Farmer Bruener Has Some Ponies

by Georg

9. Power Games

Farmer Bruener Has Some Ponies
Power Games

“The measure of a man is what he does with power.”

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Time: 5:30 P.M. Central Standard Time, June 19, 2015
KU Medical Center, Kansas City
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The second FBI visit to the alien’s hospital room took place much later than Deputy Attorney General Gates wanted. The last few hours had seen just about every obstacle thrown into her path, starting with the failure of the agent sent to secure the aliens, and progressing rather quickly afterward when the video of the agent’s visit hit the internet.

Hit like a water balloon full of gasoline into a fireworks factory.

Reporters for every newspaper, radio station, tv station, internet blog, and local penny press had started crowding into the hospital like bureaucrats around an open bar, and there was no end in sight. Tow trucks did a merry business keeping the emergency room entrance clear, the local police had to break up three fist fights between photographers, and that was before Gates found out the few additional ponies three hours away was actually more than two hundred of them, already under the protective custody of the US Army.

Several of the FBI agents later privately hypothesized that Gates had once been a sailor.

By the time Gates managed to make it up to the patient’s floor, she had cooled down to simply seething. At this rate, evacuating the two ponies here would take until past midnight before their medical charter plane would touch down at Reagan International. That would push the entire team of agents into double-overtime, and that was without even considering the difficulty in getting enough agents into Randolph to handle the mass of aliens there.

After all, the last humans who should control supposedly friendly aliens was a bunch of soldiers! It would only be a matter of time before some half-trained private just out of school would panic and shoot one of them, then the whole situation would break down into chaos. The crushing crowd of civilians outside the hospital only made it more obvious in her eyes that the creatures needed her government protection, and the quicker, the better.

There was a Kansas Highway Patrol officer standing outside the hospital door, who nodded and stepped aside when Gates flashed her identification, but only after examining it closely, along with the badges of the other four agents she had with her. Since the local police were involved, this first transfer should proceed without any more problems, which was a good sign.

The hospital beds were much as they had been pictured in the video, only with more wires and tubes around the extraterrestrial visitors. There were two nurses around the Granny Smith alien, carefully monitoring a blood pressure cuff around one green leg and adjusting sensors, but both of the aliens appeared to be sleeping, which was good. The aliens needed to be kept anesthetized and unconscious until their arrival at a detention center in Walter Reed, because Gates was not looking forward to finding out if a taser had any effect on their alien physiology, doubled since they were already injured. None of the agents in the delegation assigned to transport the two aliens to Maryland were nurses or doctors, but one of the agents was hiring an anesthesiologist to keep them drugged up during the flight, and should have him at the charter by the time they were ready to take off.

Before Gates could say anything, a distinguished older man in a rumpled suit stood up from a visitors chair near the window and moved forward.

“Ah, Deputy Gates. I was wondering when you would arrive.”

At first glance, the man in the rumpled suit did not look like a physician, or even that impressive. Age had made his hair go entirely to grey while his gut expanded, making him look a little like a Santa Claus with a shorter beard and less of a jolly attitude. There was no twinkle in those dark eyes, or smile making his cheeks dimple, but rather an expression of great solemnity that bothered Gates.

“Sir, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” said Gates. “We have two patients to transport.”

“Actually, not.” The old man produced several sheets of paper bearing official seals and dark signatures. “A restraining order prohibiting the removal of two individuals listed as Jane Doe One and Two, from the Kansas University Medical Center until their medical situation has been suitably resolved. Oh, and another one for a group of Jane and John Does currently residing in Randolph, Kansas. You see, Miss Gates, you lack Federal jurisdiction, as the individuals have been determined by Judge Pendergast to be present in Kansas without having crossed across any state borders. It’s an interesting legal question that our founding fathers seemed not to have anticipated, and I’m looking forward to seeing how various legal counsels interpet interdimensional portals in regards to existing law. In any event, since they are here, and the Kansas authorities have not requested assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, you’re stuck.”

Gates spluttered. “This is outrageous. Who’s going to provide security? Who’s going to protect them?”

The older man continued to put away a number of things into his briefcase, only stopping when his chair was clear of the papers he had been working on. “Currently, local law enforcement and members of the military are doing a fine job, from what Governor Brown has told me. He will be putting in a request to the president to allow the continued use of the National Guard and related forces to counter any major security risk, while the locals handle the day to day activities of our guests until they return home. Isn’t that right, Governor Brown?”

“Quite correct, Judge Pendergast,” sounded a voice in the room which Gates identified as coming from the speaker of a cell phone sitting on the nearby table. “Deputy Attorney General Gates, I presume? This is Governor Brown, and I’m the one who contacted the Federal District Court to get a restraining order against your agency until things can get worked out legally. I hope you don’t mind.”

“I do mind,” snapped Gates. “The aliens need to be under Federal protection.”

The governor laughed. “I think you’ll find it easier to think of them as misplaced tourists, stranded in our state for a day or two rather than aliens. It’s only right that the State of Kansas makes sure they’re taken care of until their metaphorical bus comes back and picks them all back up again, and that will be a very difficult time if they’re all ‘protected’ in Washington when their governmental leaders get their return portal set up here.”

“But they’re aliens! From space!” added Gates while pointing at the sleeping ponies, but lowered her voice at the gesture of one of the nurses who put a finger up to her lips.

“We’re considering them just to be extremely foreign nationals without citizenship papers,” explained the governor. “We’ve notified their home nation, and duplicate copies of their paperwork will be sent here as soon as possible. Their home seems very organized.”

“You’ve… talked to their leader?” Gates gave a nervous look at the door to the hospital room as if some giant space-horse was about to step into the room, but there was nobody there except the Highway Patrol officer who was pretending not to listen to the ongoing conversation.

“We’ve exchanged several letters,” explained the governor. “Between us, we have determined it will be best to keep the Equestrian nationals as close to the site of their first appearance as possible to facilitate their return when they get their return portal set up on Monday.”

“There are security matters with that—” started Gates before the governor cut her off.

“Security is taken care of. The entire First Infantry Division is parked about thirty minutes away from Randolph, if that will make you feel any better. In any event, it is my judgement as governor that our interdimensional visitors are peaceful, and mostly a little embarrassed about dropping in on us without an invitation.” There was a clicking from the phone and the governor started talking faster.

“Well, that’s a call from the 202 area code, so it might be the president. Sorry to step on your toes this way, Deputy Director, but you might as well stick around Kansas City for a few days, see the sights, and stay available if your boss needs anything. Enjoy your stay in our fair state. Later.”

With a sharp click, the call cut off.

- - - - ⧖ - - - -
Time: 5:45 P.M. Central Standard Time, June 19, 2015
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It was a quiet and sullen group of FBI agents who waited at the hospital elevator, with Deputy Attorney General Gates holding the leading position in both position and mood. She quirked her lips to one side while working through her thoughts, then turned to Agent Anacostia and held out her hand.


“What, Ma’am?” Karla Anacostia swallowed, but took her phone out from under her jacket and passed it over to the deputy AG, then unlocked it when she passed it back with a frown.

“Personal phone too,” said Gates with her other hand out.

“I don’t have a personal phone on me any more,” said Karla. “We’re permitted to use our government phones for limited personal use, and it was a pain to carry two since I never called anyone on it. I’ve got a TracFone in my glove compartment for emergencies, if that will help.”

Gates only grunted and thumbed open the call history on Karla’s phone, as well as the few of her recent text messages, before passing it back. “Somebody clued the governor in to our visit here,” she grumbled. “And if it came out of our department, I’ll skin the bastard alive.”

“Probably one of the press downstairs,” suggested one of the other agents.

“Maybe.” Gates jabbed the illuminated down button on the elevator again. “When we get back to the conference room, I want to get every agent we’ve got together and work out a plan to transport the aliens to Quantico. The governor’s restraining order only applies in Kansas. Once they cross state lines, they’re a Federal responsibility, and I want them in Maryland before they know what happened.”

“You’ll want one of the hospital staff to notify us in case they move the patients,” said Karla. “If you give me one of your business cards, Miss Gates, I’ll leave it with the nurses. I sat my coffee down back there anyway, and that gives me an excuse.”

“Good idea.” Gates peeled off several business cards and passed them to Karla, who turned and headed down the hall just as the poky elevator arrived. She kept her pace regular and measured, passing the nurse’s station and nodding at the Highway Patrol officer at the door before slipping inside the hospital room with a quick glance behind her.

“Claire!” Karla nodded her head at the elderly judge and gave a quick cough. “Judge Pendergast. Um…” She tugged at one ear with a questioning expression directed at Claire.

“I’m not recording,” said Claire.

“OhthankGod,” said Karla in one burst, turning back to the judge. “I’m sorry, Your Honor. I thought you’d be gone by now.”

“Just talking to these two lovely, intelligent ladies,” said the judge, casting a quick glance at the tall nurse and Claire Bruener in a borrowed set of scrubs. “Seems quite a coincidence that the governor of Kansas had my personal cell number. I distinctly remember giving it to you during that kidnapping affair a few months back, although things here seem to have worked out for the best.”

“About that.” Karla gave Claire a sharp glance. “What did you do with the tablet camera? I saw it propped up in the corner there.”

“Turned it off when you guys left.” Claire produced her android tablet and showed the video window with Director Gates in the rough center, frowning fiercely. “I was just about to upload it to YouTube, but the hospital wifi sucks.”

“A few hundred reporters sponging off it drags down the bandwidth,” said Karla rapidly. She peeked out the hospital room door to make sure no other agents had wandered back in her direction before turning back to Claire. “Don’t. Just don’t. Putting that on YouTube is a really bad idea.”

“What, is it illegal?”

The judge interrupted. “Kansas is a one-party consent state, so technically recording Miss Gates and myself was not illegal. It was, however, unwise.”

“You don’t get to her position in Washington by being nice,” said Karla. “You get it by winning fights. She wants to win this one bad. A nice, mutual press conference in Walter Reed with all the major networks listening to how she provided assistance to our alien visitors would play nicely. Then in about a year after the next election, the Attorney General retires, and she moves up, along with everybody who helped her.”

“I see.” Claire slid the video into a folder and closed it. “And anybody who doesn’t help—”

“Bounces under the bus like a dead possum. Oh.” Karla pulled out the DAG’s business cards, then scribbled a number on the backs of two of them. “Deputy AG’s cell on the front. My personal TracFone on the back. Find something that makes her look good, give her a call. Otherwise, give me a call, and we’ll try to fix it. And try to keep them in Kansas. If they cross state lines, she’s going to try to hustle them off to Quantico, but I don’t think she’ll break a restraining order. Go around your back maybe, but she’s got enough respect for the law to keep to it. Unless she can get somebody else in the court to overturn it.”

“I’ll talk to my peers. I think the quieter we keep this, the better off everybody will be.” Judge Pendergast took one of the business cards and tucked it away before looking at the tall nurse in the room, who had been very quiet to this point. The nurse silently nodded back and put a finger to her lips before turning back to Granny Smith and checking a sensor wire. Likewise, the Highway Patrol officer at the hospital room door gave them all a short nod, touched his lips like he was closing a zipper, and returned to his silent observation of the corridor.

Karla picked up the foam coffee cup she had intentionally left behind and took a quick drink. “Well, that’s it for now. Not enough coffee in the world to handle the upcoming hours-long meeting on my day off to deal with planning for an alien invasion ex post facto. Uh,” she added, looking around the room. “Speaking of which, where is the scary one? Goose, I believe?”

“Watching my granddaughter. She was visiting today, and I had to tear out of the Federal Building so fast, I didn’t get a chance to find a sitter,” said Judge Pendergast.

He opened the door to the bathroom where the young girl and the dark batpony were sitting quietly in the middle of the tile floor. The judge’s granddaughter had stripped Goose of her armor before giving the reluctant human-sitter a long brushing, ending in what had obviously been an epic fun time of tying the batpony’s long mane up in colorful ribbons, including one that held the short mane on top of her head straight up like a dark violet haystack. “Come on, honeybunch,” called out the judge. “Time to go.”

“Aww, Grandpa. I wanted to braid her tail.” The little girl looked heartbroken, although her ribboned and bowed pony target perked up as if she was being released from a jail sentence.

“You can come back later,” assured Claire. She scribbled a phone number on a nearby piece of paper and handed it to the young girl. “You and Goose were very good, and since we’re going to be here for a few days, you can come back and braid her tail then.”

Karla stood next to Claire and watched the judge and his granddaughter go away, with one tiny wave thrown back over the girl’s shoulder before they went around the corner of the corridor. Then Claire looked back into the bathroom and giggled.

“Don’t take those ribbons out. They look adorable, and if you’re going to go visit the children’s ward like you promised, they’ll keep the kids from being spooked.”

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Time: 5:40 P.M. Central Standard Time, June 19, 2015
Bruener Farm, Randolph Kansas
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“Glad that’s over,” said Governor Brown as he thumbed the phone over to the other call. “Hello, who is this?” He listened for a moment, then hung up with a low grumble. “No, I don’t need to refinance my student loans, spammer!”

“At least you can use your phone.” Jon Bruener jabbed futilely at his iPhone, barely able to clear out one text message before another dozen flashed across the screen. “Damned Google. Everybody across the world sees my name on TV, Googles my seed company, and has my phone number to send me a text.”

Spike laughed with a remarkably human sounding snort at the end. “Glad I don’t have that problem. Only Princess Celestia and Twilight have the spell to send me—” He put both hands over his face, then belched mightily with a burst of green flame that spilled out over the dining room table and left several packages behind.

“Whoa,” said Jon, patting a scorched corner of the tablecloth. “Careful. My grandmother embroidered this.”

“Sorry.” Spike thumped his chest with one clenched fist to get the last burst of smoke out. “Ow. Well, at least Twilight sent me a snack along with the mail. Good thing, since I missed breakfast.” He picked up a bag full of sparkling rocks and popped one into his mouth with a deafening crunch.

“Pill bottles?” asked Governor Brown, poking cautiously at the collection of items on the table.

“Prescriptions, most likely,” said Spike as he unrolled a scroll and popped another rock in his mouth. “Registration papers, spell notes for the unicorns here to help out with the portal spell in three days. Ah, and a note.”

“Are those… gemstones?” asked Jon, reaching into the neck of the bag and running his fingers through several red and green stones that looked a little like… no, that was quite impossible.

“Rubies, emeralds, a few opals, some peridot, and citrines,” verified Spike, grabbing one chubby handful and popping them into his mouth with a noise like an industrial gravel grinder destroying a boulder. “Some of these are fresh, too. Rarity must have just dug them up today.”

“Uh… Yeah.” Governor Brown peeked over Spike’s shoulder at the long letter, written in the indecipherable Equestrian script. “So what does your Princess Twilight Sparkle say this time?”

“Not much.” Spike kept eating while reading down the page, but talked loud enough to be heard over the destruction. “A week’s worth of prescriptions for everypony with any health issues, just in case. Affirmations of Equestrian citizenship for the ponies stranded here. Uh, I’ll translate them for you later. Extra quills, ink, parchment, and a note for me. That’s nice. I was starting to feel a little ignored.”

The little dragon popped the last of the gems into his mouth and shook the empty bag to get the last fragments of gem dust out, then flattened the scroll down on the table. Jon took the empty bag as it was passed to him and tried to wrap his mind around just how many millions of dollars worth of precious stones it had held. Some of the rubies in the collection were as big as his thumb… or had been that large before being consumed.

“Dear Spike,” started the dragon. “Oh, good. She remembered my name. Anyway, I’ve sent a full week’s worth of prescriptions for all of the residents, along with forms of identification that I hope that world’s governmental authorities accept as official. Included are spare writing materials for you to return a note in case I’ve forgotten anything, and extra writing materials to request any more writing materials if you get low.”

Jon tried to keep a straight face. “I think your Twilight needs a good, long talk with my wife, the therapist.”

“She just drives them crazy,” said Spike. “Anyway, some more about writing, she’s going to try to keep the library sorted without me, Starlight Glimmer— Uh-oh.”

“What?” Jon and Governor Brown looked over the dragon’s shoulder, despite not being able to make heads or tails out of the letter he was reading.

“She’s a really powerful unicorn, and she tries hard to be good, but sometimes she gets a little… scary.” Spike took a deep breath and continued down the page. “I’m supposed to give the notes on the portals to the graduates of Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns who wound up here so they can work the problem from this end too, and use the Ponyville Emergency Fund to pay any expenses we run up until our return. Uh-oh.” Spike looked at the empty bag that had recently held gemstones, then turned it over to reveal a series of Equestrian symbols that seemed to say ‘Do not eat!’ if Jon squinted at them just right.

The governor patted the dragon on the shoulder. “The State of Kansas and Riley County will pick up most of the security and housing tab, since it’s only going to be three days. In all odds, the increase in tourism will make up the difference and then some.”

“Besides, I’ll chip in for any immediate expenses,” said Jon. “You landed here, after all. One of the phone calls I made was to my lawyer back in Leonardville and the bank. She’s setting up a lead trust for your town’s use if needed, and I moved some of my savings into it so the bank can issue a debit card. She should have it here this evening, pro bono.”

Governor Brown checked his own phone, which had been buzzing fairly frequently. “I’m not sure it will be needed. Every charity from the American Red Cross to the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League is lined up to help. The Shriners are even covering Widget and Granny Smith’s hospital bills. My aide says the hardest thing the Riley County Emergency Management staff is dealing with is people who think that we’re going to need a few semi-trucks full of hay and bottled water.”

“As long as it doesn’t get as bad as ‘93,” said Captain Samantha Reitz. “We must have thrown away a couple semi’s worth of the most amazing useless stuff after the flood. Anyway, Governor, I’m headed back into town, but the other shift commander will be along shortly, and we’ve borrowed a few deputies from surrounding counties for traffic control. We’re not having to tow as many people as I first thought to keep K-77 clear, but—” She paused, then continued a little slower. “I’ll have to show you the video the highway department shot. It’s really… different.”

- - Ω - -

The Riley County Highway Department pickup was covered in blinking yellow lights and signs like the pace car at a race, but regularly poked along fairly slow like today. The crew it carried could normally put in about four traffic control signs an hour, due to the time required to assemble the sign, dig the hole or hammer in the post, and make sure everything was all correct. Roberto was driving his truck down the edge of the road at a fair trot this afternoon, which was more than unusual because normally he never would have used ‘trot’ as a measure of speed. However, the chunky armored unicorn trotting along just to the side of the pickup was setting the pace, along with one of his companions sitting in the bed of the pickup and using his ‘magic’ to assemble signs. It was a fascinating sight to see Specialist Epsilon surrounded by glowing bolts, nuts, poles and the ‘No Parking - Tow Zone’ signs, spinning and tightening all the parts together until he would float the assembled sign over the edge of the pickup bed to Specialist Titan, who would—

There was another one of the strange ‘chunk’ noises and the bottom half of the steel signpole Titan had floated in front of him just vanished underground, leaving a perfectly straight ‘No Parking’ sign in his wake as he trotted forward to the next location.

- - Ω - -

“In any event,” continued Captain Reitz, “the MPs are set up, we’re arranging for shift changes, and we’ve got less of a traffic problem than anticipated, mostly because we’ve been pretty stringent about who we allow into town and the farm. After discussing things with the mayor, we’ve decided to house the children both here and in the Brueners’ old farmhouse next door, since keeping them together will allow us to move them to the return portal in one herd, so to say. Mister Bruener has been coordinating with Randolph to see about housing the rest of our temporary residents in something other than the Emergency Management cots starting to stack up at the Methodist church. How did that go, Jon?”

- - Ω - -

Jon really had expected to see just a few Winnebagos and travel trailers in the flat grassy field around back of his house. The field was really too small to rent out for grazing, since it had once been a horse paddock a decade ago until his father had gotten too old to deal with the horses and sold them. Then he passed away and Jon could not keep up with mowing the fenced area either. So he had pulled up the fence and hayed the sparse grass off it every summer while waiting for the compacted soil to spring back.

Years ago, his father had traveled the country with a Winnebago-Itasca Travelers group, and once had brought them over for a visit which filled the yard up with their expensive motorhomes, but Jon really had not expected to see quite so many of them parked in neat lines behind the house again. Thirty or forty was a good guess, under a set of shady clouds that the pegasi were anchoring above the motorhomes. Technically, almost all of them slept four comfortably, or six uncomfortably, so between them, dad’s old house, and his own home, they could probably temporarily house the whole collection of Ponyvillians, even if they would be a little cramped.

The only question he had was why there were so many motorhomes and fifth-wheel trailers in his back pasture next to the dirt utility road that ran up toward Randolph. Jon had called Pastor May and asked if he could bring his fairly small RV up because it had a toilet, although Jon could vaguely remember asking if he could spread the word among the RV crowd.

It had not seemed like too much of an imposition because the pastor only really used his fifth-wheel trailer for the Fourth of July church youth group fireworks stand, and Jon could see it next to his own worn Winnebago Rialta. Then there was Mister Foreman’s travel trailer next to it, and… actually, quite a few of the motorhomes looked familiar, and when Jon went over to the pasture where the owners were showing the temporary residents, it was like going to a church meeting.

Ponies and humans were crawling all over the vehicles because RV owners loved to show off their expensive toys, and the ponies were tickled pink—literally in some cases—to explore and prod the strange machines. About half of the RV owners wound up being from Jon’s church or social circle of some sort. A few quick questions around the gathering revealed the calling tree had caught fire and spread out to the point where Jon noticed Pastor May answering his phone every few minutes with a “No, I don’t think we need any more RVs, but leave a note in the church office in case we need to give you a call.”

To Jon’s intense amazement, the clouds being ‘parked’ over the RVs by the pegasi were also being shaped and moulded by energetic pegasi hooves into temporary housing. The sight of a winged pony climbing over a cloud and patting it into roof or a wall was stunning at first, worthy of a few minutes of video for Facebook, but after everything that had happened today, he was starting to feel more than a little stunned.

Still, not as stunned as some of the people in the town of Randolph.

- - Ω - -

Howard Baker was retired, which had a lot of ‘tired’ in it, and enough ‘re’ to repeat tired many times. Oh, there were still activities and such going on in his life, but today he had taken the peace and quiet of the empty house to catch up on his magazine reading and sand a few more pieces of the parquet table he was assembling out in the garage. The wife had been at Vacation Bible School at the Randolph Methodist church all day and had returned just a few minutes ago, talking a mile a minute about some sort of disaster that had dumped a bunch of ponies into the town with no place to keep them. She was a wonderful wife, but entirely too volunteering for Howard’s preferences, in particular the way she had volunteered their back yard to hold several of the lost ponies until they were picked back up.

He was just considering how large the truck accident had to have been to keep all of the ponies from being penned in some farmer’s pasture when the doorbell rang, and he got up from his recliner to answer it. After all, the wife was busy in the kitchen, and she would have needed to walk past him to get to the door anyway, which would have gotten him a sharp talking-to.

“I got it, hun,” he called out as he opened the door and looked out… at nothing.

“Mister Baker? Ohmygosh another human! Isn’t this great, Bonnie?” said a voice down below his line of sight.

There was a grinning horse… well, not really a horse, because a horse would not have been that shade of mint green, or nearly that short, and certainly would not have a mane with blue-green and white stripes flowing down its neck. And a horn. Really, the horn threw him most of all. With the horn, it looked like a unicorn, and nobody sober or sane saw unicorns standing at the front door in the middle of the day. Admittedly, he had gotten out a beer for lunch, but just one beer, and a domestic one at that.

The hornless pony standing next to the green one was a more normal golden-yellow, but with a totally impossible blue and pink mane that curled up in front. She was not grinning so intently as her companion, but rather looked around at her surroundings with a casual intentness. “Lyra,” she admonished in a high, squeaky voice. “They’re all humans around here.”

“But this one is a baker!” said ‘Lyra’ with an even larger grin that nearly could not fit on her face. “You two will get along great! Do you throw parties or are you more a bread baker or a candy maker like Bon Bon here or—”

“Lyra!” The cross-looking yellow pony stuck a hoof right into her companion’s mouth. “Manners.” Turning back to Howard, Bon Bon gave a small, respectful nod of her head and a polite smile. “Mister Baker, the human ladies at the Methodist church were looking for volunteers to house us while we’re waiting on Twilight to make a return portal. Your wife, I believe, said you have a spare bedroom.”

“Honey?” called out Howard. “It’s for you.”