• Published 23rd Aug 2016
  • 1,548 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.

  • ...
4
 67
 1,548

Chapter 3

Melon didn’t remember the last time he had been on the mainland. Was it...about a year ago?
That sounded right, the last time he had decided to take leave. The old fishing boat that had
given them a free ride pulled up to the docks in Horseshoe Bay and the four of them got off.

“Where are we going, Corporal?” Dew asked.

“Maybe it’s not a good idea to use titles,” said Melon. “Especially if we’re undercover.”

He added, “Real titles, that is.” It wouldn’t do to let the guards get too complacent, he
decided.

“So what are we supposed to call you?” Chalice asked.

“How about...boss?”

“I’m not feeling it,” said Scootaloo. “You’re more like a middle manager. At any rate, ponies
would still wonder who we were.”

“We should have a cover story!” Dew proposed.

“Not a bad idea,” Melon acknowledged. “But who should we be?”

It quickly devolved into an argument among the mares between their personal interests.
Melon stepped in. “We’ll play it by ear, okay?”

“Telegram,” said a mailpony.

The four of them turned. “To who?” Melon asked.

The mailpony read the envelope. “From: Fractured Looking-Glass. To: Large-framed stallion
at odds with three mares, arriving from Wash Margin.”

“I suppose that’s us,” Melon acknowledged. He took the envelope. He recognized Mirror’s
writing on the address.

The mailpony tipped his hat and went on his way. Melon opened the envelope to read the
letter. He frowned at it. It was a rough map of Horseshoe Bay, with the Solar Guard station
marked.

“What’s it say?” prompted Scootaloo.

Should he tell them? Would they think that Lieutenant Mirror was still calling the shots over
his head?

It’s only intelligence, Melon decided. She’s just informing, not ordering. He was also
glad to realize this. Nopony wanted to be micromanaged.

Melon spread the paper out for the others to look at. “This is everything we need to know
about the scenario. We are part of the ‘Can’t Remember Faction,’ attempting to incite chaos
across Equestria. As such, we are to do whatever we deem necessary, with the exception of
breaking laws, injury, or property damage. Civilians are also off limits.”

“‘Can’t Remember?’” Chalice asked.

“The Lieutenant left a note that it was a working title, but nopony had anything better so it
became official. We’re trying to be politically correct and be unique enough so as to not
resemble any existing group.”

“Where do we begin?” asked Scootaloo.

“We’ve got a little gift to help us get started.” Melon showed them the intelligence.

The Solar Guard station was in town, near the courthouse. It looked like there would probably
be ponies around. Waiting until after dark might help with that.

“What should we do?” asked Dew. “We can’t hurt anypony or break anything. What does that
leave?”

“Noise, some spectacle that gets their heartrate up,” Melon decided. “Maybe leaving a signed
note from the Can’t Remember Faction.”

“What if we get caught?” asked Chalice.

There was a silence as they all thought about it.

“We’ll play that by ear,” said Melon.

They headed across town. The Guard station was quite a bit nicer than their own. Maybe that
made it easier to pretend they were trashing someone else’s stuff.

The place looked well fortified, with a guard at the front gate and a smaller, locked back gate.
The rest of the security was a solid wall.

“How are we getting in?” Chalice asked when they were down the block after finishing their
walkby.

“Did anypony see anti-pegasus security?” said Scootaloo. “‘Cause if not, it should be pretty
obvious.”

“Either way,” Melon said, “We should do it after dark.”

“Only natural for the Lunar Guard.” Dew grinned.

The old “we own the night” cheer from boot camp resurfaced in Melon’s mind. Was that the
last time he’d felt truly part of a team?

He was pulled out of his reverie by the Privates gathering around a flyer stapled to a pole.

“It’s a magic show!” said Dew.

“I’ve heard of her,” said Scootaloo. “Trixie.”

Melon’s ears perked up. “Really, she’s here? She used to be a Guard herself, you know.”

“Maybe we can get good tickets for the show,” said Dew.

“Maybe we can get a little help with our mission,” said Melon.

That got them all thinking. Having a magician on their side could certainly sway the odds.

They found the show downtown. Melon told the others to wait and went to see if he could
find Trixie. Going around back of the building, he spotted a wagon that was clearly hers. He
caught her coming out.

Trixie stopped short in surprise. “Melon, you’re about the last pony anypony could have
expected. What are you doing here?”

“It’s time for the annual Joint Academic Guard Exercise. Wash Margin got picked to be red
team. We’re going to hit the Solar Guard post here in town and just happened to see your
flyer.”

They traded hoof bumps. “Sounds interesting,” said Trixie. Melon thought he detected a note
of envy in her voice. “Not that Trix-I miss the Guard, but that’s one thing I might have
enjoyed.”

Melon grinned. “Not that I miss you being my squad leader, but I was hoping I could talk to
you about that.”

Trixie glanced at the stage door. “Later. It’s almost time to go on.” She shoved a hoof into a
hidden pocket of her cape. “Do you need a ticket?”

“Four, actually.”

Trixie shook her head. “Four?”

“We’ll buy you dinner later and talk about the plan.”

Trixie grinned and gave him the tickets. “Then the Great and Powerful Trixie would be more
than happy to assist.”

Trixie’s show was something to see. Melon knew she was good, he’d seen her work before,
but performing her whole show in a proper venue was clearly where she was meant to be.

And if that didn’t convince the Privates that she was somepony that could help, nothing
would.

Melon knew Dew well enough to keep an eye on her afterwards. She might try to replicate
something and accidentally conjure up a tornado.

They met Trixie at a nearby restaurant after the show. She sat with Melon on one side of the
booth, across from the others.

“So, you’re reformed and everything now?” said Scootaloo. “Because I remember when you
took all of Ponyville hostage under a giant dome.”

“Well, why else would the Great and Powerful Trixie have ended up doing her service at Wash
Margin?” said Trixie.

“So you knew each other?” said Chalice, nodded to Trixie and Melon.

“We were partners for a little over three years,” said Melon.

“Feels like just yesterday,” said Trixie.

“Well, you haven’t been out very long,” Melon reminded her. “I bet you could still recite the
contents of the evidence locker from memory.”

“Because it hasn’t changed in a couple years?” Trixie raised an eyebrow.

“Okay, bad example.”

“Almost as bad as the example Sergeant Hasta tried to set by cleaning up the beach and then
getting attacked by sea monsters.”

“Well, to be fair, that was how we busted the careless dumpers whose chemicals were turning
clumps of seaweed sentient.”

Scootaloo’s eyes widened. “Wait, that’s where the sea monsters came from?”

“Yeah, Trixie and I have seen a lot together,” said Melon. He grinned. “I even taught her to
speak in the first person.”

“Can’t say I miss being stuck on a rock, though,” said Trixie. “There’s a reason I got out.
Sounds like all of you could use some help with this exercise, though.”

“We’re trying to come up with a cover to covertly poke around Guard units,” said Melon. “And
maybe some tricks to help with the mock attacks.”

“Well, I can’t help you with tricks, but illusions are what Trixie does best.” She smiled
briefly. “Now, the four of you look like you could be some sort of exploratory team. Maybe
archeology?”

“Hey, yeah,” said Scootaloo. “Nopony would care if we dug a few holes.”

“Or asked a few questions,” Chalice added.

“Some kind of grad student leading three undergrads on a summer exploration trip,” finished
Dew.

“We don’t know anything about archeology,” said Melon.

“So what are the odds you’ll run into somepony who does?” said Trixie. “Especially around
Guard posts.”

An acceptable level of risk in wartime, Melon thought. He nodded. “Sounds good. We’ll still
need to come up with a plan of attack, though.”

Trixie smiled. “Don’t worry about a thing. The Great and Powerful Trixie has something for
that, too.”

After dinner she invited them back to her wagon. She wasn’t exaggerating in the slightest.