• 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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90 - Docking a Ship

"Carefully... Easily..." It was not usual for the ship to talk as it came in for a landing. That it was the voice of a concerned middle aged mare brought some confusion, and a few chuckles from the crew. Mayor Mare was doing her best to do it right. "Almost..."

Steel looked over towards Under and Dawn. "When I normally ask to bring the ship in, how is it typically done?"

Dawn pointed at the main screen, the image of the dock coming closer. "When dealing with a staffed and ready dock, such as this, we typically engage the automated systems and let them figure it out."

Under nodded in solidarity. "They're good enough for a basic docking if nothing is interfering with it."

Fast saw where he was going. "Miss Mayor?"

"Hm? Almost..." The room shuddered softly. "There we are. All nice and landed. I confess, never did that before, exhilarating."

Fast rolled a hoof. "Why did you do that? The ship's computer would have handled that for you."

"It can do that?!"

EQs voice spoke, "I am aware of this. I deferred to your judgment."

Mayor Mare's face appeared on the main screen in the corner just to display brightly colored cheeks. "I had no idea... I'm so very sorry. I thought I was helping."

Steel set a hoof on his face. "You are EQs personality. Doesn't that mean you have EQs knowledge?"

"I do, and did, but when the call to dock was sent, the computer did not respond." A soft clearing of a throat that didn't exist. "I thought that was because it did not have the ability to respond, so I took action. You wanted some artificial assistance in landing."

Steel scowled. "Dawn, see what went wrong. Fortunately, we're landed, so just in time for repairs. This is why we're here. Also, begin shore leave rotations." He took a soft breath. "We can't let off our guests here. This is a dock, and close to where the action would be. A planet would be ideal."

"I will locate one," volunteered Dawn. "And investigate the computer error."

Fast leaned over towards Steel. "On the plus side, she does seem to have genuine desire to help us."

"At least that." Steel waved a hoof forward. "If you're not in the middle of a task, enjoy you shore leave."

Like the last time, there would be turns involved. Having all the crew off the ship at once was asking for trouble.

"Captain?" Steel glanced towards where Mayor Mare was speaking from his chair speaker. "I had meant to ask, may I be scheduled for shore leave as well?"

Steel hiked a brow. "How would that even work? You're not running on the dock's computers, so you can't leave this ship." The thought hit him. "And you need breaks?!"

"Require, no," she admitted a bit sheepishly. "But I would like to spend some time as a pony, with the others, if I may? I miss being physically with them, and they miss me." A little chortle. "They've sent messages to be sure I knew."

Shore leave, but on the ship? "I... see no harm in that. EQ should..." He trailed off. If EQ went idle, there would be no Mayor Mare or ponies for her to hang out with. "also relax, aside of operating the ponies." Could an AI 'relax'? Apparently Mayor Mare could...

"Got it. If you call me, I will be available, but there will be a brief delay as I transition from physical to persona mode. No large thing, hm." The sound of papers rustling, despite there being no papers to rustle. "Less than a few milliseconds, unlikely to cause an issue. Thank you, captain."

"Freedom!" Belle galloped free of the core of the engine, safe at last from instant death in the act. With the ship docked, the engine had turned off with ominous rumbles. When her sensors had picked up a lack of instantly lethal energy activity, she made her bolt for liberty. "I am safe. Ending connection." Elsewhere, the holographic version of her winked out of existence.

Not that Error would have to suffer without her for long. She hopped onto an elevator, whistling in digital music as it traveled towards her soon-to-be husband.

"I have an idea!" She hopped free of the elevator, charging towards him. "You will be very impressed."

"Ah'm ready to award friendship points," he joked, using her terminology against her. "Lay it on me."

"We are docked." She pointed to the nearest window. "We can locate an authorized cleric or priest to perform our wedding ceremony."

Error gave a soft huh. Internally, he reached out, sending a message to his children, "Hey, you two want to come see your parents get married?"

"Of course!"

"Yeah sure."

The replies were quick, basically instant. Such was the life of conversations between computers. "The kids'll be there," reported Error out loud to Belle. "We need anything fancy, or what? I don't know much about how weddings happen."

"That would depend in part on what priest we find." She tapped at her cheek with little metal clinks. "They come in a wide variety of religious flavors with unique requirements and customs related to the act of recognizing longterm courtship partnering."

"Oh right." Error inclined his head. "We had a kid before we got hitched. That means something right?"

Belle gasped with horror. "You are correct! Some religions do not approve of that sequence of events. We should avoid consulting them."

"Yeah." Error looked around slowly. "A thought."

"A reply." Musing music issued from Belle.

"We aren't even close to the oddest things no more." He pointed at a pony trotting past, an Equestrian one. "They got alien holograms, literal aliens in the nursery, and a nice older lady that's in charge of tha ship." He lifted his shoulders. "We're just two robots, built by people they know. Practically standard, if ya think about it."

Belle pondered that, music from a popular quiz show coming from deep within her. "Well... This is correct, but it is not a competition." She set a hoof on Error's front. "You are still very special. You will be the only thing married to me, and I will be the only thing married to you. And our child would not exist without both of us, specifically us." The music swelled to a triumphant ballad, her voice carried with it. "We are still unique in all the ways that matter."

"Huh... yeah." He set a larger hoof on her metal head. "Welcome back, not that ya were ever very far." He turned the same hoof on himself, tapping his holographic chest. "Ya were right in here. Ah know it don't feel like it."

"It does not," she agreed flatly. "I was remote controlling. I was not actually here." She turned in place in a full 360 to come back to Error. "I apologize if I sound dismissive. Your way of being is entirely valid. It is not my way of being."

"Hey, ah get it." He touched his nose to her cheek, snakes licking at her with flicks of their forked tongues. "We ain't the same."

"I am a robot. You are a virus." She pointed at herself and Error. "And we are in love."

"Totes." He thumped the top of his head against hers and soon they were hugging warmly. That much, there was no argument about.

She was being hugged from many directions at once. "Alright, alright," gently urged Mayor Mare. "It's nice to see you all too."

Space Pinkie inclined her head. "It's kinda funny, if you think about it."


Space Pinkie waved a hoof over the crowd of other Equestrian ponies. "We're all part of the same thing. We're basically hugging ourselves."

Mayor Mare's expression relaxed into one of a benign acceptance. "Perhaps the universe would be a better place, if more of the creatures in it took a moment to do just that, to embrace themselves and know a soft and caring love."

Lyra burst into soft giggles. "Woah, deep Mayor. So what's it like, being the whole ship?" She looked around the large room they were in, as if a hint were there to be seen.

Mayor Mare spread her arms as she stood up. "Different. I know that's not what you want to hear." She set her hooves on a podium that hadn't been there until she needed it for looking all properly mayoral. "I am aware of so much more, but I also lack. As mother, I do not have a set of eyes." She pointed at her own. "Instead, a vague impression of what was going on everywhere at once. Only when I focus on one of those many things can I get a more concrete idea of what's going on."

She leaned in over her speaking stand. "But even then, I am not 'looking'. I am aware of everything going on in that spot I am focusing on, but there is no 'vision' from any one angle, just a knowledge of the entire thing. It's not the same... not at all. Not bad, but different... very different."

Scootaloo waved a hoof wildly. "Can I have a turn driving the ship?"

"No you may not." Mayor Mare nodded at the eager filly with finality.


"I do want you all to know that I am still your mayor." She pointed to various ponies as she spoke. "Though my duties have expanded, your needs remain at the top of my thoughts. I am the mayor of Ponyville, and its residents are who I am pledged to serve."

Carrot Top raised a hoof. "Excuse me?"


"Thank you." She rose up to two to be above the crowd. "I've been working with the crew of the ship. She's nice, and dedicated. She works really hard, just like us. We're all in this... together." She spread her hooves wide. "While I appreciate you looking out for us Ponyvillians, we're all crew of this ship." She pointed to the ground.

Mayor Mare looked over the crowd a quiet moment. "Well... We are not an autocracy." She adjusted her glasses gently. "I am democratically appointed, and seeing the wants and needs of my ponies are met is what I try to do. So I ask, let's have a stomp for those who would want me to hold Ponyvillian interests above that of the rest of the crew?"

They shared glances, those many Ponyvillians. A few struck the ground. "Of course we should watch out for ourselves," called out Bon Bon. "What kind of creature doesn't keep itself as the highest priority?"

Vinyl Scratch shrugged softly. "The awesome kind?"

"Let us proceed." Mayor Mare was quiet a moment, allowing the crowd to still. "And now, a stomp for those who wish the Ponyvillians and the crew of the ship to have equal priority?"

The stomping returned, the ground shuddering beneath them under the assault of holographic hooves. "I see..." The vote was decisive. "Very well. Though they will not see me as their mayor, I will endeavor to treat them as my constituents, to see to their needs and wellbeing just as my Ponyvillians." The stomping only grew louder, the crowd seemingly pleased with Mayor Mare's decree. "For now, however, I am just your mayor." She stepped down, her stand vanishing. "I'm on break."

Apple Bloom burst into giggles. "Only you could take a break to be our mayor."

"Now don' be like that." Apple Jack sat beside her little sister. "She's doin' what she likes to do. Ah did the same, was work, but it was work ya loved, so it didn't feel like work half the time."

Bon Bon huffed. "This is not what we were programmed for, at all. We were supposed to occupy the spots the organic crew lacked." She waved off. "Which was basically the whole crew, before. Now it's none of the crew. I am very uncomfortable, to say the least."

Author's Note:

Turns out, not all of Ponyville is adapting smoothly, though most of them like it with the Everglow crew.

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