Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 114

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Chapter 114

Shining leads me to the throne room of the castle, where Celestia and Luna are talking about... something. When we enter, they both turn to face us.

Shining bows down in front of them. Do these ponies have any dignity? Getting up, he addresses why we’re here. “Princesses, there is a legal matter I need help with. I can’t seem to make a decision of what should be done, if anything.”

Luna purses her lips. “And what is the nature of this matter?”

I sigh. “I stopped a thief by breaking his leg. He’s an earth pony, so he’ll be fine in a few days, right?”

Shining Armor nods, confirming that I’m telling the truth. “So the question is... would assault be illegal if it’s used to stop or deter a criminal?”

I decide to point out an important detail. “Remember, I wasn’t acting in self-defense, I just involved myself. Also, the thief was stopped and whatever he stole has been returned.”

Luna pondered for a moment. “But you still committed assault...”

“On somebody who was committing another crime. That’s what human heroes do. They find the bad guys and beat the crap out of them.” I’m aware there’s a bit more to it than that, but that’s always the good parts of the movies anyway.

Luna stomps her hoof. “But that does not entitle you to a free pass. Here in Equestria, you are subject to our rules and laws.”

“Alright, and what are your rules about causing substantial harm to a party for the purpose of protecting another party, in the case that the latter party is much more numerous than the former?” I leave out the fact that I really attacked him for insulting me, but I’m smart enough to know saying so wouldn’t help my case.

Luna opens her mouth to respond immediately, but she says nothing. After a moment she closes her mouth and looks to Celestia. “Sister... do we even have anything for or against this situation?”

I add something else to my argument. “Keep in mind that this is what I’ve been doing every time I’ve fought anybody, aside from doing it for sport. If this is a crime, then I’ve been committing this crime for months now.”

Celestia inhales deeply, closing her eyes in concentration. She looked at me, then at Shining Armor. “Captain, did the criminal get away?”

Armor, to his credit, didn’t even wince. “Yes, Princess, he did.”

Celestia nodded. “Was the limb broken, cracked or sprained?”

The captain thought for a moment. “It was definitely broken.”

The white pony princess nods once more. “Then... Anthony, you failed to stop the crime, and assaulted a citizen of Equestria, regardless of their criminal status. As the other menaces you’ve stopped or have been instrumental in the stopping of have not been Equestrian citizens, you are not being charged. As you have acted in direct defiance of the laws, you are being charged with one count of aggravated assault and one count of obstruction of justice.”

“Wait, what?” I say, sure that the charges should’ve either been dropped or far worse.

“Your sentence will be simple; you will do community service in Manehattan, as per the local coordinator’s guidance. If you fail to comply, more extreme measures will be taken.”

I stand, completely dumbfounded. Community service? That’s it? I guess I shouldn’t complain, but... still. Also, another declaration bugged me.

“Obstruction of Justice? But there weren’t any guards around at all! They didn’t show up until I did something. Your other verdict is sound, but what the hell? How can I obstruct someone who’s not even present to do their job?”

“Actually...” Shining Armor began. “They were there, you just acted first. As for why they didn’t do anything, they probably didn’t want to join in a fight that involved you, given your track record.”

I open my mouth to protest but shut it. “Fair point. Fine, guess I’m off to... where was it again?”


I sigh at the pun. “Let me guess, it’s located in Neigh York...”

“Well, yes it is.”

I blink twice, hoping that wasn’t what she said. But it was. “Oh brother.”

I get off the train and I am shocked to say the least. I... woah. These buildings are huge! This wasn’t like a Pony-sized Manhattan, this place is to human scale! I’d never been to New York personally but... for once I’m willing to say Equestria’s version of a given location would suffice. I get dizzy looking up at the skyscrapers all around.

I mean there’s a distinct lack of cars, rather they had those literal horse-powered taxis I’d seen in Ponyville on rare occasions, but other than that, this is kinda what I’d expect Manhattan would have looked like if everyone was super eco-friendly and didn’t pollute. Glass, brick, mortar and steel are what support these buildings, none of that flimsy wood or thatch that was in Ponyville.

I’d seen Canterlot, but this... woah...

Why am I here again? Oh right, community service. Screw that noise, I’m gonna take a look around!

“And where are you going?” I hear a gruff voice call out from behind me. Oh right, Luna decided to send some of her guards to make sure I don’t dawdle on my first day. Forgot about that. It seems Luna doesn’t trust me in the slightest, as I turn around and see that three of them are wearing combat armor, most likely in case I tried to fight.

I figure being a smartass would just get me in trouble, I play along. “Nowhere, sir. Where should I be going?”

He gives a gruff “Follow me” and he leads me through the huge city. I am also being ‘contained’ by the night guards, as the other two armored guards are walking at my sides, and the last three are forming a tight wall behind me. Looks like adventuring will have to wait until I’ve done my time.

After some walking, my little entourage stops when we come to a smaller building. And by that I mean it’s small compared to the hundred-and-fifty-plus story tall skyscrapers that are the norm around here. If it weren’t for all the ponies walking around, I’d think I was back on Earth!

I’m escorted inside and going up a few flights of stairs we get to the correct floor. The wood paneling at the base of the relatively short hallways is tastefully paired with a soft green wallpaper, and there’s even occasional windows at the landings between floors on the stairs. There’s a few paintings in the hallway, all of them extremely generic but soothingly so. This feels like every stereotypical ‘high-end’ office building. Though not unlike the many human counseling offices I had been to in the past.

I plop down in a chair and wait for the pony to come in, claiming to be a ‘doctor’ and telling me ‘how happy he is to see me’. Sigh, let’s just get this over with. The pony who arrives, sits down in a high-backed chair facing away from me.

“So, I, like anypony else with eyes, can see you’re not a pony. And that’s perfectly fine. I am telling you this so you know I don’t have any bias based on that fact, nor am I going to treat you as I would a pony.”

"Oh cut the crap and let's get down to brass tacks: You're here to 'fix' me and get paid."

“No, I’m here to help you. I get paid whether I’m doing anything each day or not; having a full retirement payout when I was twenty-five will do that. I do this job because I get to help others. And because cabin fever is a terrible thing.”

I roll my eyes. “Wow, you sound like every single other counselor I’ve met with before I even came here. Are you guys, like, spawned in a tube or something?”

“Ha, no. though I admit, the other counselors I’ve met do have a tendency to be similar. That’s actually something about ponies with similar talents in general. It’s a fairly new study, but it does appear that there’s some fairly strong correlation between cutie-mark and personality in adults.” The counselor stops, the soft voice fading for a moment. “Though, really, it should be you rambling on about something or another, you know. That is the whole point of being the patient.”

“No, the point of me being here in general is so I can get this whole deal over with and get back to my life of doing whatever I want. I’ve done this ‘counseling’ thing for years and years. Most of my life in fact. Pony or not, you’re just another page.”

“Ah. Would you prefer I just start writing some random diagnosis, then? I think I can swing solipsism, maybe some megalomania, and perhaps some chronic whininess.”

I roll my eyes. “Cute, you’re trying to ‘connect’ with me by acting unprofessional so you can be my ‘friend’.”

“Pfft, listen to you! Maybe we should swap seats? Nah, too much work. I think you’re putting up a buffer because you feel slighted. How close am I?”

“Not too far off. More like I feel like I should have either been let off or thrown in a cell. Not that Celestia would have the right case. One of her reasons sounded more like an excuse to me.”

“Well, lets put it this way. Say you’re a carpenter, and you’re working on a project. You’ve been building a series of golems made from wood, and they in turn have been helping you build a house. You with me so far?”

“Yeah, though if I had a bunch of wood golems, I’d do something more interesting than build a house.”

“And when did I say it was an ordinary house? If you’re building animate golems, you’re probably able to build a house with a ton of magic in it. Now, back to the narrative. You’re making your amazing house, and you’ve gotten it more or less how you’ll want it to be. All that’s left is making sure there’s no termites or carpenter ants or jigsaw ants.”

The counselor pauses for dramatic effect. “And just when you find there’s a particularly dangerous nest of jigsaw ants getting ready to take your beautiful house apart at the seams, a metal golem appears and destroys the nest. Wipes them all out, saving your house. Saving your dear, precious golems you’ve put so much time and effort into.”

“Yet, when you go to ask about the golem’s intentions, it then proceeds to go break your fine glassware, scuff all your furniture, and tilt every picture in the house at a twelve-degree angle. But, every time a new nest of jigsaw ants appears, it takes care of the problem. Sometimes by taking your favorite chair and smashing it over the colony until there’s nothing left of either, and sometimes without so much wanton, messy violence. Now tell me, what do you do about the metal golem? You can’t damage it; it’s too tough for you to simply reprimand. You can’t send it back; you’ve no idea where it came from! And you can’t simply destroy it; what would happen the next time an ant colony tries to devour everything you’ve made? What do you do?”

I take a moment to ponder his story. “From your analogies, I’m the steel golem, and Celestia is the carpenter. I assume that the wood golems are her subjects or her guards or whatever. Anyway, that was long winded and way off the point I was going to make. The point was that one of her reasons was inaccurate.”

“Oh? Do tell, I’m listening.” The sound of fabric rustling came from the other side of the chair.

“I’m here because I assaulted a thief for stealing. I tell Celestia that although the criminal was not taken in for his crime and that he got away, I did return what he stole. Celestia said I didn’t stop the crime at all. So stealing isn’t a crime here? If that is so, then I attacked a random passerby and someone was calling for help from a total innocent.”

“So you assaulted someone on the account of a random passerby in Canterlot? You do realize they call the guards on each other for not introducing themselves properly, right? It’s some sort of ‘fashion statement’ or some nonsense like that.”

“And that’s their problem. He definitely had a bag, and the screaming mare was a shopkeeper. Surprise surprise, he was even dressed like a thief, badly, but still dressed as such. I return the stolen object, and am told I did not stop the crime. For this, I call Celestia a liar, as she was given the information that the stolen property was returned.”

“Ah, this may be a culture thing. Where you come from, if the stolen goods are returned before capture by a guard -or their equivalent- would the criminal be forgiven?”

“Heck no, he’d get thrown in a cell, but that was still the only crime, and to say that returning the stolen goods, as the criminal did not succeed in his endeavor, is not stopping the crime...”

“Is entirely accurate, according to Equestrian law-”

“Celestia made up some bullshit just to punish me!”

“No, it sounds more that you don’t know the full extent of the laws you’re dealing with. Perhaps I could be of more help to you with learning Equestria’s national laws, and perhaps look up some related to Canterlot in particular.”

“Don’t bother. If this is how I get treated for helping others, then they can solve their own problems. I don’t want to do community service every damn time I try to help ponies. Heck, the way I see it, that is community service, as I’m not even getting paid for it!”

“Actually, that’s volunteer services, technically. I think the problem you’re facing is how you’re seeking to stop problems. From what I’ve been told, you mainly hit them, burn them, or electrocute them until they stop being problems.”

“Yeah, because nothing makes someone decide not to do something again like pain.”

“Ah, so you’re of the opinion that corporal punishment is the way to go.”

“Well, yeah. If they end up never doing it again, then the problem is solved for good and there will be one less problem to worry about. If that’s the end result, so what if I break a leg or cause a few contusions?”

“You likely don’t know this, so I’ll tell you; unlike pegasi wings, earth pony hooves, and unicorn horns, leg bones don’t heal. there’s too many thaumocytic glands, they can’t be set by magic as a result. Ordinary splints will only get you so far. My own legs are a good example; I can’t move faster than a hobble.”

“And I assume that’s stopped any thoughts of yourself being able to get away with anything illegal. Unless you can name one pony who’s made a name for himself as a criminal despite being severely crippled, I’d say that falls under the case of ‘not doing it again.’ so my reasoning still sta-”

“A century ago, Celestia had to burn Rook out of Hay City, and had to take half the city with it. Rook was a unicorn who lost her legs and decided to begin taking the legs of others to share in her misery. To put it bluntly, she wrecked a city and left a generation unable to walk or do manual labor. She’ll be remembered in school textbooks long after the current bearers of the Elements have faded from memory.”

“Good for her. So find her, and throw her into a prison until she dies.”

“You didn’t hear me. Celestia burned her out of the city. As in, called down the wrath of the sun, and melted half the city into a molten pool of lava. Rook had taken to using necromancy to ‘reincarnate’ out of a foal’s body.”

“So necromancy is now evil?”

“Mainly when it’s used to torture and destroy, like any other path of magic. What, did you think the Path of Life can’t be used for harm?”

“With a name like that, I’d say it would be one of the best for causing harm.”

“And using it as such is illegal, just like using necromancy to cause yourself to burst out of a young child’s rib cage when you’re killed somewhere else. Usually killing the poor child if Rook wasn’t feeling angry at the time.”

“Alright, enough of the history lesson. She wasn’t given a sentence most criminals get for trying to keep the peace.”

“There are no criminals who keep the peace-”

“And yet that’s what I attempted, and suddenly, I am sentenced with com-”

“If you interrupt me again, I’m just going to send back a note saying you’re never going to redeem yourself. With how powerful you are, that’s a one-way trip to either Tartarus or becoming a pigeon toilet in the Canterlot Gardens. It’s not all preserved heroes out there, you know.”

“Yeah, great. I can stop the Elements of Harmony without lifting a finger. Seriously, are you gonna keep doing this until I agree that I’m a bad person for trying to help?”

“No, I’m trying to get you to understand I don’t like being interrupted. If you’re going to be a pile of road-apples, then I’m not going to keep playing bottom line for you. The usual result of someone assaulting someone else is being immediately exiled. It used to be through the Lookinglass Gates, but with so many missing or leading who-knows-where now...” he cleared his throat. “Besides, you may be able to stop the Elements normally but I was informed you’re currently powerless. Do you think you could do anything about them now?”

I narrow my eyes at the back of his chair. “The thief called me weak. Guess what happened to him. Whether death awaits me or not, how about rephrasing that statement before I get mad?”

“Maybe you should come fight me like you can actually do something without your super-crutches, cripple.” Owch, coming from the pony who said his legs are permanently broken?

“Alright.” I get up and go to give him a slap across the face. I round the chair facing away from me, and get a hoof in the face. Hard.

Sitting up, I rub my face. “Not bad for someone who says they can’t even run.”

The pony rolls out of the chair, and I see his body is toned, but not muscular. He’s also a pretty normal size, not beefy like Big Mac. Then, he does something crazy. He stands up. Next Chapter: Chapter 115 Estimated time remaining: 18 Hours, 48 Minutes

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