The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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    Default Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    Rose sits on the floor of the Assembly, her notes on a hand-held computer in front of her. This is it. Today is the day she defends her queen before the leaders of the nation. She has the evidence. She has the rhetoric. And she's pretty sure she has the majority of public opinion behind her. Now, she just needs to put enough pressure on the representatives to make them stop this barbaric practice once and for all.

    The Assembly sits on a raised circle of seats, surrounding the main stage. The stage that Rose will soon be called upon to mount and address the nation from. A full crowd of ponies sits around her, commoners and nobles alike all here to see what she will say. Her sister is here too, ready to cheer her on, and her parents are watching from home. Red puts a hoof on hers.

    "You got this, sis," she says, "You'll do great. Don't worry so much."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    Rose, nervous but still determined to go through with this, smiles at her sister's encouragement. "Thanks, Red. I'm as prepared as I'm going to get." She adjusts her suit jacket a bit. Rose doesn't often wear suits, and such fashion felt restrictive. It would be worth it though. She is going to protect Chrysalis and anyone else who would find themselves before such a sentencing. This is Equestria! The nation of love and tolerance.

    She sits and awaits the proceedings to begin.
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    Politics never goes quickly. Rose waits for much longer than she would like. But eventually, an elderly mare comes to the fore and clears her throat. "This session is now called to order." The hall falls quiet. After going though a few preliminaries, she calls for Rose to take the stand and give her address.

    As Rose moves to the stage, she spots two ponies that she'd rather not see right now. High above, there are special boxes reserved for dignitaries and royalty. On one side, Judge Doom sits alone in a box, eyes cold and distant. He watches her like a vulture watches a dying traveler. And in the other, Celestia sits, but beside her is probably the worst pony for Rose to encounter now.

    Princess Cadence.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    Quote Originally Posted by Miltonian View Post
    Princess Cadence.
    It feels like ice runs through Rose's veins. Judge Doom is expected to be here. Yeah, he's a scary fellow, but Rose spent time to hype herself up in order to face him. Perhaps not so much up on high like the vulture her is. Still, it is no surprise he is here. But Princess Candence?! Why is she here? Did the universe feel it needs to give Rose a good sucker punch?

    'Alright, Rose, you can still do this.' It's just Princess Cadence. She isn't going to interrupt the proceedings.

    Rose takes the stand and pulls up her notes. She has rehearsed this address several times. As she speaks, Rose calls up several images to project to her audience. "Mares and gentle stallions of the Assembly. I thank you for this opportunity to present my argument in defense of Queen Chrysalis from the outdated and inponane (inhumane) sentence of horn removal. This practice holds consequences more dire than simply the loss of the ability to cast magic. It cuts deep into the victim's very essence."

    "Unicorns and changelings have specific nerve connections between their horns and mind. In this example here, Exhibit A, we can see the effects that a cracked or broken horn can have on the control a unicorn loses with even basic ponykinesis spells. Such unstable magic strains the upper pre-motor cortex, leading to a sensation of weak muscle function when attempting to cast. Continued strain can further damage the neuron connection, leading to temporary or permanent paralysis of the victim's limbs. Similar conditions can befall a changeling."

    She changes the image to Exhibit B. "These are photos of unicorns recovered after their horns were removed by corvid raiders. Each of these victims displayed loss of muscle function, and damage to their upper cortex region due to blood and brain fluid loss. In half of these examples, infection occurred and led to death. Now those of you still skeptical may ask what the death rate is in clinical conditions where a skilled doctor handles removal of the horn. There are scant records of the procedure under ideal clinical conditions, but it is clear that deterioration of the victim's cortex region does occur in a significant percentage of procedures and with there there is always a chance of death."

    "Mares and gentle-colts of the Assembly, by removing Queen Chrysalis' horn, you stand a significant chance of condemning her to a death sentence that is painful, debilitating, and against the ethical oath that all doctors take to do no harm to their patients. This horn removal process is harm. Its' roots go back to ancient times of uncivilized tribes taking trophies during war with neighboring settlements. Are we not better than tribal ways? Are we not an advanced society of learned ponies and changelings?"

    Rose moves to her next Exhibit. "This is a model of a magic suppression ring, identical to the unit Chrysalis wears on her horn. These devices are potent, but more importantly, they have shown no evidence of causing lasting harm to the wearer. They operate on dispelling principals of magic, muffling the flow of spells from being properly cast, but with no need to sever tissue and nerve endings from horn to mind. This device is a technological marvel and I have obtained the utmost confidence of over 120 prison wardens in current and past service through a list of signatures here. It has been perfectly adequate in keeping Queen Chrysalis' spellcasting in check. And if these devices can hold her magical abilities, then I see no reason we need to return to the barbaric practice of surgically removing horns.
    So, with confidence, I implore the Assembly to reconsider their earlier charge and strike from the courts the notion of horn removal as a valid punishment. Equestria is a noble and enlightened society,
    with fairness and malice toward no criminal. We must not lose focus on what makes us the great nation of modern times--our compassion and mercy to not punish criminals, but to help reform them and welcome them back into the fold of our great family.
    "
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    The crowd claps politely. The officiant comes to the foot of the stairs and clears her throat again. "We will now field a few prepared questions for Lt. Rose. I believe Rep. Pure Blood of Canterlot is first?"

    A white stallion neocorn with a short blonde mane rises and adjusts his tie. "Thank you." He raises his voice to address Rose. "Lt. Rose, you are a field medic, correct?"

    "Might then it be a safe assumption that you have never performed this surgery yourself and are therefore personally unfamiliar with the techniques that would be used? That your sources come from a second-hoof perspective?" He pulls out his comm and holds up the screen. "I have here a recent study of this issue that claims, with modern medicine, these concerns you raise are not relevant anymore."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    Rose verbally affirms that she is a field medic. She then sees that they brandish 'big guns' indeed. Rose remains calm, her tail curling to the other side.

    "I have cared for many unicorns and changelings suffering from broken horns. I have familiarity with the complications, if not the surgical procedure of removing them." Rose pulls up a list of several affidavits. "I also am well-connected in the medical community. I have sought the expertise of surgeons from several highly accredited universities and hospitals; John Trotkins, Whinny Cornell, Vanderbuck, the Neigho Clinic. The claim your study suggests is up against the brightest minds in modern equine medicine."

    "I would like to further point out that such a procedure is not reversible. Even if the patient were to survive the operation, there will be the psychological issue of having no magical abilities for the rest of their lives. It's one thing to lose a limb--modern cybernetics can easily replace a lot leg, as I can attest to, but to lose one's horn and forever be denied a part of that pony's core essence? I believe that is still very much relevant."
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    Another representative stands up, a well-groomed earth pony mare with a theatrical air about her. "Hello Lt! Broad Street, here, from Manehatten. How do you do?"

    "Thank you for taking the time to give your opinion on this unquestionably serious and weighty matter," her tone is warm and sincere, but the kind of warmth that politicians have, "I think the real issue here isn't the harshness of the punishment, but whether or not Equestria will be safer with a being like Chrysalis permanently rendered spell-less. Horn cuffs can be removed, after all, and she has historically taken every opportunity to attack and plot the downfall of our nation."

    "Additionally, some have claimed that reforming her might be easier after the procedure. Like how declawing a cat makes them tamer. So from a purely medical standpoint, with all the benefits of modern medicine and the highest quality care, is death a reasonable concern?"

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    "Ah, yes. Declawing a cat. A known procedure that amputates the outermost bone in a cat's paw," Rose recites, knowing enough about this subject. "Often done so that the cat cannot claw up that new couch or scratch the owner. However, what if the cat finds itself outside in a fight against another cat who still has their claws? The declawed feline is at a grave disadvantage. Further, declawed cats cannot walk the same way as clawed cats because their paws meet the ground differently. It would be like walking around in very uncomfortable shoes."

    "So why is declawing Chrysalis a bad idea? Without her horn she could only perform her natural shape-shifting ability. Harmless right? Once rendered declawed she poses on real threat to the Equestrian public, but then how can she defend herself should a radical individual or group attack her? How would she feel toward us as a society that wishes her to join us, but only on our terms of amputating her ability to use magic? Could anyone here in this room remain friends with someone that does not trust them to that degree? I say to the Assembly the answer is no. To cut off Chrysalis' horn is to give her the wrong message. She would only grow resentful and spite Equestria further. I understand it is not easy to change a changeling like her, but isn't true friendship worth that extra effort to accept someone as they are instead of surgically altering them to conform with something 'safer'?"
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    "And," Pure Blood butts in, "Do you think Chrysalis can be befriended?"

    Rose senses a slight intake of breath and all the eyes in the room focus on her just a little more sharply. Justice Doom's face is a frozen mask.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    Quote Originally Posted by Miltonian View Post
    "And," Pure Blood butts in, "Do you think Chrysalis can be befriended?"
    Rose steels her conviction. "Yes, I believe Chrysalis can be befriended."
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    The Assembly mutters. The crowd murmurs. Not everypony agrees with her.

    "And who," Pure Blood continues, "Would you have do so?"

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    "I would be amiss if I put such a task to just one pony," Rose answers. "I believe the EDF can do this together. We have had a lot of interaction with Chrysalis; civil discourse, friendly banter, earning her trust. I have attended to her as physician and she hasn't had the desire to throw me across the room for the past weeks." That last part was meant as a bit of humor and Rose smiles when she delivers the line.

    "We have made progress, and as we continue to work with her she is opening up a little bit more each time. Roam of course wasn't built in a day, but through patience and fair treatment we feel that Chrysalis will come around to give friendship an honest second chance."
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    "And your personal feelings?" a second mare rep breaks in, "Would you say that your personal feelings haven't clouded your judgement in any way?"

    A few eyes head toward Cadence, but the princess keeps a schooled face, preventing them from reading her.

    Spoiler
    Show
    So...how's Rose's bluffing?

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    Spoiler: OOC
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    Rose's bluffing? Haha, she has no peer!

    Assuming she's the only one in the comparison. (3d6)[6]


    "My personal feelings? My personal feelings are that Chrysalis deserves a second chance at redemption. Her first opportunity was robbed from her and she has been locked away ever since. How is that fair to her?"

    "But to answer your question, no it has not clouded my judgement. My conviction here is strong. Chrysalis can reform and cutting off her horn is detrimental to the work the EDF has done toward helping her reform.
    "
    Last edited by DigoDragon; 2017-11-24 at 12:21 AM.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    The interview winds on. But Rose manages to answer their questions with competency. Most of them pick over the small details of her statement, trying to latch onto one little thing they can harp on in order to discredit her entire testimony. Or at least, that's what it feels like. Rose stands firm on the facts, repeating much of the same ones over and over in answer to the same questions phrased different ways. Coal Dust watches with sad eyes from the corner, not doing much more than waiting for it to be over.

    Finally, the moderator rises again. "Are there any further questions?"

    None are immediately forthcoming. Whether that's a good sign or a poor one, Rose will discover later.

    "Then thank you, Lt., for your time. You may step down from the stage now."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    Rose bows and returns to her seat by her sister. Her heart is still racing, but the adrenaline feels pretty good. She survived the drill of questions and came out a fighter. Rose mentally pats herself on the back. Chrysalis' well-being has a good chance!
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    "You were great," Red says and gives Rose a warm hug, "Proud of you."

    A pony in a suit slips over to them. "Lt. Rose," he says formally, "your presence is requested in room 2354. Please come with me."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    "Thank's Red," Rose replies happily.

    The suit startles her for a moment. She didn't expect that. "Oh? Yes, of course." She gets up and follows over to the indicated room.
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    The stallion nods curtly and leads Rose out of the main chamber and into the labyrinthine halls of the rest of the building. Finally, she finds herself standing before a door labeled, "Office of the Justices". She can take a pretty good guess at who wants to speak to her.

    "It's for your own good," the stallion says quietly, "That you go inside. There are certain matters the judge wishes to keep private. Ones that you have a vested interest in."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    Well that can't be good. Rose remains calm though, attempting not to show this worry outwardly. She nods to the suit and enters the room, closing the door behind her. "I am here. What is the matter that you wish to discuss with me?" Rose must have put forth a very commendable fight if the justices had to resort to a private audience with her.
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    Justice Doom sits alone behind a desk. He's dressed in black and looks the very picture of the grumpy old stallion from foal's stories save one thing. He's smiling.

    "Lt. Rose," he says, rising to shake her hoof, "Thank you for agreeing to meet with me. This shouldn't take very long. Have a seat."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    Rose politely takes a seat. She remains neutral in tone, trying to keep an air of professionalism. "Of course, judge. What do you have on your mind?"
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    His smile hardens and his eyes grow cold. "Well, in the interest of not wasting time, I'll spell it out for you. You are going to cease and desist all public activity in support of Queen Chrysalis. And it would be a good idea to cease all private activity too. Won't ask for a retraction of your statements, just that you let the matter drop."

    His voice is commanding, the voice of a pony expecting to be obeyed.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    Rose raises an eyebrow. "Your honor? That seems like a heavy demand in the face of the evidence supporting Chrysalis' protection and redemption," she says. She's bewildered. "I'd like to know why."
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    Doom leans forward and speaks in a calm, certain voice. "Because if you don't, not only will you wind up in jail for the rest of your life on charges of treason, but Harrier Squad will be disbanded, your squadmates under investigation, and the EDF under close scrutiny. And if we find any signs of untoward behavior, the entire organization will be put into the scrap heap."

    He slides a tablet across to her. The screen shows security footage of her in Chrysalis' cell as the changeling queen runs her hooves over her body, correcting her posture, during their first lesson together.

    "As it currently stands, one of the punishments for treason, otherwise known as conspiring with the enemies of Equestria, is horn removal. So I would tread very carefully, Lt., and choose your next few words with care. Do I make myself clear?"

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    Rose's ears lower down. This is unfair! How dare he hit so personal! She frowned as such an accusation. Treason? For what, taking a few lessons on standing tall rather than slouching as she used to?

    "I was not aware that receiving advice on posture from a prisoner was an act of treason, your honor," She said in a careful tone, her eyes moving between the tablet and her accuser. "This is only friendly banter. Is that not how friendships work? "
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    "Oh come now," Doom chuckles, "Conspiring with a known enemy of Equestria for the escape of that enemy falls safely within that boundary, Lt. You have been making some very interesting phone calls, as of late."

    He leans back in his chair and sighs. "She's only using you, you know. You're an easy target for her."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    How did he know? Rose was sure she was careful with her phone calls. Did he have her place bugged? No...

    "She is not using me. We have a mutual friendship. The circumstances are simply a bit unusual in that Chrysalis requires sustenance of emotion to survive," Rose explains, doing her best to remain calm. "Do you have evidence to back up this nonsense allegation that I am conspiring to free Chrysalis?"
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    His smile grows colder. "Do you really want to find out?"

    He shifts and begins studying papers on his desk. "The decision is yours, of course. I can't force you to act one way or another. If I had it my way, you'd already be behind bars. But I'm allowing you an 'out' as a favor to your commander, my little brother's boot-camp pal, Sun rest his soul."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Your Doom Approaches

    Rose clenched her teeth. Give up on Chrysalis, or go to jail? That's her options? Heck, why doesn't she jump this chair and bash his skull in. One judge versus a combat veteran? Even if he were armed, she could disarm him in two seconds. His death would be so satisfying. ...sigh. No, behind bars Rose couldn't do anything to protect Chrysalis. She'd be as good as dead. And her EDF family would be disbanded. Their credibility, their lives... Rose relaxes her grip on the chair. Doom held all the cards.

    For now.

    "Alright. Point made. So what happens to Chrysalis from here? You may have my neck in a noose, but Celestia won't tolerate the sentencing you proposed back at her hearing."
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