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Friendship Games Fiasco

by batwingcandlewaxxe

Friendship Games Fiaso

Sweet Celestia! What in Equestria happened to my head? I thought, sitting in what was still a murky gray fog that seemed to flow outward from my tortured brain. Somewhere a voice was screaming... something. What was it saying? I couldn't make it out, couldn't tell where it was coming from. Was it me? Was it somepony, or some Thing, else? I could make nothing out clearly except the sharp shooting pain coming from somewhere in the bak of my skull. Or the front of my skull. I reached up gingerly and touched a hoof to my horn; instantly regretting it as a blast of redness exploded in my brain. A magic suppressor. That at least gave me some idea where I was, now I just had to work out why.

The screaming died down, though the pain did not. "Ugn mugh guh," moaned a low rumbling voice next to me. "Mhu head... where are we."

"Good question," I managed to croak out as the gray fog lifted and I could start to see clearly again. "What can you tell me about the place."

"Hard," the increasingly familiar voice next to me replied after a moment, "and cold."

Yes, well, jail cells certainly were, I thought again, not entirely sure why.

"You got anything to drink?" a large brown buffalo on the edge of my vision asked, "I could really use a cider right now."

I looked around, it was definitely a jail cell, iron bars, large stone blocks, cheap metal benches, everything. "Don't worry about that," I said, "seeing where we are, they'll probably turn the fire-hoses on us soon enough."

"You could use a shower," chuckled the behemoth seated on the bench beside me. My colleague and counsel gave an exaggerated sniff.

"You're one to talk," I replied with a cough, "you smell like the back end of a hydra on your best day." The beast took a half-hearted swing at me, but failed entirely to connect. "And none of that, or I'll call the guard and have you clapped in irons you raging beast."

The buffalo snorted. "Hey," he shouted, "you can't keep us in here like this, I'm a solicitor, I know my rights!"

"Don't take any backtalk from these pigs," I said, "show 'em who's boss."

A large boar wearing a silver star on a blue vest and built like a brick wall poked his snout through the doorway, "Judge won't be back until after lunch," he grunted, "so you have plenty of time to get your stories straight. I suggest you work on that and leave me in peace if you want to get out of this with your hides intact." He disappeared again.

"Don't worry about it," I said to my colleague, "it's a mistake anypon... any-creature could have made, I'm sure they'll understand that."

Stories, that was why I was here. I was working on a story. I settled back on the creaking bench and went over the events of the last day and a half in my head. I was here to work on a story.

It started a few days ago, an assignment from the Equestria Daily to cover the 17th Friendship Games. I was sitting in my office idly flicking through a piece I was writing for the Canterlot Journal, wondering what had happened to the bottle that had been sitting on my desk a moment ago, and listening to my solicitor arguing on the phone with someone over a supposedly unpaid hotel bill.

"You tell 'em," I said, glancing around, not quite remembering what I was supposed to be writing, "don't let them bamboozle you."

"Do you know who I am? Do you?" my colleague practically shouted into the phone? "I'll have you know that I can tie this up in court for months, years even! You won't even know what hit you!" He slammed the phone down just as a loud knock came at the door. I jumped so hard I fell out of my chair. There's where that bottle ended up, thought, too bad it's empty. "Come in for Discord's sake, don't just stand there banging on my door!" I yelled at the unseen pony on the other side, "No respect for journalists in this town."

A short skinny green pony in a round gray cap popped his head in and looked around, like he was surveying a war zone. "Special telegram for Freak Stringer. You Freak Stringer?"

"That's Doctor Stringer" to you," I replied as I hauled myself back to my hooves, "no respect at all. And this massive monstrosity next to me is my legal counsel, Sienna Stone, the best attorney available to me at the time," I replied, "so this better be good." I took the telegram from the messenger and tossed him a couple bits as I looked it over. "Quiet," I said to my counsel, "It's EQD, they want me to cover the Friendship Games. Momentous event, they say. First year that changelings will be allowed to participate, and there's some sort of special presentation by Princess Twilight and the Changeling Federation's own friendship guru, some bug by the name of Honey Crop."

"Well," said Stone, "sounds like it could end up being quite a fiasco. You're going to need a lot of legal advice. And a lot of help to get through it. Could end up being quite the fiasco," he repeated himself. Like to hear himself talk, that one.

"You're right," I said, "well need the right equipment for this one. Best get on that immediately." I packed up my typewriter, a whole ream of the best twenty-pound paper (or at least the best I could afford at the time), grabbed a fresh bottle of apple cider from the bottom desk drawer, and stuffed them in my saddlebags. "Anything else?" I asked my colleague.

"Games gonna be at Ponyville this year," the big brown buffalo replied. "I know a zebra there, best Poison Joke in Equestria, straight from the Everfree Forest. I mean, if we're gonna do this thing, might as well do it right."

"Sounds good to me," I replied, "after all, if there's a story to be had, we want to be right in the thick of it. Pure gonzo journalism." I nodded and flicked my mane. Looking back, that was probably our first mistake.


The cart we rented was speeding a hundred furlongs an hour with the canopy down as we left Las Pegasus, headed for Ponyville and the Friendship Games. Not too long now, I thought, and we'd be in the thick of it. Sport and politics, always a volatile combination, something bound to go weird. And if it didn't, well, that's what I'm here for.

We pulled up to the front gates and I flashed my credentials at the gate guard as we slid past. "Freak Stringer, EQD Sports. Where's the press tent?"

The guard grimaced as he hovered just above us and gestured with a wing down a side road, toward a cluster of tents and towers. "Green tent, just past the check-in building, off to the left-ish. Security's tight on this one, so stick with your group and stay out of the rope-off zone."

"Right-O!" I waved as my colleague kicked the cart into gear and sped off in the general direction of the press area.

"Hey, slow down!" called the guard after us.

"You say something?" my colleague mumbled with his mouth full as we cruised down an alleyway near a shiny quonset hut. "I wasn't listening.":

"Nothing," I replied. "What are you chewing on?"

"Poison joke," he said tossing me a small waxed-paper bag, "fresh picked, good stuff."

"Hrm." I bit down on a leaf sting out of the bag and pulled out the tiny flower. The sharp bitter zing followed by a tingling sweetness set my mouth watering. "You weren't kidding," I said as I chewed. This day might have a few redeeming qualities after all. I pointed to a small green tent, "There's our destination," I said around the flower wad, "and more importantly, the concession stand next to it." I kneed my way through the crowd to the counter, dropping the bag and a bag of bit in front of me. "Strong tea," I called to the pony behind the counter. I took the mug and was pouring a couple swigs of cider into the tea as a sudden wind kicked up, blowing my bag of poison joke, my bits, and a whole lot of other stuff back across the outdoor kitchen. I watched with horror as the flowers went flying across the open pots of tea and stew.

Probably my second mistake, looking back at the day.

My colleague and I rushed toward shelter, suddenly finding ourselves stuck among a small, furtive-looking band of changlings, all back and wearing leg bands that said "CSA". Probably some sort of changeling security detail, I mused, somewhat taken aback at their old-style black-and-green look. Somehow, the words "Changeling Separationist Army" never crossed my mind, which was definitely my biggest mistake of the day.

"Great idea," one of them said, looking at me "well, now that we're all here..."

That's when things started to go a little green and fuzzy.

For a moment, the world seemed to go a bit blurry, and suddenly instead of being surrounded by changeling security, I was back among the sporting press from across Equestria and beyond, my legal counsel nowhere in sight. But not too far off was the main stage, and a crowd was definitely building. I recognized the princess just behind it chatting with a small group of colourful changelings and what appeared to be a rather large griffon.

Time to get to work, my brain reminded me, although I could barely convince my legs to move. The group I was in surged forward toward the stage, carrying me with them despite any efforts I might have made. "Hey, watch that," I replied, "I'm a doctor of journalism, unhoof me you ruffians." But they continued in a rush, blowing right through a ring of ropes and magic detectors.

Before I knew it, I was right behind the stage, the crowd exploding into chaos. Shapes and shadows seemed to melt all around me. I tried to get some control over myself, but wasn't even sure which one was myself, in all the chaos and mayhem.

"What are you up to now?" a voice rumbled. I felt myself lifted by the scruff, and tossed onto the back of what I assumed was a hairy brown mountain.

"No fault of mine," I replied, "it's the bug, or the plants, or maybe pollen season, everypony out smelling the flowers." I was rambling, clearly, but I had no control over anything at that point.

"Long live the Queen!" I heard a walking tree shout, or maybe it was a pony, I wasn't sure.

"What about the games?" I called, "Aren't we all friends here, trees and all?" I heard a snort, and suddenly a wave of wings and hooves crashed into us.

"Guard the Princess!" I heard a voice shout. Some creatures seemed to be attacking the stage others attacking a crowd, some attacking random bit of the landscape, others transforming back and forth into various inanimate objects.

"Guard the trees!" I shouted back, "Which one of you ruffians stole my cider! What bad company have I fallen into to be abused like this?"

The brown mountain turned and started running. "I can't leave you alone for one minute, before you start causing trouble."

Any remaining coherence to the scene slowly dissolved, and I soon found myself floating along in a gray haze.