• Member Since 9th Jan, 2013
  • offline last seen Yesterday

Scramblers and Shadows


Politicians prey on the vulnerable, the disadvantaged and those with an infantile sense of pride in a romanticised national identity which was fabricated by a small to mid-sized advertising agency.

T

Rainbow Dash is a proud mare. She'd be the last to deny she has plenty to be proud about. And even as the years catch up to her, she's as strong and fast as she ever was. She can still clear the skies as quickly as any young pony.

And yet nopony seems to think she's capable of looking after herself.


Thanks to my pre-readers, Blue_Paladin42 and jml123hi.

Now with a dramatic reading by Dr. Wolf.

Chapters (1)
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Comments ( 30 )

I can see RD going out that way -- Old age is a real bear for pegasi -- so much more so than the other ponies. To have the freedom of flight, and then have that diminish, become dangerous, then be gone. The whole issue of that last flight, and the flight attempted after you should have had your last flight. It is similar but worse than "the chair" that some people in their old age have to enter and then never really walk again.

This is one reason why when I answer the question of, "What pony type would you choose (non-alicorn) if you could be one?" my response is often, "What age would I be?" At 45 (and half of that year is now up), the answer is different based on the answer. With the vibrancy of youth, pegasus would be the choice, but I would not want to enter as a mostly over-the-hill pegasus. If the age carried over, unicorn is really the only way to go.

I almost think pegasi would have developed something where you use it and you burn up your remaining life in a day... You get one last day to live as you lived, fly as fast as you ever could -- then you die -- as opposed to wasting away.

This story makes me wonder if it's possible to make transitions too fluid. The issue between scene transitions in this story was never "Wait, how did we get here?" Instead, it's more "Where are we in the timeline right now?"--this is particularly an issue for me during Twilight's second visit. Framing it after Rainbow's recent crash while referring to a previous crash, both of which resulted in an injured knee, certainly caused some confusion. The way past and present seemed to meld together did make the story a little more difficult to read through, but I think it is a good way to further reinforce Dash's age and growing senility.

I also question Hailstone's description of Dash, a national hero, but more importantly a prideful mare, as an "aging, decrepit has-been." How is that supposed to help solve the problem in any way? It really just seems rude and needlessly harsh. I'm inclined to assume that Hailstone said something different and Dash interpreted it in that manner, but there's no indication of such within the story.

Having said that, I did like the story. It was a good execution of Dash being unable to reconcile with the fact that she's "fallen from grace," so to speak, in terms of her natural talent.

Woah, that was a masterpiece. Really awesome story.

The thing is, once you accept you are old. Once you give up that one thing. You start dying very fast.
I seen people walk into a nursing home (no cane) and not be able to walk at all in 3 weeks.
Dash knows that she could not live like that. Twilight does not understand that she is asking Dash to kill her self. Maybe even faster then Dash would die on her own.
Scootaloo is doing it better. She is not asking Dash to stop being Dash; just be more careful and put on a coat.

4761118
Aye, I think you're quite right. Being an elderly pegasus doesn't sound like much fun. And for RD, being athletic even by pegasus standards ...

That final day idea sounds like it would make an ace story, by the way.


4761160
That's a fair point. I have the second Twilight conversation taking place in the middle of the first conversation. That may be unnecessarily convoluted. And having two crashes -- yeah, that didn't occur to me.

As for Hailstone ... well, he's certainly no diplomat.


4761218
Thank you. :twilightsmile:


4763127
Yeah, Twilight can't really see things from Dash's point of view in this.

So... Rainbow dies, then? Have you ever considered submitting this story to Equestria Daily? You can find out how to do so here.

4765579

I really could see pegasi doing a last day thing, and yes that would make a story: a pegasus making the final decision as to when to go out on her own terms. It is not generally the kind of story I would write at this time though, so if you want to run with it, go ahead.

I have my share of stories on here as it stands and tend to get more ideas than I put to paper. Right now I am fighting for the productive writing time to get a good contest entry for the current EQD contest while not doing what I did before to DPGCMC. I do not want to have any more long hiatuses with that fic. I mean I know what will be in chapters 9 through 13, it is just making it happen.

despite best tries
by beast and man
we return alone
to death again

burma shave

This was a very well-written and excellent story. I'm glad I decided to click on the link on EqD while at work to alleviate my boredom (office jobs... yay...).

I think the best thing about this story is how in-character this would be for an aging Rainbow Dash. I could absolutely, 100% see her acting like this when she's older. I'm not sure what age you had in mind for how old she is now, but given that even Scootaloo's starting to gray and wrinkle, she has to be in her late sixties/early seventies at the least.

I'm not one for figuring out how to write glowing praises of stories, but know that this is very high up there on my list, and you've earned yourself a favorite and a follow. Keep up the good work!

4761118

I... absolutely love this idea. The final flight thing, I mean. I hope you don't mind if I adopt it into my headcannon and possibly fool with it in some stories here and there. To me, it makes sense, given how the pegasus spirit is inherently more 'alive' than the other races of ponies. In my stories, I've set forth that pegasi generally have shorter lives than the other races of ponies.

An excerpt from one of my stories, where two pegasi are talking to each other:

“What do we normally live to be, sixty at most? And that’s from old age, too. The unicorns live to be around eighty or ninety, and the earth ponies easily post triple digit numbers. But I guess that’s in our nature; live fast, live hard, and don’t regret anything when your time comes. Our lives are too short for that.”

I think Rainbow Dash in this story did just that: live fast, live hard, and regret nothing. So once again, I have to applaud the author for this masterpiece. I hope your posting on EqD gets you many new favorites and followers; you've earned them.

Ante Legionem nihil erat, et nihil erit post Legionem.
24

4814510

Go ahead and use the final flight. It definitely does suit the pegasi far better than fading away. A pegasus in a rocking chair just offends the senses.

I'm guessing it's implied that Fluttershy has already passed? Her cottage is gone, and when Twilight talks about their friends having ponies to look after them, Fluttershy isn't mentioned.

This is a VERY rough story.

It feels like a first draft, with very little in the way of nuance and lacking in the type of literary detail that adds emotional depth to this sort of tale.

And, there are events mentioned without frame of reference, detail, or context.

A prime example: "You know, with the unification, and all the treaties that have to be signed."

What unification is Twilight talking about? Treaties with whom? It's pointless to mention something like that without any infomation as to what it's in regard to. The scene doesn't require it at all; it adds nothing and only brings up questions with no answers that distract from the story's sole purpore: KILL RAINBOW DASH. (At least, that seems to be the purpose...)

Her death scene is very bland and emotionless as well, relying so heavily on the trite cliche "I feel sooooo cold" that is actually made me crack a smile.

I just heard! Equestria Daily! Congratulations!

It's decent as a story, granted that I'm sure I've read a half dozen with similar plots. The ending is a little trite and a bit unsubtle, partly because the story seems to rush headlong toward it's ending. It'd be nice to have Twilight show herself as a pony with a brain sometimes though, she shouldn't be the one talking to Dash about that sort of thing, even if the best decision is to let Dash go. After all, she's the immortal pony who's never going to die, or at least is going to live a pretty long life. She shouldn't make someone's last years miserable just to prolong her own happiness and lengthen the time before she has to say goodbye.

Personally I don't hold with the whole pegasi have shorter lives unless you mean that in the sense that their thrill-seeking and risk taking habits tend to lead to more injuries and wearing out their body faster and result in an early death. So it's less then about intrinsic survivability than it is about personality. So you'd expect there might be a few overly cautious and fairly long-lived pegasi out there. Maybe ones that suffered traumatic flight incidents when they were younger and were never as excited about flying skills/stunts thereafter.

4814510
For what it's worth I'd say Rainbow would potentially have missed out on some things in live due to her actions that I would expect to leave a real person with some regrets. A lot of stories (especially this kind) paint her as never having any love interests or fillies/foals (or at least gloss over such). So, she comes off as a bit flat/unreal in that regard.

4811959
Not heard of Burma Shave before. That's pretty neat.


4814510
Thank you! I tried to make this a story about Rainbow Dash's reaction to death (and old age), so that comment's right on the money. (And a specific comment like that is way more valuable than generic glowing praise, so thank you again!)

4814626
My inclination is to be difficult and say "you decide". But yeah, I think that's the most likely interpretation.

4815848
Literary details? Could you be a little more, uh, detailed about what's missing?

4816157
Thanks!

4827232
Hm. Fair enough. I don't have a good response, but you raise some interesting points. Thanks for the feedback!

4833541 There is a complete lack of relevancy for many things mentioned. i gave one example in the previous comment.

It does no good to make mention of events for which there is no context given to the reader as to what those events are or how they relate to the current story.

The story itself could use a bit more exposition to add some mood and tone to what's taking place. Settings and lighting and so forth help with that, as do character actions and descriptions of their expressions and emotional tone of voice.

Hey, I wrote a review for this fic. In case you are interested, it can be found here.

Overall, I found it god, but despite the bleak ending, it didn't stick with me too much. It is saved by the bunch of interesting concepts it presents.

5210317

Thanks for the feedback! I think you're right -- the story didn't come off quite as poignant as I'd hoped it would.

I literally had no idea a story like this existed, until I saw a video by Dr. Wolf on Youtube where he read it aloud (with some minor censoring, being the psychologist of the brony analysis community and all). And after reading it myself......wow........

Normally, I'd do this with my usual review style, that being I give a summary of each chapter with some snarky commentary here and there, before giving my final honest opinion. But given the nature of this story in particular, I'm going to throw sarcasm to the wind and go straight to the final review and grading system.

At first, it took me a while to realize that this story was written from the POV of an elderly Rainbow Dash. When I did figure it out, I realized that this was a story about knowing one's own limits and when to finally settle down. This is something that, while not my favorite topic to talk about, and something that would likely never happen on the show (target demographic being what it is), is definitely an important lesson to learn for adults who are approaching..."that age."

Grammar, spelling, and punctuation are flawless, and Rainbow Dash is definitely in-character here, and while I find it a bit jarring that Hailstone would go out of his way to call Rainbow a...what words did he use?

some aging, decrepit has-been.

Yeah, that. Don't...you think it's a bid harsh?

As for Hailstone ... well, he's certainly no diplomat.
---Scramblers and Shadows, reply to Sypher

.......Eh, point granted.

I can see two messages in here, one being a message about knowing your own limits, and another being a basic travelling tip: never travel alone. (Let's face it; trying a stunt could end with similar results, I don't care how old you are.) Both of which are lessons that, at some point, we either learn the hard way or they are hammered into our skulls at an early age. Rainbow was unable - or unwilling - to learn these lessons, and it ultimately cost her her life.

If Rainbow Dash would ever leave this world, it would be in a way similar to what is depicted here. (Or in an accident at a younger age, but that's beside the point.) The only alternate ending I'd pick would be that Rainbow is found and she dies in a hospital bed with her friends by her side. But to die cold and alone......:fluttercry:.......

I don't really like sadfics. But let's face it; the Mane Six are eventually going to die, as are we all. The question is, how will they leave this world? And I'd say this gave Rainbow Dash a *very* believable end with two *very* applicable morals. And that's good enough for me.

Final Ratings:
Story: B- (8.1)
Writing: A (9.7)
Moral: A (9.6)
Ending: A (9.4)

Overall: A- (9.2)

I'm Sunlight Blaze......:fluttercry:........and here's the music I played while doing this review......*sniffle*

5474082

That was ace. Thank you for the review. It's always nice to see interpretations of my stories.

Alright Boulder, just take a seat over in the corner there. Now, I know you didn't want to come to Take Your Kid to Work Day, especially since you're not my kid. But Maud asked me to do something with you, and you got your Joyboy, right? Cool, go play some Rockmare while I hammer this review out. We'll go out for fresh rock salt ice cream later.

Ahem, greetings and salutations. My name is TOM from WRITE, and I'm settling in to review The Stormclouds Beneath Your Hooves. Complete and sitting a smidge above 3k in length spread over three chapters, I expect nothing less than solid mechanics, great characterization and a well-constructed tale.

I would hop into mechanics first, but honestly, I couldn't find much to ding you on in this story other than what I told you of already, which are basically a few missing periods. Barring those, your story is cleaner than polished marble.

So with that out of the way, I'll crack into the meat of my review: plot analysis and characterization.

Chapter one paints a dark stage of a Rainbow Dash thickly in denial over the one thing she won't fully admit is slowing her down: old age. Her knee's busted, her wings are stiff boards, and everypony seems to be going on and on about how brittle and helpless she looks, and how much Rainbow HATES that that's how everyone sees her.

As such, her stubborn, dogged determination to outshine the younguns drives her onward, even to the point of egged-on conflict in regards to joining the weather team, and bitterness towards a very concerned Twilight Sparkle.

It's very much in character to me. So strong is her hubris in this that she clings to whatever shreds of pride remain in her much in the way of a distraught small child clinging onto a parent's leg after hearing them say they're leaving for good. It'd be funny if it wasn't so sad.

But in reading this first segment, one small statement bothered me.

I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't be active. There's no fun in relaxing if there's nothing to contrast it with.

Either Rainbow Dash is lying to herself, or her senile memory kicked in for this bit, because I know exactly what she would do if she wasn't being active.

She would be reading. That's her contrast. What to do when not flying? Napping, or settling down to a nice Daring Do novel. That is RD in a nutshell. For a pony who stubbornly refuses to settle down believing there's nothing to do once she does, she conveniently forgets the one thing she did in the hospital when she injured her wing.

This makes the conversation with Twilight, who introduced her to that series, all the more baffling to read. Granted, the anger was spot-on, but even in that I saw no mentioning of the books between two of the most dedicated fans at all! That is where her characterization falls short.

Reading the subsequent chapters provide a few moments of pause for thought, however.

The second chapter hits with a broken wing after a tumble, which implies she hit the ground. Yet she tells me that she flew up a hundred metres with a searing leg and one working wing to her cloud. Right. Sure she did, and I can rocket up hills and mountains without so much as scuffing my face.

Well, she's on the cloud, and she chooses to, uh, do nothing while on it. Wasn't she complaining about not knowing what to do if she wasn't active? She even has a good wing, and passes over a thought of trying to push the cloud with it. Nah.

Well, in this case, what DOES she do? Complain, lament, feel remorse, and drown herself in memories recent and past due. Then she spots a pony on the field coming toward her, and does what she can to flag him down. Sort of.

Like, she wants help. She gets past her swollen mass of pride to know that as a fact. She's probably shaking a hoof or flapping a wing feebly trying to get this guy to notice that she's fallen and she can't get up.

See, this is why Lifealert exists.

But to the point, now her priorities clash between her getting out of this mess herself, or getting help however she can. Again her hubris reminds of her of her weakness, but then says she can get out of this mess without help. But she also knows its okay to ask for help, and yet somewhere in her addled mind, she equates asking, even accepting help, as something weak and not cool for her to do.

Foolish thinking of a foolishly foolish mare, especially of the one who taught that lesson to her favorite author/idol.

Third chapter pretty much seals her fate to the cold. Outside of a single wingbeat so that the cloud drifts over the forest, Dash does nothing else to fight for her life, banking on someone noticing her even when the farmer below didn't. Tiredness clutches at her firmly, and in such cold weather like this, doom is all but certain, as far as I know.

And even then she still believes that all she'll get from the ones that care about her if she were saved is condescendence and pity. Such is the nature of a twisted old mind that can turn the most legitimate care and concern into thoughts of ill will and dick moves.

I refuse to be helpless. It's a matter of pride.

All I can do is just shake my head at how far she's fallen in old age. Because when you get old enough, pride becomes meaningless and foolhardy.

And Rainbow Dash will likely never learn that lesson.

Alright, time to summarize this review.

Mechanics

Solid construction throughout the piece. The few hiccups I found didn't hamper my reading in the slightest.

Plot

Reasonable to follow for the most part. I have my points of contention in two areas, most notably her convenient lack of book reading, but otherwise no issues.

Style

Unreliable narrator at its finest. Her stubborn nature shines through just about every word.

Characterization

The supporting cast in this story acted just as I thought they should. Dash is slightly lacking because she's part-egghead, and that's not shown in this.

Final Thoughts

Rainbow Dash can certainly talk the talk, but she can't walk the walk. Maybe due to her spotty memory. Gods know I hate mine.

And that's the end of my review. Questions? Concerns? Feel free to drop me a PM. Until then, this is TOM, WRITE's Delusional Diamond, rolling out.

Whew, finished. C'mon Boulder, let's get you that ice cre--

What do you mean you want gelato? That's expensive! And imported! And--

NOPE, there's no need to call Maud. I'll get you that gelato. Just put the phone down.

5572278

Thank you so much for the review. Honestly, it was a pleasure to read and had pretty much everything I could ask for.

And speaking of spotty memories ... yeah, Dash being a reader totally slipped my mind. My bad.

Uh ... I think that's all I have to say. So thanks again!

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

Very nice, a solid and believable old Rainbow Dash. I have to ask who Cortland is; that kind of threw me for a loop.

5772125

Thanks!

Cortland's scene is meant to mimic Hailstone's in its underlying structure. He's Dash's opposition, leaving Scootaloo to choose between them -- except in this case she sides with him instead of Dash.

From the name I'd guess he's one of the Apple Family.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

5776526
But what's his significance? Is he Scootaloo's boyfriend or something?

5776845
To be honest, I don't know. I figured being a close friend of Scootaloo -- or perhaps involved with the weather team somehow -- is enough in-story reason for him to be there.

I know this is going to be a little dramatic but...

Miss Rainbow Dash. How dare you. How DARE you.
It is understandable if you refuse to be seen in that way by the other ponies. Not entirely forgivable, but understandable.

You did NOT just let your stupid PRIDE get the better of you when it came to Scootaloo.
She has been so supportive of you, so caring, so loving to you, as a (pseudo) younger sister. Letting yourself go, without the slightest concern for HER feelings. That is just unforgivable.

It doesn't matter how disappointed she would be after she found out about your recklessness. It doesn't even matter how they ALL feel about your recklessness.

How DARE you have the slightest intent on not letting her have her final goodbyes.

How DARE you not consider how valuable your life is in the eyes of her.

You... I need to go read a fanfic with an RD with more redeeming qualities.

Also, what you said to Twilight... That's a low blow. Reeeeeeeaaally low.
She cares for you too.

And so does the rest of the town, actually. Even if you don't wish to go to a home, at least move in with Scootaloo.

(Sigh)
I feel better now.

Damn.......I was stubbornly rooting for RD, now I'm forced to acknowledge that Twilight may be right......Man, I totally sympathize with Scoots here.

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