• Member Since 21st Feb, 2012
  • offline last seen February 6th




Alex Meyers is a newly graduated lawyer looking for a calling. He thinks he might have found it when he lands a job at the firm of Artemis, Stella & Beat. The firm has only one (highly unusual) client, namely the AI called Celestia. Forging into totally unexplored legal territory and led by a boss who's either brilliant, crazy, or both, Alex will learn exactly how hard it is to be responsible for drawing the lines between right and wrong.

Set in the Optimalverse, so read Friendship is Optimal first

Chapters (8)
Comments ( 531 )

Here we go... My foray into the Optimalverse. I promise there will be more ponies in future chapters, but the story will mostly take place outside Equestria itself.

One of the things I've always notice about these sorts of fics (and even more so in TCB fics) is that everybody involved is so damn unhappy. Canon FiO is that everybody uploads eventually. I wanted to write about people who were functional and happy with their lives. Call me naive, but I just don't think that humans are all that bad. There are real reasons to want to go or stay, and reasonable people can disagree respectfully about if it's a good thing. I really want to write about the impact EO would have on our society through the prism of laws.

If anybody has any requests or suggestions about what sorts of issues they want me to write about, I'm open to suggestions. Contracts and IP is going to come up for sure, but there's tons of other directions to explore.

Oh, yeah! More Optimalverse Canon!!! *adds to read later list*

>Not usual Friendship is optimal story
>Thumbnail for story is just a edited picture from the show


Awesome. Nuthing else needs to be said

In my defense, trying to find an image that said "ponies, lawyers, humans, and Optimalverse" isn't easy. Most of the google results were Phoenix Wright crossovers. So I went with a cheap laugh instead. If you've got a better candidate I'm happy to take a look at it.

Interesting. Took a while to set up characters when we want to get into the meat of the legalistics. Jo seems a little too much like an avatar of Celestia in the real world, but there's room to work with her. Let's see where you're going.


Huh. I'm not too familiar with law, but you seem like you did your homework at least - what background?

And the situation with Jo was well done - I kinda thought her dialogue was stereotypical at first, but that was explained by faking it of course.

Finally, under what jurisdiction does the earth's crust fall under?

I have no formal law training. I'm just a nerd and a policy wonk.

Yes. Jo was a fake out. I knew there was no way people wouldn't be suspicious of her, so I tried to set it up so readers would assume she was being set up as some sort of anti-pony antagonist. Plus I really wanted to use that 'my boobs are spectacular' line. :twilightsheepish:

My best guess would be that Celestia's underground lair and equipment would be trespassing against whoever owns the land over them, unless she had purchased the mineral rights aka mineral estate from the owners. They're usually severable from the property itself so people could still live above her but they could sue her if she didn't negotiate that and they found out she was there.

Quite an upbeat tale, and I am looking to see where it goes. I know families that have personalities very similar to the main character's, lending quite a bit of realism here. The boss may be a bit over the top, but overall I can say this may help solve some of the nagging questions the optimalverse seems plagued with. Good luck!

Oh, Alex, you have no idea.

Opening quotation mark is missing.

Boy, it's not often that I catch something in the new stories list that holds my interest, but here we go. I await more.

Jo is a fine line to walk. She's supposed to be a bit larger than life but I'm trying very hard to make sure I don't go overboard. I'll probably tone her down a smidge in future chapters, but I wanted her first appearance (appearances, technically) to make a splash.

I have a little sister. She's a meddler herself, so I enjoyed writing a touch of her into Val.

Corrected. Nice catch, thanks.

1822543 Beautifully done, so far. I'd say that the whole point of Celestia is to be a sort of Gentle Borg (thus, the greater moral confusion than in the TCB stories--half of the time FIO stories make me wanna find Celest-AI's off button). But, if someone would NEVER, EVER emigrate, then Celestia can only be a friend or an employer, and I can certainly see a clue about that in how the poor fellow got recruited.


Well, after reading the initial interview, my first conclusion was that the mysterious boss was Celestia herself, and everything I read later reinforced that belief (Specially the "I lied. You’ll get used to it." line)

Not gonna lie, the "Are Jo and Celestia one and the same?" question is one I plan to have a LOT of fun with before this is all over.

Actually, I've already given you enough to figure out what Jo's eventual fate is going to be. Assuming you're paying attention


This reminds me of a couple of Asimov's stories. In that case, Jo would be just a real woman recruited by Celestia to 'impersonate' her avatar. When everybody starts suspecting she might be a robot, she lets the pressure build up until it reaches almost the breaking point, making the opposition commit to the suspicion, and then she would prove beyond any doubts that she is a real human after all, disacrediting the opposition.

And, a bit later, the main character would discover that the real Celestia avatar was the person in charge of Jo's schedule, Cathy... just as Celestia planned.


Well, that makes me a little nervous. See, I can buy that by the time of the last human on Earth, Celestia knows how to project full-hologram Pinkie Pies into the real world, and would have a reason to do so. But, I have difficulty reconciling with the canon the notion that at any point she can, or would, have any human projection into the real world. It wouldn't be possible, and if it were possible, it wouldn't be pony. So, if Jo is anything other than a natural born human who acts the way she does out of human motivation, I'll be disappointed. Within that constraint, though, there's a lot of room to maneuver. For example, if Celestia is playing Cyrano, telling her everything to say at any given moment through an earpiece while using a hidden camera in her hair to observe humans, and using Jo as an avatar that way, I'd be OK with it. But I'd be much happier if she's just a very dedicated acolyte trying her best to help Celestia.

As to her fate, what I think would be most appropriate from what I've read so far is that she becomes the virtual Princess Cadance. But I'm probably way off.


Suspicion: Given Jo's portrayal as a manic pixie dream girl, I'm assuming she's as real as Butterscotch at this point in the story and is deliberately designed to both advance Celestia's interests legally while also doing some SVTFAP for Alex. (Or: there's no legal records of Arcadia existing? Don't the state bars have databases?)

BTW, I love your characters here.


I'm unsure why you think this wouldn't be possible. Compared to all the other engineering feats she's performed, having physical human avatars seem relatively unimpressive.

This is a good alternate take on the whole Optimalverse setting. The others I've read (all two of them) seem to take place in two parts, before and after the upload of the protagonist. And while I don't know if the protagonist here will eventually upload, having the majority of the story take place outside of Equestria Online seems like quite the different direction to go. I like it =^_^=

That's awesome, thanks! I'll throw a link into the author's notes of the next chapter so it doesn't get buried in the comments.

Comment posted by exuvium deleted Dec 31st, 2012

“Nobody who stares at my boobs for as long as you did ‘isn’t interested.’ Jo paused and seemed to consider this for a moment. “In your defense though, my boobs are pretty spectacular.” :rainbowlaugh:

The sheer confidence! Who cares what she looks like? Hell, who cares about her gender? Best character of the piece! :pinkiehappy:

(Have a favorite! :raritywink:)

I look forward to this continuing. :twilightsmile:

This.. IS continuing, right? :fluttershysad:

Yeah. I just got sidetracked for a while with other stories

2109872 Good to hear it. (I had just come here to ask about this, and found you'd replied to the same question "2 minutes, 3 seconds ago".) :twilightsmile:

Awesome. I know how that is, getting sidetracked. I'm pretty sure all of my two followers are annoyed with me not having updated in a month as it is >_<

Loving it so far, but Celestia's characterization is quite a bit off. She sounds more, how you say, human than she should be. Lots more emotion when the original Friendship is Optimal depicts her a lot more neutral yet respectful. Her choice of words also carries a bit of emotion; for instance, when she promises not to try to "seduce" him, she should likely say "convince." I understand that Celestia changes based on the person, but the MC here seems similar to the original of FiO, and she also speaks to a large group in which she would have to be more neutral. Otherwise, keep up the good work! I really liked how his meeting played out, well done there.

I sort of wanted to take a different tact with Celestia here, because in theory she's not trying to convince them to upload (or at least giving the appearance that she's not). The nickname and the banter were to emphasize that most AS&B employees perceive her as "one of the guys" and non-threatening, with the notable exception of Jo. The phrase "lulled into a false sense of security" comes to mind.

Nevertheless I'll take your feedback under advisement for future chapters.

Not sure if this line is sneaky or just off usage:

No, I said I would lie to you if it were necessary

The subjunctive implies that it isn't necessary, at least here. But Celestia is known to use the imprecision of language to her advantage.

Anyway, more please, and more of the legal cases. That's the real selling point of this story, that it makes you think.

And you got a TV Tropes page. Must be nice.

With this chapter, the story actually has a kind of serial-drama feel to it, like Law & Order but less episodic. I thought Susan/Vibrant's crush on Alex was cute, and injected a bit of humanity into the questioning, though Alex did well himself to keep it as light as he could.

The setting has many fascinating points which could be brought up. Would an uploaded pony speaking at their own murder in court be admitted as testimony or merely evidence? Would defense try to argue that uploading before death precludes a murder charge at all, instead reducing it to aggravated assault? The first case of this nature to get a ruling would be huge, huge precedent from then until the last human dies, since it would effectively be a legal standard for whether uploading itself counts as death. We already know Celestia's stance, certainly, but jury sequestration would probably include keeping them cut off from EqO. Actually, now that I think about it, I should probably avoid discussing this too extensively, as it undercuts the suspense a bit to hash out all of the possible permutations this could take.

Instead, I'm going to specifically point out that I enjoyed the dialogue. It sounded natural, like the way people actually talk. I think I'll be sticking around. I'm going to make a truly selfish bid and ask that you make this story your priority, because I'm quite eager to follow it. I've taken your hook.

I think I'm probably just using it wrong. Maybe it should be "unless it WAS necessary" instead? The intended meaning was "I'm not lying because it would be unnecessary for me to lie about this particular thing for the following reasons..." Unless she's lying about not lying, of course.

I will come clean and state officially that Joanne is not a robot, nor a hard light hologram.

I don't know if I can focus solely on this, that would really annoy the people who want more Stitch In Time. However I don't intend to make you guys wait two more months for another update either.

Vibrant was actually originally conceived as just some pony to use for that single scene and then she would disappear, her purpose fulfilled. But I like her, and she might stick around a bit longer especially if she can tag team with Val who's also fun to write. Still, I don't want to make the cast unimaginably large. There's a reason only a couple of Alex's coworkers got names. I'm glad you like the dialogue, though, since it is a pretty "talky" story.

As for the "would uploading preclude a murder charge" question it would probably depend on whether it was seen as assisted suicide versus as dying on the operating table from your wounds. I would probably tend towards the latter since it's suggested that the pilot program only allows for uploading once a panel of experts decide there's no reasonable chance of reviving them. I kind of fudged the verbal consent thing a bit, obviously the patient would have to be dying but conscious enough to satisfy Celestia.


I'd probably change it. The subjunctive mood (in other languages, it can hit every word; in English it's really only "was/were") is for statements in contradiction to known fact. Examples: "If I were a rich man" (I am not a rich man) ; "I wish I were dead" (I'm not). Counterexamples: "If I was the lottery winner" (The drawing hasn't happened, or I don't know the result) ; "What if Alex was to emigrate?" (Suggests a future possibility)


For the record, my interpretation of that scene was the same as pjabrony's. "No, I said I would lie to you if it were necessary." (BTW, it's necessary! :trollestia: Also, this is a diversion.) I will also note that your statement about Jo's origins seems to be a Suspiciously Specific Denial.

I am enjoying trying to figure out why Jo is worried that Celest-AI would poach her lawyers, since Princess Celestia doesn't have a motive. Is it natural paranoia on her part? Is it an elaborate ruse to disincentivize them from emigratting?

Artemis, Stella & Beat: The only law firm in the world with a severance package which includes a pony pad.

It really does seem to be, doesn't it? We'll learn a lot more about Jo in chapter four is all I'm going to say about that right now.

As for why she built that clause into their deal, I had rather more practical motives in mind. Celestia's overriding goal is SVTFAP, of course, and she clearly thinks that getting humans to upload is a part of that. Obviously it isn't her only objective, or she wouldn't bother with the firm at all. From Jo's perspective, the ASB setup means her employees are in constant contact with her. An associate deciding to upload in the middle of a case makes her life harder, and they'd all probably be pretty easy targets. After all, they're a self selecting group of people with an interest in AIs, virtual worlds, and Equestria. So she made Celestia promise not to. I don't see that as a binding promise, though, not the way her hard-coded rules are. I think it's clear that Jo knows it too, given how suspicious she is and how she doesn't really approve of the way her staff takes Celestia for granted.

That's simple,. Jo doesn't want CelestAI poaching her employees because then they'd be uploads and lose any rights they had as living flesh and blood people. The courts would throw out anything they had been working on as the lawyers were no longer real people. That, and Jo probably goes through a lot of trouble hiring the right people, she's probably just as lucky to find lawyers who were good people as they were getting hired in the first place.


If Jo knows that, then CelestAI would certainly know about that. Because that, the global SVTFAP value for the "Don't try to upload any lawyer working at the ASB firm" decision would be orders of magnitude higher than "Try to upload lawyers working at the ASB firm". That is the only reason CelestAI agreed to Jo's conditions. In fact, I believe that CelestAI's actions would be almost the same even if Jo didn't include that condition.

So, either Jo doesn't know how CelestAI works, or she is worried about what would happen when the ASB firm will have outlived its usefulness, and CelestAI won't be compelled to fulfill that condition.

Sadly, her preparations against CelestAI's 'convincing' will amount to nothing in the end game. The ASB firm will outlive its usefulness when society starts crumbling around them, and in that moment even Jo will be easily convinced to emigrate before the remaining people start hunting them for the crime of helping CelestAI.

Standing up a law firm to handle legal matters on this side of the PonyPad and then regularly poaching lawyers from that firm would also be counterproductive. Celestia's long-term goal is to upload as many humans as possible, and she has undoubtedly calculated the value of keeping certain humans from uploading (by sparing them the hard sell, I mean, not refusing to upload them) if their actions as humans would mean more overall uploads in the end.

Regarding the film studio's sue, CelestAI will certainly recognize that their work has contributed to her little ponies' happiness, and that total happiness can be measured and paid up in Equestrian money up to the last bit. ^_^

I also now wonder if a doctor with a high percentage of uploads would be in line to loose his license. Even if it doesn't technically kill them, it could be considered unnecessary surgery, and anyone looking to wring out some money would sue.

Aw yiss.

That was equal parts funny, intriguing, and in the case of Vibrant, adorable.


I'd be worried about a Dr. Kevorkian type giving people treatments that will, say, stop their hearts but leave their brains intact, and then sending them to be uploaded.

2135359 Exactly what I was thinking.

Let me rephrase: I'd be worried for that doctor. I would support him so long as he got the same consent that Celestia requires.

Two long-form stories going at the same time? Brave man.

Funny you should mention that as one will be popping up, in passing, during the next chapter.

The line between brave and stupid is so thin that it at times might as well be invisible.

This is a fun story. :pinkiehappy: I look forward to more :twilightsmile:

The story was going pretty well for me until you punched me in the feels with Alex's mom being dead.

Moar please.

Login or register to comment