At Her Majesty’s Pleasure
A My Little Pony Fanfiction by PonyToast
The Manehattan law office of Singlefoot, Steele & Pace was bustling, as usual. Paralegals darted here and there, delivering interrogatories or copying papers. The attorneys were nowhere in sight, either in their offices behind piles of paperwork or out performing duties related to the job. There were motions to be filed, and briefs to write. There never was a moment for slacking.
The door swung open and a gray, blonde pony entered, her eyes askew and a mailbag slung across her shoulders. She navigated the office silently and with ease, dropping envelopes on desks as she passed. The paralegals ignored her, far too engrossed in their work to pay her any heed.
She found it all fascinating. The letters, the motions, the pure and simple power of written words—it was all intriguing. Had opportunities worked out differently, she would have probably made a fine lawyer. Fate, it seemed, had other plans.
The mailpony made her last few stops in the office in the far back, where the senior partners were situated. Donna Singlefoot, a wizened older mare, gave her a knowing smile as she dropped off his mail, while Rex Pace did not even look up from whatever he was writing to acknowledge her presence. The mailpony did not like Pace. He had never once said hello to her.
She finally stopped at the office of Roan Steele. He was barely visible, however, behind a large stack of paperwork piled several feet high on his desk. She edged around the desk and found him asleep. She giggled silently to herself and curiously looked over his desk. Papers lay everywhere, several stained with ink splatters from strewn quills. Roan himself was dozing under a couple of papers himself, looking pathetic. As his name suggested, he was a brown roan-colored earth pony, with a black mane and tail. She nudged him.
“Objection!” He shouted as he startled awake. She gave him a look. “Oh, it’s you…how are you this morning?” He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and found that one of the grey pony’s eyes was fixed on him in concern. “Oh, don’t you worry a single bit about me. It’s just all these depositions…they’re taking a while…cutting into my sleep…you know how it is.”
She cocked her head to the right.
“Anyways, what mail do you have for me this morning…er…” He looked at the clock. “this afternoon, I mean.”
She pulled a stack of envelopes from her pack with her teeth and dropped them on the desk. Each and every one was labeled “From the High Court of Equestria: Extremely Urgent.” He sighed and began opening them. It was a few moments before he realized the mailpony was still standing there, biting her lip.
“Oh. Right.” He reached under the wooden desk and pulled up a small cloth bundle and handed it to her. Immediately she could smell cinnamon, vanilla and raisins. One of the firm’s more influential clients brought muffins in every week by the basketful, and Roan always promised her a small share. A small price to pay, he figured, when you wanted every motion delivered on time via Equestrian Mail.
As the happy pony trotted off out the door, Steele surveyed his disaster of a desk. Two months or more of depositions sat here, in addition to reports from expert witnesses and court transcripts. A lot of work had gone into creating this mess, and now it would take even more to get rid of it.
He opened the first envelope. Motion for Summary Judgment, it read, in the matter of Vinyl Scratch v. Hoofbeat Records, inc. (i)No genuine issue of material fact is in dispute between the parties, and (ii) the moving party is be entitled to judgment as a matter of law… it went on for several pages. After perusing the motion for several minutes, he set it aside to begin drafting an objection. Last week he had consulted with his expert musicologist, an earth pony from Canterlot that played the double-bass. She had analyzed the two songs in question and given her expert opinion: Hoofbeat Records had released one of Vinyl Scratch’s mixes under a different name and with a slight change in pitch and tempo; and of course Vinyl Scratch was not asked for permission. Hoofbeat didn’t have (if the pun could not be avoided) a hoof to stand on with this issue, and Steele was more than prepared to take the matter to trial.
Trials were Steele’s specialty. Personal injury lawyers dreamed of the kind of track record he had attained in his tenure in the courtroom. Aggressive, they called him. Driven. Cunning. The winner of a case is determined in the opening statement, they say, and Steele had given some of the best openers in history. Every trial was a new challenge for him to overcome.
Trials were becoming fewer and fewer these days, however. The reputation he had garnered had also been a curse; opposing attorneys were more likely to settle a case upon seeing his name at the bottom of his motions rather than take him in front of a jury.
The bell above the shop door rang lightly. Steele didn’t even think to look up. Shortly thereafter, though, he heard some commotion in the front of the office, and looked up. He craned his neck to peer around the paper stacks to see the front door. His jaw dropped.
Her Royal Highness Luna had just walked in the door.
He had met the Princess Luna only once before. It has been a warm spring night at this past year’s Grand Galloping Gala. His date had abandoned him to follow a member of the wonderbolts around, and he felt particularly awkward as he wandered the royal halls. just outside the front door, around a corner, he found the princess, gazing solemnly up at the sky.
She was gorgeous out in the moonlight, her silver mane falling in curls around her neck and shoulders. She wore a simple silver silk shawl over a black dress, with glistening silver slippers. Steele had been in awe at first, and then particularly intimidated by the stunning pony before him. Not to be deterred, however, he mustered his courage and approached her.
“Lovely evening, isn’t it?” A terrible opening line, he had to admit to himself as the princess looked back to him with a raised eyebrow. But a quick recovery was to follow: “I’ve always found the night to be so gorgeous. I suppose you modeled it after yourself.”
She laughed, like a chorus of tinkling bells in the night air. And as she did, he noticed with embarrassment that the edges of her eyes were stained with mascara; she had obviously been crying naught but a few moments before. He took a step back. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to bother you...”
She raised a hoof to stop him. “No, no, it’s fine. I...” she looked around at the other party guests, who gave her such a wide berth that it was clear to anyone that she, the younger royal sister, was to be avoided like the plague. Some of the ponies even gave Steele looks as if to say, “Why would you spend time with that?” Luna took a deep breath. “I could use the company.”
“Of course. Can I get you anything? A refreshment?”
“No, no, I’m fine.” She rubbed her eye lightly with her hoof. “So, tell me what you like about my night.”
He sat beside her, his heart thumping loudly enough that he was sure she’d be able to hear it. “Well, let’s see...” he looked up and searched for something charming to say. “I like how the stars are just bright enough that they can still be seen through the thin clouds but not so bright as to breach the shadowy cloak of darkness. I like how they are arranged into patterns...”
“I put them that way because I loved animals. I decided to show my love for them by painting their pictures in the sky.”
Steele nodded. “I also like how the moon...it changes day to day, both in its place in the sky and in its shape. it is far less predictable than the sun--”
Luna shuddered. Steele realized, too late, that the mention of the sun was a chilling point for the princess. He decided against trying to finish his thought and risk digging into a deeper hole. “Is everything alright, Your Highness??”
She turned to him and gave him a questioning look. “I’ve been sitting here for hours, you know that? And you’re the first one out of everypony here to ask if I was alright.”
“Well, I--” his thought was cut off by the Princess, however, as she leaned in and kissed him. It was brief, but passionate. She pulled away after a moment. “Thank you.” And off, she disappeared, in a cloud of smoke, disappearing into the night.
And now, here she was again. Dressed in a conservative saddle and with a small handbag over her back, she spoke quietly to the intake paralegal at the front desk. The paralegal, more than a little starstruck, looked back toward Steele’s office and made a You-have-time-for-this-don’t-you look. He nodded and gestured for the princess to come back.
Far from the cliché damsel in distress, Luna strode to the back of the office with style and dignity known only to noble equines. A subtle daintiness mixed with determination. Her hooves made a soft click-clack on the hardwood floor as she approached. Steele quickly began moving piles of paper aside. He had just enough time to stuff a large pile under the desk when she reached the door and he leapt to his feet. He was about to introduce himself when none other than Rex Pace stepped in the way.
“Your Highness! What an honor to have us grace you with your presence here at Singlefoot, Steele and Pace. I’m Rex. Rex Pace. An honor.” He bowed.
Luna looked particularly uncomfortable. “Uhm. Charmed. Yes. Thanks.” She edged around him and into Steele’s office. Rex slinked sleazily back through his office door, glaring at Steele’s office door.
Luna took a deep breath and stepped forward. “Good afternoon, Mr. Steele. It’s my understanding that you—” She stopped as she got a good look at his face. “You!”
Steele blushed and contemplated hiding behind the only remaining stack of papers on the desk. The consequences of offending royalty could range from heavy fines to banishment; he knew this all too well.
“I…” He searched for the words. “I’d like to apologize—”
“For what?” she looked slightly annoyed. “Don’t—don’t even worry about it. I’m not offended or anything. I was just…surprised to find you…here. May I sit?” Asking! As if the question needed to be asked. He nodded and she sat. “Mr. Steele, I’m looking for a tort attorney. I’ve seen your courtroom track record and I’d very much like your assistance in a matter of great importance.”
Steele nodded and rooted around for a pad of paper from the mess of his desk drawer. Finally find one, he pulled the pen out of his coat with his teeth and poised to write. He paused and put down the pen. “You know I would be more than glad to listen to your case, Your Highness, but—”
“Please call me Luna.”
“Right. Luna. Anyways, I’d be glad to listen to your case, but why are you hiring a private attorney in the first place for a legal matter? Don’t you have access to the Royal Attorneys at Canterlot?”
Luna gave Steele a look of pure annoyance and Steele slowly slid toward the stack of papers. Then she sighed. “I can’t. They’re…I mean…they won’t help me…because…they’ll be representing the defendant.”
It took a few moments for the implications of this to sink in. “That means—”
“Yes,” Luna said, fixing Steele with a stern glare, “It is my intent to sue Princess Celestia in civil court for wrongful imprisonment.”
“Tough cases,” Steele’s professor had told said to her class in law school, “Do not come by often in the field of Tort Law. I would say that 99% of the time, your case is either going to be one you can win, or one you can’t.” She looked around the room at the students in the class. Mostly ponies, the class also hosted two griffins, a dragon and a manticore. She continued, “Occasionally, however, you’ll find one of those cases. On the outset, the case looks to be open-and-shut. But on the second glace, you find, to your horror or delight, that the case is not what you first imagined. These cases are the ones that take skill. These cases are the ones that take guts. These are the cases that require you to think like a lawyer.”
Steele was entranced by these words. He absorbed every aspect of the law, reading every book on the subject he could get his hoof on. He had put some time into studying criminal law, but once he had begun to study personal injury he became hooked. It seemed like a noble calling for lawyers: the good guys making the bad guys pay up for hurting others.
Soon he began attending the law school’s monthly tort mock trials. His first win had seemed like dumb luck, but then came another, and another. Soon he had taken the mock trial by storm. Other students no longer wanted to go against him. He knew he had found his calling.
His reputation in school had been quite a boon upon his graduation. Immediately he had received several offers for positions in a couple of firms. Most of them were larger, more corporate firms. The thought of pushing paper in a back office and never seeing the inside of a courtroom was not to Steele’s liking, however, and he ended up turning most of them down.
Then, one day, he received an offer. The letter simply said, “Dear Mr. Steele: Looking trial partner. Hear you’re good. Impress me and the job is yours. Sincerely, D. S.”
He arrived at the door of Singlefoot & Pace less than a week later for an interview. Donna Singlefoot had taken him into the conference room and sat him in front of a stack of case files.
“Your task is simple, Mr. Steele. There are thirty cases here. Ten of them were won in court. Ten of them were lost in court. Ten were settled. Figure out which are which and I’ll hire you. You have an hour.” She left, closing the door behind her. Steele stared helplessly at the pile of cases. It would likely take the average attorney over an hour just to read them, let alone analyze them for case viability.
Donna Singlefoot was completely unsurprised to hear the conference door open and the front door bell ring about a ten minutes after leaving Steele to do the nigh-on impossible task. Only one pony had ever completed the test. The rest either tried, and failed miserably, or they just left rather than even try. She sighed. She had hoped that Steele would at least be among the former.
About twenty minutes later, though, the front door opened again, and Singlefoot saw a a tan pony-shaped blur dart into the conference room with a large cup of coffee. He only had a little under half an hour left now—he couldn’t expect to be able to do this with a third of his time gone?
Her curiosity got the better of her shortly thereafter. With only ten minutes left, she opened the door to take a peek. There Steele sat, leaning back in the chair, sipping his cup of coffee. The files were arranged into three piles of ten files each. Impossible! She entered the room and walked over to him. He smiled up at her.
“Well, Mr. Steele?”
“All done.” He gestured to the piles with his free hoof.
She started checking the files, dubious. Her face began to drop, however, as she scanned the file names and discovered that each and every one was in the right place. “How—you—”
He stayed silently smug as she rounded on him in disbelief.
“How did you…and you left for twenty minutes—”
“To get coffee. I hope that wasn’t a problem…I work better with a caffeine buzz.” He raised his coffee cup. “Cheers.”
Steele put the quill pen down and picked up his coffee cup. It had gone cold since the morning. There was a long silence in the air between them. Luna then took a beep breath. “I know what you’re thinking. I actually went to a few lawyers in Canterlot but they all said the same thing…that this kind of case was too risky. I think that they didn’t want to be seen as—”
“—treasonous?” And to be fair, he had been thinking the exact same thing. Any attorney that took this case was facing a PR nightmare. This was a career-killer. This was the kind of case any prudent attorney would avoid.
Luna looked at the ground. “Exactly. But the situation is more difficult than that. The power my sister has amassed that gives you that fear of treason is the power she stripped away from me. Yes, I’m still ‘Princess Luna’ but my sister holds all of the power now. And because of that, she’s not liable for any crimes she commits?” A tear rolled down her face and dropped to the floor. “It’s not right.”
Steele pulled a tissue from his desk and handed it over. “I understand that.” He sat for a few more moments, thinking the situation over carefully. From the outset, this case would have fundamental problems. An impartial jury would be difficult. Then there was the issue of Head of State immunity. And witnesses—no one but the plaintiff and defendant would have been alive a thousand years ago. This seemed to be an open-and-shut I can’t take this case.
He thought about it further. A jury would not be too much of a problem. At the least, the assembled jurors would need to be from somewhere far away from Canterlot, where Celestia rarely visited. It was doable. As for the rest…there were loopholes. There were always loopholes.
Luna looked up from the floor and fixed his with the most pathetic and adorable gaze one could possible ever imagine.. “Will you help me, Mr. Steele?”
He leaned back in his chair and took another gulp of cold coffee. “I can promise you I will do the very best I can.”
At Her Majesty’s Pleasure
A My Little Pony fanfiction by PonyToast
Steele politely excused himself from the office to get more coffee. Outside the office, each and every paralegal dashed to get back to work, as though they hadn’t been listening at the door. Steele sighed and headed to the coffeepot, grumbling about attorney-client privilege. After pouring himself and his client a cup, he returned, closing the door while giving the paralegals a death glare behind him.
“So,” he continued from where he left off, “before we go any further, there is some history I’m going to need to go through here. Let’s start at the beginning here. Of course, a thousand years is a very long time for records to last, and I doubt seriously that they may still exist… The only recollection is some old story-books—the old mare’s tale of the Mare in the Moon—”
Luna bristled at the mention of the story. “That tale is flawed! It does not tell you the true story. It is a concoction of lies.”
“That may be so. In reality, Luna, you and your sister would be the only ones to remember that far back.”
“This is true,” Luna said in an irritated tone, absently stirred her coffee with her unicorn magic. “And to be fair, I don’t think her actions were...well, I….It’s very complicated—”
“Then the best thing to do,” I said soothingly, “It to start at the beginning.” I sat back, sipping my coffee, as Luna began her story.
“A thousand years ago, Celestia and I did not live in Canterlot. We lived in a small castle, situated deep in the forest now known as Everfree. Our task was so simple back then; magic was not as complex, and had not been written down as much as today. Celestia used hers to raise the sun at dawn, and I used mine to raise the moon and bring forth the night.
“Celestia and I had no quarrel at that time. We were aware of the balance of night and day—during the day the ponies could play and work; at night they rested and renewed their bodies to prepare for the day to come. Together, through our friendship, we maintained the Elements of Harmony. There was give and take. There was no jealousy, as the tale would tell you. I was always the more withdrawn of us two, and I preferred the quiet of the night.
“I remember it was raining the first night she came. Her mane was light blue, her body a light silver color. I had remembered watching her stay up late at night to watch the stars. She took the glorious lights and mysterious darkness as a gift, as though it was for her alone. Then, this late night, as a shower of rain patted softly on the roofs of pony houses, she left her abode and galloped far into a field. There, she sat and gazed up at the stormy sky.
“‘I’ve brought you a gift, Princess Luna!’ she called through the soft sound of rain falling on the grassy field. Then, she raised herself up onto all fours, and began to dance in the rain.
“I watched her, first with curiosity. She had practiced this dance, it seemed, for some time. Each movement was graceful and flowing, as though she were not a pony at all, but a piece of silver silk dancing in the wind. Droplets formed and flew from her coat and mane as she danced with such passion and fervor. It was not—” Luna glared at Steele, who had suddenly raised his eyebrows slightly as Luna spoke, “—a prurient interest I had in this pony, Mr. Steele, any more than a pony would find a flower blooming in the morning to be lascivious. She was…intriguing. My night had never been so appreciated before.”
Luna sat her cup down and was silent for a long while. She seemed to collect herself and continued. “She stayed out, nearly until dawn, before retiring to bed. I felt sad to see her go. I secretly hoped that she would return, though I did not tell my sister of her. I knew that night was meant for ponies to rest, and day was for ponies to work and play. A pony who dared to stay out all night threatened that balance. I know, Mr. Steele, it seems so trivial now, but it was a different time then. The world was so new, and so fragile.
“She did, however, return. She had slept all day, and returned to share the next night with me. It was clear, and the light of the moon gave her a ghostly glow as she once again danced her sweet dance for me, and me alone. She returned every night, it turned out, having slept through the day so she could dance in the night.”
Luna sighed heavily and furrowed her brow as though to hold back a tear. “It was not to last.”
“Celestia found out about her.”
Luna nodded gravely. “It was about a month after her first dance. I had just laid the moon to rest and Celestia had just set it to rise, when she asked me out on the balcony with her. I did, and it all felt nice, enjoying the sunrise in silence. Morning dew was still fresh on the grass. I snuggled up close to my sister. And then, suddenly, she spoke without looking at me. ‘Little Sister,’ she said, ‘when were you planning on telling me about the silver one with the blue mane?’
“I stayed silent and looked at the ground. Somehow she had found out my secret. ‘Do you know what the ponies say, Little Sister? They say that the dancing one threatens our balance. They say that she has been trying to convince you to leave the moon and the stars in the sky. They say she has convinced you to bring about an eternal night. Tell me this isn’t true.’
“‘It’s not, Big Sister!’ I cried, ‘I swear!’
“But she turned away from me and whispered, ‘I don’t believe you.’”
A single tear slipped down from Luna’s eye. She hastily turned and wiped it away, covering her motion with a fake cough. I pretended not to notice and smiled at her as she turned back. “Anyway,” she continued, “she felt betrayed by my secret. She became paranoid of my intentions; she seemed to think that I might steal the sun right out from under her. We began to fight every day. Eventually we stopped talking to each other just to avoid the fights. We would pass each other at dusk and dawn, but not a word was spoken. I didn’t realize what Celestia had decided to do behind my back.
“One night, my dancing pony did not come. I waited, eagerly, but I waited in vain. I was worried, and so I looked to try and find her among the sleeping ponies, but she was not there, either. I pushed my worry to the back of my mind. She would return, surely.
“But she did not. I waited and waited, but to no avail. Something had happened to her, and I had a sinking feeling it was my fault.”
Luna took another, choked, sigh, and remained silent for a very long time. Steele waited very patiently, before deciding to prod Luna for more information. “What did you do next?”
Luna let another tear slip down her face, but this time she did not try to hide it. “I did the only thing I could think of. I went to my sister and asked her.
“At first, Celestia was evasive. But I pushed her to tell me more, and eventually one night just after sunset she got very impatient and sent me away. ‘Why don’t you go and check the healer at the edge of the forest? He’ll tell you.’ So that’s where I went.
“The healer on the edge of the forest was not a pony. I remember him clearly…a long, purple sea serpent with bronze hair. I found him at the edge of the river, grooming himself with his manicured nails. ‘Sea Serpent,’ I called to him, ‘I seek a pony that may have come your way. She has long, blue hair and a silver body. Have you seen her?’
“I will never forget the way the sea serpent looked at me, Mr. Steele. What was normally a happy and kind—though egotistical—creature was suddenly depressed as I approached. He gave me a piercing glare, a gaze of sorrow and pity…I knew some terrible thing had befallen my gorgeous dancing pony. He led me into a cave nearby, where my gorgeous pony lay, bandaged and bruised. I went to her side, and she smiled at me. ‘You came,’ she said to me, ‘I’m so sorry.’
“‘Sorry?’ I said to her, so relieved that she was still alive, ‘what have you to be sorry for?’ Then I saw her legs. Splints had been set upon her back-legs. I knew, before she even told me…” Luna trailed off, more tears spilling down her face, “…she would never dance again.” Luna suddenly broke down into sobs.
Steele offered Luna a tissue. Luna took much longer to collect herself this time, and Steele waited until she had before moving on. “What had happened to her?”
“I don’t know,” Luna said, “She never told me exactly what had happened. But Celestia knew. And I was determined to have my revenge.
“I stormed into the castle just before dawn that night. I scoured the halls for my sister, and finally found her in the basement. She turned on me. We had a huge fight. I don’t remember what was said; though I do remember Celestia calling my dancing pony some horrible name. Celestia became so enraged. I’ve never seen her so. I became afraid. I fled from her, and deep into the forest. There, in my anger, I adopted a mask and took on the fearsome name of Nightmare Moon.” The tears had stopped now, and anger flickered behind Luna’s eyes as she recalled. “I returned to the castle to face my sister. Little did I know that in my absence she had seized her chance, and harnessed the power of the Elements of Harmony. I defended myself from her, all through the day and the night. Neither of us cared about the sun or moon, and it remained night-time. Eventually, though, she defeated me. I was never as strong as my sister.”
Luna finally picked the coffee back up and took a drink. It had gone cold, like Steele’s. She replaced the cup on the desk. “Celestia took me before the High Court of Equestria for treason. She claimed I had refused to lower the moon. She claimed I was challenging her for sole power over the throne. She claimed I had attacked her. The court believed her.” She gazed downward. “And of course, with such a farce of justice, I was sentenced to be banished from the face of the planet…to the moon, for a time to be determined ‘At Her Majesty’s Pleasure’. Indefinitely. In this case, it meant forever.” The silence in the air after this statement was deafening.
They decided to break for lunch. Steele ordered in, and sat in silence as they ate some delivery food. Luna ate very little, and seemed exhausted, as though her story had taken years out of her. Steele asked her kindly if she would prefer to wait for tomorrow to continue the story. She declined.
“Okay then,” Steele said, picking his notebook back up, “You said you were to be imprisoned forever. What changed?”
“Very little. I gained power over the years. I watched, each and every night, and sometimes during the day, as the land of Equestria grew and flourished. It was a happy place, oblivious of the events of our…quarrel. It became forgotten. I even suspected that Celestia herself had forgotten. Perhaps out of guilt. Nonetheless, it was shortly before the thousandth anniversary of the Summer Sun Celebration, that I knew the time had come. I made my move. I escaped.
“I immediately went to Canterlot to see Celestia. Celestia had changed, clearly. Matured. She was wiser, more dedicated, surely. But also as stubborn as ever. And worse…She had found a new advisor. A power-hungry creature she was, too. There is a reason none should take the temperamental, clever creatures known as phoenixes as pets. Her name was Filamena.
“I discovered upon my arrival to Canterlot that she had spent many hours telling Celestia that the lies and deception a thousand years ago had been right—that I had been justly punished. She had heard the prophecy of my escape, and she had convinced the Princess prior to my arrival that I was as much of a threat to Equestria now as I was then. She ultimately convinced Celestia to use the power of the Elements of Harmony against me once more.
“Celestia, of course, believed her faithful companion. However, without the power of both sisters’ friendship, she had lost control of the Elements of Harmony over time. So she did the only possible thing. She found another pony, with some talent, and sent them on a quest to ‘find’ the elements. And hunt me, of course. She staged her own kidnapping, and pointed the ponies in my direction.” Luna shrugged as if it all didn’t matter anymore. “They won. They recharged the elements, and with it, they defeated me. All without knowing the truth. All without caring about understanding why. The poor naïve fillies.” She shook her head.
“She knew she had won. She offered me her ‘friendship’, what little good it was. For a short while, I thought there might be a way to salvage our relationship. But Filamena stepped in, and took that dream apart. The bird’s influence over her was too strong, and she convinced my sister that I should no longer remain in Canterlot. So I was sent away.” Luna sighed as she finished her story. “I don’t care about the bird, Mr. Steele. It is the terrible creature that rests inside Celestia herself, and not the one sitting on her shoulder, that has taken everything from me. My home, my throne, even control over my precious night.” Another tear welled up in her eyes. “And my dancing pony. My sweet dancing pony.” She sighed. “You can help me, can’t you, Mr. Steele?”
Steele nodded. “Like I said, I will do what I can.” I looked over my notes for a short time, trying to think of where next to proceed. “Tell me, Luna, what exactly is it you want to get out of this lawsuit?”
“I…” She thought about it for a moment. “I want my life back. I want my sister back. But if I must settle for only my throne….my rightful throne…then I will.”
“Fair. Okay then, what kinds of negotiations have you had up to this point?”
“Only one. I met with Celestia to try to negotiate our shared rule, but Filamena sat and whispered in my sister’s ear the whole time. She eventually rejected the proposal outright. It was…not pretty.”
Steele nodded again. “Okay, Luna. Before we go any further, let me make something very clear. Your case will be, more than likely, one of the most difficult cases ever brought before the High Court. I cannot even hope to estimate the chances you have of winning. Nonetheless,” he added as he removed an attorney-client agreement from his desk drawer and laid it on the desk, “If you are willing to invest the resources necessary, I will fight for you. It will not be easy, legally or emotionally. Just bear in mind, that once you sign this paper, the wheels are in motion. And if you go to stop those wheels at virtually any point, they will never move again.”
Luna stared at the paper for a long moment, clearly weighing the pros and cons. She looked back up at Steele, as if asking for him to give her a right or wrong answer. He had no answer to give. The choice was hers.
Slowly, Luna picked up the pen with her magic, and traced a swirly signature across the bottom of the page.
Steele took the paper back. “Okay, then, let’s go over our options.”
At Her Majesty’s Pleasure
A My Little Pony fanfiction by PonyToast
The complaint for HRH Luna v HRH Celestia et al. took Steele a while to draft completely. There were some major pitfalls to this case, it was certain, and Steele was more than prepared to face them when the motions started pouring in.
“Are you sure about this case, Roane?” Donna asked one evening that week, as Steele pecked away at his typewriter. He didn’t seem to hear her and continued typing, glancing at written notes every now and then. She carefully walked up behind him and glanced over his shoulder. “‘Count 3: Malicious Abuse of process’,” she read aloud, “‘29.Defendants maliciously used a "legal process ‘to accomplish some ulterior purpose for which it was not designed or intended, or which was not the legitimate purpose of the particular process employed.’”’ Wow. You’re…um…actually doing this, then?” She nudged him.
Steele looked up at her, completely startled to find her mere inches behind him. “What th—oh. What can I do for you, Donna?”
She gestured toward the complaint. “I asked if you’re really going through with this case.”
He furrowed his brow. “Why wouldn’t I? We’ve got everything we need to make a case. Causation? Check. Injured party? Check. Collectability? Double check. Celestia is royalty, after all.”
“The real question, Roane, is whether or not you can actually win this case.” She scowled. “She is royalty, yes. So is Celestia. Both have relatively unlimited resources. There will be no sweating out the other party. There will be a jury, and that will be it.”
“Not necessarily. We may be able to skip the jury altogether. I’ve got a plan.”
Donna raised a penciled eyebrow. “A plan?”
“Yes Ma’am. Trust me.” He grinned a Cheshire Cat grin.
After a long moment she turned to leave. “I wouldn’t do this for anyone but you, Roane. But you promise me one thing. Either you bring this one home or you let it die. If you come up in it and you’re facing a losing battle…I’m trusting you to do what you need to do.”
“I always do.” He returned to work.
The complaint hit the desk of Gavin Mustang early several days later. As Head Counsel of the Land of Equestria, it was very rare that any mail reached him directly—many junior lawyers handled cases raised in civil action against the government. This complaint, however, was addressed to him directly. The regal unicorn opened the envelope suspiciously and began perusing its contents. “In the Court of Equestria,” He read, “Her Royal Highness Luna, Princess of Equestria, plaintiff, v. Her Royal Highness, Celestia, Crown Princess of Equestria, Jane Filly, The High Court of Equestria and The Land of Equestria…” mouth agape, he read through the charges. “(1) Conspiracy, (2) Malicious Prosecution, (3) Malicious Abuse of Process, (4) False Arrest and imprisonment, (5) Infliction of Emotional Distress, (6) Assault and (7) Battery.”
It went on and on, for pages and pages. Each charge was detailed and explained with bravado. After completing his first run-through, he sat in silence for a short while. The gall of anyone to sue the Crown princess! And Luna herself, no less! It was a farce. A jest. Surely this ‘Roane Steele’ could not be serious. It was…improper? No, that wasn’t quite harsh enough.
But, upon rereading the document, filed in court the previous day, it became clear that this was no jest. The ruler of Equestria was being sued.
“Forgive the intrusion, Your Highness,” Mustang said, bowing low as he entered the princess’s private study. His hooves clicked off the marble and echoed down the hall behind him as he bowed.
Celestia sat in front of the fireplace, reading a scroll silently to herself. Her rainbow hair danced around her and were illuminated by the flames, giving her an unearthly glow. Her pet phoenix, Filamena, sat nearby to her master, and fixed the intruding pony with a stern glare. Celestia shook her hair back a bit as she looked up at her Head Counsel. “No fret, Sir Mustang. What service can I do for you at this early hour of the morning?”
“Your Highness, I—” He stopped and glanced around. “Is Princess Luna here, Your Highness?”
Celestia shook her head. “My sister has taken a short leave of absence…to Manehattan, I believe. She has never seen such a big city. I think she was particularly excited about it.”
“I see.” Mustang considered his next words particularly carefully. “Your highness, I received a civil complaint this morning. I believe you should see it.” He held up the envelope.
“Really?” Celestia cocked her head curiously as she took it. “You don’t normally bring me these things…it is technically your job to handle them…” she winked at him and smiled before reading the first page of the complaint. Her face fell completely. She barely scanned the rest of the first page before dropping it in front of her.
A long silence fell over the room. Mustang tried to think of something particularly comforting to say, but nothing came to mind. A tear rolled silently down Celestia’s face and he offered her a handkerchief from his jacket. “Your highness—”
“I never realized that Luna felt this way. Did I really…I mean, I never—”
Filamena made a quick motion down to her master’s shoulder and whispered something in the Princess’s ear. Celestia’s face slowly transformed from despair to cold acceptance. She suddenly turned on the lawyer. “I assume you can do something to remedy this situation,” she said with dignity.
Mustang was taken aback by the sudden change in demeanor but decided to let it go. “I would suggest meeting for negotiation. I’m sure we can work this out.”
“Good,” Celestia said, returning to her scroll as Filamena reclaimed her perch not far away, “I don’t want to see my sister try to take over the throne…again.”
Mustang nodded, in understanding but not necessarily agreement. He had vowed to stay clear of regal politics unless absolutely necessary. The law was law, that much was clear. He bowed himself from the study and headed downstairs to get a carriage to Manehattan.
“Mr. Steele?” Roan looked up to see a young pink paralegal unicorn peeking at him through the rows of books in the Manehattan Circuit Court law library. She gently laid a cup of coffee in front of him. He thanked her and gulped it down eagerly. Suddenly he realized she was still there.
“Anything else, Lindy?”
“There’s someone at the office to see you. Noble pony from Canterlot. Gavin Mustang.”
Steele’s eyes popped wide. He gulped the last of the hot coffee down, grabbed his notebook, thanked her again and bolted out the library door.
The lawfirm , like most lawfirms without a personal law library, was just down the street from circuit court. He reached the door in less than a minute at full gallop, and ran a hoof through his tousled hair before entering.
Gavin Mustang was, like many of the noble barristers, a very intimidating figure to stand before. Swallowing a prickle of doubt welling up in the back of his throat, he approached the pony at the front desk. “Hello, Sir Mustang. I’m Roan Steele.”
“Yes, I know who you are,” Mustang grumbled, “Let’s talk.”
“Of course. Can I offer you some coffee?”
“Not unless you have espresso.”
“Done.” He turned to one of the office interns. “Terrence, can you do me a favor and grab two cappuccinos from across the street? Right this way, Mr. Mustang.” They trotted back to the office. After settling himself in one of the client chairs, Mustang began glaring at Steele across the desk.
“This…lawsuit.” The two words were spoken with a gravitas that put a fearsome intimidation behind them. Roane politely nodded.
“I want you to drop it.”
“Not going to happen.”
Mustang had expected this. Young lawyers were so headstrong these days! “You have no standing to sue. There is no injury.”
“Princess Luna has no power. That power is rightfully hers. That clearly constitutes an injury.”
“I think we could argue on that point. But look at it this way, Mr. Steele: this is a case that you cannot hope to win.”
“I think we could argue on that point,” Steele retorted.
“Alright then, if you really want to play this game, then let’s play.” He pulled a piece of paper from his jacket and laid it on the table. “Motion for summary judgment. Take a look.”
Steele opened it and read aloud. “Come now Defendants… who move for summary judgment on all of the claims in the Complaint HRH Luna v HRH Celestia et al.…” He skipped some lines down to the reasoning for the motion. “Sovereignty. As a sovereign entity, HRH Celestia is immune from civil prosecution. As such and as there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law…” He put the paper down. “You son of a—”
“Mr. Steele?” The intern had returned with the coffee. Steele accepted it and took a few sips as he collected his thoughts and swallowed his anger.
It was Mustang who spoke first, grinning with the smugness of total victory. “You’ve lost this one, Steele, and you haven’t even started. Now drop this case before you ruin your career.”
Steele leaned back in the chair a bit. “I’m not going to give up, Mustang.”
Mustang did not expect this response. He furrowed his brow in disbelief. “You think you’re going to be able to get around the regal right of sovereign immunity?”
Steele nodded. “The right to immunity is determined by the court. If they decide the case is worth its weight, they can rule the case to proceed, immunity notwithstanding.” Steele mentally sighed. Sovereignty had been the first thing to research upon starting the case.
Mustang remained quiet for a short while, sipping his cappuccino while silently cursing the headstrong lawyer in front of him. His opening tricks, which almost always worked, had failed miserably. This lawyer…this one was good. No matter, Mustang still had one more trick up his sleeve to get the whole case dropped.
“Let’s not mention the kinds of backdraft you’ll feel from starting this fire.”
Steele waved his hoof dismissively. “If you’re worried about my PR, that’s really—”
“I’m not. I’m sure you’ve considered the legal ramifications of pursuing this course of action against the crown.”
Steele considered this briefly. “I hope you’re not—you’re not talking about—”
Steele flushed a dark red. “Treason. You’re talking about treason.” He laid his coffee cup on the desk carefully. “Listen here, you. This is not some frivolous claim against the faceless government entity. It is a civil case against a liable pony. My client has a tangible claim to the throne of this land against the pony who took that from her. If you want to try and dismiss it, that’s fine. You want to try and put it before a jury, I welcome it. But do not,” he stood angrily as his voice rose, “do not try and tell me that a pony who seeks recompense as an injured party could be charged with treason for it. Our government is of ponies, and for ponies. Our system of justice exists for this kind of matter. Nopony, and I mean Nopony, is immune from liability. Not even those at the head of our government. Especially not those at the head of out government. Now I expect you to do your goddamned job and defend your client to the best of your ability. But if you try to threaten me with a charge of treason for doing my job to the best of my ability, then you can GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY OFFICE!”
The office was silent. The paralegals had all stopped working to listen in. Donna, even, gazed across the hall to Steele’s office in awe. Stillness hung in the air as Mustang, all but cowering in the leather chair, stared at the enraged pony before him. Slowly, he lifted the motion for summary judgment off the desk and folded it up in his coat. He stood and turned for the door. “I will see you at the pretrial hearing, Mr. Steele. Good afternoon.” After casting one last contemptuous look over his shoulder, he left.
IN THE COURT OF EQUESTRIA
CANTERLOT DISTRICT COURT
Her Royal Highness, Luna, Princess of Equestria,
Her Royal Highness, Celestia, Crown Princess of Equestria,
The High Court of Equestria
The Land of Equestria
CASE NO: 7434368748
Her Royal Highness, Luna, Princess of Equestria hereby asserts the following claims against the defendants in the above-entitled action:
(2) Malicious Prosecution,
(3) Malicious Abuse of Process,
(4) False Arrest and imprisonment,
(5) Infliction of Emotional Distress,
(6) Assault and
1. Both the Defendant and Plaintiff reside in Canterlot, Equestria.
2. The actions listed in the above complaint occurred near Canterlot in what is now The Everfree Forest.
3. Plaintiff Luna of Equestria is a natural alicorn residing at The Royal Sisters Palace, Everfree Forest, Equestria; was a resident of Equestria during all relevant times of this action, and is the sister of Defendant Celestia of Equestria.
4. Defendant Celestia of Equestria, who is a natural alicorn, was residing at Royal Sisters palace, Everfree Forest, Equestria, at all times relevant to this Complaint.
5. Defendant Land of Equestria is a Regal Entity, organized under the laws of the Equestrian Crown. It is responsible for the policies, procedures, and practices implemented through its various agencies, agents, departments, and employees, and for injury occasioned thereby. It was also the public employer of Defendant Princess Celestia at all times relevant to this Complaint.
6. Plaintiff sues all public employees in their official and individual capacities.
7. At all times material to this Complaint, Defendant Princess Celestia acted toward plaintiff under color of the statutes, ordinances, customs, and usage of the Land of Equestria.
8. Defendant Jane Filly is an as-yet unnamed co-conspirator.
9. On the 45th Day of Summer in the First Year of the Reign of The Regal Sisters, defendant Princess Celestia and Plaintiff Princess Luna had a quarrel. Princess Luna left their residence for a short time in the early evening.
10. While Princess Luna was gone, and possibly in time leading up to their quarrel in the first place, Princess Celestia asserted magical power over the energy known to laypersons as The Elements of Harmony.
11. Upon her return to her place of residence, Defendant Princess Celestia used the power of the Elements of Harmony in a fashion akin to a weapon, in accordance with Magic Codes 445.7, Offensive Magic.
12. After defeating Princess Luna, Defendant Princess Celestia then swore in criminal charges before a Royal Constabulary for the criminal act of Treason.
13. Princess Luna was arrested the next day in the morning, and was not allowed the opportunity to lower the moon as per her schedule.
14. Princess Luna was charged formally that same day before a Royal Magistrate.
15. Court Proceedings began the seventh day of fall in the First Year of the Reign of the Regal Sisters, and ended just four days later. Princess Luna was found guilty of charges (Equestria v. HRH Luna)
16. On the eighteenth day of the same month, Princess Luna was sentenced to incarceration At Her Majesty’s Pleasure in the moon. This sentence was carried out the same day.
17. Princess Luna was released from incarceration and pardoned for her crimes one thousand years later, on the forty-fifth day of summer in the thousandth year of the Reign of Princess Celestia.
COUNT 1: CONSPIRACY
18. Princess Luna repeats and realleges and incorporates by reference the allegations in paragraphs 1 through 17 above with the same force and effect as if herein set forth.
19. All the Defendants (a) had an object to be accomplished; (b) had an agreement on the object or course of action; (c) performed one or more unlawful overt acts; and (d) caused Princess Luna damages that were a direct result of those acts.
20. In furtherance of their object, defendants did two or more overt acts against the plaintiffs. Those unlawful overt acts include, but are not limited to, the following:
(a) Jane Filly advised and strategized with Princess Celestia about how to circumvent the legal process and expeditiously remove Princess Luna from power;
(b) Defendant Princess Celestia intentionally misrepresented facts pertaining to the case of Equestria v. HRH Luna.
(c) Defendant High Court of Equestria knew or should have known that Celestia had intentionally misrepresented facts about the case before the court;
(d) Princess Celestia misrepresented that Princess Luna had intentionally failed to lower the moon and had attacked her;
(i) in concert with Princess Celestia’s representations and misrepresentations, Royal Officers arrested and detained and confined Princess Luna on the grounds that (i) She had intentionally failed to lower the moon, and (ii) she had assaulted her sister.
21. The defendants agreed that the object or course of action was to arrest, detain, and confine Princess Luna without probable cause, and maliciously charge and prosecute him with crimes.
22. Defendants Land of Equestria and Princess Celestia are liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior.
23. Plaintiff suffered harm and damages that are a direct result of those acts.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands judgment against all Defendants for injunctive relief and actual, special, compensatory and punitive damages, attorney's fees, costs, expenses, and interest in an amount deemed at time of trial to be just, fair, and appropriate.
COUNT 2: MALICIOUS PROSECUTION
24. Plaintiff repeats and realleges and incorporates by reference the allegations in paragraphs 1 through 23 above with the same force and effect as if herein set forth.
25. Defendants instituted criminal process against the plaintiff with malice:
(a) Princess Celestia played an active part in the initiation of the criminal proceedings;
(b) Jane Filly played an indirect role by advising Princess Celestia how to circumvent the legal process and expeditiously remove Princess Luna from power and
(c) High Court of Equestria played an active part in the initiation of the criminal proceedings by ordering the arrest and causing the false imprisonment of Princess Luna.
26. The charges were not based upon probable cause, that is, the state of the facts in the mind of the prosecutor would not lead a pony of ordinary caution and prudence to believe, or entertain an honest or strong suspicion that Princess Luna was guilty.
(a) High Court had a duty to ascertain whether there was reasonable and probable cause for a prosecution, to wit, High Court had a duty to ascertain whether Princess Luna had intentionally failed to lower the moon;
(b) High Court breached its duty;
(d) Princess Celestia recklessly made categorical statements to High Court Constabulary accusing the plaintiff of treason and those statements resulted in Princess Luna's arrest.
(e) Princess Celestia instigated or participated in the prosecution by pressing High Court to arrest and apply for a complaint for an improper purpose.
27. The criminal proceeding terminated in favor of the plaintiff when the assistant district attorney recommended the dismissal of both charges against Princess Luna but the court denied the recommendation.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff Princess Luna demands judgment against all Defendants for injunctive relief and actual, special, compensatory damages in an amount deemed at time of trial to be just, fair, and appropriate.
COUNT 3: MALICIOUS ABUSE OF PROCESS
28. Plaintiff repeats and realleges and incorporates by reference the allegations in paragraphs 1 through 27 above with the same force and effect as if herein set forth.
29. Defendants maliciously used a "legal process `to accomplish some ulterior purpose for which it was not designed or intended, or which was not the legitimate purpose of the particular process employed.'"
30. Jane Filly played an indirect role by advising Princess Celestia how to circumvent the legal process and expeditiously remove Princess Luna from power.
31. Princess Celestia knew that the complaint initiated was groundless and made misrepresentations to the constabulary.
32. High Court of Equestria knew or should have known that the complaint was groundless and sought to use the process for an ulterior purpose, including, but not limited to, the purpose of expeditiously removing Princess Luna from power.
33. High Court of Equestria used the legal process with the ulterior purpose, to wit, for financial benefit.
34. Defendant Land of Equestria is liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff Princess Luna demands judgment against all Defendants for injunctive relief and actual, special, compensatory damages, in an amount deemed at time of trial to be just, fair, and appropriate.
COUNT 4: FALSE ARREST AND IMPRISONMENT
35. Plaintiff repeats and realleges and incorporates by reference the allegations in paragraphs 1 through 34 above with the same force and effect as if herein set forth.
36. At all times relevant herein, (a) the Defendants acted with the intention of confining Princess Luna within fixed boundaries, (b) the act directly or indirectly resulted in confinement, and (c) Princess Luna was conscious of the confinement.
37. As a direct and proximate result of the conduct of the Defendants, Princess Luna suffered harm and damages including but not limited to the aforesaid damages.
38. Defendant Land of Equestria is liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands judgment against all Defendants for injunctive relief and actual, special, compensatory damages, attorneys' fees and costs of the litigation
in an amount deemed at time of trial to be just, fair, and appropriate.
COUNT 5: INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS
39. Princess Luna repeats and realleges and incorporates by reference the allegations in paragraphs 1 through 38 above with the same force and effect as if herein set forth.
40. Defendants intentionally and deliberately inflicted emotional distress on Princess Luna by maliciously prosecuting Princess Luna, or by abusing the lawful process by unlawful purpose, or by violating Princess Luna's rights, or by falsely arresting and imprisoning the plaintiff, by conspiring against Princess Luna, or by interfering with Princess Luna's civil rights by threats, coercion, or intimidation, or knew or should have known that emotional distress was the likely result of their conduct.
41. Defendants conduct was extreme and outrageous, beyond all possible bounds of decency and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.
42. The actions of the Defendants were the cause of Princess Luna's distress.
43. Princess Luna is a reasonable pony.
44. The emotional distress sustained by Princess Luna was severe and of a nature that no reasonable pony could be expected to endure.
45. Defendant Land of Equestria is liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior.
46. As a result of the Defendants' extreme and outrageous conduct, Princess Luna has
suffered and will continue to suffer mental pain and anguish, severe emotional trauma, embarrassment, and humiliation.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands judgment, including interest, jointly and severally against Defendants Princess Celestia, Land of Equestria and Jane Filly in an amount deemed by this Court to be just and fair and in any other way in which the Court deems appropriate.
COUNT 6: ASSAULT
48. Princess Luna repeats and realleges and incorporates by reference the allegations in paragraphs 1 through 47 above with the same force and effect as if herein set forth.
49. Princess Luna is a reasonable pony.
50. Defendant Princess Celestia intentionally created an apprehension of immediate physical harm by means of an overt gesture, to wit, releasing a bolt of magical energy toward Princess Luna for no known purpose other than to create in Princess Luna an apprehension of immediate physical harm.
51. Any reasonable pony would also become apprehensive in the face of defendants' threatening conduct.
52. Defendant Land of Equestria is liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands judgment against Princess Celestia and Land of Equestria for injunctive relief and actual, special, and compensatory damages in an amount deemed at time of trial to be just, fair, and appropriate.
COUNT 7: BATTERY
53. Princess Luna repeats and realleges and incorporates by reference the allegations in paragraphs 1 through 52 above with the same force and effect as if herein set forth.
54. Without the consent of Princess Luna, Defendant Princess Celestia intentionally, harmfully, and offensively touched Princess Luna by firing a bolt of magical energy at her.
55. Without the consent of Princess Luna, Defendants High Court guards intentionally, harmfully, and offensively touched Princess Luna when chaining and shackling Princess Luna in the constabulary.
56. Defendant Land of Equestria is liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands judgment against Defendants Princess Celestia and High Court of Equestria for injunctive relief and actual, special, and compensatory damages in an amount deemed at time of trial to be just, fair, and appropriate.
Her Royal Highness, Luna, Princess of Equestria,
By her attorney,
Roan L. Steele
57 Trot Lane