• 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 8

There wasn't a train back to Ponyville until later that night. With nothing else to do, a little daylight left, and having planned to spend the night awake anyway, they decided to walk back to Ponyville.

Melon might have sprung for train tickets had their mock attack been successful and they needed to leave town quickly. The others grumbled about the hike, but took it a lot better than when they'd trekked through the swamp.

Passing the station on their way out of town, Melon waved to the Lunar Guard Corporal at the front gate. He couldn’t be sure it was the same pony, what with the disguising tail band in place, but the body language looked similar. It was partially to maintain his dumb tourist cover, but also, he thought, to salute a professional at his job. Melon wasn’t sure if he could maintain such a rigid adherence to rules and procedures. He was glad somepony could, though. If the red team couldn’t get in, then the other Corporal was doing his job.

The four of them left the city, walking along the railroad tracks to make the navigation easier. The moon was out and the terrain was fairly flat.

As the only pegasus in the group, Scootaloo probably felt that the others were holding her back. For something to do, she stayed aloft, having a look around.

They'd traveled for maybe an hour out of Los Pegasus, when Scootaloo spotted something from altitude. She came down to rejoin the group. “I saw a fire off to the north. Maybe somepony is camping.”

“Along the tracks?” Melon asked.

“Closer to the forest.”

It couldn't hurt to know who might be out there. “Take a look.”

Pleased to be doing something, Scootaloo took off again. She returned in a few minutes, excitement in her eyes. “It's Guards.”

That brought the whole troop to a halt. “How many?” asked Melon. “What are they doing?”

“Maybe a dozen. It looked like they were setting up tents and getting ready for bed,” Scootaloo reported.

“Security?”

“Maybe they'll have somepony on watch. It's just a campsite, so no physical security.”

Melon looked at Dew and Chalice. Both of them were attentive and ready.

He nodded. “Let's go.”

Scootaloo guided them towards where she had spotted the camp. On her recommendation, they swung into the fringes of the forest to conceal their approach.

“The Everfree Forest is pretty large,” she said. “It goes all the way up to Ponyville. On the outskirts we should be fine, but you don't really want to go much deeper.”

Melon figured Scootaloo would probably have the local knowledge. Dew asked, “What's up with it?”

“The weather does funny things,” Scootaloo explained. “Lots of hungry creatures live there. It just isn't a place that plays by the rules.”

Their voices dropped to whispers as they approached the camp. Through the trees, the coals of a dying campfire provided minimal light, highlighting a few tents and a guard or two still standing around. After taking a moment to get a feel for the layout of the camp, the four of them withdrew to discuss a plan.

“If we give them some time, they’ll go to bed and leave only one or two still awake,” said Scootaloo.

“If any of you are feeling sneaky, maybe we could foalnap them,” Melon suggested, half-joking.

“But transporting prisoners would slow us down,” Chalice pointed out. “Plus, if we didn’t do it perfectly, it would wake up all the rest.”

“We could use a distraction,” said Scootaloo. “And maybe some concealment. The campsite may be beside the forest, but it’s still out in the open.”

“I’ve got it!” said Dew. “This forest is supposed to have wild weather, right? Why don’t I whip up a thunderstorm?”

“And then what?” said Chalice. “Are you just going to walk right in?”

“If I can make it rain heavily enough, then yeah, why not?” Dew grinned.

She lit up her horn. Clouds started to gather over the trees. Within a minute, there was a soft rumble of thunder. The guard on watch heard it and glanced up nervously.

Dew took off her sweater vest as it began to sprinkle. She grabbed a grease pencil from the art supplies Trixie had given them and stepped to the edge of the trees.

Taking a deep breath, she fed more power into the storm and the rain started coming down in buckets - but only around her. The near-solid column of water completely obscured her from view. The storm - with Dew inside - then moved out of the forest and towards the camp

The guard hunkered down as the rain came in. He must have been curious about the unusual weather, but too miserable to actually investigate.

Dew passed through the camp. The guards in their tents probably would not come out with the heavy rain drumming on the canvas.

After a moment, she pulled back, maintaining the cloaking storm all the way back into the forest. Once back into concealment, she let the rain dissipate, which it did slowly, tapering off until it stopped.

Dew was soaking wet and looked exhausted. She managed to smile, though. “On the side of a tent I wrote, ‘Love, the Can’t Remember Faction,’ and drew a little heart. I can’t imagine their faces when they see it.”

Melon suppressed a snort. Scootaloo had to stuff a hoof in her mouth to keep from laughing. This close to the forest, surely the guard on watch would hear them.

Dew swayed a little on her hooves after expending so much energy, but she was in good spirits and said she would be able to make it to Ponyville.

The four of them stealthily left the area, heading north again.

The mock attack on the camp wasn’t what they had gone to Los Pegasus for, but it was better than nothing. Melon was already thinking ahead, plotting where they would strike next.