• Published 9th Jul 2015
  • 1,489 Views, 104 Comments

Their Variables - Meta Four



A collection of short one-shots about alternate universes and "What if?" scenarios.

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Veto

“The Chair recognizes Senator Grizelda. You have the floor.”

Slowly, deliberately, the sole griffon in the chamber removed the pince-nez from his beak and placed it in his jacket pocket. Senator Grizelda (Reformed Friendship Party, Baltimare) stood up and leaned towards the voice-amplifying crystal mounted on his desk. He spoke with a deep, soft voice. “I agree that this is a loophole that must be closed as quickly as possible. But I cannot abide the specific language of the proposed amendment. Redefining ‘born in Equestria’ to specifically exclude hatching … Well, need I remind the Senate that I was hatched in Equestria?”

Throughout the chamber, dozens of senators shifted behind their desks. Senator Tangelo (Friends of Reform Party, Manehattan) reached under her huge, white wig to massage her temple. With her other hoof, she flicked on her luminescent crystal to request the floor.

Grizelda continued, “My fellow senators, if you can reword the amendment proposal to bar changelings from citizenship without excluding my fellow griffons, or any other respectable species, then you will have my support. But no sooner. I yield the floor.”

Head Chairpony of the Senate, Prince Blueblood (New Camaraderie Party, Canterlot), nodded at Grizelda, then glanced around the chamber. “The Chair recognizes Senator Tangelo. You have the floor. Again.”

Tangelo stood up. “First of all, my sincerest apology to Senator Grizelda. As quickly as possible, I will review the wording of Article 2 of my proposal and make the suggested changes. But!

The few dozing senators were jerked awake by Tangelo’s sudden shout, their own wigs nearly falling off their heads.

“Time is of the essence! We all can agree on that. Rewording Article 2 will take, what, another two weeks? That is too long. As a stopgap, we can split my amendment in two, and vote on each separately.”

The other senators murmured at that. The main door to the chamber opened, then closed.

“Better that we close one loophole now, rather than waiting two more weeks to close both. Chairpony, I move that we strike Article 2 completely, and vote immediately on the remainder of my amendment.”

Smiling, Tangelo sat back down. But her smile faltered as … nothing happened. Nopony clamored to second her motion, and Prince Blueblood did not offer the floor to anypony. Hoofsteps were the only sound in the chamber. Most of the senators stared at the source of the sound; Tangelo followed their gaze, and her eyes widened.

A white unicorn with a dark mane, wearing a collar and red cravat, slowly approached Prince Blueblood’s chair. It took Tangelo a few seconds to place her: this was Raven, one of Princess Celestia’s top aides. It was not unusual to see the Princess’s aides in the Senate building—but what she carried was unusual. Raven held the Spear of Nebuloso in her telekinesis, with its tip pointing straight up, and the Quill of Qronos dangled from a golden thread, fastened just below the spearhead.

Raven was here to speak as the voice of both Princesses.

She reached Blueblood’s chair and passed him the Quill and the Spear. “Chairpony,” she said, “are you satisfied that these are the sacred symbols of the two thrones?”

“The Chair is satisfied.” Prince Blueblood passed the symbols back, then pulled an ornate hourglass out from behind his desk. “As the representative of both diarchs, you have the floor, for a duration not to exceed one hour, beginning now.” He flipped the hourglass.

Raven turned to face the Senate. She produced a scroll, unfurled it, and read.

“‘We, Celestia and Luna, by the will and forbearance of Equestria, princesses …’ I’ll spare you the complete list of their ranks and titles. Anyway: ‘... with full understanding of the gravity and responsibility of this decision, do hereby invoke the right of veto maximus.’”

Raven gave that a few seconds to sink in. Every senator was on the edge of his or her seat now.

“‘Any law, amendment, or court order that seeks to strip changelings of the status and rights of Equestrian citizens, or which restricts—whether directly or indirectly—the ability of changelings to obtain Equestrian citizenship, is preemptively nullified, vilified, and declared anathema. The offer of citizenship must and shall remain open to all the speaking creatures of the Earth, including the changelings.’”

Gritting her teeth, Tangelo looked down at her desk, at the hard copy of her amendment proposal. She resisted the urge to throw the pages in the air, but just barely.

Raven continued, “‘This veto shall remain in effect for a period no shorter than five solar years and five days. Having thus invoked our right of veto maximus, we the Princesses may not invoke it again for the remainder of this solar year. May the blessings of Harmony be upon you all.’” Raven closed the scroll. “That is all. I yield the floor.”

As Raven walked out, Tangelo grabbed her quill and started crossing out lines on her amendment. “Way to go, Princesses,” she muttered, almost inaudibly. “You gutted my amendment—why not tear my heart out while you’re at it?” After reducing her text to a few islands of legibility in a sea of black ink, she flicked her luminescent crystal again.

The door slammed shut as Raven left. Prince Blueblood put away the hourglass. “The Chair recognizes Senator Tangelo, who technically never yielded the floor in the first place.”

Blushing slightly, Tangelo stood back up. “For obvious reasons, I wish to withdraw my previous motion. But I believe we can pass part of my proposed amendment and still comply with the Princesses’ veto. I move that we strike everything except Article 1, Paragraph C-1, then put that to an immediate vote. I yield the floor.”

“We have a motion,” Blueblood said. “Will somepony second that motion? Ah, Senator Carver seconds it. Very well …”

As Prince Blueblood rattled off the procedure for the vote, Tangelo leaned back in her chair and sighed.

She couldn’t deny citizenship to hypothetical changelings born—or hatched, or whatever—on Equestrian soil. Nor could she turn away hypothetical immigrant changelings applying for citizenship. And she couldn’t even retroactively strip hypothetical changelings of their citizenship for having lied about their species during their naturalization exam. The royal veto—this bizarre, borderline-insane royal veto—had tied the Senate’s collective hooves.

But Tangelo could make it illegal now for anypony to lie about their species on their naturalization exam. So in the future, any hypothetical changelings applying for citizenship would have to openly reveal themselves. It was better than nothing, if only barely.

She smiled wryly. The Princesses had thought her amendment important enough to preemptively “nullify, vilify, and declare anathema.” How many of her fellow senators could brag of that?

Author's Note:

I originally wrote this scene for The Changelings Are Due in Canterlot. But, as my man J-teeth pointed out, this scene in that story created an irresolvable problem. On the other hoof, I still like the scene and want to preserve it.

Oddly enough, you could easily slot this scene into the same continuity as Alarm Clock or The Changelings Are Due..., even though the backgrounds of those fics are contradictory.

Thanks to JapaneseTeeth, KuroiTsubasaTenshi, and Yami Vizzini for pre-reading.