• Published 10th Mar 2013
  • 1,212 Views, 25 Comments

Red Shetland - archonix



Luna and a bevy of unusual companions (an AI modelled on Celestia, a hyper service droid, a holographic Blueblood and a sapient cat) struggle to survive in the face of interminable boredom on a deserted starship three-million years from home.

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Crusty, Crunchy, Buttery Toast

Crusty, Crunchy, Buttery Toast

It was one of those days.

In a sense they were all one of those days, living as she did under the spectre of a million-year-long emergency ship-wide lockdown, eking out a meagre and frankly dull existence along the endless, deserted corridors of The Ship as she sought something, anything to drive away the mindless nothingness that had become her life for the last two hundred and thirty-two interminable periods of wakefulness, regulated by the automated lighting that had faithfully dimmed and brightened on the same cycle for longer than she had been alive.

Technically speaking she had lived all that time, if the stasis spells that had sustained her for the last three million years could be called living. Twilight had explained it to her a few hours before she'd entered the stasis pod. Apparently she had become a null probability event in time, or some such rot and garbage, and so time hadn't happened to her because she hadn't existed.

But of course she'd existed. She was Luna. She was Regent of the Moon, Co-ruler of the Principality of Equestria, immortal goddess alicorn of immeasurable power and now she was bored out of her tartarus-damned mind.

And so it had become one of those days.

"You know," said a friendly voice to her left, "seems kinda silly to be blasting great big holes in the wall of this giant interstellar spaceship in the middle of space when there's no air outside. I mean that's the sort of thing that a crazy pony would do. I can think of better ways to start the day!"

"We did not ask thy opinion, device!"

"No but I kinda don't want to get sucked out into space. Ooh! I know what'll make you feel better!"

"Pray tell, trifling voicebox."

"You'll never guess what I'm thinking! Go on, try!"

Luna turned to regard her tormentor. The device lurked on a shelf in the room she had taken as, for want of a better word, her current nesting place. Short, squat and a disturbing yet familiar shade of pink, the device 'spoke' through a trio of brightly coloured ovoid speakers and a little blue light that flashed when it wanted to emphasise a point. The light was flickering now in what Luna had come to identify as 'giddy madness'. She could only hope it wouldn't progress to mind-bending glee. Bad things happened at that point. Terrible, horrible things.

"Perhaps it is–"

"Toast!" The machine ejected a tiny spray of confetti, followed by two perfectly browned slices of toast that flew through the air and flopped onto the floor at Luna's feet. She stared at the bread for a moment and then glared at the toaster.

"We do not desire toast, machine."

"Oh." The light fluttered briefly toward 'despondent' before bouncing back to 'worryingly perky'. "How about a cupcake?"

"We do not require baked goods of any sort," Lune replied, carefully enunciating the declaration to be sure the toaster understood. Its light flickered again before settling into a dull, resentful glow.

"Fine. Be that way, but don't come crying to me when you're stuck half way down an elevator shaft without the strength to climb to safety because you neglected your breakfast treat!"

A blessed silence returned to the room, giving Luna the space to consider how she should make use of the day. So far she had–

"What about a muffin?"

"Demon appliance, prithee cease the clamour before we eject thy mortal remains through the waste disposal system!" Luna waited for a response from the toaster. It glowered at her, but remained mercifully silent as she watched. Satisfied that she had finally won the battle of wits the Princess of Empty Corridors turned back to her scheming and plotting. She almost didn't notice the screen on the far wall as it flickered to life.

She tried to ignore that too but it was, as always impossible. Luna looked up, casting aside the hastily scribbled notes she had been pawing through as she glared at the screen. The friendly face of her sister smiled back.

Well. Not her sister, not exactly. Celestia was three million years and quite a few arguments distant. This was a facsimile, created in her image to oversee the ship, but Luna wasn't sure if the resemblance disturbed or pleased her.

"Tia, if you are here to berate us for abusing this– this device–"

"It is not healthy to take out your frustrations on the technodaemons, Luna," the smiling face replied. "Neither is it fair to them. You would not have done so at one time."

"At that one time I would not have had to deal with their wittering imbecility at all hours." Luna grit her teeth and tried to match the screen's gaze. An impossible task given its ability to stare for hours without simulating a blink. "My own sister would lose patience if she had to deal with a toaster of such enthusiasm every single morning of her life for the past year. I have moved three times in the last month and this machine is always, always there."

"Of course."

She had taken to calling it Tia, the name of affection she had granted to her sister, though she knew not why. The facsimile was not her sister. It was not nearly as intelligent for one thing, though it had Celestia's same annoying tendency to smile just so when it was trying to make a point.

"You say that as if they are deliberately placed– Tia." Luna's glare turned icy. "Please tell me you have not been deliberately placing these devices to cause maximum frustration."

"I have not," Tia replied with a cheeky smirk. "However projections indicated you would not tolerate any period of isolation for longer than two months without regular input from third parties. I decided that the best means to prevent such an outcome was the introduction of appliances infused with technodaemons based on personality files I have maintained in my database, that would interact with you on a daily basis in order to provide external stimuli."

The facsimile of Celestia smiled again, completely at peace with the world and its place in it.

"No annoyance was intended, Luna."

"You based the toaster on Pinkie Pie, Tia. I am harangued at every moment of the day by a device that wishes to see me force-fed nothing but pastries until I explode!"

"And toast," the toaster put in. "Yummy toast with butter and jam and a little teeny tiny sprinkle of salt and some mint and–"

"Enough!" Luna leapt from her seat, grabbing the toaster in her magic as she stomped toward the door. She stopped just long enough to hurl the device down the corridor before kicking the door control, sealing herself in and the dratted machine outside.

The toaster's distressed wail was abruptly cut off as the door hissed against its frame, leaving Luna panting in the relative silence of her room. She glared at the screen.

"I demand a better solution."

"As you wish, Luna. In fact today's visit was regarding that exact issue. I believe I have found a more permanent and adequate solution to this issue."

Moving slowly, her back and shoulders tense, Luna slipped back into her seat at the table. She kept her eyes on Tia the entire time. "You have?"

"Certainly! You are aware that The Ship is equipped with full-coverage internal holo-emitters for a variety of purposes?"

"Including the simulation of emergency command crew–" Frowning, Luna nodded. "Go on."

"I have calculated an optimal solution to your issue. I shall simulate a member of the expedition most suitable to maintaining your sanity and stimulating your intellect. In effect I shall resurrect the crew member who most closely matches your needs."

"You'll bring them back–"

A number of thoughts collided in Luna's head all at once. The possibility of another pony to talk to after a whole year alone was thrilling. Even during her banishment to the moon she had not been truly isolated in this way, but merely held remote in a state similar to the 'stasis' that had put her in this intolerable condition. Not quite as severe. The thought of interaction was quickly overwhelmed by the thought of whom she would be interacting with. Her heart thumped in her chest; it could be anypony, any of her friends. She dared not hope, yet–

"I can bring back one pony suitable to your needs, yes," Tia replied.

"Who?"

Tia simply smiled and looked past Luna to the far side of the room. The princess swallowed hard and took a breath, not quite wanting to turn in case her worst fears were realised. Or her wildest dreams. Would she get to see Twilight again after all? Could she hope? Closing her eyes briefly, she took another breath, held it and let it out. Then, quick as a flash, she turned.

The smile that had grown on her face froze as she took in the sight before her.

"Tia, is this a joke?"

"No."

"You–"

She could feel the bile rising in her throat at the sight of the stallion before her, his brow knitted in confusion as he stared around the room. The stallion opened his mouth and flapped it around as if unable to think of what to say, then closed it and snorted. He shifted slightly, returning Luna's gaze with a haughty one of his own.

"Blueblood?!"

"Projections indicated–"

"I don't care what your projections indicated, Tia! Get rid of it before I jump out of the airlock!"

"I'm afraid that's impossible, Luna. Once the simulation begins I cannot end it without terminating a life. Such an act is against the directives both you and Commander Twilight Sparkle inserted into my programming."

It had to be a mistake. How could this– this creature be the most suitable pony to keep her sane? First chance she got, Luna decided, she'd rip the guts out of Tia and get her to bring back a good pony instead of the officious and self-important stain on the buttock of ponykind that stood before her.

But that would take time, she realised. A lot of time. The Directives she and Twilight had written into Tia's personality ran deep and wide. And there was that somewhat trifling issue of terminating the idiot Prince's life in the process. For all that she might argue he was already dead, it was hard to keep up the pretence when the bumbling fool was right in front of her.

Slowly, cursing the injustice of her lot, Luna lowered her head to her forehooves and took another calming breath. In through the nose. Out through the mouth... she cracked an eye open and glared at Blueblood again.

"Well," he declared with a voice that could have melted butter. "If you're done planning my murder, perhaps somepony could explain what's going on hmm? The last event I recall was..."

His eyes lost their focus a little, which was interesting. "Ah. Am I dead? That's rather a blow. Oh well, can't keep a good pony down eh? What's for lunch?"

Luna's eye closed again. She bit her lip and wondered if she should explain now, or wait until she had gained access to one of the ship's sizeable stores of alcoholic beverages.

It was one of those days.