• Published 2nd Jul 2017
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Stories in Stone, Last Dance - TDR



All stories must end, even those in stone. The final book of the Stories in Stone series.

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Last Stand

Stories in Stone
Last Dance
By TDR

Last Stand

[43 years after the defeat of Tirek]

The train wheels screamed out as the engine braked hard, everyone in the car pitched forward as the cars slowed rapidly to a stop. There was a general mummering of the passengers as several of them looked out the windows curious as to what might be going on.

“Hey mister. Whatcha thinks going on?” a small blue pegasus colt asked, his wings fluttering wildly as he buzzed into the air briefly like he was bouncing, each time he popped up over the back of the seat looking at the pony in front of him. Most of the trip he had been flitting about making a general nuisance of himself, though the grandfatherly looking pegasus sitting before him was one of the few who played along with his never ending questions. His mother had apologized profusely for her sons insistent questions and chatter, though the mostly gray stallion had laughed it off.

“Probably something on the tracks. Might be a rock slide or the like.” the older stallion replied, though the colt didn't think he was telling the truth.

“Really, but we just came through Manehatten?” The colt questioned.” All that's here are a bunch of hills if my teachers map was right.....”

Any response the older stallion might have had was cut off by a scream and a explosion that rocked the train cars.

There was chaos in the passenger car, a number of ponies were running around screaming demanding to know what was going on from a single train car attendant who was present, though the poor colt didn't have any answers either. He managed to get every one to calm down a little before stepping out of the car to head up to the engine to see what was going on.

A few minutes later he returned outside of the train car, minus his head, being beaten along the side of the passenger car windows by a vicious looking diamond dog and a gathering of rough looking ponies who were armed to the teeth, soaking the car in his blood.

The old pony in front of the young colt sighed, he flexed a wing lightly as the screaming started again.

The door at the front of the car was shoved open and a large, heavily scared Earth Pony stormed in, a large ax draped over his shoulder. Behind him in the previous car were a number of others of the same ilk, some of them stuffing their bags full of food and what ever supplies had been in the sleeping car ahead of them. A few screams could be heard from the other side of the open doors along with laughter and and other lewd noises. Likely some of the female attendants had been of interest to the bandits.

The back of the train was an armored and sealed storage area. Mostly full of supplies going from Gallopagos to New Canterlot. If everyone went back there, the armored doors could be sealed and protect them until the Guard arrived. Provided the Conductor had managed to call out before all this started.

“Well well welly well, what have we here? A bunch of rich nits on their way back from holiday. Ehh?” The scared earth pony chuckled, the pegasus and other earth pony that had followed behind him laughing along with him like goons. The pony was rust colored with brown hair, or perhaps it was all blood and dirt. He certainly smelled like he hadn't bathed in a while.

“So here's tha deal yah ponces. Fork over everything yah got, and we might only kill yah a little. Fight us and it'll be a whole lot of tha ole ultra violence in here befer we let ya die.” the stallion chuckled.

“We'll save tha pretty ones though. Themes gonna be decorating me bed.” One of the ones behind him laughed.

“Wow he's huge.... and smelly.” The small colt behind the older stallion stated his brown eyes wide at the massive earth pony.

His mother tried to shush him but the large pony clearly heard and marched down the aisle headed straight for the colt and his mother.

“OY WHAT”S THAT!” SMELLY!? Ah'll show yah smelly yah little git!”The large pony yelled turning his head to grab his ax clearly intending to make his first example of the wide eyed colt.

He didn't even make it to the mother and her child before a hoof lashed out from the seat before them, smashing the pony in his foreleg. The snap of bone and the scream of the stallion filled the car as the brute went down.

A second blow drove the massive stallions head to the ground making it bounce as his jaw shattered on the steel plate, half rotted teeth scattering across the train cars floor. The second blow either addled the brute or knocked him out as he didn't rise, his attacker, however, did.

The old stallion stepped out from his seat. Gray feathered wings fanning the air as he stood up on his back legs wincing as his bones popped before he reached back to his seat pulling out a long case that had been in the chair next to him.

“WOT!!! I'll do you for that!!!” the second raider screamed rushing at the older stallion only for the case to smash into the side of his head sending him to the ground to join his friend. The third panicked and slammed shut the door rushing back to the other car trying to get help.

The old stallion sighed as he opened the case, drawing out a large spear made of orange crystal.

He shifted it a little wincing at the weight and the strain that he hadn't felt in some time as he shifted his wing along the weapons shaft.

Glancing to the colt and his mother he reached back into the case and pulled out a small patch. He stared at it for a second before tossing it to the colt who caught it deftly in his hooves.

“Keep that safe for me will you kid?” the older stallion asked with a smirk.

The small colt looked down at the badge. It was a stylized silver pony skull with wings behind it. The colts eyes widened as he mouthed the words. 'Shadow Bolt' to himself looking back up at the stallion with his eyes even wider in awe.

“EVERY PONY GO TO THE BACK OF THE CAR AND INTO THE FREIGHT CARS NOW. LOCK THE DOORS AND BARACADE THEM UNTIL THE GUARDS GET HERE.” Peach Blossom bellowed his wings crossing before him, his spear leveling at the door of the train car, the weapon seeming to chime from the movement as the howls of the raiders rushing back towards the car sent the other occupants rushing to follow his orders.

Peach Blossom smirked back as the lot of them rushed to the back of the cars,before readying himself to deal with the raiders.

=================================================================
[ Two days later]

“THEY BUCKING KILLED HIM AND YOU WANT US TO WAIT!!!??” Starfall Silvertail screamed in Princess Twilight Sparkle's face.

“I want you to wait for Jer'rahd and Luna. They are on their way now. We are organizing a search for these New Red Hoof raiders.” Princess Twilight stated flatly. “ Rainbow Dash and the Wonderbolts have already scouring the suspected area they are in. But despite that you are NOT to do anything Starfall. You retired three years ago. You are in no shape to be doing this any more. That is why we have trained Guard.”

“Following procedure will take weeks and we both know every time we've gone after them by the book they vanish. We need to hit them NOW.” Starfall yelled back not backing down from Twilight in the slightest.

The Pegasus was old. That much was clear, but despite Twilight's words she was in no means out of shape. Her body was still as strong and lithe as ever despite being in her mid eighties. Her gray fur had turned white with age and her mane and tail had gone from purple to a blueish gray. There was a fire in her eyes however that made Twilight shiver. Every time she had seen that look before something was about to die, thankfully it was usually something that would make the world a better place when it died, but still.

In truth right now Twilight was mostly impressed that Starfall hadn't decked her yet. Twilight supposed if Celestia had been talking to Starfall the taller mare would have been cold cocked by the old Pegasus by now. Thankfully Starfall liked Twilight better than Celestia, but Twilight wasn't willing to push that. Despite the ease that she could grow them back, Twilight was in no hurry to feel what getting her teeth knocked out felt like.

They had found Peach Blossom pressed back against the inner train door where the civilians had taken refuge, numerous bodies laying around him and a multitude of arrow bolts and other weapons impaling his frame. Behind him the Guard had found sixteen civilians who had taken shelter in the secure supply car that he had protected, the only survivors of the train attack.

The Pegasus mare tensed up before growling and turning away pacing the floor, her voice dropped though the tone was enough that Twilight almost expected the air around the mares white muzzle would freeze.

“I lost one husband to shit like this along with a lot of other family. I will not let those who did it this time escape punishment as long as Wind Razor did. Buck what you say I’m going just as soon as Dash finds them.” Starfall growled.

“No I don't think you will Miss Silvertail. The Princess has given you an order and I will have you arrested if you decide to go against it. It is not as if you are anything other than an old mare now. There are new Element Bearers, Luna is no longer any sort of royalty to give you any sort of buffer for your antics. You are not even a Guard Captain any more, but I am.” A snobbish voice stated.

Starfall whirled with a snarl glaring back at the teal and gold maned unicorn that strode into the throne room. The stallion was lightly armored with a rather ornate suit of armor that had the rank of Guard Captain on it. His yellow fur was almost an amber coloration.

“Tin Clasp. I did not call you here to antagonize Mrs. Silvertail. I would suggest you refrain from doing so.” Twilight stated flatly.

“Of course Princess. My apologies. Though I would expect my presence might have been requested to help see her out.” the stallion answered.

“Starfall. Celestia's the Zebraland's at the moment so I need to deal with everything that comes up. Guard Captain Pip is in however. Go see him, he should be in the north tower waiting for the Bolts to report. I know I cannot stop you but I ask you wait for back up while I deal with the logistics here.

Starfall glared at the Princess, though she turned away and stormed past the stallion with a snarl.

“Promoting you was the worst mistake my ever husband made.” Starfall growled.

“I beg to differ given your attitude, but irregardless, promote me to take his place he did.”Tin Clasp snapped back watching the mare storm off with a smirk.

Twilight waited until Starfall left before her gaze centered on the smug Guard Captain. Twilight tilted her head watching him. Pip was in charge of the Monster Hunters, and Scootaloo had taken over for Starfall as the Wonderbolt's liaison and the Guard Captain of Equestria's air command. Tin Clasp had been a rather impressive officer, he had joined the Guard not long after the War of Gods and had served well through Tirek's attack. He was highly decorated from various other incidents and he was on a short list of potential next Guard Captains, something he was briefly knocked off of by Pip and Scootaloo's volcanic rise among the ranks. He was also one of the pairs biggest protesters claiming favoritism more than anything else. Unfortunately for him none of the promotions that the pair had received came from the crown, nor any one related to either of them. So he was forced to wait. Something that paid off in the long run when Peach Blossom finally retired.

Still something about him had sat wrong with several ponies. Jer'rahd didn't count as he didn't trust any officer that hadn't been through one of his basic training courses. Something Tin Clasp had missed due to Celestia's training. He was in the last of the group of recruits to pass the 'modern' era training. Still Jer'rahd's 'gut instinct' was something that had been right before so she sent the Black Hoof to investigate the new Guard Captain, just in case. Celestia had not been successful at keeping the groups existence a secret from her after the events of Tamberlane.

“Actually Tin Clasp, I agree with her. Promoting you was a mistake.” Princess Twilight spoke up softly her magic floating a number of documents and photos over to her. A small glance to the Guards in the throne room brought them closer surrounding the unicorn. Receipts for items far above his pay grade, odd rearrangements and stalling of Guard troops, miscomunicated missions, missives sent out under different names, and photos of strange ponies visiting his rather expensive manor. Since he took office the number of bandit attacks had risen, as had various crimes, all in areas he over saw as head of the Royal Guard. There was more than enough information for her to suspect, though the damning bit was his order to send some rather pricy supplies and armaments on a civilian train with no Guard escort from Gallopagos along a rather roundabout rail path most often taken by tourists. There was also the message he left in a dead drop before coming to the palace. The Black Hoof had nabbed the pick up and the note warning about the scouting operation in the mountains. “Treason is a rather serious thing Mr. Clasp. For the benefit of your life I let Mrs Silvertail leave before I brought this up. However depending on what you say from this point on will determine whether or not I judge you by Equestrian law or simply let her have you when she gets back. So please.... guess what I know and try to lie to me.”

=========================================================
[ Hours later]

“Halt who goes there?”

“Seriously rookie who says that?”

The Pegasus Wonderbolt guard frowned as the Shadowbolt uniformed mare stepped out of the shadows walking forward slowly, her wings fanning to show him she didn't have a weapon drawn.

“I'm on watch, I'm supposed to say stupid shit.” The Guard smirked.” Crap like, Pretty pink prancing pony Princesses.”

“You mean shit like the Purple Princesses pink party partner?” The mare asked watching the guard relax a little. “ Seriously who comes up with these code phrases?”

“Pretty sure Princess Twilight passed on her love of alteration to the Air Commander.” The guard stated glancing back at the clearing with a small airship in the middle of it acting as a command post for the scouting operation. “What are you doing here? Only Shadowbolt on site is the Commander.”

“I need to talk to her, just flew in from Canterlot with a message about the ready status of the main force.” The mare sighed. “ Any luck out here?”

“Found their camp an hour ago at the north end of Cloud Serpent ridge, not sure where exactly, but the whole camp is excited and waiting for the strike force to get here.”

“Kaisur?”

“Probably. He and his wife tend to lead most of these things in recent years.” the Wonderbolt stated. His voice trailing off as the mare before him suddenly twitched and collapsed to the ground. “ What!?”

He managed a step towards the mare when a blow to the midsection doubled him over and a second bow to the back of the head drove him to the ground in a heap.

The shimmering form of a pony came into view as a hood was thrown back. The new figure crouched checking on the pair to make sure they were still alive before she sighed. A patrol would be here in ten minutes give or take and she needed to be gone before then.

“Sorry about that you two.” Starfall sighed drawing out a bit of parchment and charcoal writing a hasty apology to the two Guards and leaving a much longer letter in a sealed envelope addressed to Rainbow Dash.

Starfall pulled the Zebra cloak back over her head, a gift from a friend who had passed away a long while back that she never really used. Stealth was never the mares favorite tactic despite Rhede's suggestions. That didn't mean she didn't know how to utilize it.

“The Ridge huh?” Starfall muttered to herself pulling the cloak back over her and taking to the air.

=========================================================

“Pip!”

Guard Captain Pip stopped glancing back to see a familiar gray Kirin with an amber mane and a doubled edges sword on his side trotting towards him.

“Da.” Pip smirked. “Glad to see you. We just got a communication from Rainbow Dash that they found the camp.”

“Good.” Jer'rahd growled falling into step next to his son as they walked down the hall of the palace.” Your mothers gone to talk to Sparkle for the last of the preparations. Are the airships ready?”

“Ten troop transports, We've got them mounted on a train that's going to head through the tunnel warp to the Empire. We plan to take off and fly over the north face of the mountains. So far everyone thinks this is for a training exercise near Dodge Junction. The Princess let Scootaloo and I know she had found the leak, but we're still being cautious. The Guard we take will be briefed en route.”

“Speaking of Scootaloo, where is she? Better still where is Starfall? I expect that mare will be chomping at the bit to get to these bandits. More so than I am.”Jer'rahd grumbled at the idea he had lost another of the few friends he had made since waking up. The glow from his red eye was a sure sign that he was barely restraining himself, the lesson of Tirek still sticking with him.

“The same place really. We expected Starfall to try and go there on her own when she found out the location of the forward scout camp. So I had Scootaloo and two other Guards keep an eye on her in one of the guest waiting rooms, I'm headed there now to get them.”

“Just three Guards?”

“Scootaloo's there.” Pip stated gesturing to the doors at the end of the hall they were approaching.”As good as Mrs. Silvertail is I trust Scootaloo is better.”

Jer'rahd raised an eyebrow at that letting Pip open the door and hearing the gasp from him as the pair of them looked at the scene.

The room looked like a tornado hit it, toppled chairs, ripped wallpaper, and a shattered table caught their attention first before they looked up. The three ponies sent to guard Starfall were bound up in the rooms curtains. Dangling from the ceiling light and gagged. The two Guard ponies were pressed tight to Scootaloo's back so she couldn't ignite her wings without burning them and the mares left eye was nearly swollen shut from the growing hoof print shaped lump on her temple. She was gnawing on the tablecloth gag that had been shoved into her mouth and her good eye had a glare that could burn through steel. The far window was wide open with a fourth Guard collapsed in a heap and tied up under it, part of the usual palace patrol who had clearly come by at the wrong time.

Jer'rahd sighed turning to go get Luna.” Never get too cocky Pip, there's always some one better, unless of course you're already Starfall.”

==========================================================

Starfall looked down at the camp from the top of her cloud, counting the number of bandits there. She had thus far counted at least ten on watch and close to forty milling about in some sort of party. Likely the dividing of their spoils. There had been two flying sentries as well, though their corpses were feeding whatever wildlife lived around the ridge at this point.

Twilight's moon was still low on the horizon and it was still quite some time until midnight. Starfall sighed lowering her binoculars as she winced, the cold of the cloud and the air's chill seeping through her thin Shadowbolt's uniform and the Zebra cloak. Her bones hurt and her wings felt strained just getting her here as quickly as she had. She wanted a nap, to wait for back up, and a coffee. She rubbed her eyes looking down at the camp again and was suddenly far warmer than she should have been.

Far below in the bandit camp a Griffon was holding a large shard of crystal aloft and talking about it. The weapon was a faded orange coloration and despite it's partially crumbled nature that had come about when it's owner had died, she recognized the broad head of Peach Blossom's crystal spear.

At that point everything she had been feeling was pushed away. She could almost heard the Griffon
going into detail of how he had gained the weapon, by killing her husband.

She didn't feel old any more.

Starfall launched herself from the cloud letting the Zebra cloak fall from renewed wings as she climbed into the air. She felt the bitter cold and ice tugging at her limbs and face, frost forming on her goggles as she suddenly stopped flapping her wings keeping them spread wide as she coasted upward letting her weight start to pull her backwards. She stalled along the underside of a large frost filled cloud. She reached a hoof up, touching the underside of the near crystalline cloud as she started to fall backwards.

The silver moonlight showed her slightly distorted reflection in the cloud. With the way her mane was flaring up and the dark Shadowbolts uniform she briefly thought her reflection looked like a pure black alicorn that was reaching out to her outstretched hoof. Starfall closed her eyes as she felt the chill of that touch as her hoof brushed the underside of the icy cloud before gravity took hold and she fell back towards the ground.

The moment passed and Starfall closed her wings to her barrel beginning to fall. She could see the camp far below in her mind, little more than dots of light. Little dots that were rapidly growing. Starfall's eyes opened as she saw the view exactly as she expected and she drew herself tight before flapping back hard nearly tripling her speed towards the ground with one movement.

=============================================

Rainbow Dash sat at a desk in the small airship command post. She hated this. She just wanted to be a Wonderbolt, but she somehow managed to not only become the Captain after Spitfire retired, but she was also part of the Guard, under her old biggest fan at that. While she could deal with that, it had been a harsh few years for her. Big Mac had started having issues, the big pony's body had started deteriorating, the cause was the draconic power he couldn't turn off. After all this time it was starting to really take it's toll on the large pony. He tried not to let it show, but Dash had noticed and brought him to be checked out. The prognosis hadn't been good.

Now Peach Blossom, a pony she almost thought of as a father, was dead. She was almost too much of a wreck to be on this mission. Only the idea of what Starfall must be going through pushed her this far, though now that they were waiting for reinforcements she was letting her mind stew. It also didn't help that she had strained her wing while scouting earlier and the medic had bandaged it and made she sure she knew she couldn't fly on it for a few days at least. Getting old sucked.

“Commander!” a shout from outside got her attention before the door to the room burst open and a Wonderbolt uniformed Guard Pushed in.

“Blitzwing yer a good kid, but knock before entering a room” Rainbow Dash sighed.” What is it.”

“Commander one of the sentries and a messenger from Canterlot were attacked along the perimeter.”

“What?” Dash jumped to her hooves sending the chair skittering to crash into the wall behind her. “ What attacked them?”

“We don't know sir, they were both alive just unconscious. There was an apology written for them and a letter addressed to you.” The Pegasus offers over the letter flinching as Dash snatches it from him.

“What?” Dash mutters reaching into a pocket and pulling out a small pair of reading glasses grumbling to herself that the rookie was seeing her with the blasted things, her eyesight was beyond perfect at range, though up close it sucked, one of the reasons she hadn't made any more promotion jumps. Twilight blamed her eyesight on reading Daring Doo novels with inadequate light. Though as of two years ago Yearling had passed away so there were no more novels coming. Rainbow Dash sighed as she tore open the letter, flipping the paper open. As she read her eyes widened, ears flattening to her head.

“GET THIS SHIP MOVEING, WE ARE ATTACKING NOW ROUSE EVERY ONE I WANT US ON THOSE BANDITS YESTERDAY!” Rainbow Dash shouted tossing the paper onto the table rushing out onto deck shoving the rookie aside her shouts going quiet as she hears a noise. Looking up she sees a brilliant streak of light falling from the heavens.

“No........mother....” Dash whimpered.

The paper now forgotten on the table was headlined with a official royal seal and the words 'Last Will and Testament of Starfall Silvertail.'

==================================================

The air screamed around her on the verge of breaking apart just from her sheer willpower alone, then suddenly, it all exploded.

There are several things about the Sonic Rainboom that are not well known. Most are unknown even to their users, and despite Princess Twilight's study of the phenomenon, she had not studied it in combat.

Of the three who could preform it Starfall had the most still and knowledge of it having used it far more often than even Rainbow Dash.

One of the main things known is the nimbus's ability to revive the magic and stamina of ponies turning what might be a worn out failing army into a force that seemed to have rolled right out of bed. This of course had diminishing returns and put a strain on the bodies of those effected , but it would take ten rain booms before any of them noticed these signs. One was usually enough to turn the tide.

One of the lesser known tricks however is that it doesn't just buff ponies. Dependent on the emotional state of the pony preforming the boom, other effects could come about. It could affect more than ponies, it could effect select targets. And in this case, the shock wave could be directed to be detrimental to Ponies and other creatures that the wielder believes are threats, or has great anger towards.

So when the rain boom went off it was not a bright flash of rainbow colors in an exploding nimbus. Nor was it a glorious white halo of light.

The rain boom that went off as Starfall fell towards the bandit camp was only four colors, red, orange, ultraviolet, and black.

The wave of energy that washed over the bandits struck all of them with a different feeling than rejuvenation.

It struck the bandits with fear.

Not that they were allowed to run or try and react from that feeling before the main brunt of the camp exploded in a mushroom cloud of the same colors of the boom.

The alarm had started the moment the light in the sky was spotted and all of the bandit camp was rushing out to meet the attacker when they were blown back. The lucky ones were vaporized by the impact that left a massive crater where a braggart of a griffon had once stood. Most of the huts and shelters were already burning with a purplish flame that didn't give off any light.

Despite the fear and panic a number of the bandits rushed to the site of the impact only for a gray blur to launch from the smoke, crystalline wing blades lashing out severing limbs and heads leaving a trail of blood and death as the mare tore through the camp like star falling from the heavens.

Some stood up to her and were cut down before they could so much as bring their weapons to bare. Some tried to flee and were cut down before they reached the edge of the bandit camp. Others tried to hide and if the burning structures didn't kill them, the whirling dervish of rage did.

=======================================

Rainbow Dash screamed out as her wing finally gave out and she crashed onto the deck of the airship carrying the brunt of the Guard. The Scout ship had been sabotaged and couldn't take off. Dash had been prevented from going after the Bandit camp by most of the other scouts dog piling on her. By the time she managed to get away from them the main brunt of the Guard had arrived.

As it was, she was one of the first to storm the camp along with Queen Luna and General Kaisur.

Though there was nothing left of the camp to fight. Bodies, blood and entrails lay strewn everywhere. Buildings smoldered with no flame seeming to consume them in the premorning light.

In the middle of it on the only clear patch of ground, sat a mare. She was untouched by the blood and seemed to be slumped over a trio of weapons asleep, though she didn't appear to be breathing. A battered orange crystal spear, and two crumbling crystal wing blades lay under her.

While there was no blood on her, the fur of her face was mattered with tears and a small smile rested on her lips. Cradled in one wing however was an oddity, a fairly large bottle of olive oil.

And thus, gaining the revenge she sought, Starfall Silvertail departed from Equss.

Author's Note:

As hard as it has been to write the deaths of the other chars, this one seemed to have hurt me more than most of them.

It's one thing to write the end of other peoples chars, but to see the end of ones you yourself have created and nurtured from the very beginning with backstory and personality. It seems worse some how.

There are several bits of Trivia about Starfall. She was initially going to be the main character in the series, not Jer'rahd, she was also going to be the love interest at one point as well. Also despite everything else she was the closest to a mary sue as i got in this. She had her faults , but far too often they didn't seem to affect her and she could beat everyone.

That might have been why i focused more on Jer'rahd in the end.



Also as a side note for those of you who don't pay any attention to my blog post rants, i am considering doing a Q&A session on either Skype or Discord if i have enough people interested in hearing me rant.