• Published 23rd Aug 2016
  • 1,558 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
 1,558

Chapter 6

The intel said that the blue force had set up a field office in the Ponyville town hall. As Ponyville was home to the Elements of Harmony, having a Guard unit permanently stationed there would probably be redundant.

There would be no fortified defenses or many personnel to deal with, but accessing a public building like the town hall with so many civilians around would be a challenge enough.

Fortunately, they had the luxury of planning. Scootaloo’s friend Apple Bloom let them stay in her family’s barn and eat all the apples they wanted. Rest was they all really wanted.

That evening, after cleaning up and having a good nap, the four of them set off for downtown Ponyville, such as it was in the small town. They had a meeting with another of Scootaloo’s friends, Sweetie Belle.

It was clearly a clothing store they walked into, but considerably fancier than any Melon had ever patronized.

“So we’ll need some disguises,” said Scootaloo. “Something basic, that’s why I came to you and not your sister.”

“No problem. So who are you trying to disguise as?” Sweetie asked.

“Archaeologists.”

“Sweater vests it is, then.”

“Really?” said Scootaloo. “Isn’t there something else?”

“You know what archaeologists wear?” Sweetie challenged. “Sweater vests.”

So that’s what they wore.

“But even if we got you a hat and some fake glasses, ponies will still probably recognize you,” said Sweetie to Scootaloo.

Melon frowned. It would help to have her around, since she knew the town, but he decided that stealth was more important. “You can stay at the orchard while we do this.”

“I’ll come visit you,” said Sweetie. “It’ll be just like old times.”

They left Scootaloo with her and the other three headed for town hall. They’d timed it right and it was just a few minutes before closing when they arrived.

It wasn’t difficult to find the office reserved by the Guards. Both Lunar and Solar were present, most of them officers. They looked bored. A few documents were taped to the walls. Melon would have liked to take a closer look, but he reasoned that anything important wouldn’t be in plain view.

“Yoo hoo!” called a mare from the nearby help desk. “Can I assist you?”

“Oh, we were looking for a few things,” said Melon. “Do you happen to have any archaeological records?”

“They’d be in the archive room,” the receptionist replied. “We’re closing in ten minutes, though, so please be quick.”

He’d said archaeological records because it had been the first thing to come to mind. After that, though, they couldn’t just turn around and leave.

Once they were back in the records room, among the quiet stacks of files, Melon asked, “Ideas?”

“The guards’ll probably be in that room whenever the town hall is open,” said Dew. “We’re going to have to either distract them or figure out something on a timer.”

Chalice put a hoof to her chin. “This place is full of records. I wonder if they would have blueprints of the town hall?”

With the three of them searching, they were able to find the plans with a few minutes to spare. Chalice scanned the document. “Okay, we’re here,” she said, tapping the paper. “The guard room is here.”

They looked at it for a few more seconds, but the receptionist called, “We’re ready to close!”

“We’ll figure something out,” said Melon. They put the blueprints away and left the building.

Rejoining Scootaloo back at the orchard, they planned their next move.

“It’ll be hard to distract them when they’re in that small room,” said Chalice, drawing a rough sketch of the layout. “We need to either get them out or find another way. That thing Dew said about timing gave me an idea.”

She made a few more marks on her sketch. “These are air vents, and one of them runs from the record room to the office. All the air vents run to this one service room, probably where the air conditioner is. If we shut off the air and put the note inside the vent, when the air was turned back on, the note would blow out. It would take a little while for anypony to notice the air conditioning had stopped, so we could make a getaway.”

There were nods around the room. Melon found his own head nodding. Chalice seemed confident in her memory of the blueprints.

Scootaloo raised a hoof. “But that involves opening things, like the vent and the service room door. What if they’re locked?”

Melon looked around. “Good point. Do we have any backup plans?”

“I could maybe put something together if I saw the blueprints again,” Chalice offered. “There’s no way of knowing if there is another way, though.”

“We’ll play it by ear,” Melon said, for the first time in what felt like a long time. He apparently had gotten better at making plans since the last time he’d said it. Ironic now that it was the plan.

“We could at least make the best of what we have,” said Scootaloo. “Practice.”

They had nothing better to do in order to prepare. Laying out straw bales as notional walls, they built a rough approximation of the section of town hall floor plan where they would operate.

Chalice, knowing the most about archaeology, would tie up the attention of as many ponies as possible for as long as she had to. Melon had some experience with refrigeration from the fruit business and would go to the service room to shut off the air conditioning. Dew would go to the records room and insert the note into the vent once the air stopped. When she and Melon rejoined Chalice, the three of them would exit the building.

They walked through their roles and speculated about potential problems they could encounter. If nothing went wrong, they could have the job done in under a minute.

Implementing the plan, on the other hoof, was a whole other challenge.

They showed up at town hall the next morning, a few minutes before it opened. A couple of the guards also stood outside, waiting for the town staff to come along. One of them, a Solar Guard Colonel whose nametag read Desk Jockey, kept impatiently checking his watch. He didn’t look like somepony who was used to waiting on civilians. Melon hid a smile.

When the doors opened, the group of them went inside. Dew asked for the records room. Melon asked for the restroom. Chalice went to the front desk.

Melon headed down the hall where he had been pointed, but doubled back to head for the service room. The door wasn’t locked and he slipped inside.

There was a convenient panel on the air conditioning unit labeled on and off. It was currently turned off.

Melon shrugged and turned around. Surely the unit would be activated sometime that day. He slipped back out the door and headed back for the front room.

Chalice was on the floor, scooping up a pile of papers that had gone everywhere. She was apologizing profusely, and seemed to be blocking the path of a stallion in coveralls.

Dew appeared. She and Melon traded glances and started helping Chalice clean up. The stallion in coveralls edged around Chalice and headed down the hall Melon had just vacated.

Is he the maintenance guy? Is he going to turn on the A/C?

Perhaps thirty seconds passed as the three of them finished restacking the papers and Chalice put them on the secretary’s desk, still apologizing.

Then, there was an angry roar from down the hall.

Colonel Jockey stormed into the front room, waving the Can’t Remember Faction note. “Who did this!?”

“What’s that?” the secretary asked.

He shook the note at her. “The enemy has been here!”

“Enemy?!” gasped Dew theatrically.

“Must have planted it in the middle of the night,” grumbled Jockey, seemingly to himself. He wheeled on the secretary. “Some security you have here! We’ve just gone and lost the war games.”

“What’s going on?” Chalice pressed.

Jockey glanced at her. “Nothing. Don’t worry about it. State secrets.” He glared at the secretary again. “All you needed to do was have somepony guard the place at night. I can’t even get a decent night’s sleep on the beds at the hotel, and now this happens.”

“You never said that we needed extra guards,” the secretary finally replied. “Was anything stolen? Leaving a note hardly seems a crime.”

Jockey growled again and stalked away.

“What’s his problem?” Melon asked, genuinely wondering.

The receptionist shook her head. “I have no idea. Now, did you find everything you needed?”

They left the town hall with a few copies of a few documents, just to make their visit seem more legitimate. The three of them carried the good news back to Scootaloo.

“Awesome!” she said. “Wish I could have been there. But it’s all good, Apple Bloom made some pie to celebrate.”

That, Melon thought, was indeed good.

Author's Note:

Desk Jockey was created by arcanelexicon