• 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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67 - Cries in the Void

There was something tickling at Remington. "So... a little time travel later... here we are."

"You did explain that." Octavia was dutifully cleaning and polishing her collection with a glowing horn and a held rag in her magic. "If I hadn't witnessed it, I would find it hard to accept." She paused in her work, lowering the ring onto the soft little cushion it had started. "You're upset."

"Confused? Off balance?" Remi smiled awkwardly. "I mean... From my view, I thought I had won you over by being a big friend. Part of that was guiding you out of... being a half-zombie. But... Now I know you were acting half of it... It's like I didn't actually do that?"

"That would be a falsehood." Octavia rose, standing tall and striding with purpose towards Remington. "I was awake when I was taken from that ship, but I was still badly rattled. I had become so comfortable in stasis, thinking or not... Why, even Spike, who showed no sign of mental stress, had a period of adjustment." She shook her head faintly. "You were there... to wake me up, and then to guide me gently into this next phase of life. You think I am not grateful for that?"

Remi closed the distance and hugged her beloved pony. One advantage of her specific pony, she was a big girl! It meant she didn't need to kneel down to deliver hugs. "How are you feeling? Did... this change anything down there?"

"Think, dear." Octavia tapped Remi on the back. "I am not qualified to answer that question. The time you knew doesn't exist." She inclined her head. "Actually... I suppose it does, you were just wrong. It is you, my dear, who is now awakening." She kissed Remi's cheek in a little peck. "I am here to help. The shoe's on the other hoof now."

Remi puzzled through that. "If you acted the way I told you to, nothing I ever saw would have changed... but you're a clever clever mare, aren't you?" Octavia looked smugly accepting of that title. "Which means you could have been hiding something from me. Are you hiding anything from me?"

"Only that I am quite round." Octavia glanced back at her body that revealed not a hint of her gravid state. "But that is an Equestrian trick, not specific to me. I should note, it does not remove the weight. I remain quite plump, on the inside, and I can feel it."

Remi ran a hand slowly over the side of her mate. "You're allowed to show that off, I remind."

"You've never been subtle about that curious fetish of yours." Octavia rolled her eyes at the idea. "I don't feel like being fat on the outside too today. Now, what's this about having to go again?"

Remi sighed in a long suffering way. "He's going to call in his other favor. When? No idea! But he will. I have to go... to some low-tech world called Everglow."

Octavia tensed. "Everglow? I have... been there." She licked over her lips, a measured frown worn. "Are you visiting during the age of ash?"

"That sounds like a fun age... I don't know, to be honest. He didn't give many details yet." She shrugged with a little noise. "Is the age of ash low tech too?"

"Compared to this ship? Yes." Octavia nodded with certainty. "But that's always a matter of perspective."

"Well, true... They don't have you, so they're primitive backwaters." Remi shrugged with a smirk. "Just the way it is."

Dawn looked up sharply from his station. "We are not alone." That could have gone without saying, for him, always in the company of gods. "Gem ships detected." Oh, that kind of alone. "If we wish to enter stealthily, we will have to limit our speed severely."

"Incoming transmission," cut in Wandering. "Military hail."

Both captains tensed, but Fast reacted first, "Put them through. That they hailed is a good sign."

The main screen flicked from the view of the region from above to an equine face, though her fur was lustrous as if made of metal or crystal and a great opal rested in the middle of her forehead. "Greetings, ESS Horizon." That they knew it wasn't that surprising. The transponders on the ship weren't hiding their callsign. "This is MSS Topaz. This area is currently in a state of lockdown. Please change your heading."

Steel drove his hoof against the floor of his seat as he leaned forward. "We received a distress signal and are moving to assist. By law, we cannot ignore it."

"By law," argued the pony with an inclined of her head. "--you cannot fly into the sovereign space you've just been forbidden from. It is our duty to respond to distress calls within our own borders. We thank you for your good samaritanship, but you are no longer needed."

Fast put on a smile, strained as it was. "That would otherwise make sense, but they were reporting that... you were the source of their distress."

The pony raised a brow at that. "Then they must be outlaws of the Mineralites. That still makes it our duty to deal with them, not yours. I understand you are an exploration vessel. This part of space is well documented. We would be glad to send you an update of the star charts if you'd like. There are no mysteries to be found here. Will you leave?"

Through grit teeth, Steel gave the order. "Withdraw from Mineralite space."

"Thank you." She dipped her head, vanishing into a logo that showed a large gem, rays of power flowing from it in all directions before even that faded, the signal ended.

Twilight spoke up, the conversation over, "I thought they were 'gems'."

Under fielded the question, "They call themselves 'Mineralites'. They come in two primary forms, bipedal and, well, as you saw." He threw his head at the monitor. "That they had an equine agent call us is telling."

Fast sighed slowly. "They knew who we were. They may even be in contact with friendly forces in the area. The Mineralites are... complicated to say the least. Fully space faring, they are unified and powerful enough to stand entirely as a peer... and threat... to our forces."

"We did not come all this way to retreat with our tails tucked." Steel scowled at where the Mineralite comms officer had been. "Dawn, figure out how we can approach, discreetly. Space has one thing for certain, it's large. They can't be monitoring all corners of their space at once."

"As you request, Captain." Dawn worked at his unseen buttons to fulfill his duty. "May the gods be kind on us, as we take a step off the lawful path."

Belle sat up sharply from where she had been laying down. "Protocol triggered."

"Huh?" Error raised a brow. "What protocol?"

Belle inclined her head. "I am a robot," she admitted as if that were somehow even vaguely a secret. "Most of my programming developed organically by result of interactions with my mother. I was modified by programmers once."

Error scowled at the idea. "Ain't nobody allowed to change my programmin' but you." He poked his metal wife. "You made me, you could unmake me. Them's the rules."

Belle let out a discordant noise. "Unacceptable!" She bounced on all four hooves. "You are an independant being. You should not tolerate such unfriendly actions, even from me. If I try to hurt you, you should defend yourself."

"Not sure ah would." Belle gaped at him, her left eye glitching faintly with confusion. "What? If you didn't want me around, what'd be the point?" He crossed his arms, seated on his belly as he was. "Not much a life there."

"Unacceptable!" she wailed, throwing a hoof up. "You are to find purposes outside of myself." She pointed to the door. "You are forbidden from entering for one week."

He blinked softly at her. "What?"

"This is not a test," she discordantly insisted. "You are to make another friend and find purpose that does not include me. Do you accept this challenge?(Yes/y)"

"Ain't that supposed to be Yes or no?"

"No is not an option!" She bounced in place, scowling at Error. "Go."

He ponderously rose to his hooves. "Ah'm gettin'... Ya never said what the protocol was though."

"Oh!" She sat and clopped her hooves together. "The ship is in violation of interspace laws, which caused a function to come alive." Adventurous music began playing from within her. "I'm on the case!"

"And ah ain't invited?" He was making his way slowly across the room, like a dejected dog hoping their master would change their mind.

"Performing lookup..." A little clock-like ticking came from her. "File not found. Invitation not present." She pointed at the door. "You have a mission of your own! I hope for you success."

"Ah hope fer yers too..." He hesitated just a moment before he rushed in and grabbed her right off the floor in his large arms. "Still love ya, even if yer all angry at me."

"I am not angry at you," she complained from his grip. "I am angry for you, and taking action to resolve the situation."

"Yeah, sure..." He set her down carefully and lumbered out of the room, to try to make a friend out of someone.

"This can cause emotional damage," noted Harp.

Glitch snorted. "We ain't usual kids. I doubt we'll be emotionally damaged."

Error inclined his head. "Yer my kids. Ah can be friends with my kids, can't I?"

"Friendship file already opened," cheerfully noted Harp.

Glitch's eye was more suspicious. "This is not what mom meant, and you know it, dad."

"Ah don't really know what she meant..." He huffed a little. "Look, ah'm pretty happy with what ah got, and she's takin' it."

Glitchharp poked Error in the side in shared desire. "She is not stealing," complained Harp.

"She's tryin' to make you grow," added Glitch with an almost snort. "Make some 'dult friends. 'Sides, we don't count."

"Why not?" He peered at his curious dual-child. "Yer a person. Heck, yer two people. Double counts."

Harp seemed to get where his sister was going. "We are already your friend. You cannot make a friend who is already your friend. It has to be someone who isn't already a friend."

Error frowned, even if that did make some kind of sense. "Alright... So, any tips? Ya'll already makin' friends, right?"

Glitch let out a little laugh. "We have made many friends that match our emotional development. Our friends would be poor matches for you."

"Don't be mean," lectured Harp, looking to his father with more sympathy. "You will want to talk to adults. Perhaps start with connections. Yeah! Talk to adults who are friends with mom. Then you two have something in common."

"That ain't a bad idea," chimed Glitch. "Even if mom's kinda popular..."

"That's the problem." Error sank with a huff. "That don't narrow it down much."

"Friendship can be about shared interests!" Harp's side of his face smiled brightly. "What do you like to do?"

"Besides whatever mom tells you," barbed Glitch without mercy.

"Uh, huh..." Error raised a hoof to tap at his chin. "Kinda like goin' through computer stuff, swimmin' around in there. When I'm all, you know, physical, I like... Well, ah like bein' physical." He waved a hoof as if just watching the hoof move. "Ah like... movin' and how things hit other thin's. Shoot, not sure ah'm explainin' this right."

Harp threw up the hoof on his side. "I understand! Father, we are both programs."

"So is mom," scoffed Glitch. "She's just in denial. We get what yer sayin'. Bein' physical is fun."

"So be physical!" chimed Harp. "Find someone who wants to do physical stuff."

"Uh..." From what he knew... "Ah don't want to make your mom mad none, and ain't you too young to know about that?"

Glitch's laugh was sharp and rough. "Not that, dad. Also we know all about that. We have your database, and the ship's too, so there. Organics are so gross sometimes."

Author's Note:

Oh the trouble brewing in this chapter! And it's all soo distracting! Which one has your eye?

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