• Published 23rd Aug 2016
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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 11

Melon kept his eyes sharp, but his thoughts turned to Mirror’s note about the restaurant across from a smoke shop. Maybe city hall would have a list of tobacconists or something.

“We should look up what we can about Pants Fightswell,” said Chalice. “Couldn’t hurt to have more background information.”

“Agreed, but mission first,” Melon said. Chalice nodded.

They turned the corner onto the block where Canterlot City Hall was located. So far, so good. The two of them did one last careful sweep and went up the front steps.

An important government building serving one of the larger cities in Equestria had a rather large lobby. The two of them crossed it to the information desk.

“We’re from the archeology department at Appleoosa Community College,” said Melon. “We’re here on a research trip and were hoping you could help us with some records.”

The secretary looked occupied. “Mhm,” she muttered, not looking up. “Probably in the archives.”

“Where’s that?”

Chalice elbowed Melon. He glanced at her and she jerked her head urgently towards the opposite wall. Melon looked. The wanted posters were hung on either side of the front door, hidden from view when the two of them came in.

Melon turned back to the receptionist, who had raised her head and was staring at him. He saw her glance behind him, and then back to him. Then, she hit a conspicuous button labeled “security.”

“The, uh, archives, huh?” said Melon, feigning casual. “Thanks.”

They turned away from the desk. Chalice whispered, “Which way?”

“Back,” said Melon. “It’s a government building, so there has to be a fire escape.”

They headed for the nearest hallway, walking quickly while attempting to be as inconspicuous as possible. Their caution paid off as two Solar Guards hurried past them in the opposite direction. Melon picked up the pace.

They passed rows of offices and rooms. The building was bigger than it had seemed from the outside. The found an exit before being caught, however, and slipped out.

The back exit led to an alley. There was nopony in sight, but the narrow street was hemmed in on all sides by walls. There would be no escape if they were found again. Melon broke into a run. He gauged the sound of Chalice’s hooves behind him, trying not to leave her behind.

The two of them had barely traveled a block before somepony behind them shouted, “There they are!”

Without looking back, Melon took the next corner. Up ahead, the alley seemed to open on one side into a small, grassy courtyard. The alley continued down the other.

“Idea,” he panted. “Risky.”

“No choice,” Chalice replied.

He made the next block and cut sharply around the corner into the grass. If the guards ran by without looking, the two of them would be missed just as they had missed the posters.

But to ensure that, Melon took out a firecracker and the lighter. “You light it, I’ll toss it.”

Chalice nodded and took the lighter. Melon held the firecracker and she lit the fuse. He cocked his foreleg back and threw the firecracker in a long arc over the rooftops in the direction they wanted to decoy their pursuit.

It worked. The two guards ran on by, pursuing the bang of the firecracker, but pulled up short at the next corner. Melon belatedly realized that it was stacked with a pile of junk. Not impassable, but difficult.

“Did they really go through there?” he heard one guard ask.

“Idea,” Chalice whispered. “Risky.”

Melon nodded.

She crept across the grass towards the guards, her hooves muffled by the soft ground. Melon followed at her shoulder.

They’d gotten to within reach of the two guards, who were either about to scale the junk pile or turn around and give up, when Chalice said, “Stab stab, you’re dead.”

“What!?” The two of them whirled around, but then pulled up short. “They got us, Derby,” one muttered.

“Well, it was a pretty ballsy move, just walking past the wanted posters like that,” said the other.

It hadn’t been intentional of course, but Melon wasn’t about to refuse praise. “Thanks. You’re the closest we’ve ever been to the blue team.”

“Did you hear that, Trilby? We’re going to have a story to tell back at the barracks.” Derby gave Melon and Chalice a grin. “You guys have been like ghosts. Just being able to say we saw you makes us look good.”

“Hey, were you around when we did the job in Canterlot earlier this week?” Chalice suddenly asked.

“Now that was impressive,” said Trilby. “How in the world did you get that paper airplane through Captain Light’s window? You had to have been infiltrated the castle, right?”

“Maybe we can talk about it if we see you after the exercise is over,” said Melon.

The four of them traded hoofshakes and parted ways.

“I can’t believe that worked,” said Chalice, a block away.

“Me neither. That went better than expected.”

“Not really. We didn’t get what we came for,” Chalice pointed out.

“Let’s see what the others have been up to.”

They met Scoots and Dew at the library, where they had been collecting books. One of the texts contained a detailed map of the cave system. Another was an autobiography of Pants Fightswell, which turned out to be next to useless because it was written in Old Equestrian.

Melon and Chalice recounted their story. Scoots and Dew regretted they had missed it. Melon thought that their tone would have changed had they been caught.

“Good thing you had the lighter,” said Dew.

Melon cocked his head. “Hang on.” He took the lighter out and gave it a careful examination. On the bottom was a faint engraving that read Polish and Chrome - Canterlot, Equestria.

“Somepony find a city business directory,” he said.

Dew found one and they looked it up. Polish and Chrome was a smoke shop.