• Published 23rd Aug 2016
  • 1,550 Views, 67 Comments

Play Stupid Games, Win Stupid Prizes - totallynotabrony

It's time for the annual Royal Guard training exercise. A ragtag crew playing bad guys has to go up against the entire rest of the Guard.

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Chapter 1

The visitor stepped off the boat. “Welcome, sir,” said Corporal Melon Rind, saluting.

Captain Purifying Light wore the Solar Guard dress uniform, including the charmed tail band that made him appear to be just as impeccably white-coated and blue-maned as the rest of the Solar Guards. He did not seem at all impressed by the tiny island town of Wash Margin or the burly earth pony in front of him.

Melon belatedly realized that he should have dressed up for the occasion of a visiting Very Important Pony. His battered purple Lunar Guard armor didn’t exactly cut a striking figure. He’d also habitually skipped the tail band that would have given him a batlike appearance. It was uncomfortable.

“Where’s your Lieutenant?” Captain Light asked.

“She’s busy, sir. She sent me to escort you back to the compound.” Melon gestured towards the lighthouse at the other end of the island. The Captain made a subtle noise of disdain, but followed him without another word.

Wash Margin had been Melon’s post for more than three years. He knew it like the back of his hoof, and disliked every inch. It was literally the worst place in Equestria for a guard to be stationed. Too isolated and sparsely populated to have more than one guard unit, a small cadre of only Lunar Guards held the place down. To be perfectly honest, it didn’t even take that much. Crimes happened perhaps once per year.

“What’s so important that she couldn’t be here herself?” the Captain asked.

It took Melon a moment to mentally connect the comment to the conversation from earlier. “Lieutenant Mirror is busy fighting a sea monster.”

Light snorted. “Don’t mess with me.”

Melon turned his head, catching the glare the Captain was giving him. “That’s what she told us, sir.”

They walked the rest of the way to the Guard compound in silence, drawing closer to the lighthouse. Upon arrival, they found Lieutenant Cracked Mirror hauling herself up over the rocks that lined the shore, armor wet and bits of kelp covering her wings. Despite her otherwise unkempt appearance, she wore her tail band and was fully outfitted as a bat pony. She was the only one at the backwater station who actually did.

Mirror paused to light a smoke. Instead of a cigarette, she used her gold lighter to set afire a piece of limp string and put it in her mouth. Noticing Captain Light, she turned and saluted. “How’s it going, sir? Are you here to collect bits to help fund Princess Luna’s castle?”

“What are you talking about?” asked Light.

“Think about it. Princess Celestia has hers, Princess Cadance has hers, and Princess Twilight, who was Princess for less than a year, got one too.”

“I’m here about the exercise,” said Light, sounding like he was straining to be civil.

“Oh. Well in that case, sir, you arrived earlier than expected. Nice to meet you.”

The Captain looked her up and down. Her mane was bedraggled. If it had been brushed as per regulation, it certainly didn’t show it. “What’s this about a sea monster?” he asked.

“It was threatening the locals,” Mirror explained, gesturing over her shoulder.

Light walked to the edge of the rocks and looked down. “That looks like a pile of seaweed.”

“Yes it does, sir.”

“If you're quite finished, I'd like to get down to business.”

“My office is inside, sir. Corporal Rind can escort you there and Sergeant Fit can meet with you about your visit to Wash Margin. I'll be along in a few minutes.”

“When I arrived here, I expected to be meeting with the leader, not the subordinates,” Light protested.

“I would trust any of my ponies to act in my stead, sir. If you'd prefer, and you don't mind the smell of seaweed, I can come with you right now.”

“No, get cleaned up,” the Captain muttered. He followed Melon into the office.

The building was clean, but had been weatherbeaten for decades. The floors creaked as Melon led the Captain inside. A note on the message board read “Lt. vs Sea Monsters.” According to the tally, Mirror was winning five to three.

Sergeant Cross Fit waited for them in the conference room. He was a lean, muscular unicorn who wore white-framed sunglasses with his uniform.

“Take those off,” Captain Light promptly ordered.

“Yes sir.” Fit took them off.

The Sergeant was already off to a bad start, Melon noted. Par for the course, it seemed, with Captain Light. Who would be next?

“Hey, how did the fight go?” shouted a female voice. An orange pegasus burst into the room. “I had twenty on-” She pulled up short, seeing the Captain. “Uh, sir. I’m Private Scootaloo.”

“Private, we’re having a meeting in here,” said Fit.

Seeing an opportunity, Melon said, “Sergeant, I’ll leave you alone with the Captain,” and quickly departed the room with Scootaloo.

Fit was actually a nice guy and didn’t deserve to be thrown to the wolves all by himself, but he was Sergeant - it was his job.

“What’s with the brass?” said Scootaloo in the hallway.

“Captain Purifying Light, Solar Guard,” Melon explained. “He’s here for the thing.”

“What thing?”

Melon shrugged. “Some exercise or something. If it’s important, I’m sure we’ll hear about it.”

A pair of unicorn mares walked up. Chalice was royal purple with a teal and yellow mane styled outside regulations. Glisten Dewdrop cut a thinner figure, with a grey-blue coat and a white mane slicked by water.

“Who’s that?” Chalice asked.

“Are we getting some sort of special mission?” added Dew.

Melon explained, adding, “He’s already pissed off, so don’t even open your mouth around him, Chalice.” It was a joke. Mostly.

Everypony at Wash Margin had been sent there for one reason or another. They had all screwed up. Chalice had mouthed off a few too many times during boot camp. Dew had ruined boot graduation by trying to conjure shade clouds on a hot day and created a thunderstorm by accident. Scootaloo had nearly burned down a building while washing dishes.

Mirror arrived outside the conference room, cleaned up but still wearing the same dented and scratched armor as everypony else. Hers was only distinguished by the gold rank in faded paint.

“The meeting’s started, ma’am,” said Melon.

“Did Captain Light seem gay to you?” Mirror asked.

The question might have sounded strange to Melon, but little about Mirror truly surprised him after he had been around her for a few years. “No, ma'am.”

“Darn, I was hoping a studmuffin like Fit would soften him up.” Mirror paused to update the score on the sea monster tracker and then went into the meeting. The door didn’t quite close behind her.

As random as Mirror may have been, she never did anything by accident. The four Guards in the hall crowded closer to the door.

“So Wash Margin’s crime rate is very low,” Fit finished saying.

“It could be even lower with an increased budget,” added Mirror as she entered. “A few more bits would give us some breathing room in the monthly budget - which hasn't even gone up to compensate for inflation in the last ten years despite our repeated requests.”

“We aren’t here to talk about your budget,” said Light. “This is about the annual Joint Academic Guard Exercise.”

Mirror nodded. “Ah yes, the Jaggy, the age-old tradition of the Guard Games.”

JAGE training is no game,” Light corrected. “In an effort to make this training exercise as realistic as possible, we will be utilizing unscripted adversaries. Your unit has been selected to fulfil the role of Red Team.”

Mirror’s squee was so loud they probably could have heard her with the door closed. “Thank you, sir! I’ve always dreamed of-”

“You’re needed in Canterlot to liaise with the exercise planners,” Light interrupted. “Select a team from the rest of your ponies to participate in the event.”

“Sir, if I’m going to Canterlot, a team is going to the exercise, and we still have to cover normal duties here, that will stretch things pretty thin.”

“Well then, you’d better not screw it up in front of the entire Lunar and Solar Guards. Remember that this is an exercise. It’s designed to test you.”

“We won’t let you down, sir. My ponies are the best.”

It was just about that time that the four at the door lost their balance and fell into the room.

“Just look,” said Mirror, continuing smoothly, “even now, they’re taking the initiative to listen and be as well informed about the situation as possible.”

Melon scrambled up, followed by the other three. He felt like he should say something equally as witty, but didn’t manage.

Light snorted, disgusted, but didn’t speak. Apparently he couldn’t come up with anything, either.

There was little else that needed to be said, anyway. Light dropped an envelope of paperwork on the table and departed.

When he was gone, the team gathered around and Mirror opened the envelope. It was operational orders to the Wash Margin Lunar Guard station printed on official stationery. In sterile, administrative terms, the senior officer was instructed to join the planning unit in Canterlot and a select a contingent of guards to act as a Red Force.

“What will we be doing as reds?” Scootaloo asked.

“The exercise lasts a week, six days of operations and a final day for debriefing and lessons learned. We’ll be playing as the bad guys, so everypony else can learn what it’s like to fight against an enemy,” said Mirror. “Of course, since there’s only so many of us, it’s not going to be all-out fighting. We’re going to have to adopt guerilla tactics.”

“Who is doing what?” asked Fit.

“Well Sergeant, I know how much you like your gains and how you can’t get your pump on while you’re on the road. Are you good to stay here?”

Fit nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”

Mirror turned to Melon. “Which means you, Corporal Rind, are the leader of the away team.”

Melon was the next highest-ranked, so it made sense, but it still caught him by surprise. How was he supposed to lead three Privates into mock combat against the entire Equestrian military?

He managed, “Yes, ma’am.”

Author's Note:

Chapter updates are scheduled every day. Thanks for reading!

Chalice was created by Chalice Longshot
Glisten Dewdrop was created by Lunarwolf
Purifying Light was created by Orion Caelum