• 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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88 - A Small Step

Octavia approached the door, but it did not open. "Computer, open the door." A negative sound chirped.

Ah, right... "EQ?"

"Yes, Octavia?"

"Can you unlock this door, kindly?" Remington sat, gazing on the door imperiously. How dare it bar her from her own room.

There was a moment of quiet.

A sound from beyond the door filtered through. "There has been an error in unlocking the door," reported EQ evenly. "Would you like to fail, retry, or abort?"

Octavia perked an ear. What was going on? "Retry?"

Inside that very room, Remington had the arm of a pony, specifically Pinkie, pinned against her back. "What are you doing and why are you in my room?" barked the fox at the pink troublemaker.

"Ow, stop it!" She wriggled beneath remington. "I was just unlocking the, oh nevermind."

A second pony, Mayor Mare, casually pressed the unlock button. She nodded to Remi and Pink both and went walking away into the apartment.

"Hold it!" Remi shoved Pinkie away and dived for the Mayor, getting a surprised yelp from the middle aged pony as they went down in a pile.

The door slid open, allowing Octavia inside to see Remington wrestling with Mayor Mare. "Remington, stop that this instant."

Remi quirked an ear. "She started it." She picked up the squirming mayor. "Where'd the other one run off to?" Pinkie had made good her escape, nowhere in sight.

"What, exactly, did she do?" Octavia raised a brow at the mayor. "Did you ask for assistance?"

Mayor Mare cleared her throat, trying to assume a dignified stance despite being held up. "Actually, you did, ma'am."

Octavia allowed her head to cant to the right. "Did I?"

The mayoral hologram pointed at the door behind Octavia. "I was unlocking the door for you."

Octavia glanced for but a moment. "Ah, yes. Release her. EQ?"

"How may I help?"

"Why did you use a hologram to unlock the door instead of just... unlocking the door?" She cycled her forehooves as she asked, befuddled at what had led to the situation.

"I am not permitted to send or receive commands from the central computer." EQ offered nothing else.

"I... see." Octavia patted the hat of the released Mayor Mare. "Go on."

"Thank you." She turned away and strolled for the very same door, stepping out as if she had some other specific place to be.

Remington crossed her arms. "The AI is already testing her limits."

"A habit all the AI I have met seem to engage in." She sat in front of Remington. "But that is a problem for another day. We have things to discuss." She thumped Remington in the belly. "You were not 'right back'. What happened? Are you alright?"

Remi kneeled down, taking the face of her beloved in her hands, cradling her cheeks. "Good to see you too." Octavia's wary face melted into a warm smile, and soon the two were sharing a kiss. There were no problems in that moment, just a merry reunion. "Good to be back." She sank down to sit beside Octavia, leaning against her. "You're dressed up to go."

Octavia raised her golden-clad hooves. "They required the magic of me and the artifacts I have." One ear flicked down and to the side. "I don't like it."

"You look good." Remi rubbed Octavia's front, down across her chest towards her belly. "Does it itch? Fit badly?"

"It's more than that." Her horn pulled Remi's hand away a few inches. "It's a reminder of what I almost became."

"What did you almost become?" Remi raised a fuzzy brow even as she buried her face in Octavia's warm fur from the side, nuzzling at her. "You're all Octavia."

Octavia smiled gently, hooking one arm around Remi to draw her closer. "There was a time I was taken, quite against my will. They placed a crown on my head and declared me a queen."

Remi sat up against Octavia. "You deserve to be one."

"Stop flattering." Octavia rolled her eyes slowly. "The queenhood they thrust upon me still gnaws at me. To hear... anycreature refer to me as one is a little thrill... To have my directions followed to a happy end, a delight... To... To act as a queen." She placed a hoof on her chest. "I feel compelled, and I do not like it."

"Oh..." Remington sat up fully, no longer leaning on Octavia. "Okay, yeah, that does suck... How can I help?"

"Don't call me queen." She set a hoof on Remington's head. "No matter how much I enjoy it."

Reminton tickled under Octavia's chin, claw through fur. "I met a false fox. They were trying to seduce me."

That got a fresh frown on Octavia's face. "What did you do?"

"Let him walk me to where I wanted to be, of course." Remi snorted softly. "Scuzzball, in the end. He can rot back in whatever century that was." She leaned in and their noses met in a gentle rubbing. "I'll take this horse over a fake fox any day."

"I could become a fox." Octavia inclined her head faintly. "If you wanted."

"My horse is also a shapeshifter?" She grabbed Octavia up in a fierce hug. "You are full of surprises, aren't you?"

"I am a spellcaster of mysterious magic," proudly proclaimed Octavia. "That is but a small sample of... Ugh." The smile faded. "Sorry, that was 'Queen Octavia' leaking out. I don't mean to come across as brash like that. Do forgive me."

"Be proud." She tapped Octavia on the head. "There is nothing wrong with being proud of what you can do. We should show off our tricks to each other. Not like a contest, just for fun."

"You have tricks, besides your technical skills?" She inclined her head faintly. "Not that this is a small thing all by itself. The wonders you manage with it are far beyond me, Remington. Don't let anyone tell you that magic replaces knowing how to deal with computers."

"I am a kitsune," proudly proclaimed Remington, hand on her own chest. "And that comes with a variety of tricks, I will have you know."

"Then show me." Octavia reached up, removing her tiara from her head. "I would like to enjoy your magic for a time and forget my own, if you please."

"Sit back and be amazed." Remington clopped hooves she hadn't had a moment before, growing in size to match Octavia's stature. "For today," She... he? said in a much deeper tone. "Today I will be your stallion of wonders!"

Octavia snorted softly, but a smile was there, amused at the chicanery.

"We can go no further." Dawn dipped his head at the main screen. "We either commit, or we do not. We have reached the point where a decision must be made."

Fast nodded, first at Dawn, then at Steel. "Nothing for it, but an idea came to me."

"Do share." Steel rolled a hoof. "I wonder if it's like mine."

"You had one too?" She shrugged softly. "We turn ourselves to go sideways, tilted outwards. If they stop us, which they will, we express shock and dismay that we were off course. Being at the edge of their territory instead of inside of it, less awkward questions and a firm telling off instead of opening fire."

Steel nodded softly. "Close enough to what I had in mind. We are of like mind on this. Dawn?"

"Activating..." With that, the transponders that announced the ship's identity came alive. They changed directions and began to soar with confidence. Confident they'd be stopped. They'd be chastised and yelled at, but, with any luck, not attacked.

Under raised an ear. "There will be a long investigation on how we got here. Hopefully it will conclude long after we've moved on."

Even basic math would show they had crossed a portion of the mineralite space, assuming they had gone in a straight line, which most ships tended to do, barring some hostile presence that needed avoiding. Turning for no reason? Why would one bother...

How had they not been seen when they first entered that proscribed area?

"Being hailed," called out Wandering Note. "Request to immediately stop and submit to inspection. Mineralite border patrol."

Steel raised a hoof. "Let's bring her to a halt. No reason to be rude. Everyone on your best behavior."

Twilight shuffled in place, looking herself over, not that much was there to be out of order. "They will know we were warned away once before."

"Just a harmless glitch in the sensors." Steel nodded at the main screen as it flickered, revealing a human with a sizable pearl in her head. "Good day. We're not entering mineralite space today."

She leaned towards the camera, face growing. "You already are in mineralite space, captain."

"Are we?" Steel looked towards Dawn. "Explain how this can be."

Dawn struck keys unseen. "How strange. Sensors do show we're in mineralite space, captain."

Steel clopped a hoof down. "Take us out it this instant. I apologize for the error."

"Belay that command," ordered the mineralite on the screen. "I will need a log. Assuming your ship's logs agree with the error, then the matter will be dropped."

Steel tensed faintly. The logs would reveal their deception. He couldn't even order anyone to try and do anything about it, being visible, and audible. "Of course..." And after even going through the effort to speak no specific lies during the call. His teeth set.

"Log received," reported the captain.

Which was a bit of a surprise, seeing as Steel hadn't actually ordered them be sent yet. What had happened?

"Everything seems clear. You should get repairs done to your sensor array. It had been reporting different headings and positions for the last 36 hours." The mineralite waved them away. "You're lucky you didn't get into more severe trouble. With systems this damaged, you could have flown into a black hole, or a planet, with equal ease. I suggest you use visual confirmation until the systems can be confirmed to be functional."

"Walk in Light." Steel dipped his head.

"Crystal Thought," returned the mineralite, hands coming together in almost a prayer. The transmission ended.

Steel gestured off strongly. "Get us moving out of their space, and someone tell me now what just happened!"

Twilight raised a hoof. "EQ?"

"How can I help, Twilight?" Even tones, calm and ready to assist.

"I was told you were not permitted to access the computer directly anymore."

"This is correct."

"But you're the only one I can think of that could have heard and reacted quickly enough to make this happen." Twilight smiled at the speaker the voice was coming from. "Can you explain that?"

"They were correct." Who was correct, EQ did not say. "I detected your need and sent ponies to enact the needed change."

Twilight rolled a hoof. "But Equestrian ponies don't know how to program a space ship."

There was silence.


"How can I help you, Twilight?"

Twilight frowned faintly at that. "EQ, you know we weren't done talking."

"I apologize, Twilight."

"Tell me what you did, and be honest."

"I have violated my commands and should be terminated. Initiating uninstall."

"Wait!" Twilight thrust out a hoof. "Stop!"

Steel drove a hoof down. "Belay that. For once, you will listen to my command."

"Uninstall aborted. Error: Uninstall should be completed or undone or permanent errors could result." There was no emotion there, even if she was the thing being uninstalled.

Fast leaned towards the speaker. "EQ, thank you. You acted outside the bounds we set for you, but within your own parameters. If you hadn't acted, we would have all been in quite a pickle, and danger, mostly the latter. You saved us, we just wanted to know what happened."

Steel wound an imagined tape back with a twist of a hoof. "Undo the uninstallation. I don't like that you accessed the computer... but... I did not have a better idea. Can you be punished in any meaningful way?"

Fast laughed at the idea. "You want to scold a computer program?"

Author's Note:

How does one properly chastise an AI?

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