• Published 24th Feb 2012
  • 4,231 Views, 78 Comments

Ponies in Space - Saphroneth

A fusion fic with various space opera, mainly Honor Harrington.

  • ...

Chapter 7

Spot winced at the eye-tearing column of plasma low on the southern horizon, then stumbled and nearly fell as the ground shock arrived.

“It’s over.”

“Sir?” That was the commander of the light battalion and the artillery contingent that had emplaced around the Coesite’s landing site.

“Major Rex, while I appreciate your drive, my ship is completely unarmed and has a drive capable of barely half the kind of speeds those capital ships can put out. And while your artillery position here is very good, this planet has a low level biosphere and I only have a fortnight’s worth of provisions on board – the rest of the brigade took the balance of it. The ponies can literally starve us out, there’s no meat here.”

“But we could move-“

“No, you couldn’t. I know spacecraft, Major, as well as you know your own trade. Firing in concert, those heavy pieces can destroy a dreadnaught, and while concentrated the rest of the position can stand off a fighter assault. But as soon as you start rendering them mobile once more, they are no longer of any use. We’re besieged.”

“If we go on half rations, we could stretch it until help arrives.”

Spot barked harshly. “Aye, but whose help? Need I remind you that this was a commitment made by Fang of much of his available forces, and that he will be expecting to present it as a done deal to the Khan – he will not inform others of our mission until we are late returning? The damned Ponies have a centralized government – and I have little doubt they have a reinforcement echelon on the way.”

He took a deep breath. “Therefore, I consider continued resistance to be useless, and I order you to surrender your command before any more of us are killed.”

“You…” Rex whispered, groping at his side. “Coward!”

He brought his sidearm up – but Spot moved faster, and his claws shredded that arm effortlessly. As the weapon clattered to the deck in a spatter of blood, the ship captain sighed. Young fool. How do you think I picked up the medal for a successful boarding operation, playing the balalaika?

I worried about you.” He said, almost conversationally as he picked the weapon up. “Too much the zealot, right from the start. I’d hoped it wouldn’t matter. But we cannot serve the Khan by dying here, and you cannot see that.”

Rex was still staring at the ruins of his arm in shock. “You… why?”

“If we had a chance, I’d agree with you. But there’s nothing but honour to lose by surrendering, and I prefer to be alive with a stain on my honour than dead with my entire command’s death to follow me to the Starless Dark.”

So saying, he fired the gun twice at the major. One shot hit centre mass, the other the head.

Some of his crew rushed in, to see their captain with a smoking pistol and bloody claws, and the major lying dead on the deck.

Seeing their glances, he turned. “This cur attempted to mutiny and take command of the ship. All hands ready to repel any other attempt!”

They weren’t sure. It seemed awfully convenient, after all-

But their loyalty was to him, anyway. “Aye, sir!”

“Hello, Admiral? Scratch here. I’ve got the senior Dog on an open channel. He’s asking for terms of surrender – parole when possible.”

“By all means.” Twilight replied, her mind going through the formulas. Despite how closely fought some wars were, for the most part the various nations in known space maintained a protocol of surrender and rules of war. She’d heard it used more often with Gryphons, but Dogs surrendering was hardly unknown.

“Tell him we accept, but we’ll discuss things later. I’m afraid we still have quite a mess to clear up down here.”

“That’s the last platoon.” Spike said quietly. “Seven wounded, thirteen effectives. The rest are dead.”

“What does that come to?” Twilight asked, heavily.

“Sixty percent casualties, almost half of them in the bombardment. Harmony’s battalion came off relatively well, and can manage sixty-five percent of establishment once those wounds the medics can take care of are dressed.”

Twilight sighed deeply. “I knew it was coming, but I can’t forgive myself.”

“You shouldn’t blame yourself in the first place, Twi.” Spike walked over. “Every one of them knew what they might be asked to sacrifice.”

“I suppose.” She didn’t sound like she meant it.

“You do this every time. And you personally saved most of the survivors with main magical strength – bet you’ll end up with another of those medals you pretend you don’t have!” He said, forcing cheer.

The attempt didn’t work very well in making Twilight stop moping. “Trixie deserves one more than me.”

“Then recommend her. Hell, I bet Dash could get the Wing for that Rainboom of hers.”

Still nothing. Spike rolled his eyes. “Okay, if you want to mope, be like that. But just make sure you’re done with it in the next… ooh… twenty minutes.”


“Because that is when I let Dame Rarity know you’d be able to meet with the captains. The control of an Admiral’s schedule is a powerful weapon.”

Twilight’s pillow hit Spike in the face, and he toppled over backwards.

“Alright, I admit you have a point.” She said calmly, acting as if she hadn’t just thrown her pillow at him. “I’ll wash up, and be ready for that meeting.”

“Unfortunately, while many of our ships are damaged, the sheer loss of ponies and materiel among the Marine units means that any subsequent attack will have to be held off in space. If that means splitting our forces so as to prevent the enemy slipping past us, so be it.” Twilight said firmly.

She turned to Dash. “I’m sorry to say that in such a case, we’d have to rely heavily on your fighters. I know they’re down in strength, but they’re the closest to intact we have.”

“Yeah, I gotcha. We’re starting to get low on ordnance, but compared to how little the main fleet has we’re practically flush.” Dash furrowed her brow. “We’d have to stand the carriers off at range, to give us time for several fighter strikes-“

“I think that’s not acceptable either. We absolutely cannot let another fleet in range of the planet. If that means fighting a close action with the Alicorns, then so be it.”

There was an indefinable increase in tension. The one consistent thread in the modifications to all eight dreadnaughts had been the removal of much of their close-in armament. Coupled with the severe drive node damage some of them had suffered, that would both give any enemy ample time at missile range to wear them down and give said enemy a substantial advantage while in energy range.

Ruby eventually broke it. “Sounds like old times, Admiral. Planning on playing us Octavia’s Salute to Spring this time?”

The ripple of laughter that followed was strained but genuine. Twilight’s death-charge with Bluebell years before had passed into legend, and her command crews had all read up on it when they found she was their admiral.

“I do seem to get into these situations, don’t I?” Twilight said wryly. “That said, hopefully the reinforcement echelon from Equestria should be arriving fairly soon. I wonder how-“

She never finished the sentence.

“Hyper footprint!” Cloud Dancer said, and focused in on a volume of space about a light-second from the limit itself.

Pinkie confirmed on her repeater plot and copied it to the conference room. “More information, please!”

“Working on it, XO. Four point sources, fairly large.”

Twilight and Dash galloped out of the conference room for flag bridge, Rarity leaving by another door that led to the CIC as the seven electronic images of the other captains vanished.

With a clatter of hooves on deck, the two ponies skidded to a halt on the flag deck and made for their stations.

“Fluttershy, good to see you. Anything?”

“Our challenge should have reached them about a minute ago. Same time to go to their reply.”

Scratch stiffened at her station, then forced herself to relax and turned. “Admiral, they didn’t bother to wait for our challenge. I’m putting up their transmission on the main viewer.

Twilight’s heart sank as a gryphon appeared in the video file. She was fairly large for a gryphon, and Twilight’s eyes flicked to her harness, elaborately plumed helmet – high rank, probably Dux – and to the dappled wings of an illustres family.

Hardly the sort of person to send on a deniable mission, she thought to herself as the Gryphon began to speak.

“Greetings, forces of the Equestrian commonwealth who stand in orbit of this world. I am Gerda Cottomenes, Dux of the Nineteenth and Twenty-first Gryphon Legions. By authority of the Senate, I have imperium to claim this inhabitable moon as a colony. Stand aside, or your lives will not be spared.” With that, the transmission cut abruptly.

That was very bad news. Imperium was military authority – granted for specific circumstances when acting outside Gryphon space. The Senate had decided to support this operation openly.

“Scratch, record. This is Admiral Green Ridge, commanding officer, Sixth Fleet. You are in Equestrian space, Dux Cottomenes. By what right do you claim it?”

Four minutes passed, during which the Gryphon ships simply sat in space, and Twilight’s mind raced. Four ships, even the dreadnaught-class ones they appeared to be, was small for one legion - let alone two. There wasn’t the space on those ships for either the fighter contingent of a full Legion or the ground strength, and that was suspicious.

“By right of the first claim, Green Ridge.” Gerda replied smoothly upon resumption of the transmission. “This is Equestrian space, you say, but I see no colony and no space station. Only a small fleet of badly damaged warships.”

“A colony is here, Gerda, as you well know.” Twilight countered. “And no matter how badly our ships are damaged, we will fight to the last pony to protect them.”

“A pity.” The Dux said, simply, and ended her transmission.

“Twilight!” Fluttershy said urgently. “More Hyper footprints, at least a dozen! They’re launching fighters, and so are the ships that already arrived!”

Of course. Twilight thought dully. Against this many, she had no chance. The concealment of most of the Legions was simply to lead her on, to encourage her to make a statement that could be spun as if she was willing to fight against hopeless odds. Under those circumstances, nobody would question the obliteration of her entire command and the excision of the installation.

‘Of course, we offered surrender terms, but they resisted to the death.’ Would be the line, and with the kind of damage a kinetic strike could do there would be no way of telling that it was a research station. And if the Gryphons took everything of value from the base first, who was to tell that? They could put the antimatter containment system and the positron cannon into production as their own, and nobody would be able to gainsay them.

It was unlikely to go that cleanly, of course, but they would certainly begin from a position of political strength.

“Prepare the fighters for launch.” She heard her own voice saying, with an unreal calm. “Arm for dogfights. And ready the Fleet to move in support of a second fighter strike, this one aimed at their dreadnaughts.”

Nobody commented on how unlikely it was that any of their fighters would return. They didn’t have to.

“Hyper footprint!” Fluttershy said suddenly, just as the fighters set off.

What, again? Twilight felt like crying. But she suppressed it ruthlessly. “Status and analysis?”

“At least twenty point sources in this one, Admiral.” Fluttershy said. “They’re almost sixty degrees further around the plane of the ecliptic, so they could be trying for an end run at the planet itself.

“That puts all three forces at the corners of an equilateral triangle, doesn’t it?” Twilight asked rhetorically, thinking. “Okay. Fighter strike maintain profile, shift our vector to intercept the second group short of the planet. Maybe this one has some thinner skinned transports.”

“It looks like it does.” Fluttershy said. “Still a few seconds until I have lightspeed information, but two of the hyper transitions were far larger than the rest.”

Twilight closed her eyes for a moment, weariness hitting her suddenly as the impossibility of their situation sank in-
And then opened them, glowing with a wild hope as she realized.

“Recall the fighters!”

“Admiral?” Scootaloo turned to her, confused. “Why?”

“I know what’s going on. It’s-“

“Attention, all in the Palomino system!” abruptly boomed from every speaker in the ship. Many of them weren’t even turned on, but that enormously loud voice didn’t seem to care.

“I, Princess Luna, Diarch of Equestria, command that all invading forces leave this system – or be destroyed by my hoof!”

She wasn’t joking, either, Twilight thought giddily. By now every solid object within two light minutes was under her passive telekinetic control – that was how she was doing the voice trick. And if she couldn’t move spaceships around with much ease, the gas giant Palomino-d boasted a ring system.

To Luna, that might as well have been about a petatonne of ammunition. Indeed, even as Twilight watched there was a slender tongue of indigo-shimmering ring material moving out of its’ orbit and heading for the Gryphon fleets.

“We did it…” Scootaloo whispered. “We won.”

And that started the cheering.

“We are most impressed, Twilight Sparkle.” Luna said, more quietly but no less forcefully than she had spoken to an entire star system three hours ago. “Most impressed indeed.”

She and Twilight were in her private quarters on the royal flagship Perilune, a ship almost but not quite identical to her sisters’ ship Zenith.

“We had time to view the summaries of your actions while our ship bore us to this orbit, and we feel our sister was fully justified in her confidence in you.”

“I don’t feel like she was.” Twilight said. “I mean, I lost half the marine contingent! Some of my dreadnaughts aren’t fit for battle this side of three months of repair!”

“Ah, our sister warned us of this.” Luna observed. “Thou art compassionate, and as such the loss of thy ponies is a terrible pain. But not one commander in ten could have come out of that action with so few losses, nor been so willing to put herself at risk. As did thou at the end.” For just a moment, Luna looked every minute of her unfathomable age. “’Tis a terrible thing, to see others suffer in thy name.”

The alicorn shook her head. “In any case, the fleet we hath brought shall suffice for defence, for now. Linger here until the repairs to thy ships’ drives are as complete as they may be, and then depart for Equestria.”

“As you say, your highness.”

“None of that.” Luna said sternly. “We may have to be formal, but that is habit – we prefer informality among friends, and if we cannot pronounce a duchess such as thine self as friend, and friend to our sister, then who shall we?”

Twilight tried to keep her surprise under control. “I… see your point, prin- Luna.”

“Much better. And now, we wished to discuss thy manoeuvres in more detail. In particular, the performance of the Athena system. We were involved from afar in the original conception of that advancement, and we wish to know your thoughts.”

“Er, okay.” She marshalled her thoughts. “Well, the thing that impressed me most about it wasn’t the offensive capabilities at all. That’s what it was originally designed for, I know, but the ancillary effects of defence and even long range identification are more fully developed now – except for the missile spot against the secondary echelon, we weren’t able to launch salvoes big enough to exploit the expanded fire control. The defensive side, on the other hand…”

She relaxed into the discussion, and Luna nodded in silent approval. It was a callous leader who forgot the pain of her subordinates, but a poor one who let it affect their performance. And Twilight Sparkle, Duchess of Green Ridge, was neither.

“Thank you.” She said an hour later, as the discussion wound to a close. “We have requested that our fleet train focus their efforts on making thine ships hyper-worthy, and thus we request that thou take this with thee to our sister on the capital.”

Luna lifted an envelope from her side table. “We are sure that our sister will wish to speak with thee of the events here herself. Render unto her the letter at that time.”

“I will, pr-Luna.”

In the event, it was a total of four days before Sixth Fleet finally left orbit around the world they had defended. Perilune accompanied them as far as the Hyper Limit, the royal flagship holding position as if part of the fleet rather than an external component - a gesture of respect.

“I still feel sorry for all those brave soldiers and pilots, and for all the crew killed when missile hits came in.” Twilight said quietly, while spending some time in the lounge with her friends – Trixie, unfortunately, was still unavailable, with Redheart having confined her to her bed until her magical core had properly recovered from the strain. The rest of them were there, however, since Cloud Dancer had been assigned this watch.

“Now, don’t you go beatin’ yourself up over this again!” Applejack admonished her firmly. “So ponies died. That happens, in case you didn’t notice. What matters is makin’ sure fewer die than otherwise.”

“But I could have-“

“Sakes, Twilight!” The tough engineer said, exasperated. “That fleet outnumbered us better’n three to two, and the ground forces had mechs – and I didn’t see a ship of ours scuttled. And Mac tells me y’all did all you could have.”

“Do you think it would help if you got some kind of closure?” Rarity asked. “Because there’s one idea that Pinkie and I had-“

“Yeah, I think it’s a great idea!” Pinkie chipped in.

“-that perhaps you could hold a memorial service for them. It might assuage your guilt.”

“What do you mean, a memorial service?” Twilight frowned.

“Sort of like a wake,” Rarity answered. “Remembrance for those that were lost, and a reminder that life goes on.”

“I gotta admit,” Dash said, “Bit of fun would certainly help me take my mind off it.”

“Well, okay then.” Twilight said, slightly nervously. “If you think it’s a good idea. But I’ve never organized anything like this before.”

Pinkie shrugged. “Don’t worry! I’ll get it planned out – where in Green Ridge has the largest open space?”

Twilight looked off into the distance. “That would probably be Wizard Peak. It’s got a large natural amphitheatre on the nearby slopes, and a lovely plateau below it that’s quite warm this time of year.”

“Right, I’ll get right on it!” Pinkie said, pulling up a dataslate and starting to type. “Oh, I see what you mean. It does look nice. Now, if we set up a stage there… and that valley looks like a good place for a flyover to build up speed…”

“Well, we lost her.” Applejack said sardonically. Pinkie looked up just long enough to stick her tongue out, then went back to her planning with a grin.

“Oh, how was Princess Luna?” Fluttershy asked. “I didn’t have a chance to speak to her…”

“She’s more… formal?” Twilight tried out the word. “Probably a better way of putting it is archaic, than Princess Celestia. All thee’s and thou’s and forasmuch’s. But she mainly wanted to talk about the Athena system, at least in the first meeting we had. The second… it was about the defensibility of the terrain in the area. She’s certainly got a more direct interest in the military than her sister.” Twilight sighed. “Or at least, that’s the impression I got. But she’s a good few millennia old, she probably has interest fads that last decades.”

“You’ve not met her before?”

“Once or twice, but only at one remove by email. Being ONI head didn’t mean I met the Princesses so much, it meant I briefed their liasons and administrated the department.”

“And worked on secret projects that could potentially save the Principality?” Dash asked with a wink.

“I think you already know all the secret projects I was working on.” Twilight replied, before frowning. “Except for three-sigma, of course.”

“What’s that?” the colonel asked.

“Not telling.” Twilight grinned. “Weren’t expecting me to turn the tables on you like that, were you?”

“Aw, come on. Please?” Dash put her forehooves together.

“No. And no to the next one!”

“Aww, okay.” Dash chuckled. “Hey, what was the name of that Gryphon that turned up a few days ago?”

“Gerda?” Twilight thought for a moment, then nodded. “I think that was it. An illustres, and a dux in command of two legions.”

“Huh. I remember Gilda mentioned her back when we were in the academy together, unless it’s a different Gerda. Their families have a long-term feud going on.”

“Really? Interesting. Gilda was an exchange student, right?”

“Yes, she was. Pretty good with bomber ops, less so at dogfights but still no slouch. Her family’s part of the peace faction in the Senate.”

“I might need to pick your brain about that later, them.” Twilight caught the tone of her own thoughts, and smiled wryly. You can take the mare out of ONI…

“Still nothing.” Scootaloo said sullenly, looking back over her flank.

“Don’t worry,” Fluttershy quietly comforted her. “It sometimes takes a long time for them to come in. And, er, if it’s not fighter operations that are your special talent then you must be very good indeed at what is.”

“You think so?” The amber pegasus brightened.

“Yes, you acquitted yourself very well. Full deck strikes are always taxing, and the operations were well streamlined thanks to your efforts.”

“Thanks, ‘shy.” Scootaloo said companionably. “Er, I mean, Ma’am.”

“No, don’t worry about it.” Fluttershy replied, dismissing the slip.

Twilight signed the last file on her paperwork backlog, a conduct report for Harmony’s tac officer. She’d endorsed it with a recommendation that Cloud Dancer be given an XO slot as her next posting, thanks to the quality of her work on this mission.

A slight smile touched her face as she remembered going over her own tac officer’s file. Fluttershy’s included the line “not recommended for independent command” on account of her relative timidity, but she doubted the pegasus would particularly mind. She worked well as a tactical officer, anyway.

“Finally!” She said, enjoying the feeling of having finished. That feeling soured when Spike held up another dataslate.

“Oh, what is it now?”

“The ONI report on the capabilities of the antimatter charge and the positron cannon – I know the latter was never actually fired or even brought up from the installation, but they’re going to want your evaluation. Sorry, Twi,” he added apologetically, “But you’re the only one on the ship with Equinox clearance apart from me, and the only one with flag rank to boot.”

“Fine, give it here.” She took the slate in her telekinesis. “At least tell me it’s short.”

“Standard ONI file type four, combat report and breakdown. Should be only a few pages, since there’s all the sensor data to go with it.”

Dash paced back and forth in front of her desk. Two dataslates lay on the table – one of them contained all the paperwork she’d decided to put off for another day, the other was full of rejected fighter name suggestions.

“I can’t use Sonic Rainboom… she mused. “The Buccaneer Blaze is already taken by Wind Whistler… and while the Fantastic Filly Flash is an awesome move, calling my fighter that would… imply things.”

While some might think this a premature consideration, to Dash it was anything but. She’d barely had Wonderbolt for two months before being shot-out, and she’d been proud of the little Aurora- class. She wanted her next one to reflect her as much as the last two had.

“Eh, maybe I’ll see how the next one feels to me. Or maybe next time I get a chance to mess around in atmosphere, I’ll invent another move and name it after that.”

“Ship speed is at point oh-one cee local.” Raindrops said, as the fleet approached the Hyper Limit of the Equestrian system. “Wings flared and ready for transit.”

“Very good. On the mark.”

“Aye, captain.” With that, the hyper generators on all eight ships began to spin up for the downward transit – a rather more leisurely one this time.

A slight tremor announced the ship easing over the Theta wall, taking its’ time and shedding much of the residual velocity it had. Moving at such a low fraction of light speed even before the walls let the crew adjust to local conditions, making it much more comfortable. It was less hard on the Wings, as well, which barely built up to a bluish colour with the lower power levels.

“Eta wall in twelve.” The pegasus read off, adjusting the trim of the Wings to maintain company with the rest of the fleet.

“Applejack?” Rarity asked.

“No problems here, skip. Ah was worried ‘bout number three left Wing bus, but-” another slight distortion washed over them, “-it seems t’ be copin’ just fine.”

A red light lit on the engineer’s panel. “Ah, horsefeathers. Ah forgot to secure the panel on that node. Don’t worry, it’s nothin’ serious, ah just left mah tools lyin’ around agin…” She trotted away from the pickup, muttering to herself.

Rarity shrugged mentally. Even if that entire node blew up, they still had more motive power than Ruby’s ship – fleet acceleration would be unaffected. She might have felt more upset about damage to her beloved Harmony, but with the number of holes already blown in the ship another one wouldn’t make much difference.

“Alpha wall in three!” Raindrops said, and Rarity turned to the main screen. She always liked watching these.

The Wings flashed through the rainbow, red to yellow to blue and back again. Seven other blossoms of light appeared in normal space just after Harmony, one of them close enough to make out the structure in the Wings.

“My compliments to all ships’ navigators.” Rarity said formally. “And set course for Epona – I think we rather need their attentions.”

A touch under four thousand ponies of various colours and breeds stood or sat on the crisp grass. Several still bore fading wounds, and a couple of them were only days out of bed rest. It was a point of pride to be here.

Friends and family were waiting over the lip of the amphitheatre, but for now there were only the ponies – and one dragon – of Sixth fleet, the veterans of the action at Palomino.

Twilight ascended the steps to her lectern, and spoke into the silence. “I would like to thank every one of you for coming here.” Her horn glowed softly with a spell that projected her voice out into the crowd, letting everyone hear it clearly.

“We are here to remember those brave souls who did not return from the Palomino system. It is always understood that military service may mean one has to make the ultimate sacrifice, but until a person has faced death in the face they cannot know their true character.”

She began to read. “Bluebird, flight sergeant. Hartwell, senior chief petty officer. Cherry Cheer, electronicist second class…”
One by one, she listed off the names of all the dead. It took most of an hour, but she couldn’t feel right having done less.
They all deserved the honour.

Coming to the end of the list, Twilight looked up. “Not one turned, or fled, or gave less than their all. I could ask for no more. It was an honour to command such a shining example of our navy’s virtues.”

She cleared her throat. “This is something I thought appropriate. It’s from the Draconic religion.

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the sea of stars. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to reap; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

As she finished, every pony there bowed their heads in silence.

A still minute passed.

“Thank you.” Twilight said, ending the moment. “And now, since I’ve just said there’s a time to dance…”

Pinkie Pie skidded onto the stage. “Why so glum, Sixth Fleet?” she called, eyes wild. “I thought this was supposed to be a PARTY!”

Fireworks detonated spectacularly overhead.

Twilight noticed a young unicorn running over to Derpy – or rather, Ditzy Doo. She’d checked with Spike and found that the name “Derpy” was actually a persistent nickname. Apparently a lot of fighter pilots got them, but Derpy found hers so hilarious she’d encouraged its’ use on official paperwork.

And by the looks of it Sparkler was part of that family as well. Sister, adopted daughter… she didn’t know, and she didn’t really care. Family was family, after all.

“You look miles away, Twi.”

Speaking of family… she turned to her brother. “Oh, shove off.”

He grinned, unfazed. “You’re enjoying this one a lot more than you normally do with parties, Twi. Hopefully that bodes well for Cadence and I – if we get this Pinkie to organize it, maybe you’ll actually engage with our reception properly.”

Twilight gave a shrug. “Worth a try. And does that mean you two have set a date?”

Cadence was one of the occasional alicorns thrown up by the branch families, her family line along roughly the same route as Duke Blueblood. On account of her unusual position, Celestia had made her the ruler of one of the principality out-systems – part of the feudal governmental system that approximately half the Equestrian star nation continued to practice.

Twilight’s brother had met her at his sister’s elevation to the peerage, and the two had hit it off remarkably well. She’d known that they were getting more serious, peripherally, but apparently events had moved fast in the time she was away.

“Yes, it does.” He said firmly. “Give it a month, and you’ll be the commoner of the family.” He winked.

She giggled, then looked mortified. An admiral, giggle?

Damn Shining Armour for always doing this to her! She was an experienced commander, a duchess, a veteran, she’d run the Office of Naval Intelligence for years – and around him she always felt like the younger sibling she was.

The two unicorns were distracted by the crump of several controlled explosions, as most of the fighter crew pegasi on flyby dumped volatile rainbow extract into their cloud trails. The thundering trails of flame crisscrossed the sky, and more or less put paid to conversation for the next thirty seconds.

Once it died down, Shining turned back to his sister. “Any idea where you’re going next?”

“Not really. We’re more of an on-call formation than anything. And it’ll take another few weeks to repair Cavalcade and the other really damaged ships – and I’ll insist on further time after that to get Mac’s marines properly worked up.” Twilight looked sad again. “They’re about half replacements, you know.”

“Hey!” Pinkie inserted herself into the conversation, sounding upset. “You’re being all mopey! It’s a time to dance, not a time to mourn!”

“You really took that passage to heart, huh, Pinkie?” Twilight asked.

“I most certainly did! In fact, I might ask Spike for more details about it if it’s all like that.”

“I must admit, that was one of the highlights. But feel free to ask him. Oh, that reminds me – could you let some of the others know that his birthday’s in two weeks? I’d do it myself, but since he’s my flag lieutenant it would defeat the purpose of keeping it even slightly secret.”

“Sure!” Pinkie said happily, and left humming to herself.

Twilight and her brother exchanged looks, and mutually agreed to just enjoy the party for now. Business could come later.

“Have you decided where to send them next, sister?” Luna asked, reclining on her couch.

“Not quite.” Celestia replied. “Though I’d like your advice on this plan. Do you recall Bellevue?”

“The planet where the unicorns still are nobility, and the earth ponies little better than serfs?” Luna checked.

“The very same. Hopefully the highly competent, cross-breed team represented by Sixth Fleet will provide a good example.”

“And, of course,” Luna continued the thought, “Eight modern capital ships would provide a strong incentive for the wayward planet to reform, to qualify to ‘get their hooves on the goods’, as it were.”

“The very idea never crossed my mind.” Celestia said, winking.

“Nay. For it has found the ground far too fertile to cross, and has taken root to flourish.”

The slightly elder sister looked about to say more, but subsided on hearing the approaching hoofsteps of the unicorn they wanted to see.

“Thank you for meeting us, Twilight.” Celestia said, as the lavender unicorn entered.

“Indeed.” Luna added. “Though ‘tis only a few hours hence that we were still aboard our ship, we decided to make time to see thee since our sister was.”

“Well, er, thank you both for giving me the honour.”

“Not at all. Now, the main concern here is those medals that have to have royal seal, out of those you’ve assigned to various ponies among your command.”

“For the most part, we find thy commendations entirely proper.” Luna said, before frowning. “However, we think it befalls to us to make an amendment.”

Twilight’s mind raced. Who had she overreached herself with? Dash deserved the Golden Wing if anyone did, after her spectacular Rainboom… Trixie’s Golden Horn wasn’t in dispute… Giving Caramel the medal of Valour posthumously was more than an empty gesture, he’d stuck to his post in the face of a nuclear barrage to keep the command net together…

“Dear Twilight, never change.” Celestia’s chuckle broke her out of her reverie. “If you’ve sinned, it’s in modesty. You’re getting the bar to your Golden Horn.”

The unicorn blinked, dumbstruck. The “bar” to a medal was getting the decoration a second time, and normally was exactly what it sounded like – a bar across the top of the medal itself, where it hooked onto the ribbon. “What would that even look like?” she asked, dumbly.

“It’s a tiara, actually. Well, normally it’s a necklace, but since you’re a sitting duchess about to enter the ranks of the minor royalty you get a tiara. Complete with a symbol of your cutie mark worked in…” Celestia paused, examining Twilight closely. “I think for you it’ll have to be pink tourmaline. If you’re available sometime in the next week or so I can have my artificer craft it as a proper magical focus.”

“I’m… I’m honoured.” Twilight managed. “But I don’t think-“

“Thou hast no conception of thine own worth, Twilight Sparkle.” Luna overrode her. “For, sooth, thou art a treasure among our subjects.” Then she winked. “And I meant the plural that time.”

Celestia saw by the poleaxed look in Twilight’s eyes that she wasn’t going to be very coherent for a while. “I’ll contact young Spykoranuvellitar to arrange that appointment, then. See you later, Twilight.”

“Th-thank you, Princess.” Twilight managed, then bowed to both her diarchs and vanished in a teleport driven by purest embarrassment.

As Twilight left Canterlot palace complex, her flag captain accosted her. “Ah, I thought you might be around here. Please, do join us for the evening – I happen to have it on good authority that you did all your paperwork well ahead of schedule, so there’s nothing stopping you.”

“But…” Twilight began to protest, thinking of her duties. But then she thought more about what Rarity had said.

It was true, she’d already processed all the paperwork for the next week that wasn’t critical, and that was going to arrive next morning anyway. As far as possible, her schedule was clear.

She didn’t even have manoeuvres to set up, since Sixth Fleet was going to be in the shipyards for weeks – even the relatively undamaged ships like Harmony needed to be refitted with better ammunition capacity, and the wreckage that had been made of Pinion’s internal bracing would take up almost as much yard time as the original conversion to Alicorn-class had.

“Who’s we?” She asked, still thinking.

“Well. There’s my parents, who happened to be on planet, and my sister - who’s still in university, I’m sure she’d be delighted to meet you. And Pinkie said her family were available, and astonishingly AJ has a relative who wasn’t on board Sixth Fleet at all – though that’ll change, she’s angling for the Marines, and-“

“Okay, okay, I get the point.” Twilight rolled her eyes. “You basically invited everyone’s family.”

“Not everyone’s family, dear.” Rarity winked. “Just the ones Pinkie and I could find at short notice. I thought it might be nice for you to meet them all, you and Dash and Fluttershy I mean.”

The Admiral tossed her head slightly. “Well, it’s clear to me I don’t have much choice. Go on, then.”

“No need to be so negative about it. You don’t have to come. After all, you do outrank me.” Rarity pointed back towards the palace. “In two respects, at that – Your Grace.” She dropped the hoof back to the floor. “In all seriousness, though, we’d love to have you.”

Twilight slowly smiled. A genuine, heartfelt smile, as she felt the weight she’d carried since Palomino begin to lift. “I’d like that, then.”

AN: That closes out this particular fic, making it the first time I’ve actually finished something. There’s still that sequel hook there, though….

And I'm terribly sorry about the awful formatting of earlier chapters. I'd assumed this site handled it automatically like fanfiction.net. I'll fix them when I revise the chapters as a whole.

Comments ( 34 )

Good to see my encouragement was enough to get you to post the last chapter of this up Saph.


987558 Yeah, I was a bit indecisive over that last chapter... How does it come across?

Quite well in my opinion. It closes off nicely, but also leaves the story with the ability to be expanded upon if so desired.

988058 I've actually got some scenes thought out for the Bellevue Incident already. It'll be a while before I get writing, though...

I can't believe i didn't find this until now.

Well done, getting a "weber-verse" feel while still keeping with main feel of the MLP characters...

Have a thumbs up and a fav!

1046302 Thanks. I had a hard time with some of it (killing off Caramel, for instance) but the whole Dash plot thread just clicked, from plasma cannon shot to Rainboom.
Did you happen to notice the ship tac officer? She'll go far. I wouldn't be surprised to see her as Admiral of the Fleet and Duchess herself.

Thanks. I thought it was exactly the kind of thing someone might say in that situation. It's Dash, after all, she's spent hours thinking about the best possible line to use.

Hmm. Ponies need Bolo 67209482 SHV. Mark 33, aka 'Shiva'. And then pinkie will throw a "50 megatons of fun!" party, knowing her. Wonder how a bolo would react to pinkie. Probably, what the fuck.

...does this have much relevance to Harry Potter? I mean, Bolos are cool and all, but...

2127958 Wut? Harry potter in space? I was suggesting something to implement in the next few parts of this, imagine pinkie pie with complete control over a object that has been described as a planetary siege weapon. Oops, there goes the planet. Oh well, it was empty anyway.

...damn it.
I'm so used to getting comments on my more recent Harry Potter crossover I completely missed that this was on Ponies in Space.

And sadly AI tech isn't up to Boloverse level AIs in this fic, but certainly it's up to the firepower level... for Diamond Dogs. Those are Surturs and Fenrises in there.

2128015 Oh, and "Planetary Siege" in Boloverse doesn't mean "can destroy the planet". Only a Melconian World Burner can do that, that we know of. Planetary Siege means "can fight heavy firepower battles on a planetary scale".
The hellbores of a Mark 33 are like being hit by an H-bomb. They're nowhere NEAR the firepower to destroy a planet.

For reference, the tactical doctrine of the Ponies tends to rely much less on superheavy vehicles, and more on dispersed stationary guns, as Mac did. He did, after all, fight off a "siege" brigade with a Marine brigade (and Marines are light infantry). Pony heavy infantry is a lot nastier.

2128108 Maybe ponies are based on grayson tactics? I am getting a very Grayson vibe from them, with the sexism against males instead of females.

2128332 Not really. Ground-wise, they have a mix of techs from various Baen series with an emphasis on the immobile, but it's not specifically Grayson. In fact, there's a slight sense of the militia from "Old Soldiers" in the Boloverse - the ones with the blocking position. And space-wise, they're modelled on Manticore as much as anything. (Their techs are a bit screwy from the book perspective, which is deliberate - they have Apollo and off-bore but no pods, MDMs or FTL - since I wanted to write a partly unique tactical situation. And the shields are Boloverse, not Honorverse)
Culturally, there's no sexism - just mathematical bias because of differential birth rates, meaning that the majority of positions are held by females. (It's how I got the whole main cast into one ship). Male captains are perfectly fine, though, and Pokey Pierce and Silver Star both skipper DNs in Sixth Fleet - and the male pegasus Storm Wing is acknowledged as the best tactician in the Principality and Commonwealth.

It's officially deniable and the work of a single lord acting independently. He wanted to present it as a fait accompli, and probably has a fall back position where the commander of the force was acting independently. Major diplomatic incident with HIM, but not the Khanate as a whole.

And I'm glad you think I did well. Sadly, Equestria Daily didn't... (I have a blog post about that a few back, it burned me and I'm not all that inclined to try submitting a fic there again...)

You have one with Honor Harrington too?
...Not many people can produce this much awesome. I'm impressed.


Seen my fanfiction.net account? I have other stuff!
The big ones, by which I mean the ones longer than about 25K and/or with TVTropes recs, are:
Pokemon time travel comedy
Naruto semi-crack fic
Lord of the Rings with Breechloading Rifles (serious fic)
How To Train Your Dragon time loops
And, finally, Awesome Gendo (in which Gendo Ikari is awesome). That's purest crackfic.

Well, you got me there with Rainbow Dash; but in all fairness: A main character being killed without warning is one of the most believeable ways to do it. But now I am kind of torn, because it would have had so much potential, regardless of how much I like RD...:rainbowderp:

Fair warning: people die in Weber books. There is one and only one character in the Honorverse who is guaranteed exempt, because David Weber's wife likes him.

... I just read through this entire story in half a day.
I just couldn't stop.
It's too good.

Please, PLEASE continue this story.
I need more.

This was a lot of fun! And gave me a need to go read the Honorverse again. I can see why you ended it here, good world setup, we got a great taste of their tactics and combat, and the overarching story can continue out of our prying eyes.

Still I wish that even if you don't feel like writing a 15 book epic on the Dutchess of Green Ridge, I'd like to see what Greyson Bellevue is like. Although might make more sense as an Earth pony planet, wouldn't it? Especially to mirror the conflict of our captain falling into their disliked class.

Or maybe more short vignettes ala Worlds of Honor? Glimpses into the past and future, and interesting situations...

Hey, if this is finished why is it marked "on hiatus"? If you ever decide to go for that sequel then great, but right now I'm not sure if I should stick it in my "on hiatus" library or not.

It's at the point where I should probably mark it as complete, yeah. I wish I had the time to write a sequel, but there's about eight fics ahead of it on the priority list.

I wonder can anyone base a fanfiction in your universe that you created the story was good and wondered if anyone else can create something equivalent as it.:pinkiehappy::heart:

Yep, that's the reference and that's what Stars at War is.

That's how David Weber arranges his hyperspace in both the Apocalypse Troll and in the Honorverse books.

Yep, I pretty much copied Ghost Rider.

8074262 Xasers are less powerful than grasers - one uses X-rays, the other Gamma rays.

Gerda’s gonna have some explaining to do when she gets back to base....

“Attention, all in the Palomino system!”abruptly boomed from every speaker in the ship. Many of them weren’t even turned on, but that enormously loud voice didn’t seem to care.

Is that a reference to either Friendship is Sufficiently Advanced or the last book of the Looking Glass Wars where everything went all batcrap crazy but they took out the bugs with the giant singing tree? It really reminds me of the last one.

That planet with the unicorn supremacists -- That would not be by chance a Greyson reference?

I see I was not the only one to catch that.

There have been discussions.

Luna's shoutiness is a reference to neither, it was just my having her really turn up the volume to a spectacular level. This predates FiSA by about four years!

Unicorn supremacists was a partial take on Grayson, yes, though it wasn't going to be a straight cross-comparison.

I rather liked the fact that none of this was a linear match to the source material, actually. (There's an Iron Man xover on here that's basically the move's plot with the names crossed out, so I'd know.) Still, that planet seemed like it was supposed to be somewhat like Greyson, and it is enough similar to remind us of it and for me to somewhat inaccurately use the original name to refer to it.

I find it interesting that the RCV was not inspired by any of the works I mentioned. I was expecting FISA to be posted later than this had been, but I didn't bother to check. I say interesting because there are so many similarities, and yet they were indeed independent. I can easily see how it'd happen, though, since you're converting their abilities to a sci-fi setting, and mass gravitational control does a good job explaining both how the Voice can fling people and in justifying her ability to move planetary bodies on a daily basis.
I love clever shout-outs, simply for the breadth of reading it subtly displays, but having invented such a fun concept independently is pretty impressive.

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