In the magical land of Equestria, young fillies (and sometimes colts) go on grand, wonderful adventures. The royal Princesses indulge in the occasional prank, their rule is just and kind, and everything is a big, happy ball of sunshine.This is not about those blessed ponies. This is about the ponies who take care of the messes they make. Meet the Equestrian Civil Service.The princesses rule Equestria. The various nobles claim to lead Equestria. The politicians and Parliament govern Equestria. And the Equestrian Civil Service runs it.Their one mission: To take care of the messes that the Princesses cannot spare the time for. And Dotted Line, Cabinet Secretary of the Equestrian Civil Service, takes his duties very, very seriously.Hilarity Ensues as the wacky bunch of heroic bureaucrats try to deal with nosy reporters, paranoid nobles, and worst of all...a surprise visit from the Princess' prized pupil, Twilight Sparkle herself.The Equestrian Civil Service Series is an ongoing project by Ghost of Heraclitus. Takes place during a period before Twilight's ascension, but after the Changeling Invasion.
The stories, in order of publication:
- Whom the Princesses Would Destroy... To Princess Celestia and Twilight Sparkle, it is a simple surprise visit to Canterlot. To the ponies of the Equestrian Civil Service, it is twenty-four hours of chaos, politics, weaponized dessert, politics, underhooved manipulation of media, politics, and things batrachian and tentacular. Who said bureaucracy isn't exciting?
- A Canterlot Carol is a much more somber look into the life of Dotted Line, as he tries to keep the bureaucracy machine running during the holiday, pry his coworkers out of the office, and stick to his plans for Hearthwarming.
- A Princess By Any Other Name is a much more humorous story set during Dotted's younger years. Here, a younger (and decidedly less mature) Princess Cadence tries to change her name. To Cadance-with-an-A. Dotted Line valiantly tries to remain calm in the face of bratty teenage goddesses, a crisis of religion, and the local Eldritch Abomination who keeps begging someone to "fRrReEeEeEeE uSsSsss..." (A crossover with the Cadance Of Cloudsdale series by Skywriter.)
- Obiter Dicta is a collection of short stories, vignettes, and deleted scenes, mostly about the Civil Service and the brave (also insane) ponies who work there. Introduces the family of Leafy Salad, a discussion on royal board games, and an excerpt from the history of Griffin/Pony relations.
These stories provide examples of:
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- Beleaguered Bureaucrat: Much of the Civil Service, but especially Dotted Line.
- Death Glare: Dotted Line has one so potent that it can make hoity nobles shut up. Only close friends are immune.
- Footnote Fever: A signature of GhostOfHeraclitus' writing.
- Mad Scientist: Dotted really likes explosions.
- Pals with Jesus: Dotted Line is the only pony who can enter Celestia's private study whose name does not include the title princess, or start with a "T" and end with "wilight Sparkle".
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The entirety of the Equestria Civil Service are a group of ponies who by all logic shouldn't be left in a room together, much less to their own devices. And yet they happen to be astoundingly good at their job.
- Workaholic: Dotted Line.
Whom the Princesses Would Destroy...
- Abnormal Ammo: Custard from a royal food fight covers the library tower, because apparently Luna has figured out how to weaponize it even better than usual. And the inside of the tower is full of jam because:Swift Wing: "Well, sir, Her Highness princess Celestia beheld the custard onslaught, sir, and, yea verily, did she summon the ancient powers of alicornkind..."
- Berserk Button: Don't call Dotted "my lord".
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The entire civil service, but Dotted Line in particular. He's a northener chemist who occasionally thinks his appointment as Cabinet Secretary was a joke by Celestia that just got way out of hand, but can still shut down a room of angry nobles with a glare.
- Capital Letters Are Magic: To emphasise how serious he is being, a noble uses capital letters as part of his rant on how Twilight Sparkle popping in for a visit Spells Doom For All.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Leafy, mostly due to having skipped breakfast. And he's also Permanent Under-secretary of State for the Home Office.
- The Comically Serious: Princess Celestia, when she finally appears.
- Continuity Nod: Some difficult workponies bring up some of the exploits of Twilight Sparkle and her friends as reason for their being difficult.
- Deus ex Machina: Princess Celestia appears in the climax bearing a much needed Spot of Tea for Dotted.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Spinning Top has been known to utilise this.
- Eldritch Abomination: the Disemvoweled One.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Professor Ivory Abacus says that after exorcising Twilight Sparkle's old room, they will need a drink. They do.
- Leeroy Jenkins: After a long overdue cup of tea, Dotted Line launches into battle against Ykzlpxlt!k. He survives, but not of his own ability.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: A surprising number of edicts passed down by cabinet ministers "accidentally" end up going missing, or on fire, or in a moat, or set on fire then dropped in a moat...
- Manipulative Bitch: With the aid of a friend on the inside, Spinning Top plans to play the Equestria Daily like a fiddle.
- Mass "Oh, Crap!": The EQCS's reaction on learning Twilight Sparkle is coming to Canterlot for a visit.
- Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher: It's apparently expected for Cabinet Secretaries to act like this, with a touch of Canterlot refinement to boot. Needless to say, neither of these things describe Dotted Line.
- Must Have Caffeine: Poor Dotted Line has to go most of his day without a cup of tea. Luckily, Celestia shows up to give him a thermos.
- Narrative Profanity Filter: Dotted Line's thoughts on the nobility aren't suitable for publication.
- No Kill Like Overkill: A grand total of forty police officers are brought in to arrest one Silverwing, who did things to a young mare.
- Also an in-universe case of Contrived Coincidence: As Leafy Salad puts it: "Just five, I think you'll find. The other thirty-five were off-duty and, by freak of chance, were all in the area where the arrest was to take place.". Don't ask about the Royal Guard...
- Not So Above It All: Dotted snaps at a bunch of professors for getting distracted talking about Daring Do. Then we see his inner monologue, where he's angry because he prefers a different book than them.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Dotted Line thinks (nay, desperately hopes) Twilight Sparkle isn't actually the innocent, cheerful adorable and slightly clueless-ly friendly pony she actually is.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Leafy Salad's frowning is noted to be unnatural, what with his Perpetual Smiler status.
- Punctuation Shaker: Parodied with "Ykzlpxlt!k, The Disemvoweled One" (The aforementioned "batrachian and tentacular" Eldritch Abomination)
- A Rare Sentence: "Why is the erstwhile home of Princess Celestia's very favorite student covered in four feet of custard?"
- Sanity Slippage: Dotted Line struggles to keep a level head throughout it all. He starts to downspiral after a close encounter with The Disemvoweled One. Of course, it's still funny.
- Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: The academics of Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns flee the first chance they get. A few of the more savvy ones were fleeing before that.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: Dotted Line pushes himself to the breaking point trying to make sure that Twilight Sparkle has a place to stay in the castle...only to learn at the end that she's staying with her parents.
- Shout-Out: One highly exclusive tea-shop in Canterlot has doorponies who are skilled in bouncing, and should they be sufficiently pressed, splatting as well.
- Slasher Smile: In a particularly jubilant mood, Spinning Top begins smiling in a way usually saved for sharks.
- The Stoic: A requisite of being a Guard, with increasing stoic-ness relative to rank. Sergeants apparently have full control over their autonomic systems, and the ability to speak without moving their face.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Dotted Line's reaction to learning about Twilight Sparkle's visit.
- Title Drop: The opening of the story contains the full phrase, before mentioning that no-one's ever actually asked where it came from, and neither Celestia or Luna are talking.
- Tranquil Fury: Leafy Salad's reaction to what Silverwing did to that poor filly.
- Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card!: Ykzlpxlt!k, the Disemvoweled One, Devourer of Souls, Approacher At The Gate, and apparently at least a dozen more titles.
- Apparently Princess Celestia has even more than that. Apparently if a regular pony tried to recite them all in one go, they'd asphyxiate.
A Canterlot Carol
- Eldritch Abomination: Another one haunts the chimney of Dotted Line's office every Hearthswarming: the dreaded Santa Claus.
A Princess By Any Other Name
- Eldritch Abomination: This time, it's a freaking baby book. After spending several centuries being worshipped and surrounded by powerful magic, the book has a limited degree of sapience and an unpredictable aura or wild magic.
- And I Must Scream: And judging from the voices, it's not happy.
- Exact Words: Ivory Abacus states that Dotted has a number of options for dealing with the book. She then supplies a grand total of one suggestion, before pointing out one is a number. Dotted isn't impressed.
- Sanity Slippage: The director of the Bureau of Names and Standards snapped from looking at genealogy charts all day, and went on a quest to learn "how many miles" there were. He wasn't seen again.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Cadance's (Sorry, Cadence's) name change.
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- Altum Videtur: It's titled "Obiter Dicta." It means 'said in passing' in Latin.
- Anti-Climax: In "The Nature of War", unfathomable resources (and over a thousand words) are dedicated to building up the legendary griffon champion and his legendary sword before he is ready to attack Equestria. He is then shot by a random pony with a crossbow.
- Calvinball: The Game Princesses Play is really just a quick game of Nomic that went way, WAY overboard. Some thousands of years ago. At least one section of it is a direct playing of Mornington Crescent from I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.
- Combat Pragmatist: The pony approach to fighting.
- Dotted, too; he is the only person in a thousand years to actually ask what the Game Princesses Play actually is, rather than debating about it.
- Honor Before Reason: The griffin approach to fighting. It doesn't end well.