• Published 9th Jun 2013
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Judge Luna - Aegis Shield



Princess Luna runs a Judge Judy-like show, but quickly grows ill as the show's popularity grows.

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Case #3: Heirloom

Judge Luna
Case #3 – Heirloom

The cutie mark crusaders were abuzz one Saturday morning. Applebloom’s chores were done, and she’d invited the girls over to show them something amazing. Well, the something amazing turned out to be a tiny, broken down TV/VCR combo. The stallion at the pawn shop had thrown it out since it didn’t work well enough to sell, and Applebloom had snatched it up when nopony was looking. How had she navigated through the entire town and back home with such a large, heavy, clunky thing on her back? W-well… well… that wasn’t important!

“This might be a great way for us to get our cutie marks!” Applebloom’s squeaky voice propelled her into the air for just a moment. “That guy just threw this thing out, maybe we can fix it and make it work again!”

“I dunno,” Scootaloo put her scooter in the corner, “Can you get a cutie mark for watchin’ TV or something? Doesn’t seem like much of a talent to sit someplace and stare at a magic box.”

“No no, I mean the fixin’ part! We could be cutie mark crusader TV repair ponies!” Applebloom said, gesturing. Scootaloo opened her saddlebag to get out her toolbox. She kept it to work on and maintain her scooter.

Sweetie Belle helped Applebloom ease the dented machine down onto its face. It had screws and other doo dads in the back. “Hmm,” said the little unicorn. Lighting her horn carefully, she took out her tiny little sewing kit. Some of Rarities habits had rubbed off when it came to curtains for the clubhouse, so she made a habit of carrying it around with her. “Let’s see what fits these.” She gestured to the funny screws in the back of the TV.

Scootaloo had already detached the lower portion where the VCR was, and was fiddling with it. “Hey, there’s somethin’ in there!” she pushed the little plastic flap inward to show them. The trio leaned over it. There was a black tape wedged firmly into it. “Hmm, lemme see,” Scootaloo got the skinniest tool she had and, after some careful wiggling and loosening a few more screws, pulled it out. “It’s a tape!” she announced, holding it up. Turning it sideways to read the label, she said, “Judge… Luna?” It came out like a question. She set it to one side.

Three hours later, with painstaking meticulousness, the three fillies took the TV apart and cleaned what bits they could bring free of it. Lining up a train of pieces to so they would remember what went where, they found the problem. There was a break in the wiring between the power crystal cufflink and the distribution box. You could plug in all the power you wanted, but it wouldn’t go anywhere. Sweetie Belle leaned into her tacklebox of sewing items, producing a long string of copper twine. Where did a filly get such things? Well shut up, that’s where. Cootie-head. With Applebloom holding the box and Scootaloo shining the flashlight on it, Sweetie Belle mended the wiring as best she could.

Wiggling with excitement, the fillies pieced it all back together to the best of their ability. The power crystal that had been lodged in it when Applebloom had found it was cleaned, shined, and then put back in the slot. Their faces lit up when it crackled to life, and they set it upright again. Its constant ‘shahhhhhhhh’ of black and white static wasn’t very entertaining. Just loud. The three foals turned the dials, wiggled the ears, and even hit it a few times. Nothing seemed to work.

“Oh wait, here let’s try this!” Scootaloo pushed the tape into the VCR, and the machine went quiet while it thought over what it had been given. A green arrow pointing to the right soon appeared, and the snow-show of static soon vanished. “Oooh,” the pegasus backed up. “Looks like we did it.”

Dun dun dun duhhhhhn!
Real cases.
Real ponies.
This—is Judge Luna.

Their faces lit up. “Hey, it’s a tape about the Princess! She was here on Nightmare Night!” Scootaloo pointed as an explosion of stars on the screen heralded Luna’s cutie mark and an impressive logo. The three foals crowded around the TV to watch.

“What’s she doin’ on TV?” Applebloom wondered. The Apple family didn’t have a TV, she wasn’t sure she understood. “Isn’t she busy bein’ a Princess and all?” she leaned forward to whap the TV a few times when the picture started to skip. Thankfully, it relented to her and everything shifted back into focus.

“Well, it’s a recording. Like a camera, y’know? It just moves and talks,” Sweetie Belle said, reaching to turn up the volume.

“I know what a TV is, hay-for-brains!” The farm filly said resentfully. Sweetie Belle giggled good-naturedly. Scootaloo reached over into the snack stash that was hidden under the flood boards of the tree house. (It had taken days to attach a shoebox to the underside of the clubhouse and not have it fall off minutes later…) When all three of them had a candy bar in hoof, they settled onto their bellies to see what was happening.

=-=-=-=

“All rise!” An impressive-looking Lunar Stallion barked to the audience. Everypony stood, as did the ponies behind the cameras for the show. “Her Majesty Princess Luna, presiding!” The dark alicorn swept into the room, mounting the dais.

The moon reached its apex outside, casting a glittering beam of moonlight into the room. They’d left the lights much lower today, because her Majesty had been complaining of headaches. It wasn’t as good for the cameras but, well, the Princess said turn the lights down so they’d turned the lights down. Lunar Stallions were suddenly much, much harder to spot if not for their glowing yellow eyes. Dark fur, dark armor and silent posture made them look like hulking shadows of pony muscle and scowling faces. When Luna reached the throne, she turned daintily and seated herself upon it. When this happened, candles at every column, in every corner, and on either side of the throne ignited. This made it much easier to see, thankfully. Luna nodded once.

“You may be seated!” the same stallion told the audience. Everypony shuffled back to their seats, feeling the eerie quiet of the night time court when the lights were all but out. Turning with a folder under his arm, the guard cantered up the stairs to the throne to give Luna a folder. “Your Majesty this is case number 1017754 in the matter of Carrot versus Apple, parties have been sworn in you may proceed when ready.” He bowed before her.

“Thank thee,” Luna said with a slight cough. “Forgive my shrill voice and squinty eyes this night, I have a mild cold. To your place, Steel Wing,” she gestured. He opened his mouth to object. “I am not so ill I cannot seat my flank on a throne and speak, thank you,” she told him before he could say anything. The stallion bowed again and took his place several steps down the dais and to one side. Stopping to blow her nose on a black hankie, she stuffed it away before clearing her throat to speak to the two parties before her.

To Luna’s left was a bright orange stallion with a stocky build. He had a green mane and a bushel of carrots on his flank. To Luna’s left was a bright red stallion with the same physique. Farmers, both of them. But the red one had a large green apple on his flank.

(“Oh mah goodness!” shrieked Applebloom. “Is that Big Mac?!”)
(“Shhhhh!” the other two fillies shushed her.)

“Misters,” Luna paused to check the paperwork, “Carrot and Apple, we understand there had been some disagreement over the ownership and location of a grocery cart. One that is rather old and has sentimental value. This has caused some feuding between thy families and you would like it settled in our court." Both stallions nodded silently, bowing before her before the proceedings could begin. “Very well, we may begin. Mister Apple believes this cart was stolen, and Mister Carrot is here to defend himself on ownership.” Luna closed the folder and set it next to her.

“Uh, before we start your Majesty, lemme explain why I stole the cart.” The orange stallion said, shuffling through a little binder he’d brought with him. Luna blanched. The audience murmured. The red stallion across from the orange one looked over at him, dumbfounded. In shadow, more than one Lunar Stallion face-hoof’d. The camera ponies looked at each other.

Luna slowly turned her gaze, and Steel Wing felt her eyes on the back of his head. He turned, and she could see the muscles in his muzzle quivering as he tried very hard not to grin. “We swear, some days it doth be so easy…” she mumbled to Steel Wing. The Lunar Stallion smiled sympathetically. They’d dragged their sick Princess out of bed for this? Really?

“Ah, here it is.” The carrot-flanked stallion’s face lit up when he produced a slip of paper.

“I think thou hath already buried thyself, my little pony.” Luna snickered a little. “Unless that be a written title of ownership,” she raised her hoof, ready to stamp it and declare the case over, “We doth be ready to dismiss thee on the spot.”

Carrot blushed, “Er, sorry, poor choice of words. It is, actually.” The audience, the camera crew, and everypony else whewwww’d. That would’ve been a very short case!

Luna exchanged one more amused glance with Steel Wing before coughing a few times behind her hoof. “Very well, very well,” she gestured and the stallion went forward to fetch the paper to bring to her. What the Princess received was not a title, but a contract. “I the undersigned do hereby promise to give a full-size apple cart to one Long Carrot, if he should sell more carrots than I sell apples during the under-filled date. If the opposite be true, he is to provide me with nine barrels of carrots and a corked bottle of…” she mumbled down through the terms, then slowly lowered the paper. “This is a bet. The two of thee made a bet on who was to sell more apples or carrots.” Both stallions nodded. “Simple enough, though silly to place it on paper and make it legally binding…” she trailed off to see both stallions had signed and initialed everything properly. They’d been rather thorough. “What happened on this day?” she gestured to the paper.

“I won the bet.” Long Carrot inflated his chest, and the red stallion across the way scowled. “Carrots are bought in bunches anyway, so it wasn’t much of a competition,” He chuckled. “But at the end of the day Big Macintosh here wouldn’t give me the cart he promised me.”

“Why not? This is pretty plainly outlined in thy contract.” Luna turned to show Big Macintosh the contract. The red stallion shook his head vigorously, producing a folder and nosing through it. Taking a paper in his mouth, he offered it out. Steel Wing went to fetch it. Luna inspected it. It was the same contract, but the words ‘a full-sized apple cart’ were underlined in red. “Hrm. Interesting,” mumbled Luna. “Your case is that he took the wrong cart, without your permission, then?”

“Eyuup.” Big Macintosh nodded vigorously. Turning, he flipped through his folder again and produced a stack of photographs.” Steel Wing once again made a trip and brought them to Luna. She frowned, flipping through them. The first few were in black and white, showing a small farm with a stallion, a mare, a cart of supplies, and a pathetic-looking little shack. The next one had a bigger house, older stallion, older mare, a few foals… same cart. The next few were in color, though the stallion and the mare were replaced with an elderly mare, and there were more foals running about… same cart in the background. The next few pictures showed a rapidly growing family, house, and property. However, off to one side either in the picture or on the edge of it was the same (now kind of rickety) cart.

“I see,” murmured Luna. “Thy orchard was started from a pack of supplies brought in on this particular cart.” She looked over the contracts again, not entirely sure what to do about this. Clearly it was an heirloom, but with such a binding contract she could not… she paused for a moment, looking at the words underlined in red. “Hrm. A full-sized apple cart…” she said under her breath. She shuffled the papers to one side. “Tell me, Long Carrot, does this contract specify the cart thou took as your prize in particular?”

“Er, no I suppose not…” said Long Carrot.

“And was Mister Apple present when you took this cart?”

“N… no,” Long Carrot said.

“I see. Does your contract say that you could come onto Mister Apple’s property, select the cart you wanted, and leave with it?”

“W-well no, I just saw this one first. It’s the right size and make.” Long Carrot shrugged a bit.

“I see.” Luna steepled her hooves for a time, resting her chin on them. “Did Mister Apple confront you about taking this particular cart?”

“Oh yeah, he was over there everyday trying to take it back!” Long Carrot scowled angrily. “A deal’s a deal! I won our bet, its mine!” Luna’s eyes flicked over when she saw Big Macintosh flipping through his papers again and producing a pristine white paper. It looked like a flyer. “I won it fair and square, it’s in our contract!”

“Thou art technically in the right, Long Carrot, however,” she paused as the new paper was brought before her from Big Macintosh. “Your contract does not dictate beyond the size and measure of thy prize, not the particular prize to be won.” She turned to Steel Wing. “Take these to him, please?” she told her guard. The Lunar Stallion obeyed, taking the stack of photographs to Long Carrot.

Long Carrot looked down at the old photos, the new ones, and when he flipped to the last one he found himself looking at a flyer of some sort. It was from the local hardware store, and showed a picture of a full-size hauling cart. In the picture was drawn a picture of an apple, with a red crayon. “This is something else, though.” Long Carrot shook his head with a frown. “It’s not what I had in mi—”

“What thou had in mind is irrelevant!” Luna barked, before coughing a few times. “What is in thy contract, written and signed, is.” She had all the proper documents taken back to their owners as they spoke. “What we have here is a failure of specificity, several counts of trespassing, and minor infractions.”

“Tresspassing?!” Long Carrot gaped. “I came for what was mine!”

“Not just you, Mister Carrot, but Mister Apple as well.” Luna saw the startled expression on Big Macintosh’s silent face. “Yes you, Mister Apple. You trespassed onto Mister Carrot’s property to get your cart back. Several times, in fact. Yes?” she waited for him to nod in a humbled way.

“I didn’t trespass!” Long Carrot insisted.

“Yes, Mister Carrot, you did.” Princess Luna turned, gesturing to the contracts both stallions now held. “It is without a doubt that thou won the bet, but it is not your right to wander forth and claim thy prize. You’ll note the very simple phrasing says ‘I promise to give a full-sized apple cart’,” she made a sweeping gesture to Big Macintosh. “It is very hard to give somepony something if they are not present to do so, we would say.” Luna smirked just a little. Long Carrot looked to one side guiltily. “As you ventured forth and took something off of Mister Apple’s property without his permission, one might call you a thief, Mister Carrot.”

“What?!” blurted Long Carrot. “I’ve never stolen nothin’ in my entire life! My folks raised me right! That’s why we put our bet on paper to make it official!” he slapped the contract.

“Then thou needs to read thy binding papers more thoroughly before acting on them,” Luna gestured that he read.

“I won the bet, though!” Long Carrot pulled up his contract, leaning over it. “The cart belongs to me, so I went to go get it.”

“It says that Mister Apple will give thou a full-sized apple cart. This means he will come forward and produce your prize for you. It does not mean thou may venture onto his property and select something to your liking." Luna said a little more gently. “This is textbook trespassing and thievery, my little pony.”

“Oh mah stars…” Long Carrot was dumbfounded with himself, eyes wide and red in the face. He was so humiliated! What would his Ma and Pa think of him if they heard about this?! “I did. I really did steal it, didn’t I?”

“As there is a large apple orchard in the background of these photos, I am willing to bet there is more than one cart eligible to be thy prize. Mister Apple just does not wish for you to have this particular one. Now, we can easily see there is no malice on the part of either party here,” Luna gestured between the two farming ponies. “Both of you appear upright and honest in thy dealings. Mister Apple wishes to offer you a cart of equal size and type, new, as your prize for winning your bet. We think this is more than acceptable, given thy trespassing and the rather vague terms of your contract.” The dark alicorn cleared her throat again, trying to keep her voice. “Therefore, we command the following be done: Thou will return Mister Apple’s family cart tomorrow when you arrive home. He will, within thirty days, produce a cart of equal size and similar type to you like the one in the picture of that flyer. That will be the end of it. Understood?”

“Er, yes your Majesty,” Long Carrot said, thoroughly cowed at himself. “I… I’m sorry Big Mac. The Princess is right,” he offered across the way to the other stallion. The red stallion offered a peaceful smile, bobbing his head a few times. “I’ll swing by Sweet Apple Acres tomorrow with your cart, okay?”

“Yup.” Big Mac said happily.

“Excellent. Judgment for the plaintiff.” Luna said, stamping her hoof with a resounding echo through the throne room. “Let the next case be brought before m--- *COUGH COUGH COUGH*?!” she spluttered a little, leaning forward. “Ehh… a short recess,” she said, drooping. Steel Wing went up the stairs to guide the Princess off the throne and help her into her private chambers behind the seat of power.


End Case 3

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