• 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 7

The train to Los Pegasus left that evening. It would be late evening when they arrived, but scouting the Guard station there was probably best done in the dark anyway. It wasn’t like any of them were sticking to a sleep schedule.

Train tickets were a hit to the budget, but Melon reasoned that it was acceptable considering the money they’d saved in transit and lodging so far.

It also gave them an opportunity to rest up. That seemed especially important, because the Los Pegasus Joint Guard station looked like it was going to be their toughest challenge yet. The intel specified tall walls, barred windows, and heavy patrols of both ground and air.

They arrived in the early afternoon and first priority was getting eyes on the place. The compound was located on a heavily-trafficked street corner. Lots of eyes around. And being Los Pegasus, that crowd would likely not taper off much as the hours got later. The other corner of the building opened to alleys, but there was always at least one guard watching from atop the wall. At least one pegasus was also aloft, keeping an eye on things.

“Wow, all this for us?” Dew murmured.

“They’re definitely taking the exercise seriously,” Melon said. Though, the guards seemed almost bored of routine. Were they always this attentive and well practiced, exercise or not?

A loud crash made them all jump. A wagon had upset its load of boxes across the street. One guard ventured over to see if assistance was needed. The others didn’t seem to respond.

“They must be used to loud noises,” said Chalice. “Makes sense, considering this is Los Pegasus. That also means they’re probably used to fireworks.”

“I don’t see any obvious way in,” said Scootaloo.

“Let’s make another round,” Melon suggested. “Maybe there’s something we missed.”

They walked down the block again, closer this time. They were all doing their best not to appear suspicious, but apparently they weren’t trying hard enough. As they passed the front gate, a Lunar Guard Corporal stepped forward. “You folks look lost.”

“We’re in town for an archaeology convention,” said Dew. That was a better response than Melon could come up with, so he let her run with it.

The guard glanced at their sweater vests. “I would have expected you to be more like Daring Do.”

“Common misconception,” said Chalice. “Daring Do isn’t real.”

Scootaloo started to say something, but Melon cut in. “You’re right, sir, we are lost.”

The guard pointed. “Most of the convention centers are a few blocks that way.”

They thanked him. As they went in the direction he had pointed, Melon didn’t see the guard turning around to go back to his post. Was he staring after them? Melon knew it would make him look suspicious if he looked back to check.

The stallion, a Lunar Guard Corporal just like himself, had been attentive. He had somehow figured out there was something strange about the four of them. Had he noticed them walking by more than once? After their conversation, he would certainly remember them. That would make their job much harder.

“We still have some time,” said Chalice. “If we can’t come up with a plan, we should go to city hall and see if we can get blueprints. That worked last time.”

With no other ideas, they found the Los Pegasus city building and made their way to the records department, only to be greeted with some unfortunate news.

“I can’t show that to you,” said the stallion behind the counter. “Records regarding Guard station construction have always been sealed away from the general public by order of the Princesses.”

Melon didn’t know that. Not that he’d ever tried to look up the plans for the Wash Margin station. If blueprints for it even existed.

Could they get the blueprints of the Los Pegasus station if they showed the records pony their identification? Could they tell him it was some secret business and ask him to keep quiet? Could they study the plans, come up with a solution, and stage their mock attack on the station yet that night?

He started to reach for his ID card, but the records pony said, “And anyway, it requires permission from the local Guard Commander. It’s his jurisdiction.”

They left the building with nothing to show. There were a few hours of daylight left that they could use to scrape together a plan. Melon said, “Any ideas?”

“I didn’t see any access points to get through the walls,” said Chalice. “And the gates were all redundantly guarded. I said before that I don’t think fireworks will be a distraction to these guys.”

“We have to think of something,” said Melon. “This is a target.”

“It looked like there were all kinds of guards around,” said Scootaloo. “I can’t even take a look from the air, because I saw they had guys on the roof and also flying around. As serious as they are, I would bet they also probably have an anti-pegasus field set up.”

“The Lieutenant gave us this target,” Melon said.

“I’m sure she’ll understand if we can’t do it,” said Dew. “She wouldn’t want us to get captured.”

“What about trying to bluff our way in as celebrities?” said Melon. “Everything in Los Pegasus is a show. There have to be tons of famous ponies around.”

“But we’d need to be celebrities that they’d heard of to make it effective,” Chalice pointed out. “And I don’t think any of us looks enough like any celebrity to pull it off.”

“Plus, that guy we talked to earlier probably still remembers us,” Dew pointed out.

“And it still probably won’t work,” added Scootaloo. “Security around here is nuts.”

“What about bluffing our way into good graces with real celebrities and then tagging along with them through the gate?”

“Boss, that’s pretty creative but even less practical than the last idea,” Dew said.

“We’ve got to find a way,” said Melon. “There’s always a way.”

“Yeah, and sometimes that way is suicide,” said Chalice.

This wasn’t like a midnight trek across Hayseed Swamp that he could order them to endure. There was a difference between an unpleasant task and impossible one.

Melon sighed. Ambition alone wouldn’t carry the day. He needed to have enough faith in his ponies’ abilities that when they told him they couldn’t do something, he should believe them.

“All right,” he said. “Let’s get out of here.”