Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 167

Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Chapter 167

I take the time to pull Applejack to the side for a private talk. “So I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m trying to get you free...”

The orange pony looks down. “Yeah, but why? Ah did say all those things, and Ah meant ‘em too. Ah almost brained ya for gettin’ in mah way...”

“Listen to me, Applejack. Look at me.” The farm pony looks up to meet my gaze. “Honesty isn’t about telling the truth, or giving the correct answer. Being honest is about speaking your mind, and being open about your opinion. If you keep your thoughts and feelings locked up, you may as well be lying to yourself. But you didn’t. While I don’t agree in the slightest with what you wanted, and how you went about saying it is wrong on so many levels...” AJ tries to look away, but I hold her head and keep her gaze. “In one sense... you did the right thing for yourself, you didn’t change your view just because all your friends told you too. You were just misguided and took things too far, but overall... you were given this for a reason.”

I pull out the Element of Honesty and hold it up to her. “Wh- Where... When’d ya get it?”

“I stole it from the library before the trial.” Applejack gives me a level glare. “Because Twilight isn’t the one who should be holding onto it.” I attempt to put the artifact around AJ’s neck, but I’ve never been good with jewelry or fasteners so when they mix, it gives me a lot of trouble. Applejack rolls her eyes and puts it on herself.

Now wearing the Element, Applejack seems to be a bit happier. “Thanks.”

“You’re probably gonna get some kind of punishment anyway but... I just wanted to let you know that, while we disagree on some things and that you need to open your mind a bit more... we’re still friends, and I don’t hate you.”

“T- Thanks.” Applejack repeats, and we share a brief hug before going our separate ways. The recess should be over in about twenty minutes. I just hope things go well.

When the time comes for us all to reenter the courtroom, we take our places, and Applejack seems to be balancing between wearing her Element proudly and trying to keep it rather unnoticeable.

Here we go. I don’t know if I’d prefer that a jury decide on the verdict instead or not, some ponies here don’t look too happy with the farm pony. It seems like they’ve been silently rallying against her ever since Big Mac mentioned her wanting some alone time. But if I mouthed off against the verdict and it was Celestia who gave it, this entire room would probably want my head... Alright Celestia... what are you gonna do with Applejack?

“Ahem, I have made my decision concerning the verdict.” Now she’s drawing it out. “Under the light of what has been confessed, there is no doubt that Applejack is guilty of assault. Even her status as a Knight of the Realm does not prevent this.”

Status as a whatnow? Applejack looks pretty confused at the comment, too.

“However, given that she has expressed sorrow and guilt at her actions, and is a vital part of Ponyville’s continued health, as well a defender of the realm, I am permitted to reduce the penalty. As the nobles of Canterlot have oft reminded me throughout the centuries, anypony who is a vital part of society cannot simply be discarded. Applejack, You will still face punishment for your crime. This punishment will take the form of ten years...”

What the- this is a reduction!? I stand up to protest and call Celly out on her bullshit, but Rainbow Dash pulls me back into my seat and Celestia continues.

“Yes, ten years of community service in Ponyville. You will also be required to act in your capacity as a Bearer of Harmony as the occasion dictates.”

...Wait, what? That... She already does that! This... Oh. As the realization of what Celestia just pulled here dawns on me, I can’t help but feel... nonplussed, despite the thinly-veiled victory. And I think I know why.

“Your time begins immediately. This court is adjourned. Also, Twilight, you may have your note back.” Celestia levitates a notecard to Twilight, who blushes as she takes it. In passing, I see it has something about the ‘Cookie Defense’ written on it.

When the bar and those behind it start to disperse, I decide to trail Celestia. She has a bad habit of escaping talks unless I come knocking at her door where she can’t just leave. Soon enough, I find her outside the back of the building, having taken a back door, probably to evade publicity.

“You should have locked her up, you know.”

“What a turnaround. I would have figured, given your previous actions, that you’d be celebrating with Pinkie at that party she’s throwing.”

“Yeah, I just... I’m a little hung up on something. I mean, I know why you let her go, and I’m very glad you did, it’s just... technically speaking she should have been given a regular sentence. You know? I get the whole deal with needing the Elements of Harmony, but if it was anyone else, just another person who did those things...”

“Hmm... not correct. As I stated in the courtroom, the nobility have been using the pretext of being important and useful as ground to remain in station after minor indiscretions for... a long time. Legally, any proceeding I am judging can be set to any applicable sentence for the crime committed. The simple fact is, not many nobles are useful... but I still make use of the law to protect those who are invaluable.”

I hold up my hands and take a step back. “Woah now. I’m just gonna hope we’re on different wavelengths and I misinterpreted what you said. I heard you tell me that if someone assaulted another person, and made death threats... they’d be let go.”

“Only if I personally say that is the case. No signature on paper, no proxies, it must be myself or my sister in person to give that verdict. And it must remain in the range of penalties for the crime. In the case of community service sentences, the location is dictated by the crown... that is, myself or my sister.”

“Alright, I get that now. I just... where I come from, when I dealt with the law... there were so many holes, so many ways to not just bend it but break the rules without even being caught or suspected of lying. It was... it was a bad experience. I guess I just don’t want this place to be like that, and I kinda started out expecting that it would be...”

“Well, if it helps, I am the law, and I try to be without loopholes unless they’re mine to use alone.”

“Well, that fills me with absolutely no confidence whatsoever... but it’s a step in the right direction I guess.”

“I’m sorry that does not help your troubled thoughts any. Have you any other questions while you’re here? I am not hard-pressed for time at the moment. I’ll likely use some of this extra time to sneak away to a bakery or somesuch.”

“Yeah... What do you think of Clark? Applejack’s position aside, do you think she was right to consider him a monster that needed to be killed?” My hands tighten a bit as I await the response.

“No. He’s an intelligent, and very driven person. From what I hear, he’s very passionate, and kind, but often distant when not actively engaged. I think he may have broken something irreparable during his time leading up to coming here. I hope he does heal, because he may be a useful asset and good friend in the future. With preference, that future is closer, not farther.”

“I want to fix him. I want my friend back. Well... all back. Y’know?”

“Wanting someone dear to you to be well and whole again? Anthony, you do realize whom you’re speaking to, yes?” I’m a bit confused for all of second, until I remember Luna’s story.

“Right. Well, then you understand my rather... violent reaction to someone wanting to hurt him, I suppose.”

“Very. Well, I hope Clark is alright. I hear he received some form of augmentation during or after his battle with the most recent demon. Would you have any information about these augments you’d share?”

“Well, as far as what I’d like to share or remember, demons don’t get those crazy arms or legs or eyes or whatever just by being evil. They fight and... scavenge ‘upgrades’ from the loser... If you get what I mean.”

“I’m not actually sure I do.” Celestia says, moving to make herself comfortable on a bench-seat. “Please, elaborate.”

I think of a situation, and when I think I have it, I begin. “Well, for the sake of argument, let’s say you have no way of healing yourself. Now, you are in a fight with this demon and you lose a leg to him. You’ve won and it’s dead, but you are going to die from blood loss if you don’t fix your leg. There’s no hospital anywhere, and nobody nearby to help you. But if you... tore off the monsters leg and used it to replace yours, not only would the leg attach itself to you, repair any damages to the area, and was actually better than your old leg in pretty much every way... but doing so might corrupt you, but also prevent you from dying... what would you do?”

“Hmm... I suppose survival is rather important, and the corruption of a single might be able to be abated or reduced relatively easily. Would Clark’s augmentations be more extensive, then? I mean beyond the stomach and heart the medical staff are still tearing out their manes over.”

“As far as I know, it’s just his arm otherwise. Anyways, that’s how the demons worked. You fight, you win, you get upgraded by stealing parts, these upgraded parts help you survive when someone tries to fight you for your parts. I’m trying to break him of the habit, but... it’s pretty ingrained. He’s been gone a long time.”

“I would assume so. Habits of survival take a great deal of time and specific effort to break.”

“Nobody else seems to get that though, and... I’m afraid there are more people like Applejack out there, but worse. I don’t really know what to do about that other than just try to defend him, even though everyone thinks I’m a monster for protecting a monster.”

“I understand, Anthony. Ponies are not exactly... rational all the time. Or even most of the time.”

“Well, until the world starts opening up... I guess we’re all just gonna be a bunch of monsters to them. Just wanna do something about it. But not really much I can do.”

“I suppose not. I’m sorry there is not much I can do to alleviate that problem.” She looks up at the clocktower. “Well, if I want to get anything unproductive done today, I’ll need to hurry. I’ll speak with you later, Anthony.”

“Seeya.” Next Chapter: Chapter 168 Estimated time remaining: 8 Hours, 48 Minutes

Return to Story Description


Login with