"Presenting to the court," spoke the stallion after clearing his throat, "The plaintiff, Ms. Derpy Hooves of Ponyville, her personal translator, Ms. Pinkamena Diane Pie, also of Ponyville, and her attorney, Lady Twilight Sparkle of Canterlot." Murmurs echoed through the room as the last name was read aloud. In fact, even Derpy found herself at a loss over the announcement. Since when had Twilight been known as "Lady"? The blonde Pegasus had a sneaking suspicion about what caused the sudden pomp, but now was not the place to voice it.
As they approached the bench---Pinkie's hop thankfully absent---and took their seats at the table, all five of the justices nodded their heads to the purple unicorn as she seated herself. "Lady Twilight," started the pony in the centre, "We understand how you can come before us today with no formal legal training. That said, we will do our best to facilitate you, not out of kindness, or due to perceived incompetence, but out of formality. I hope you do not take offence."
Derpy looked at her friend, noticing a blush the likes of which she had never seen burning on her face. She knew that her lavender friend hated undue attention, or being treated better than others, but she seemed to swallow it as best she could before replying, "N-no, it's fine. Thank you very much, your honour. I'll try to be as small a burden on these proceedings as possible."
After nodding his head in reply, the yellow earth pony stallion sitting in the middle spoke again, "The Royal Supreme Court of Equestria now recognizes the defence and his entourage." The bailiff pony quickly trotted to a door opposite the one that Derpy and her friends had emerged from. A large and intimidating unicorn stallion emerged from the threshold.
If Derpy did not know any better, she could have sworn the stallion was chiseled from solid granite, and given life through arcane means that made the hairs on her back stand on edge. She shook her head subtly and focused her attention on the second pony to emerge from the door of the defendant's waiting room. The attorney, as she would later learn, proved to be a red Pegasus mare with a light brown mane and tail. She carried a briefcase in her mouth and wore a suit like Twilight's, but with a surprisingly short skirt instead of trousers.
"Presenting to the court," the same stallion spoke after clearing his throat once more, "The Defendant, Mr. Brittle Lullaby, Director of the Foal Protection Services, of Canterlot, and his attorney, Ms. Epona of Ponyclop Ranch." The two ponies proceeded towards their table at a light gait, nodding their heads to the justices of the Supreme Court as they approached.
"Are the two parties ready to begin?" asked the pony in the middle of the bench.
"The prosecution is ready, your honour," Twilight replied with a slight shake in her voice.
"The defence is ready as well, your honour," the red Pegasus spoke with an almost bored confidence.
"Very well," continued the yellow earth stallion, "I now declare this sitting of the Supreme Court in session. The prosecution may begin with its opening remarks."
"Thank you, your honour," the purple mare spoke, standing up and walking before the bench, "Fillies and gentlecolts of the audience, esteemed justices of the Supreme Court, I stand before you today to address a great wrong done to my client by the Foal Protection Services. I intend to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that my client has been wronged by their findings and that she is actually more than competent enough to raise a foal."
Confident in her statement, the lavender mare took her seat at the table once more. As she did so, Derpy could not help but notice the director lean in and whisper something into the ear of his attorney. She, in turn nodded in reply before the justice spoke again. "Does the defence have an opening statement?"
"Yes, we do, your honour," spoke the red mare as she stood to attention, "We aim to prove the FPS' findings to be valid, and assure the decision to separate Ms Hooves from the foal was indeed valid given the circumstances. Now, we have a question we wish to pose to the court. What purpose does Ms. Pie serve? Unless she is a legal advisor, she should not be permitted into these proceedings."
"She is Ms. Hooves' translator, as per our introduction," Twilight replied.
"We have an objection, your honour," the attorney said, "Ms Sparkle, are you trying to prove your case before we actually put it on trial? The presence of a translator ASSUMES that she merely suffers from a speech disability and not from a more severe mental retardation. While neither condition is conducive to proper parenting, the court must determine these matters for itself. We move to have her translator barred from the court."
Derpy saw some of the colour drain from Twilight's face. Obviously, she did not expect the defence to not tolerate the presence of a translator. The blonde Pegasus could see the judge ponies exchanging glances and talking among one another, probably to decide if this argument was valid. She impatiently jabbed the unicorn's side, hoping to coax her out of her mental shutdown. Things were not going as well as she had hoped.
"W-well..." the lavender mare started with great uncertainty, "She has a translator because... because that's the truth! She has a speech impediment."
With a yawn and a roll of her eyes, the red Pegasus looked absolutely bored with the proceedings, seeping a confidence that Twilight sorely lacked. "Next time, Ms Sparkle," she said, "Say 'objection' if you have something against anything I or my client says. Technically, you're out of order, but I'll let it slide THIS time. If Ms. Hooves does indeed have a speech impediment, then show us your PROOF."
Twilight dug into her bags that lay to the side of the table and extracted a series of papers. "Your honours, I do have proof. I have here a series of letters written by my client. I submit these to the court as evidence."
"Objection," the red pony spoke, raising a hoof, "How are we to know they were written expressly by the client and not forged or edited?"
"Sustained," the chief justice replied before banging the gavel, "Ms Sparkle, unless you can prove that your client wrote those letters, we cannot accept it as evidence."
Thankfully for Derpy, the gears in Twilight's head began to turn as she slowly became accustomed to the atmosphere of the courtroom. "I think we can prove it quite well, your honour. I ask the court to call my client to the stand, and request she write an original statement before your eyes. I'm sure you will find the styles to match perfectly."
Chief Justice Black Robe looked to his sides down the bench, the other, silent ponies nodding in approval except for one. "Very well then," he responded, "Ms. Hooves, please take the stand and write for us an account of the day in question. Bailiff, please bring me the submitted letters for comparison."
Derpy stood to her hooves as the bailiff approached and trotted over to the witness' stand quickly. After the letters were given the justices, the brown unicorn returned and delivered her a pen and pad of paper to write on. The Pegasus wasted no time, ignoring the bored yawns of the defence attorney as she elegantly produced a brief synopsis of the events the day her muffin was taken from her.
Once finished, she handed the statement to the uniformed pony, who passed it on to the justices. At first, the previously mute ponies began to murmur and speak among themselves as they decided what to do. After exchanging some quick glances down the bench, the yellow stallion spoke again. "We have found the new statement to match the papers forwarded for evidence in writing style and use of language. As such, we find the prosecution's claim of a speech impediment to be valid. Therefore, Ms. Pie shall not be barred from these proceedings."
Derpy's heart skipped a beat as the judge's gavel made impact with the bench. She was quickly dismissed from the witness' stand, and managed to catch the shadow of shock on the red mare's face as she gleefully returned to her seat. The blonde Pegasus smiled to her dear friend and attorney, Pinkie doing her best to restrain herself from cheering over their small victory.
"I'd like to congratulate the prosecution," Epona spoke, "It's not every day a pony who isn't even an attorney can totally derail a trial. As great as it is that the plaintiff has proved she has a speech impediment, I remind the court that such a disability holds no bearing on proper parenting. We will accept the court's decision to keep her translator present, but I doubt she will be needed."
Just like that, the air of joy and optimism suddenly shattered like many delicate pieces of china. Derpy was not surprised by how good the lawyer was... after all, they would not have hired a pony who would do them no good. Still, it stung like nothing else as the judge agreed with the red pony and gave her the floor to speak, thus began the trial in earnest.
"Your honours," she resumed after she was given the floor, "I submit to the court the records from the field agent who led the investigation. You will find it contains written testimony from over fifty residents of Ponyville detailing just how unfit Ms Hooves is as a caretaker. You will also find a medical profile that attests to her incompetence."
Every move, every word was calculated and deliberate. It soon became apparent to the blond Pegasus that the red mare was easily one of the best lawyers around, as she had turned the tides of the trial so... effortlessly. Meanwhile, Twilight bumbled and fiddled around in her bags, desperate to find some piece of evidence to prove her mental competence. Derpy could feel their case developing massive holes, and that it would sink faster than the Tandemic unless they could find something to prove her intelligence.
The minutes seemed to drag on for hours, and the hours drag on for days to the diligent mailpony as the relentless assault against her character continued. Even the twenty five glowing character references they had worked so hard to gather were shot down by the defence and the court. No wonder that mare at the front desk wished her luck: they were going to need it if she ever wanted to see Dinky again.
Even after taking the stand, with Pinkie's help, the case did not seem to be going the way she wanted it to. In fact, the grilling comments of the defence and intense pressure on her pink friend proved to be almost overwhelming for her, nearly making her cry in frustration at not being taken seriously. It came as a great relief when the justices announced that it was time for recess.
"Your honours," Twilight spoke when court resumed after the break, "I'd like to call a witness to the stand, if I may?"
By then, three of the justices looked bored by any pleas the prosecution made. The lavender mare could not help a sneaking suspicion in the back of her mind that they had already made up their minds about the case... and that it would not bode well for her friend. "Very well," Black Robe spoke, "You may call forth your witness." Waiting in the wings, the bailiff pony sprung to action, heading to a door behind the bench.
A sharply dressed unicorn stallion emerged from the back room of the court and sat in the witness' stand. He could not help but shudder as a look from his (former) boss told him that if Derpy lost, his life was about to become a Sorrel Hell. Still, he could not allow this miscarriage of justice to continue. The justices looked at him and asked, "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, with the creators' aid?"
"Yes, I do, your honours," he replied.
"Can you please state your full name and occupation for the court records?" Twilight asked as she approached.
"My name is Candid Camera, and I was an agent for the Foal Protection Services. I have recently, however, quit and forwarded my resume to the Royal Bureau of Investigations. In point of fact, I was the agent in charge of the investigation against Ms Hooves."
"Can you, in detail, explain why you have decided to come before the court and bear witness to these proceedings?" Her voice was a little shaky, the systematic dismantling of their case so far crippling what little confidence she had. She knew showing it was akin to a pony bleeding in shark-infested waters, but she simply could not help herself.
"Well, when I was dispatched to Ponyville, I operated under the assumption that a background check had been performed by other agents in the service. Later, however, I would learn that no such investigation occurred after talking to the director, Mr. Lullaby himself. I spoke with the pony who contacted us first, then proceeded to gather the evidence that was earlier forwarded by Ms. Epona.
"It was not until I began to gather the evidence for the case, however, that I began to see Miss Hooves in a different light. I gathered as many records as I could in order to help the case against her, but I quickly found that a mistake had been made. You see, I discovered that she has an IQ of well over one hundred and seventy, and that she was the one who suggested the future implementation of the Postal Box system."
The courtroom buzzed at the testimony, and not in an unpleasant way. Although the judges showed no emotion, Derpy could not help but see the looks of surprise in their eyes as they learned of her brilliant idea. Repeated bangs of the gavel brought everypony to their senses as the chief justice called for order. "Do you have any evidence to support this claim?" he added.
"Yes, your honour," he replied, producing some papers, "I have here, Ms. Hooves' school transcripts, and a copy of a personal letter of thanks from the president of the Royal Equestrian Postal Service."
However, just as he was about to pass the paper to the bailiff, the red Pegasus cleared her throat. "I have an objection, your honour. Neither Intelligence Quotient, nor organizing a new mail delivery system constitutes proper parenting. This is simply a smoke screen set up by the persecution to blind the court from the real matter at hand. Personally, I have yet to hear any reason that makes me think she is a fit parent."
"Sustained," Black Robed banged his gavel. It was another nail in the coffin of their case. "The court will hereby disregard the evidence forwarded by Mr Camera. The Defence may now begin cross-examination, if the prosecution has nothing left to add."
Twilight found herself stymied---the red Pegasus had destroyed her trump card with a simple technicality. Perhaps this really was not such a good idea, and she only had herself to blame for giving in to her friend's demands. She should have told her that she was emotionally compromised and was not thinking straight instead of accepting. Suddenly, she found herself shoved out of the way by the red mare, automatically sitting back at the table.
"Mr. Camera," the red mare paced, like a lion going in for the kill, "Can you tell us why you quit a lucrative career in the FPS over a single case?"
"Well, when I went to speak to the director about my findings, he told me that there was no initial investigation that took place. I have a copy of said report here, if the court is interested in seeing it. Anyway, after he told me this, he then threatened me."
"How did the defendant threaten you? What did he say, exactly? I remind you that you are under oath."
"He told me... that the world can be very cruel."
"Well, I'm sorry to inform you that those words do not constitute a threat. Unless you have an exact recording, the idea that he threatened you cannot be proven, and thus should be disregarded."
"No... I don't have a recording..."
"Then tell us, in your own words, why should Ms. Hooves be allowed to have her foal back?" Epona spoke, raising her voice to show her dominance in the court. It was a primal tactic, the blonde Pegasus noted, but effective. Candid seemed to shrink in the booth, intimidated by the red mare in front of him.
"Um... well, when I arrived with the authorities to take the foal in question away, she looked quite happy in the care of Ms. Hooves, and sad when we took her away, so..."
"Your honours," she interrupted, "If the prosecution can't come up with any evidence to support their claim, I motion we stop wasting everypony's time and move on to deliberations. It is obvious that Ms Hooves is mentally incompetent, just by her choice of attorney... not to mention her peculiar translator. I think that, coupled with no feasible opposition, proves my client's case more than any evidence I could conjure."
A surge of rage the likes of which Derpy had never felt before flooded through her entire being. Epona could tell they were on their last legs, and went straight for the proverbial kill. It took all her control not to jump from her seat and deck the smug "so-and-so" in the face and damn the consequences. Twilight meanwhile shook in her seat, mind racing to find something, anything to keep the trial going.
Pinkie lowered her head in sorrow. She had done nothing to help all this time and now Derpy was going to lose any chance she had to see Dinky again. She'd love to testify for the court, but that red mare had already managed to bar her from it, saying that attorneys or representatives could not testify due to bias. If she did not think it would hurt the case more, she would have broken down and cried.
"Very well," Black Robe spoke, "As the prosecution cannot voice any objections, we shall begin deliberations." Most of the ponies in the court rose to attention as the five justices filed out, and into the back rooms of the court. The blonde Pegasus was not one of them as a crushing feeling of doom surrounded her. She could tell she was never going to see her precious Dinky ever again. It was just too unfair.
"I hope this teaches you a lesson," spoke the grey stallion, who walked over to her. Until then, he had remained silent, with the exception of a few whispers to his attorney. "No pony has ever successfully appealed a decision of the Foal Protection Services. Not as long as I can help it, and have the money to back it up. The fact is, no matter how amazing your case was, you were going to lose. Do you know why? Because I KNOW you're actually retarded, and that these two," he gestured to her friends, "are covering for your idiocy... why, I have no clue. Enjoy a childless life... Ms. Hooves."
"That... that jerk!" Pinkie spoke in indignation as he traveled out of ear shot, "He's even worse than Black Snooty!"
"Did he..." Twilight realized, "Did he just admit to bribing the judges!? I mean, it was subtle enough to not hold here, but..."
It did not matter to Derpy, her pleas falling on deaf ears. Twilight had said it herself: he did not say enough to incriminate himself. It was like his tongue held a serpent most foul in it: a viper of prejudice and hatred that knew no bounds. An electric mixture of pain, sorrow, anger, and a fourth elusive emotion swirled within, distracting her from the re-entry of the justices.
"Please, be seated," the chief justice spoke, "After careful deliberation and a tally of votes, it is the decision of this court that we rule on the side of the Foal Protection Services. Due to lack of applicable evidence, we have no choice but to declare Miss Derpy Hooves an unfit parent. Case dismissed." He raised his gavel, ready to strike it down and seal the finding in stone. However, before that could happen, something strange happened.
A rush the likes of which she had never experienced before coursed through the veins of Derpy as the finding was read out loud. How dare they refuse to look below the surface!? How dare they assume she was an idiot based on fancy wordplay and the tantalizing glint of an overpriced and overly corrosive lawyer!?
"OBJECTION!" she shouted into the highest rafters of the courtroom.
Her ploy seemed to work, buying her precious seconds. "J-j-j-j... just...b-b-because... I... c-c-cannot... sp-speak p-properly," she began, not noticing the jaws of her friends drop, "D-d-does n-not g-g-give y-you the... right to... assume I have... a lack of mental faculties! T-the fact, of the matter... is that I have... spent m-my entire life... being persecuted for being different. T-today is the day... that I say that I have had enough!" She accentuated her point with a swift hit of her hoof to the table.
"I love Dinky. I love her more than... a fresh chocolate muffin... or even more then life itself. I would gladly die... to protect her, and have ALREADY put my life on the line... to do just that! You have no right to call me unfit!" Her whole body rocked as she forced the words to come out of her mouth, sweat dripping profusely from her brow as she concentrated with all her being. Everything was on the line, and for once, she would be heard!
"I swear, by the creators themselves, if you continue to doubt my mental capacities, despite my vehement reprisal, I will go before her highness, Princess Celestia herself, and show her my love and dedication for Dinky! Even if I have to sell my very soul, I will get her back! For, nothing in this world can compare... to the love of a mother for her foal! Sure, I might not have brought her into this world, but Dinky was born in my heart, and I was born in hers! If you cannot understand that... if you cannot see the indignation that burns in my eyes, nor the passion in my heart, you are the unfit ones, not I! You are unfit to administer justice at all if you cannot acknowledge the reality of love!"
Laboured breathing soon became eclipsed by the ravenous applause of a pony one-hundred fold. All the ponies in the audience, not used to her inane outbursts, quickly came onto her side after the impassioned speech. Perhaps they could sense the effort and love it took to speak them, but the words resonated in the crowd nonetheless. The blonde Pegasus continued to stare daggers into the eyes of the judges, each pair wide at the unexpected applause.
"Give her back, give her back, give her back..." the chant started, slow at first, but gaining steam the longer the justices remained silent.
"Order. Order!" Black Robe shouted over the crowd, banging his gavel to try and bring silence back to the court. Alas, they refused to comply. "I will have order, or I will eject each and every one of you from this courtroom!" Silence fell, as he banged his gavel once more, his eyes scanning the court for any stragglers to eject. "Ms Hooves, you are out of order, and far too late, as the verdict has passed."
The audience booed before he could finish his thought, causing another angry series of slams of the gavel. "SILENCE!!! LET ME FINISH!" he shouted, taking several deep breaths, "However, despite this, we will take your testimony into account. I, personally, have been moved by your impassioned speech. It is clear to me that you love the filly, and the incident reports reflect the dedication you have just spoken of. What say the rest of you?" He looked to his left, and to his right, observing a couple of hesitant nods.
"Very well then," he spoke, "It is the new decision of this court to repeal the verdict handed down by the Foal Protection Services. Although, you will not receive Dinky until after you fill out the proper adoption papers, as you are not her legal guardian. Case dismissed." A final bang of the gavel sealed the deal. Suddenly, anger, sorrow and indignation turned into unbridled joy and elation. Derpy almost cheered, before the next pony spoke.
"WAIT!!!" screamed an enraged Brittle Lullaby, "I DIDN'T PAY YOU HAY-SUCKING SODS FIVE THOUSAND BITS EACH TO BLOODY SIDE WITH HER!!!" Everypony in the courtroom stared at him. All of a sudden, what little colour the gray unicorn possessed flushed out of him, turning white as a ghost. "Aw, hayseed." Three of the judges shuffled around uncomfortably.
"Well... we decided to do the right thing, in the end," a pink unicorn mare at the end of the bench spoke softly, "So, you can keep your money." The other two judges who shuffled about nodded their heads, ashamed that they had accepted such a bribe now.
"Bailiff," Black Robe addressed, "Please escort Mr. Lullaby outside. I'm fairly certain the police would like to hear what he just said in more intricate detail."
Smack! A red hoof came into contact with the grey stallion's face as the mare seethed with anger. "How dare you! You called me here, begging for my expertise! How DARE you insult me by buying off the judges when I would have won it for you, colt-catcher!"
Epona had to be restrained by a second guard as the bailiff extracted the now black-eyed former director of the FPS into the back room. It was only then that Derpy noticed the two bodies pressing into her, winding her after her draining rant. She looked to them and sighed, hugging them back. The truth had finally prevailed.
Dear Princess Celestia,
Today, I did not learn a lesson on the magic of friendship, but something that I think is far more valuable. As you might have noticed, I have not written any reports to you since our last
If you still have the patience to read on, you will find that lesson I told you about. You see, I learned today that the bond between a mother and her foal is one of the most sacred things in this world. Through it, both ponies can achieve impossible goals, or shatter barriers between them, all in the name of their love for each other. I suppose it can explain how I've finally gathered the nerve to write you now. Ha, ha.
Seriously though, I bore witness to a mother defending her right to be with the filly she loves, despite the world being against her. I'm sure you might have read about it in the papers by now, but let me assure you that no journalist can summarize what happened. The mother, normally unable to speak in naught but inane outbursts... the pony who taught me about judging a book by its cover and not to think I'm the smartest pony in the world, managed to shrug off her life-long speech impediment in order to show that she was competent.
I feel blessed to be able to say that I saw this first-hoof. That I felt the passion and the love radiate off of her like a magic I have never felt before in my entire life, except once...with you. Although, I don't feel I've earned the right to be called your daughter, not yet anyway. I have a lot to make up for, and not a lot of time to do it in. Can you ever forgive me for hiding from you all this time? I await your response, and hope we can resume dialogue as we used to, before the unpleasantness.
Your faithful student,
A tall, handsome grandfather clock ticked away the minutes and hours, as it had done for years previously. Today, however, the hands swept across the circular face at a cruel snail's pace. The largest hand rested above the number eleven, while the smallest neared the three. Derpy Hooves paced the floor of the hall impatiently, for she was about to hear a knock on the door. Little did she know just who exactly it would be as that knock came a full five minutes before expected.
They're early, she thought as she trotted over to the door. A flood of excitement cascaded through her entire being, only to be flushed away in an instant. Standing on the other side of the door was none other than Viridian Gem: the hateful pony who caused the entire mess in the first place. It took all of the control she possessed not to slug her in that instant.
"Um... Derpy?" she said, "Listen... I heard about the trial... about what you said. Um... you can buck me, if you wish, since I deserve it. I just... wanted to apologize for, well, misjudging you. It was wrong of me to accuse you and do what I did when I should've seen you only wanted to make Dinky happy. I understa... I understand if you can never forgive me, maybe even hate me. Still... I'm sorry."
She took a deep breath, causing the green earth pony to cringe in sickening anticipation. The blonde Pegasus walked over to her, and gently placed a hoof on her back. "It's fine. Monkey flop," she smiled, forgiving her transgression. It was harder to forgive then to be angry, but she had done something harder still two weeks ago. Breaking her disability allowed her the ability to speak normally... but only if what she had to say was really heart-felt.
"T-thank you," she stammered, tears streaming down her cheeks, "It's... more than I deserve. See you around, Derpy." With that, the green mare left her alone at the door, the Pegasus shutting it before the winter coolness could invade her home. If that pony could have redemption, she mused, then there must be hope in the world, hope that things could improve.
Another knock sounded on the door moments later, just as she was about to seat herself on her couch and read a book. With a deep breath, she approached the door and opened it, to let in the chill once more. Beyond the threshold stood a warm and well-dressed unicorn mare, obscuring the view of a large carriage behind her. She had a peppermint green coat, and a tidy mane of raspberry. "Ms. Hooves, on behalf of the new director of the Foal Protection Services, I'd like to issue you a full pardon... and something even better."
Slowly, the green unicorn stepped aside, allowing the Pegasus' eyes to come across the most beautiful sight she had ever seen. Standing beyond was a purplish-grey unicorn filly, her mane a hay-touched blonde, her amber eyes dripping cold tears onto the frozen cobblestones. "Mommy!" she cried, rushing forward to hug the Pegasus tightly, nearly cutting off the circulation to her leg.
The unicorn silently bowed out and returned to the carriage which unceremoniously took off moments later. With her free leg, the mare shut the door and carried the filly into the living room. "I missed you so much, mommy! That place was cold and dirty and strange grownups kept trying to take me away, but I wouldn't let them because I KNEW you would come and get me, mommy. I just knew it. I love you so much... please don't let me go away for that long ever again!"
Depry knew Pinkie had planned a party for them that would start in a few minutes... but she did not care. She held Dinky, her now legal daughter, close and snuggled her tightly, making a silent vow to never let anypony separate them ever again. The pair nuzzled each other and simply held together for many long minutes, drinking in each other's warmth, love, and closeness.
"Never, my little muffin," Derpy soothed her filly, "Momma loves you so very, very much."
--- The End ---