Farmer Bruener Has Some Ponies

by Georg

22. Newton's Law

Farmer Bruener Has Some Ponies
Newton’s Law

“Plato is my friend, Aristotle is my friend, but my greatest friend is truth.”
Isaac Newton

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Time: 2:15 P.M. Monday June 22, 2015
Location: Above the FBI Field Office, Kansas City, Missouri
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“So did you have anything you wanted to say before I turn this on, Rose?”

Kota arranged the ‘Press’ badge clip on his shirt and checked the battery indicator again. It was a nice bit of craftwork with ‘Dakota Henderson’ written in thin silver script right over the word ‘PRESS’ and a discreet ‘San Francisco Chronicle’ logo below, but the important part of the body camera was the wide-angle lens that blended right into the black plastic. Admittedly, it was fixed-focus and did not record in the dark very well, but it had provided more than one photo for the paper when unwary officials had made him put away his real camera. The air chariot was still relatively high in the air, but had just made a minor course change and started to descend, and the three Equestrians had begun talking to each other on their helmet communication systems, so Kota was taking this opportunity to get prepared. However, he was not prepared for what came next.

“I love you, I always have. Those lips, that smile, the way you always call me Rose instead of Specialist Petal. I don’t think I can resist your masculine attraction any more.” The unicorn stood up on her hind legs and put both forehooves on his chest, pressing Kota back into the chariot’s chair. “Kiss me, you fool.”

“Uhamanuawha?” Kota almost dropped his Nikon, which brought him back to reality with a snap. Seeing two thousand dollars worth of camera vanish over the side of the aluminum air chariot would have really made his day. He really did not catch what was going on until the giggling unicorn sat back down and brushed one lock of her pink hair back under her helmet.

“Oh, Mister Henderson. You make me feel like a young mare again. I just wanted to be absolutely certain you weren’t recording already.” Her face straightened back up again and she looked directly into his eyes. “Just to be clear, I’m happily married.”

Kota nodded, because he was not quite sure he was ready to say anything yet. At least the brisk breeze of the chariot’s progress allowed his cheeks to cool off.

“Good.” Rose nodded back. “I need your opinion, as a military human. Do you think your FBI will respond better to a female Equestrian officer ordering them to release Widget or a male officer?”

“Male,” said Kota almost instantly. “But if things go pear-shaped in a hurry, they’re far less likely to attack you. Men have this ‘thing’ about not hitting girls. Particularly on camera.”

“How about if it were a princess doing the asking?” There was a flare of green light, and a different Equestrian mare was standing on the chariot, much larger and darker. Rose’s mane flowed back over her shoulder in an ebon river with little glints of light in it, and a pair of wings now spread out over her back. It obviously was not a surprise to the twin pegasi pulling the chariot, because they glanced back to see what the light was all about, then returned to their regular flying without a single comment. The changed alicorn standing in front of Kota stretched her neck, gave a brief flap in the cool slipstream of the chariot’s passage, and cocked a curious eyebrow. “So, praytell, wouldst thy world’s guards give due courtesy to Luna, our Princess of the Night?”

There was another flare of green light, and when he could see again, there was a different alicorn standing in the wind. This one was a snowy-white with a flowing mane made of pastel colors, and tall enough she could look Kota right in the eyes when she spoke.

“Or do you think I would need to pull out the big boss lady,” said Rose in a rolling alto cadence where each word seemed to be a statement. “Princess Celestia has more of a direct influence on anypony she meets, although I’ve never tried to use her visage before in a serious discussion. I’m not sure I could pull it off, and there’s no way I’m going to use Princess Cadence.”

“I… um… think they’d know you weren’t in the original number of visiting ponies,” managed Kota after a few quick breaths. That one entry on the Equestrian census that read ‘changeling’ suddenly fell right into place, as well as the reason why the other guards had been so reluctant to talk much about their buggy Ponyvillian, although his mind was working fast enough to add, “But you could tell them you just came through the opened portal.”

“No, I don’t think so. Complicated lies never work well,” she admitted, and green light surrounded the pony again, only to have Rose standing there on the chariot decking when Kota blinked away the spots. “I’ve never been able to do either of their voices very well,” admitted Rose, “but ever since I told my husband—” Considering that the magenta unicorn was really a disguised pony-sized bug, she had an amazing blush right up to the tips of her ears and shut her mouth with a snap. “Nevermind,” she managed. “We’ll just have to manage on our own.”

The fenced yard around the building ahead of them was getting fairly close, but Kota hesitated before turning on his cameras. “Miss Petal, if the portal doesn’t get opened today like they’ve said it might not…” He paused, then blurted right ahead, “Can I get you to pose for me later? Decent poses, of course.”

With a giggle that made the middle-aged mare seen half her age, Rose held a hoof to her lips to hide the resulting smile. “If you want indecent poses, I’m sure Specialist Thermal can provide. I’ll even watch her foal for you. But right now, I’d appreciate it if you could keep your mind on the job.”

* * *

Agent Darius Newton was about as conflicted as the rest of the FBI team, but he was not about to admit it out loud. Getting pulled out of Chicago on a moment’s notice and flung into Agent Hallman’s team did not foster much of a sense of camaraderie among his teammates, although the task was simple. That is the task was supposed to be simple. The Equestrians were supposed to be loaded into separate cars at the hospital, and the bat-winged freak shuttled back to Randolph while Pinkie the Unicorn was given the tour. Then the whole team bungled the evacuation, fouled up the extraction at the stadium, and now Hallman was probably going three for three with the current scheme inside the office. Whatever reward Pearlie had promised Hallman to run this cluster of fail, he had better have gotten it in writing.

So in theory, the weird pony and the civilian were going to be escorted out of the multipurpose room in a few minutes, where Anacostia would then drive them to Randolph. Then once the pink unicorn was calmed down, she would be loaded up into the windowless panel van and Newton would drive them out to MCI to the waiting aircraft. Celtic and Capri had originally been scheduled to meet their alien visitor for the trip back to Andrews on Air Force Two, but there had been a great deal of behind-the-scenes shuffling due to supposed ‘security’ concerns, resulting in a half-dozen aides and a few over-energized White House volunteers being the only official escorts for the trip. For one, Newton was just glad Capri was not going to be on the flight because he’d probably wind up petting (or pinching) their alien visitor and starting some sort of intergalactic war. Plus the Secret Service would probably pull rank on their guest escort mission, and he would find himself sitting on the tarmac in the heat while the big jet headed to Washington. And Newton had always wanted to see the inside of Air Force Two.

The sound of wheels on pavement behind him made Newton turn abruptly from his introspective inspection of the building door. Some sort of amalgamation of metal mesh and bicycle wheels had touched down in the FBI parking lot, pulled by two of the Equestrian pegasus ponies, and with a unicorn and a dark-skinned human photographer in the back.

“Hey,” he managed, taking several steps forward and waving one hand out of habit. “This is a restricted area. There’s no unauthorized parking.”

“Oh, really. I didn’t see any signs when we were landing.” The magenta-colored unicorn in the passenger compartment stepped out with one quick hop and began walking up to Newton while the human photographer exited the contraption with much more care. The unicorn drew Newton’s full attention with the way she seemed to sway her hips with every step, making the dark armor look more like a naughty costume than a uniform. “Boys, take ten while I talk with your macho counterpart here.”

Newton barely noticed the pegasi leave the aluminum carriage behind as they vanished into the sky with a rush of air. He was busy trying to think while protesting, “No, you can’t come in here, ma’am.” The normal process for stopping somebody from walking forward was to put a left hand on their chest, but to do that Newton would probably have to kneel.

“I’m going into that building, sir.” The armored magenta unicorn continued to walk forward while talking. “I’m going to pick up two of our citizens, and we’re going to Randolph for our return portal home. Unless you’re going to stop me.”

The cool plastic of the taser felt unnatural to Newton’s right hand, but he remembered far too many stories of panicked police officers drawing their service weapon instead of the non-lethal plastic device. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave, Ma’am. You’re not permitted—”

“Mister Henderson,” said the unicorn, who had stopped abruptly when the taser was pointed at her. “Is that a weapon?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” said the photographer. “It’s called a Taser. It shoots two darts that conduct electricity.” The photographer moved a little sideways so he was not directly behind the armored unicorn. “It’s not supposed to be lethal,” he added.

“Very well.” The unicorn turned back to Newton and smiled, in a technical way that involved the corners of her lips lifting, but no actual amusement. “Please note that an Equestrian Royal Guard on an official government mission has just been threatened with a weapon, one that is supposed to be safe, but the user has no idea how it will react to our physiology.”

“I’m warning you—” Something grabbed the end of Newton’s taser, yanked it down to his thigh, and the trigger depressed itself under his finger. The sensation of the darts penetrating his trousers was dwarfed by the excruciating pain that swept over him, like a thousand electric bees had decided to repeatedly sting and sting and sting…

“It does seem to be effective,” said the unicorn, who remained where she was and watched Newton writhe around on the ground. “You say it’s supposed to be non-lethal, correct?”

“Um… Yes.” The photographer moved a little closer, from what Newton could see through his teary eyes. “Um, Rose? You’re supposed to let up on the trigger after he falls down.”

“Oh! Sorry about that, Agent…” Still twitching on the pavement, Newton was unable to resist when something ghostly ruffled through his suit and pulled out his badge. “Agent Darius Newton,” she continued. “Pleased to meet you. My name is Specialist Rose Petal of the Equestrian Night Guard, and just to keep you from shooting me in the rear…”

Newton’s taser went skittering under the van, followed by his service pistol. The handcuffs that had been clipped to the back of his belt found a second use with one arm cuffed securely to his opposite ankle, and the unicorn bent down to whisper in his ear.

“I really am sorry about this, Darius. If Twilight doesn’t get the portal open this afternoon, come by the town sometime and I’ll make it up to you. I’ve got a young colt at home just like you.” It was a disconcerting change of tone from the alien, made worse by the way she winked at him.

“Anyway,” said the unicorn loudly after she stood up and began walking forward to the building’s door. “Let’s see if our little lost lambs are ready to go home yet, or if they’re still playing.”

* * *

Hallman was a family man. As much as the FBI liked to say it considered the agents under its command to be a big family of sorts, at times he considered it to be a lot like the Mansons.

“Agent Anacostia,” he said as the rest of his team moved around the periphery of the FBI field office’s multipurpose room, “please take Cadet Goose Down and Miss Bruener to your vehicle. I’d like a few words with Miss Widget.”

And they would be private words, since the FBI office did not have any cameras in this section of the building, and certain not-threats had been made to the rest of his team with regard to recording any portion of their alien-human interactions.

“With all due respect, sir. Widget’s had a very hard time, and I don’t think—”

“That’s an order, Agent Anacostia,” said Hallman.

“I’m not leaving—” started the Bruener girl, who Hallman cut off before she could get started.

“Miss Bruener, your invitation to visit this facility is hereby rescinded. You can leave on your own power, or you can be tased and tossed out in handcuffs. Anacostia, take them outside.”

The bat-winged military pony shifted forward and held a precautionary wing in front of Bruener girl. “I’m really sorry, sir,” she said in that squeaky voice that was half-ragdoll and half-porn star. “I’d rather Claire stay with us.”

“You really don’t have a choice in the matter,” said Hallman bluntly. The agency psychologists had included a few pages of advice about dealing with the creatures in the bulky packet he had managed to read overnight. It had not helped much, and he suspected most of it had been cribbed from terrestrial animal husbandry, but they had been fairly confident that the aliens exhibited herding behavior. That meant being larger and acting obviously in charge should make the aliens more likely to follow orders, which seemed to bear out as the dark pony reversed her wing and gave Miss Bruener a little nudge from behind.

“Go on, Claire,” she said. “I’ll stay here with Widget.”

That’s the hard half. Now once Anacostia gets Miss Bruener outside, we can work on separating the two ponies. Hopefully, we don’t have to tase either of them. That’d put me on Pearlie’s list for sure.

“Leave the bags of medical gear for later,” he added as Anacostia took the lighter-skinned but similarly built young lady toward the exit door. “I’ll have one of the agents load it when we’re ready to go.”

“Isn’t that sexist?” asked Miss Bruener, who stopped walking in order to turn around, except for Anacostia’s hand on her arm pushing her in the direction of the door. “All right, I’m going.”

Hallman was just turning around to face the two ponies again when there was a sharp knock at the door behind him.

“That’s our ride,” said Cadet Goose, scooting her fellow pony forward with one broad wing. “It’s been an honor to be at your facility, Mister Hallman, but it’s time for us to go.”

“Not yet,” said Hallman, moving in front of Widget with his Taser pointed at the floor. The fuzzy grey bat-pony looked like a plushie and sounded like a teenaged pop star, but he distrusted whatever hocus-pocus the unicorns could do with their horns even more. “I need to have a discussion with Miss Widget here.”

“Go ahead,” said the dark bat-winged pony, who moved her wing in front of Widget’s chest now.

“A private discussion,” said Hallman as forcefully as he could.

“The discretion of the Royal Guard is inviolate,” stated Goose as if she were reciting out of a manual. “We are to ensure privacy to any and all parties to any conversation in our vicinity while on active duty. Failure to abide by this restriction will result in loss of commission and further prosecution as in Section 7, Subsection 5, Penalties and Restrictions of the Royal Guard Manual.”

The further hammering on the steel fire door made Hallman call over his shoulder, “Somebody get that Goddamn door! And Cadet Goose, please step outside. My superiors were very specific that I should discuss this with Miss Widget in private.”

Preferably on Air Force Two at twenty thousand feet, headed east.

“Good afternoon,” caroled a pleasant middle-aged voice that rather reminded Hallman of his eccentric aunt. “What a fine group of humans we have here. My name is Specialist Rose Petal of the Equestrian Night Guard. Cadet Goose, are you and your charge ready to return home?”

There was another unicorn in armor who had just come through the steel fire door, looking much like a dowdy horned housewife who wore her armor on weekends. She looked up at Hallman with a happy twinkle in her eyes and a pleasant smile to add, “Unless there are any objections.”

“Yes, we have objections,” snapped Hallman with an aggravated wave of his taser. “Go back outside and wait. Goose, go with them. And Anacostia, take his camera. There’s no photography allowed in here.”

“Careful.” There was an enormous flash from the skylights, followed immediately by the tremendous sound of thunder that shook the building and knocked some dust down from the exposed metal struts holding up the roof. It left Hallman to stare wide-eyed at the smiling maroon unicorn, who still had one hoof up to the side of her helmet. She nodded at his taser. “You may want to put that away. Mine are bigger.”

In the resulting silence, the unicorn moved over next to the wall beside the door. “Don’t worry. I understand your situation completely,” said the maroon unicorn politely. “Mister Henderson, if you would hand your camera over to Miss Anacostia and stand over there, please. And if you could stand here, I’ll get the door closed so we don’t let all the cool air out. Wonderful invention, your air conditioning. Now, as you were saying?”

“I was saying you need to leave,” said Hallman, still feeling a little alone from the recent crash of thunder directly above his head, despite his fellow FBI agents around him.

“And if we leave,” continued the unicorn, “you plan on attempting to separate my young cadet from her charge, with force if needed, correct?”

After a quick glance at Agent Anacostia to make certain she had retrieved the photographer’s camera and had at least seemed to turn it off, he nodded. “I have my orders,” he explained. “We do not intend any harm.”

“So many big, strong men with intents,” mused the middle-aged unicorn, looking around the room at the suddenly uncomfortable FBI agents who looked a little like children being taken to task on the playground. “I’m sorry, I can’t trust your intents with regards to my cadet, or her charge. And,” she added before Hallman could respond, “it is not my place to interfere. The assigned guard is responsible for the safety and freedom of movement of her charge.”

“Me?” squeaked Goose Down like some sort of plush toy.

“Certainly.” The unicorn gave another nod to both of them. “Cadet, you may consider this an exercise. You have reached a point of irreconcilable differences with our host nation. Your opposition force is eleven US federal agents armed with nonlethal weapons, and with the ability to use lethal weapons if disarmed.”

“Excuse me,” said Anacostia, standing rather stiffly and tapping the unicorn on her shoulder armor with the tic-tic-tic of a fingernail. “I don’t have a taser, or any ammunition for my service weapon since we left the firing range. Besides, I’m not going to fight Goose.”

“Very well, dear.” The unicorn turned back to Hallman and smiled. “Ten federal agents, then. Cadet Goose Down will be graded on her final results, with points taken off for any injuries that require medical attention, or broken limbs. Are you ready, sir?”

“No!” snapped Hallman. “What—”

“Good,” said the unicorn. Her horn lit up briefly, the light switches next to her all swept down, and the room was plunged into pitch darkness with only her voice to be heard.

“You have twenty seconds. Begin.”