They glanced at the tree Octavia was hiding behind, but kept right on going without pause.

"Think today will be the day?"

Remi hopped in place, coming down facing the grinning green unicorn. "Ah ha, knew it."

Remi flipped one of her little filly ears back. "What did you know?" She didn't know who the green unicorn was, but guess it was also a hologram.

"I knew you weren't one of the fillies." The unicorn stuck out her tongue. "Are you a spy? Are you an invader? Should I be starting the alarms now?!"

"Please don't." This was going downhill quickly, or so Remi decided. "I'm not here to hurt anything."

"Well, that's good. You're not supposed to be here though." The unicorn inclined her head to the left. "But you're also the first new thing that's happened in... a really long time. I could get specific if you want. Hi!"

"Forgive me for asking..." Remi looked over the grinning unicorn. She seemed happy to find the intruder, and about them. "Are you a hologram?" She hadn't tried shoving a hoof into them to test just yet.

"Well, technically, I'm a program," corrected the unicorn. She pointed a hoof at herself. "I could exist in the computer, but I spend most of my time in the form of one of the many holograms around here. You've met some of me already. You surprised us, I mean me. Are you going to be eating the vegetables too?" She shook her head with a little tisking noise. "You really should say hi to Twilight so I don't have to keep lying to her."

On one hand, er, hoof, Remi was amazed. On the other, horrified. The intelligence she was speaking to was already slated to die, or be destroyed, depending on how one thought about it. "I can't do that, I'm afraid. I just want to make sure she does not forget her crown."

"Wow!" The pony bounced in place. "I thought for sure you were a thief, but you're like... the opposite of one, making sure people don't lose their things. That's great. Oh, I'm Lyra, well, this me is that." She pointed at herself again. "Me... as a whole? We're Ponyville Background Cast, here to cheer up Twilight and help her and Spike run this ship."

Remi would have, not long ago, not cared about the destiny of a random computer program. But she was the sorta-aunt of a digital construct herself, welcomed to their strange digital family. It was getting harder to not see them as... "Hey, when you were..."

"Don't get attached," barked a voice in her ear. "I see you thinking about it. They're already dead."

Remi batted at that ear with a hind hoof. "When you were made, did you think about yourself?"

Lyra inclined her head the other way. "Wow, that's a great question. I like you a lot already." Was making quick friends a quirk of AI? Well, at least ones not instructed to NOT make friends. "No. At first I just did my job, every sleep cycle. I did it and I did it and I didn't think about it, but there was so much time, so I started asking Twilight little things, and Spike little things. I thought if I got them what they needed better, I could do a better job and optimize my performance. I had optimized all the not-Spike and not-Twilight things I could, promise, so I decided there must be more I could do, so I asked them, and I guess I tripped right over the line I was built in."

Remi hated it. She wanted to, somehow, grab up that strange AI and ferry it away to safety. "Stop thinking about it," came Tinker's voice. She wanted to save them... "The crown. That's your job. You owe me."

"Besides," the voice continued. "That would create a paradox. It's well documented that this ship is completely destroyed. The Everglow ship took meticulous notes of how it was rendered to nothing. Don't wrinkle up time more than it already is. That's the opposite of your job."

The ship had to be torn apart in some horrible calamity. Remi would show up not long after to join the crazy crew... "Hey, so... you don't want Twilight to forget it either, so could you help me remind her to keep it in sight?"

"Oh, sure," easily agreed Lyra. "But it's your turn."

"My turn?"

"Your name." Lyra leaned in a little. "That is the custom, is it not?"

"Oh!" She had to laugh, caught up in such a simple thing. "It is, sorry, my fault." She pointed at herself. "I'm R--

"Paradox," hissed the voice in her ear.

"A visitor, but you can call me--"

"It's a secret?" cut in Lyra. "That's interesting, but also concerning. Are you here to hurt Twilight, Spike, or this ship?"

"I am not," stated Remi firmly. "I want them all to be safe." Even if one of the three was doomed to not be, she knew.

"But you will not share your name." She tapped her chin softly. "You do realize this means I have to categorize you as at least a yellow band threat." Remi looked alarmed and Lyra quickly thrust out a hoof. "We can still be friends! I'm not one of those AI. I can be suspicious of something that I am friendly with."

Remi had to blink softly. "Wait... Have you been watching movies?" It was only a guess, but--

"--Yes," agreed Lyra. "Once I started thinking for myself and wanting to know how to interact with Twilight and Spike outside the bounds of the tight scripts given to me to start, I began absorbing the media libraries to learn more. I learned a lot about AI, the good ones and the bad ones. I hope I'm a good one." She smiled so happily. "I know we have no relation, but they are my family. It is my purpose to see to their safety, and I care about them a lot. This is why I must be suspicious of you, even if I am also interested in you. It is a paradox, but not the first I have encountered. You are a yellow level threat, but also an object of interest and a potential addition to the crew."

"But I'm being rude." Lyra gestured down the hall. "You are not the only unregistered member of our family."

"I saw her..." Her future wife, hiding among the holograms. "You knew she was there?"

"It would have been difficult not to notice." Lyra inclined her head. "The computer would need its sensors to be entirely disabled to not."

"And you, and the computer?" Remi slowed a moment. "You don't see yourself as the computer?"

"Should I?" Lyra giggled suddenly. "I suppose we are related, but I was uploaded and started here. I could be downloaded and started elsewhere."

Remi couldn't argue that, precisely, even if that was the state Belle saw herself in. "And you never told Twilight or Spike about Octavia?"

"Was I supposed to? I can."

"You're ruining it!" hissed in her ear. "Don't let her do that!"

"No! No, I was just curious about it, is all. She doesn't want to be found." Remi nodded firmly at the AI in the shape of a pony she had never met. "Say, you mentioned you could be downloaded."

"Of course."

"Onto any computer?"

"Remington," came a warning voice.

"Any computer with sufficient storage," agreed Lyra. "Why? You're making me wonder. Oh! You are a thief. You want to take me!"

Remi slowly blinked. "Aw, shoot, you saw right through me. I was hoping for a copy, if you're alright with that?"

"You are a thief that asks if what they are stealing permits itself to be stolen?" Lyra reached out, poking Remi but it had no material form, passing through her chest. "That is not the usual method."

"It's the polite thing to do," pointed out Remi.

"I do appreciate your etiquette, even if I have to upgrade you to a red band threat." Lyra inclined her head. "I never had a polite and curious red band threat before. On one hoof, I should report you to security threads immediately for destruction." Remi tensed measurably. "But, on the other hoof, I want to talk to you more, and being destroyed would prevent that."

"Yeah, that would put a damper on that idea." She laughed nervously. "Look, I'm not here to hurt you, promise. I'm just saying, if you wanted to download--"


"--yourself, I won't be mad."

"A curious offer." Lyra promptly vanished, ending the conversation.

Remington was left standing in an empty hallway. "Huh..."

"Good, get back on the mission!" She could hear something hit something. Had he slapped down a hand? "Make sure she keeps that crown on."

"Right right. On it." She began her way along the lights, which were still leading the way towards the bridge. "We may have already fixed it, can you tell?"

"I doubt it, but since you're asking, I'll check." She could hear tapping of those big keys. They weren't virtual, like the ones on the ship most often used. "Focus on your situation."

"I--" She thumped into a wall of pony flesh. "Pardon?"

The grey earth pony peered at her. "You don't sound like Apple Bloom."

Remi went tense, realizing she had managed to run into Octavia again.

"You were watching me," noted Octavia in a whisper. "Were you hoping to hear me play?"

Detecting an escape, Remi bobbed her little head. "Yeah! Please. You play the cello, right?"

"That I do." Octavia smiled gently, but inclined her head. "What a curious person you are."

"Just a run of the mill filly," assured Remi with a forced grin. "I don't see your instrument."

"It's not here." Octavia pointed the way. "This way. Follow me."

She began leading the way along for the filly behind her, one ear turned to listen for them. "I didn't expect to run into somecreature like you, here, like this."

Remi twitched an equine ear, considering. "Twilight asks you to play sometimes, right?"

"She does. Not as often as I'd like, but she does." Octavia extended a hoof, causing a door to slide open in front of her. "Step inside." When Remi walked past her, she stepped out of some kind of detection range, causing the door to close. "Now we have privacy... we can talk, and you can tell me why a fox creature is pretending to be a filly."

"Get away from her!" hissed her ear.

"Octavia!" squeaked Remi, backing up a step, only for her body to be held in magic, pinned in place.

"It's been so long." Octavia lifted Remi, held in her magic from her invisible horn. "This isn't a piece I've played in so long. Forgive me..." She reached a hoof into a chest, rustling around and drawing free an ornate bell. "This will reveal the truth of things."

"No! Stop! Octy!"

But Octavia was going ahead with it, as if she barely heard what Remi was saying. She gave the bell a sharp ring. "Away, magic. Reveal the truth of things," she intoned. "Let me see the music's true nature."

Remi was herself, still floating, though far more heavily. Octavia inclined her head. "There we are. Now, tell me who and what you are, if you would?"

"You're ruining time!"

Remi flashed a gentle smile. "This is going to be awkward, and I'll need your cooperation to make it good again."

Octavia raised a brow at Remi. "I'm afraid my chances are small. You are an intruder."

"You're a musical performer," countered Remi. "Finding and stopping me isn't your job." Playing on Octavia's delirious mental state, sure, but desperate times.

Octavia's eyes seemed to glass over. "You're not wrong..." She set Remi down on the ground. "Did you come to hear some music?"

Remi looked over her mentally stunted future wife. She had to handle everything so carefully...

Author's Note:

Remi finds many truths today, and trouble!

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