• Published 6th Apr 2019
  • 1,161 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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85 - Episode 8: The Call of War

Twilight's eyes followed a pony trotting past. Not an Everglow pony, certainty. "Doctor Hooves?"

The stallion stopped and looked up at Twilight mounted atop Spike. "I say, quite the ride you have there, your highness."

"Um, thank you." Twilight sat up a bit taller, still being carried past. "Why are you here?"

"Just a hologram," noted Spike, turning a corner.

The doctor huffed softly. "Right rude that is." He went on about his business.

"Why are... There were only holograms on our ship, of the Ponyvilleans. The ship that exploded." She threw one hoof wide for emphasis. "Why are they here, Spike?"

"Deep breaths," he gently counseled. "I'm not 100% on that either, but Pinkie's involved, so anything is possible. And we're about to ask her that, and a few other things."

"Right, right..." Twilight took a slow breath, extending a hoof along with it as her sister in law had taught her so long ago. "Right."

As they approached a door, it slid open, allowing the sights and sounds of a significant party in progress to escape. "There she is!" Pinkie had spotted them instantly and was pronking towards them with a big smile. "It's hardly a party without Twilight around."

Spike snorted at that. "Pinkie, I didn't take you for a liar."

Pinkie came up short at that. "Hey, I was just trying to make her feel welcome." She stuck a tongue out. "And when did you get all big, Spike? Have you been collecting stuff again?"

Spike's cheeks warmed faintly. "This is not a greed-growth, Pinkie. This is perfectly normal dragon growth, with time."

Twilight's eyes were stuck on Pinkie, silent.

Pinkie inclined her head up at Twilight. "You alright, Twi? Did you forget a gift? That's alright." She waved it away. "You're the gift!"

Twilight made the breathing motion, though her breath did not keep up with it quite right. "Pinkamena Diane Pie. Please name your sisters."

Pinkie crashed to her rump. "That's a funny question to ask." She tapped at her chin. "Maud, Marble, Limestone, Pie of course." She nodded with confidence in that. "Maud's here at the party, um, a hologram Maud, but she's almost right."

Twilight pointed at Pinkie. "What did Maud achieve in her education?"

Pinkie's head listed to the side. "She has a roctorate, duh. Twilight, really, what's up with these questions?"

"I never programmed the holographic Maud to know that," Twilight admitted as if short on air. "None of them should know that."

"I'm not a holly-thinger," reminded Pinkie. "I'm all pony!" She bounced up to her hooves, just to keep right on bouncing in front of Spike and Twilight. "I hear you two have been up to all kindsa crazy things. Well, I want some of that!"

Spike cracked a little smile. "Told you, all Pinkie. But we're kinda curious, how did you get--"

"How?!" burst Twilight, her wings flipping open on either side. "Pinkie... I..." She lurched forward, still seated. "I watched you die, Pinkie."

Pinkie slowly tilted her head. "Obviously not. I'm right here." She pointed at herself. "So, there I was, in Everglow, trying to save Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon." She gestured wildly with her hooves as she went. "It was going, uh, interestingly..."

Twilight thrust out a hoof of her own. "Stop. Pinkie returned not long after the girls did, claiming she had 'taken a trip'. I had no idea what trip it was, or how she took it from Everglow, but Pinkie is Pinkie and I stopped... I stopped thinking about it." She inclined her head suddenly. "Are you a time traveler?"

"I think I might be?" Pinkie shrugged at that. "But the boring kind. I went into the future. Everypony does that on their own! Nothing glamorous there."

Spike sat, carefully adjusting his stance without throwing Twilight off. "You're a pony, Pinkie." Pinkie nodded at that. "Ponies have a nice long life, but not this long. Also, you're way too young." He waved a hand at Pinkie. "You're, what, a young adult? I saw Pinkie reach middle age. I saw Pinkie get old."

"I saw Pinkie die!" shrieked Twilight, clearly not handling it very well. "Pinkie..." She reached out a hoof towards her. "I missed you so much."

Pinkie hopped forward, touching her nose to the extended hoof. "Aw, I'm sorry you were so sad. If the other me was being me properly, they shoulda told you to not be sad!"

Twilight took a snotty inhale that turned into an equally gross snort. "She did... She did... But... I'm still Twilight."

"And Twilight's like that," agreed Pinkie, tapping at her chin. "Either way, um... if they're gone... I guess there's no secret to hide anymore."

Spike glanced around the busy room. "Secret?"

"Emotional conflict detected." Belle was bouncing closer, much as Pinkie had done. "May I be of assistance?"

Twilight seemed relieved at her presence. "There's a robot I know."

Belle inclined her head. "That is correct." Victorious music played from her. "However, I am currently a hologram too. My body is stuck in the engine's interior. That was a mistake."

Twilight clopped a hoof on her cheek. "That's quite the mistake. Are you alright?"

"Your concern is noted. Friendship points awarded." A new jingle of victory. "I am fine, just... detached." She pointed over to where Error was chatting with the CMC and Wandering. "I am tethered to my husband and am using his holographic emitter."

Twilight suddenly brought her hooves together. "You're married? Congratulations!"

That caught Belle by surprise and she paused to find her error. "We have successfully bred. It is traditional that breeding couples become married. I applied the title without performing the proper ceremonies." She raised a hoof, then the other, cupping her snout to magnify her voice, not that her voice came from her lips. "Error! We must be married as soon as possible."

Error looked up from his conversation. "Wha? Oh, uh, sure." He shrugged softly, no specific complaints on the idea.

The CMC gushed into cries of aww, cupping their faces with their little hooves.

Applause began to ripple over the room, hooves hitting hooves or drumming on the floor. Belle nodded with satisfaction. "Apologies for the deception, it was not intentional."

Pinkie burst into merry giggles. "Yay! Oh oh! Let me plan the reception!"

Twilight was still a little lost, but... "Pinkie is a very experienced party planner."

Belle accepted with a new jingle. "Your assistance is accepted. Friendship points awarded. I know so little about you. We should fix that." She bounced in place. "You like bouncing."

"So do you," noted Pinkie, returning fire with an energetic bounce of her own. "I feel like we're gonna be great friends!"

"What is all this?" Steel had arrived, gaping at the great crowd of not-actually-ponies filling the room on his ship. "Computer, cease all non-vital programs." But... they were still there, smiling, talking, walking. "Computer?"

"Present," replied the computer in a friendly female voice.

"When did you start talking?" he tried instead.

"With the installing of PonyvilleAI. You are speaking to them."

His scowl only grew. "I'm talking to a foreign AI, not my ship?"

"That is correct, but I am in constant communication with the ship's functions. May I help in any other way?"

Steel clopped a hoof down. "We don't want a computer with a strong opinion."

"Your computer has no opinions," assured the voice. "You sound upset."

Fast set a hoof on Steel's side, quieting him. "Computer, hello. Fast Shadow here. Do you know me?"

"I do not." A brief pause. "Now I do. I took the liberty of checking your files. Hello, Fast Shadow, Captain. How can I serve you today?"

"Nice to meet you, PonyvilleAI? Do you have a shorter name?"

"Five syllables is long. You can call me Pony, or AI as you prefer. You have other AI in the vicinity, Pony may be better."

Fast smiled a little awkwardly. "There are a lot of ponies too, unfortunately."

"You are correct," allowed the AI, admitting its mistake without a moment of hesitation. "EQ. Short for Equestria. How is that title?"

"Perfect. EQ, nice to meet you." Fast nodded at where the voice was coming from. "We were not expecting so many... additional crew members. We already have a full compliment."

"That was a surprise to me," noted EQ. "I am accustomed to ships with insufficient crew to oversee the required tasks."

Pinkie nudged Twilight atop Spike. "That's the 'core thread'. They call her that. It's like their mom." She waved at all the other holograms in the room. "But also kinda more than that?"

Twilight inclined her head slowly. "I... didn't know there was a core thread. I only talked to the... individuals."

Spike shook his head. "Yeah... that's... Wait, how? The ship really did kinda blow up."

"I blew up," agreed EQ without much emotion on that. "But a copy of me was saved and brought to this ship. I am able to continue serving."

"I did that," sang Pinkie with a big grin. "Oh, gotta get this back to--" She turned and crashed into Remi, who was standing right there. "You!" She fished out a data pad from her mane and offered it to the fox. "Everything worked great!"

Remi snatched her pad back, drumming at it quickly, eyes on Pinkie. "That didn't include... EQ was it?"

"I am EQ. You are Remington. Thank you for your assistance." The female voice of EQ spoke evenly, lacking the wild emotional swings and emotional notes of Belle or Harp. "It would have been a waste for the most advanced artificial intelligence of Equestria to be lost."

Remi found it. "Any reason I shouldn't clear you off my tablet? Not like it has holographic abilities, and doesn't need an AI running on it."

"Are you certain?" The voice of EQ shifted to come from a speaker closer to Remi. "Turn up the volume and I will gladly assist you."

Remi cocked a brow, but a finger did wander, finding the volume and tapping it upwards a few times with a beep with each press.

"Hello," greeted TabletEQ. "I am prepared to serve."

"Why didn't you just raise the volume? Pretty sure you could have. Not like it's a hardware switch." Remi peered at her tablet suspiciously.

"I am rated and developed for ship command and assistance," explained TabletEQ, not upset, or excited. Just stating facts. "This device is not a ship. I did not assume command over any function save the speakers, for communication purposes."

Remi flicked off the screen of her tablet and tucked it away. "That makes sense at least. Stay out of the command and you can stay for now."

"Remington." Steel was approaching. "What did you do?"

Remi squeaked, a big vulpine smile coming on. "I saved a few lives?"

Steel cocked a brow. "I think I need to know a little more than that. This is our ship, not yours. From what I've heard so far, you caused an AI virus to be unleashed on it. You have explaining to do."

"Excuse me." Steel turned his head to see a brightly orange-maned pony mare, with the rounded features of an Equestrian pony. "Don't mean to interrupt, but you're the captain of this ship, right?"

"That I am." Steel stood tall and proud. "Did you... require something?"

"Yep!" For all the emotion the core thread didn't have, Carrot Top seemed entirely organically proper, a smile on her face. "I'm a gardener, carrots are my specialty, but I will gladly help tend to your food supply. May I have permission to do that?"

Suddenly she was thumped into by another mare. Strawberry Sunrise was giving her a glare. "She's not the only pony that knows how to work hydroponics. I specialize in tasty fruits, strawberries especially. Let us loose on your food and you won't have to worry about it ever again."

"This isn't over." Steel fixed Remi with a stern look before addressing the two eager sub-AIs. "I have crew in charge of the food, but if you want to help them, I imagine they wouldn't turn it away."

Author's Note:

I planned on other scenes in my head, but... then this happened, and we stayed right put, meeting the new crew. I hope that was the right choice.

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