• 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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9 - We're Always Dying

"Think of it this way," gently spoke Wandering with a kind smile on his face. "This is how it normally works. You are constantly in a state of death and rebirth, from the very instant of your birth. The cells within you can only recover from so much, and when that is too great, they must be replaced."

"Growing new skin doesn't make me a new pony," half-snorted Twilight. "Nor does growing hair."

"But even your brain is doing it. There exists very little of a person that is the same person from just a few years prior." He wove towards a comfortable looking lounge. "With how old you are, I imagine you've had time enough for even the longest living parts to have long since faded away, replaced with new parts. This is just how things work."

Twilight frowned softly, her steps slowing. "I... But they're still 'me'."

"They are," he agreed without hesitation. "But define 'you'." He turned towards her with the same kind smile. "You are Twilight Sparkle because you remember being Twilight Sparkle and bare the scars and triumphs of her past both in mind and in body, though the bodily marks fade over time, being as unaging as you are." His eyes swept over her. "And I see no hint of scars."

She spread her wings suddenly. "I wasn't born with these! I wouldn't call them scars, but they certainly are a change."

"Granted, but that changes little of what I said, does it?"

She squinted at the goat counselor. "I... suppose not... But it is that gentle slowness that things are replaced that allows them to still be me."

"If some unfortunate accident were to occur." He reached out and tapped her right foreleg. "And we had to remove that, and replace it with another, would you still be you? Would the leg be Twilight's leg?"

"Not at first," she hissed, cringing and shying back a step. "But I'd get used to it, I should imagine... Let us hope this never becomes required."

"Dawn is a talented healer, it would take quite a bit of effort to remove your leg in a fashion he couldn't remedy," assured Wandering gently. "Back to the point, our younger selves are the younger cells, growing and adapting, preparing for when they will replace us, the older cells. They are us. We are they. We can remember when we were young, and when we were old. They are us, subtle changes or not."

Twilight took a slow deep breath. "Surely you can admit it's a bit strange to have that rubbed into your faces quite that... directly."

"I can. We avoid speaking with our other selves," he confessed with a soft laugh. "But I do not begrudge my other selves. They are each as me, doing the best they can to bring smiles to this empty universe and to soothe troubled minds. Speaking of that, let us turn towards you."

"I'm fine, really." She put a hoof to her chest, smiling her best. "I'm functioning perfectly."

"Tell me about your best friend who isn't Spike or Octavia," he asked in kind tones, though the question was far from kind.

"What about the other?" Fast was perched on her chair, an ear towards Steel. "She has gone into isolation shock, near as I can tell. I may be no expert on this matter, but..."

"No, she hasn't come out of her shell like Twilight is." Steel took a slow breath. "She responds well enough to visitors, but isn't taking a single step forward on her own." He sat up with a soft snort. "Should we bring it up to her friends?"

"That may be effective, perhaps Spike? No reason to burden Twilight if she is still recovering." Fast pivoted her seat towards Dawn. "See they get together later, inform us what happens."

"As the gods will it."

"And put this... there..." A bright spark lit up the interior of the wall space Remi was in. "That stung a little, but here we are." She popped up, an object in her hands. It was made of smooth grey plastic, vaguely football in shape, though one end of it was a bright purple crystal. "And here we are, a portable transmitter. So long as the computer allows it, he should be able to live in here."

Belle tilted her head left and right, studying the oblong object. "That is too small to contain him."

Remi burst into laughter as she scrambled free of the cramped place. "Try it first." She set it down and scampered away from it. "You'll see."

Belle's ears wriggled as she considered the situation. "Sufficient friend points found, trust given. Computer!" The computer chimed softly. "Activate Error No Name." She pointed at the plastic football with the crystal end. "There."

The transmitter suddenly jumped into the air, the form of No Name wrapping around it with a flicker, solidifying with the emitter locked inside of him. "Huh? Oh, hey Belle." He reached for her and she pranced up to accept the petting. "Your friends are still here?"

"Yo." Spike smirked softly. "How do you feel?"

"Normal?" He shrugged softly. "Not like I have much you could hurt."

"You do now." Remi was grinning at the great mutant hologram. "Take care of that thing in your chest." She waved in the general vicinity that the emitter was resting.

"Wait what?" Several snakes hissed in shared confusion as he looked towards his own chest, which betrayed not the presence of the thing lodged inside him.

"Initiate experiment," sang out Belle, pointing out the door. "Proceed!"

Spike waved grandly at the doorway, seated on his haunches. "You should be able to, you know, go where you want."

"Yeah?" He looked between Belle's sparkling eyes and the other's less manic looks of encouragement. "You didn't have to... But fine, let's make sure it works." He rose to his great hooves and stepped towards the door, clip-clopping in an idle trot. His form flickered in a line as he passed from the holographic emitters the room had to operating entirely on the one embedded in his form, but he remained whole. "That felt weird."

And yet there he was, standing in the hallway. "Holy shit, you really did it..." He looked left and right, slowly turning in place. "This place is big..."

Spike emerged just behind him, forcing him back as two large forms occupied the hall. "Welcome to personal liberty, uh, as far as you can have." He rubbed behind his head. "Real talk here, are you... programmed?"

Belle came bouncing out after him, veering to the right around him until she was at No Name's side. "He is as programmed as you are."

"What? I'm not programmed." Spike furrowed his brow, looking scandalized.

Remi snorted softly, looking amused as she set the panel back in the wall. "We're all programmed, just up to us to make the best of it."

No Name smirked faintly. "At least she admits it. Anyway, look at me, outside the room... We're done now?"

"Negative!" cried Belle, bouncing in place. "Now that you have achieved mobility, you can meet my other friends." She pointed up at the large form of Spike. "We can start here. Initiate friendship file opening!"

"Yeah, already did that." No Name shrugged. "Hey."

"Hey," replied Spike. "So, alright, gonna pretend you're just any other pony. What do you like to, you know, do?"

"Well... That's a hard question. For a long time, it was 'chill with Belle'. Not like I had a lot of options, but I liked doin' it." He looked down to the side where Belle was comfortably perched in his shadow. "Look... This means a lot to her, so I'll give it a real try."

"Aw that's adorable." Remi left the room last, the door sliding shut behind her. "Hey, computer, don't turn off this hologram for now, alright?" She was waving at No Name expansively. Thankfully it did not require very much in the way of permissions to ask for a hologram to persist.

Belle tilted her head. "If he is being created by your device, why is the computer involved?"

"Power," she replied in a single stern statement. "That thing doesn't have enough power to keep something that big going and still process his thoughts. I'll need a way better power supply if you want him to work without the ship lending a helping hand along the way."

"Ain't a bad try fer what ya had." He shrugged lightly. "Now look what you did." He was looking back at Belle. "You done dragged someone way out of time inta the future."

"And it is great!" she sang, bouncing in place. "Set phasers to explore!" She hopped up suddenly, scrambling up his back to perch on his shoulders. "Engines full ahead."

Spike inclined his head lightly up at her. "Huh, she just likes riding big people."

"Yeah, kind of one of her 'things'." No Name chuckled good heartedly as he began to amble forward. "Now ya gotta tell me which way ahm goin' cause I ain't got a clue which way is which."

Spike reached up to his ear. "Captains?"

"Spike, good to hear from you," replied Fast. "Report?"

"Remington's done in the room, and we have a new guest, sorta?"

Steel was the first to reply, "Sorta? Can you explain?"

"Belle has a hologram friend she's attached to." He shrugged as he followed after them. Remi was at his side. "She heard Remington can work with gizmos and had her give him a, uh, holographic thingie so he could walk around the ship."

The sound of a hoof meeting a face could be heard, along with Fast's soft chuckle. "Harmless enough, provided she hasn't tinkered with the controls."

"She was worried you guys might be angry at her if she did that, so she didn't."

"Good call," agreed Steel. "Bring them up to the bridge. We wanted to talk to you anyway."

"Roger and out." Spike lowered his hand from his fin, accelerating a little to catch up. "They want us up at the bridge."

"Command accepted," joyfully sang Belle. She pointed the way and No Name obliged her, moving for the elevator that could get them through the ship faster than most other options. "Remi, points lost have been refunded in addition to points earned for service. Friendship level gained!" Celebratory music issued from within her in a merry celebration.

Remi snickered at that. "Yes, level 2 get!"

"Level 1," corrected Belle. "Additional permissions unlocked." The sound of a deadbolt coming loose came from her. "Congratulations!"

"Wait, does that makes me level 0?" Spike hiked a brow as he followed into the elevator, taking a place as the two large creatures shimmied to not crowd each other.

"You are making excellent progress." Belle clip-clopped her forehooves. "Please continue to build comradery to gain friendship levels." She turned without the rest of her body, her head spinning around to face Spike and Remi. "Friendship detected. Have you reached level 1 with Remi?"

Remi softly snorted. "Not even first base," she huffed out, crossing her arms with a wicked smirk on her face. "I'm workin' on it."

"You're... mixing metaphors there." Spike frowned a bit.

No Name began to move as the doors opened. "You get used to that. Belle does it too. So, uh--" His words cut off as he emerged onto the bridge, eyes sweeping over the ponies working there. "Woah, all the big people."

Fast swiveled towards him. "You're tied for the largest here at the moment." She raised a hoof. "But Steel and I are in charge if that is what you meant. Regardless of that, we are a team, with a mission. You were never introduced."

Steel nodded softly. "Out of a respect for Bullette Belle's privacy, we allowed her to run your program without interference. If you are mobile, that changes things. You have exited Belle's private space and entered ours."

No Name halted his approach, looking uncertain. "Oh, well, if'n you want me ta head back, whatever."

Fast reached out a hoof. "That is not what we meant. It's just that as a mobile entity, you are not just 'Belle's'. You are all of ours, as a member of the crew and part of the ship."

Belle gasped in three octaves at once. "Tag added: Crew! Congratulations!" The celebration jingle played from within her.

No Name shook his head, though his snakes remained focus, half on Fast, the other half on Steel. "Ah don't have much skills that'll be useful."

Spike shrugged. "You're big. Bet you can fight. Wanna spar? We'll learn the tech stuff as we go."

Steel brought his hooves together lightly. "An excellent idea. You two are very similar in key ways in terms of training. Spike, do you accept him as an apprentice?"

Spike blinked at that, pointing at himself. "Me? I mean, sure. He seems like a nice guy, but I hardly know more than he does."

Dawn glanced over. "You are without a soul as ponies would know it. Only The Maze will welcome you into their bosom when it is time for you to move on."

Belle gasped with an alarmed and discordant mess of tones. "Take that back. No Name is perfectly equipped for service as a crew."

"Uh, way too deep all of ah sudden." He rubbed behind his head lightly. "Look, don't know shit about souls. I didn't know about that even when I was breathin'. Still don't. Does it matter much?"

"Language." Spike waved a finger in a soft tut-tut gesture. "That aside, whatever. I only had to deal with souls a few times, and it was a big pain in the flank. This one time, wooo, Twilight was a soul, and that was a trip." He rolled his eyes dramatically. "I was so happy when we got her back in a body."

Dawn inclined his head faintly. "She has experienced death? I had thought she avoided its chill touch. Good to know. It means if it came to that, it will be less traumatic for her." He turned back to his console, apparently satisfied.

Belle tilted her head left and right. "Lucky..." Her voice went downwards before bouncing back up, "Now that crew tag is assigned, full permissions given?"

"Belay that," ordered Fast, waving a hoof. "You need to be briefed on things. First, Spike."

"Yea?" Spike perked up at Fast. "What's up?"

"Go visit your friend." Fast pointed to the elevator. "Octavia requires your help. We fear she's suffering isolation shock, and a friend is just the thing."

Belle put her hooves to her cheeks, eyes sparkling. "A friendship assignment! Good luck!"

"Oh, sure." He turned for the elevator, but didn't stride with confidence. "I mean... uh... We were... friends, but not super close friends."

Remi bumped against his sides. "You know her, right? I'm guessing that's the closest we have. I'll go with you if it makes you feel better."

"Actually... yeah, thanks." He started walking, some of the tension fading. "I'm just worried I'll make it worse."

"We'll be fine, I'm sure." She nudged against him as they went. "You're a sweet dragon, so concerned about people."

He was quiet, and she gently pressed, "I'm complimenting you. I'm not really into 'rawr look at me, so alpha, rawr'. Bunch of meatheads no good for anything but a rough night." She lifted her furry hands to either side in a grand shrug as they vanished into the elevator. "Give me a sweet guy, so long as he can dance a little."

Fast turned to look at No Name and Belle, the others gone. "Back to you two. Belle, you have proven this can work, I understand that. That doesn't mean it will work every time. He is your responsibility."

"You --" Steel was pointing at her on his back. "--will lose friendship points if you don't take this responsibility seriously."

Belle gasped with alarm. "All monitoring routines running at 120%," she assured firmly, crisply saluting with a hoof across her brow. "Initiate crew tutorship program. Are you prepared?"

No Name knew he was being spoken to without seeing Belle on his back. "Yeah yeah, where does this start? Shoot girl, life was simpler when you left me in the closet. Don't you know people who come out of closets make other people nervous?"

Belle tilted her head, looking confused a moment before she started pointing to the stations. "Weapons, operated by Under Score, technomagician of considerable skill. Friendship level: 2. Scanners, operated by Dawn Event, thiest of any thees that require ists. Friendship level: 1. Communication, operated by Wandering Note, not depicted in this shot." Not that any photos were being taken.

"What's his friendship level?" he asked with a little smirk.

"4! He is very friendly. I like him. You will like him too I am 75% certain!" She clopped her hooves with excitement, moving right along. "Captains, Fast Shadow, Friendship Level: 2. Steel Prism, Friendship Level: 2. Both are leaders and melee experts. Steel Prism specializes in thiestic enhancement. Fast Shadow specializes in team safety."

"Pleased ta meetcha," greeted No Name, nodding to the captains and crew. "I'm No--"


"Yeah, Error No Name." he allowed with a wry smile. "She picked it out for me, a stupid number of years ago. So, uh, no real idea what I'm doin', but I'll try not to mess things up any. Thanks fer havin' me."

Under peeked over at the group of them. "Belle, Error. There are things I would care to discuss with the both of you, but that can wait. Welcome aboard, Error."

"Welcome aboard," echoed Dawn. "May your steps fall where they should."

Belle suddenly tapped Error on the head. "He has as many ways of saying 'good luck' as there are gods." She tilted her head sharply. "There are more gods than there are stars."

"That's a lot of damned gods."

"Some of them are," gruffly agreed Dawn, though he didn't turn to look. "Some of them are blessed. All are worthy of attention."

Author's Note:

Yay, new month, new updates, let the space adventure continue!

Remember No Name? He's back, sorta?

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