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~Princess Luna

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Post in forum #1905 - An ongoing MLP Roleplay Thread, Rated PG-13.

Waking up in a cell wearing a pair of shackles hadn’t been fun. Triple unfun because of the sheer jarring transition. One second he had been guarding the front door of the Brass Hoof tavern, jaw-dropping (and lollipop-dropping) as some gangly half-grown unicorn colt teleported into a tense moment of some tense parleying. A unicorn colt in sunglasses dropping a classic movie reference, while a koala in rumpled upper-class clothing sat on his back holding an office wastepaper can stuffed with clockwork and lighting.

Vlad vividly recalled the scene, thank you. Then he was in a cell with his eardrums popping from a pressure drop. He felt his own mental gears grinding and spitting sparks as a pair of cute but grim lady griffins in golden armor hustled him out of the cell and into a courtroom. He felt something clunk into place, recognizing it. Main courthouse in Aura, up in the tippy-top of the City Hall tower, used for high-profile trials.

The guards left him alone with…Luna.

Cirrus and Cumulonimbus! Princess Luna had a presence and charisma about ten thousand times too big for her body. One look at her big green eyes and that mane left him very confused regarding previously solid assumptions about his taste in ladies. For the first time he really understood how hippogriffs happened. Vlad peeled his tongue free from the roof of his beak, badly wishing for a stiff drink, a lollipop, and an hour or two in a dark closet trying not to go nuts.

Luna’s voice stroked up and down across his spine like frost-covered feathers. He almost forgot to pay attention to the actual words. She explained why she was here, in general and in specific. That jolted Vlad back to being worried. He’d heard rumors about the Scales of Mendacity. If they were being used then the cesspool had hit the cloud factory.

Then Luna gave the date and time for the record. It was the morning of the day after the afternoon holding his last memory. So he’d lost some time somewhere. Probably stasis crystals. Luna and Celestia had, long ago, trapped some monster named Sombra in a glacier. Trapped him outside time, even: escape was impossible to even consider until the spell ended. Now in emergencies the Princesses used it to put criminals on ice. A sweep of Smog’s criminal empire? No wonder. There weren’t enough jail cells in the twin cities for that many scumbags.

“First question.” Luna said. She jolted Vlad back to the here-and-now. “What is your full legally recognized name?”

“Vladimir Koruscokov Flintclaw.” He used his middle name so seldom he had to pronounce it with care.

“Have you any crimes you wish to confess?”

‘Right to the point.’ Vlad thought. Then he thought some more before deciding yes: he really did want to fess up about every illegal thing he ever did. No murders or anything, he’d avoid execution; he was tired of living with secrets and lies. Some time in prison and then he could start over. Smog was gone. The whole city was able to start over.

It surprised him how little time it took for him to list his evils. Mostly because a lot of it was repetitive and he just gave his sincere best guess how many times he’d taken a bribe, ‘lost’ evidence, and so on. “And that’s all I can remember.”

Luna used her magic to make some kind of note with a plain white quill pen. Looked up to meet his eyes and tilt the world under him again. “What of the Brass Hoof?”

Vlad felt off-balance for a new reason. “Oh. Sorry, your Majesty. I sincerely didn’t think of that as a crime. I mean, I realize it pretty much was, now that I think about it. ‘Citizen’s arrest’ only goes so far. I guess I’m trying to say I believe I was trying to uphold the spirit of the law when I went to the Brass Hoof and did those things.”

Their locked eyes both dropped to the Scales, which appeared prepared to back Vlad up. He hadn’t planned to lie but he knew sometimes people told lies they believed up-top but knew deep-down were wrong. How did the Scales handle self-deception? Luna made another short note. “For the crimes to which you have confessed I declare a verdict of guilty on all counts. Have you anything to say before I pass sentence?”

Vlad took a minute to think. Well, not so much think as rummage around inside and try to figure out what felt true and felt like it needed saying. When he found the words he looked down at the chain between his wrists and not on the Scales. “I didn’t really regret the bad stuff I did at the time, not at first. I didn’t think it was that bad. I started to feel bad about it as time went by. Pretty soon I felt trapped, like I’d dug myself too deep to get out. I dug the hole: I’m not saying it wasn’t all my fault. Just…I ended up realizing I wasn’t a crook pretending to be a cop anymore, I was a cop pretending to be a crook. I don’t know when it happened. I changed. I wish I hadn’t done any of the bad stuff I did. This is the end of me being a cop, and I deserve that. I wish it wasn’t but I dishonored the badge. When I get out of prison I’m getting a job that lets me help people. Airship guard, I dunno.” He closed his beak, realizing he was almost babbling. “Just…I guess what I really mean is I’m sorry.”

“Vladimir Koruscokov Flintclaw,” Luna said, “as arbiter of the law and officer of the court I hereby sentence you to no less than five years in a medium-security prison, as demanded by law for crimes of this type and number.” Vlad let out the breath he’d been holding and closed his eyes. Could have been worse. “As Princess of the Night and co-ruler of the Equestrian Empire I extend you a royal pardon for those same crimes.” His eyes snapped open, staring down but not seeing. As she continued they slowly slid upwards to focus on her. “As emergency Governor pro tempore I hereby deputize you as acting police officer for the duration of martial law, with option for permanent employment in Aura law enforcement if your conduct during the crisis leads your superiors to believe you would be suitable for the position.”

Nothing came out of his beak but gabble.

Her expression stayed stern but her eyes might have sparkled just a little. “To declare you innocent of your crimes would flout the letter of the law. Your words, verified before the Scales of Mendacity, make it clear that sending you to prison would flout the spirit of the law. I judge you have learned your lesson. I also bow to necessity. Many in the police force are likely to be sent to prison. Aura needs as many good police officers as possible in the weeks to come.” Magic flickered along her horn and his manacles snapped open, clattered to the floor. A badge…his badge…shimmered into being on the table before him. “Go forth and do your duty.”

No doubt about it: Vlad was in love.