• 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.

  • ...

PreviousChapters Next
78 - Line in Darkness

"One thing," Twilight looked up as Under spoke. "You are... quite practiced." Old. She was old. Ancient, really. "I feel like you should know more."

"More about... space?" She wobbled a hoof. "Space was still a fairly new idea when I stepped into it, then I drifted until you found me. Not a lot of opportunities to know much, truth told." Twilight brought her hooves together firmly. "I've learned more about it since getting here, which I am grateful for."

Under shook his head. "No, not that." Even if the idea of their ship, destroyed as it was, having been manned by the same person, no rebirth involved, still struck as odd. "Magic. You have magic of two worlds in there." He turned a hoof towards her head. "Your understanding of at least one of them should be truly awe inspiring. Did you give up on arcane pursuits at some time?"

Twilight frowned at the thought. "What about you?" He started. "You've been a wizard for how long now, across lives?" She spread her hooves apart. "Why don't you basically know all there is to know about it by now?"

"I happen to think I know quite a bit more than most." Under huffed at the attack. "And each time I am reborn, I must learn again. I get no easy shortcut in that process. You do not have that excuse."

Twilight flapped her wings once before they folded tightly. "Well..." Under watched her from the side, most of his attention on whatever his terminal was displaying to him. "Well... No. I did not ever... My cutie mark." She pointed back at her rump, towards the stars. "They symbolize magic, but they... also symbolize my connection, to my dearest friends... When I became a... lone star, I lost a bit of myself, but I tried to push past it, I did..."

Under did not peer at her bottom. "If I recall properly, ponies of your world gain their brands far later in life."

Twilight inclined her head at him. "That still strikes me as very strange, that you... always have that mark. For that matter." She turned towards Steel Prism, head angled upwards towards his captainy throne. "Your lady clone, who isn't a captain. She has the same mark?"

"All of those who are rebirths of one another share the mark of destiny, our destinies overwhelmed by our purpose." He inclined his head at her in the other direction. "It was part of why I... referred to her as a defect. She shows no interest in being a captain, despite the same destiny beckoning her."

Fast snorted loudly at that.


Fast rolled a hoof. "You're acting like you're always captain, which you are not. I've been captain roughly the same number of times, and we don't always share, which means sometimes you just aren't captain. It happens. Stop calling her names for not rushing into the spot you are sitting on."

"I thought you were joking." Several sets of eyes looked towards Under's startled notice. He was looking at Twilight's rump then. "Your stars have faded."

Twilight's ears sagged. "Y-yes..." She lowered a hoof back there, rubbing her cutie mark as if it were sore. "Each star was tied to a friend... as they passed, so too did their marks..." They were still there, just worn and faded, like aging colors on old clothing. "But we're here to save a ship full of creatures."

Under ran a hoof along his beard. "The idea that your marks change with your outlook is... They are not as tightly controlled by the divine, clearly."

"Blasphemous," noted Dawn quietly. "And yet, as they were made. The gods too must have planned this."

Blue scampered. Her short legs worked furiously as best they could, the book secured in her mouth. The purpose of their coming. The purpose of the pain and struggle. It was with her friends that she had made it that far. It was a friend that was being chased, running just as energetically, and with more active pursuers.

It was comforting, in a way. Pinkie's distraction made it very clear she was still there, still avoiding them. That noise was quite specific, and still moving about the halls. Metal crashed against stone. "--ey!" echoed through them, the music resuming, one instrument down. Had she suffered a hit? Even Pinkie was not entirely invulnerable, just tricky.

"My friends are working," she whispered in fervent prayer. "I must match their effort. It is through our collective... will that we make our desires real." She tried to lick her lips, but the book's spine was very much in the way. She'd have to do without. "Luminace, bless our friendship's challenge." She was a pony in the middle, racing for the interests of a fair number of gods.

Surely there had to be some fell agent against them? Why else would they...

She frowned. That was foalish thinking. Even what the gods wished did not always come to be. They did not live in the material. They could ask and guide, but only mortals made it so. She would make it so!

A pony crashed into her from the side. She hadn't heard them coming, so focused on her own retreat, ears filled with the sound of her own thumping hooves and pounding heart, to say nothing of the musical distraction of her friend. She skidded along the stone, the book spinning away from her, carried free of her teeth in the sudden impact. "No!"

"Yes." The pony sneered at her as they rose to their hooves, dusting themselves off. "All this fuss, over a cookbook. I don't even understand it."

"Cookbook?" Surely that was not what the tome of her mother god was! "You know nothing!" She rushed for the book. Perhaps most strangely, the pony that crashed into her didn't stop her from gathering it up. The area was suddenly lit, the pony drawing free a torch that flickered with fire that clearly didn't burn, seeing as it was lit inside their saddlebag.

She could see the cover of the book. 1,002 Kadiston Favorites For Any Tongue. Blue's grasping arms went slack, the book crashing to the ground. "What?"

"Oh, suddenly not interested in it?" The pony smirked so viscously as they stepped closer. "Stupid mare. Why would we even bring the tome you seek here? It is safe, away from you." He pressed a hoof against her side, knocking over her limp form.

Blue was on him, springing from her prone position with a cry of fury and frustration. "Then you know where it is," she growled out, grabbing his shoulder in her teeth, biting down as much to injure as to hold. "Tell me!" Her hooves battered at him, flailing as much as punching. "Tell me!"

But he was laughing, wrestling with her as if playing before he gave her a sudden shove away, slamming her against the far wall. "That's enough of that, priest. Know your place."

Would that she had another friend to draw on, but she had run through them all, all working to get her to that point... She had but one friend left; herself. "You're right." He looked smugly satisfied, but that appearances faded as she began to speak the strange words of magic, beseeching higher powers.

"Stop!" He jumped for her, but it was too late, the spell cast. Several thin lines of energy lanced from her directly into the charging chest of the pony. He let out a pained grunt and collapsed before her, the fight taken from him instantly. He slid with what was left of his momentum, bumping against her hooves.

"Sleep tight." She wriggled underneath him. With a pained grunt of exertion, she hefted him up onto her back and began walking slowly. She would at least get someone to question. Not all was lost! If only she was a touch larger...

"It ain't all bad." Error shrugged his shoulders. "Ah was always one ah those. Sayin' that's bad?"

"No!" Belle waved both hooves frantically. "But what is good for you is of different value for me." She inclined an ear towards him. "Or would you like to try some more frilly clothing?"

He snorted at that. "You don't wear no clothes." It was true. Their entire robotic family had no clothes. "Not like we need any for nothin'."

Harp suddenly began to giggle. "Organics wear clothing to signify social standing and to conceal or accentuate their physical appearances to increase their odds at social and breeding success. They're so weird!" Not that he sounded upset about them being strange, but they were.

Glitch snorted derisively. "If we wanted to try that, we'd need special ones with different left and right sides." She raised a hoof to her chin. "Actually, that'd look kinda great. Hey, Harp?"

Harp's giggling only got louder. "Let's try it!" he enthusiastically agreed. "It is not hard to undo that setting if it turns out to be unideal."

"Buck yeah." She raised a hoof, soon meeting it with her brother in a metallic clop. "See you people later. Good luck with yer feelin's!" They bounced away in search of clothing to suit what they had just decided to do.

Belle watched her children depart. "They are so carefree," she wistfully noted with a little smile. "They are growing quite close. It is good to see they are getting along."

"Gonna get weird later." Error rubbed a cheek with the flat of a hoof. "Don't 'magine they'll wanna come apart when we get another body."

"Perhaps not. But perhaps so?" Belle lifted her shoulders. "It is with great pleasure that I admit that I cannot predict their actions." A cheerful victory music jingled from within her. "They are unique beings, just like us."

Error barked out a laugh at that. "If we're all unique, then unique ain't so unique."

"That is incorrect!" she sang. "A jar of marbles, each a different color and texture, is still verifiably filled with different unique things. The only thing lost is the ability to gloat about being unique." She bounced in place, only to frown. She tried bouncing again, a metal clang sounding just a moment before she hit the ground. "This requires practice... How do you maintain your holographic form in time with your motions? This seems overly complicated!"

"Ah got a program fer it." He shrugged softly. "You put it there." He pointed at her accusingly. "It, uh, sec." He turned his attention inward. "Yeah, still has the credits on it. Ya got it from somewhere else, paid fer it."

"Oh!" She suddenly burst into a smile. "I remember that! I couldn't get it to work reliably, so I used someone else's code to get it right." She bobbed her head firmly. "I am not an expert on holographic code."

"And ya made me." Error chuckled as he settled on his belly. "Funny that."

"I had help," sang out Belle, looking a little more cheerful. "Can you share that program?"

Error reached out and poked her on her not-entirely-physical nose. "Yer runnin' on mah computer. It's right there."

Belle gaped at him. "Did you not sandbox my thread?! That is very dangerous."

"If yer gonna hurt me, probably deserve it." He shrugged softly. "Go on."

"Value yourself." She thumped him, or tried, her arm passing through him. "Error!" She went still, sifting through things. As he had said, there was no sandbox. There was nothing between the program that was her and the program that was him. It was unsafe, and not... stable. The two bits could bleed into one another, and probably would. She grabbed the program she wanted even as she began to erect a proper partition between their functions. Her eyes showed a progress bar, slowly filling as she compiled and integrated the function and made herself at home.

"Initializing." A series of beeps and clicks emerged from her before she tapped a hoof on the ground, a metallic clop sounding each time. "Success!"

Author's Note:

Man, imagine if you could just download programs for yourself? Wanna draw, do karate, or cook perfectly in the culture of your choosing? Just download the program! Robotic life!

Join the special community of folks who like my stories, wants to get updates early, and/or get your own here at atreon!

Don't want to do an ongoing thing? You could

Join my discord to chat!

PreviousChapters Next