• Published 23rd Sep 2021
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The Only Mark That Matters - CocktailOlive



The story of Radish Root, a pony with obscene cutie marks.

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38. The Suitor, Part 6: Unnecessary Injuries

Radish stood on guard in a gallery room exhibiting photographs of Equestria’s roadside attractions. Celestia and Halcyon walked in, chatting about an upcoming Wonderbolt derby. Radish chewed the inside of his cheek as they neared.

“Radish Root,” said Halcyon, seriously. “I am glad to see you again. I beg your forgiveness for my behavior yesterday. I am ashamed of myself.”

“Don’t worry about it, sir. I’m sorry, as well.”

“Thank you, that is a relief.”

“What’s this, now? What did you two get up to yesterday?” Celestia asked.

“Oh,” said Radish coolly, “it was a silly little disagreement about-”

“You,” said Halcyon.

Radish sighed.

“Me?” asked Celestia.

“I was enraged at his cutie marks. I assumed they were debasing your honor.”

“Ah, that,” said Celestia. “Don’t worry. I’ve known Radish since he was a child. He could never debase me.”

“Uh, thank you, ma’am,” said Radish, slowly.

“I am impressed by this gallery of photographic arts,” said Halcyon, gesturing at the walls. “My society had not advanced this far before the disasters. Was this a result of friendship as well?”

“Yes,” said Celestia. “There were two ponies each vying to invent a camera they could sell to the public. Only when they formed a partnership could they crack the final design together.”

“Ah, so then a friendship can be born from a competition?” Halcyon asked.

“Indeed,” said Celestia. “That’s a nice way to put it.”

“Then perhaps Radish Root and I could be good friends, after all!”

Radish winced. Celestia looked at Halcyon, concerned.

“Sir,” said Radish, “I don’t think of us as being in any kind of competition.”

“But you compete in the castle’s fighting games, do you not?”

Celestia raised an eyebrow.

“The… oh! You mean intramural wrestling,” Radish said.

“Radish, you’re wrestling?” Celestia asked.

“Aye, ma’am.”

“Then I would like to, as well,” said Halcyon. “Radish and I will face each other in competition, and thus will become friends.”

Halcyon grinned widely. Radish kept his gaze neutral. Celestia frowned.

“Halcyon,” she said, “you are several weight classes above Radish. It would be unfair, and quite dangerous to him.”

Radish inhaled sharply. “Actually, ma’am, we’re using the Variant Two ruleset. There are no weight classes.”

“That ruleset all but invites unnecessary injuries,” said Celestia. “I’ve often considered banning it.”

“Your guards have to be prepared to take on creatures of any size,” said Radish. “Fighting outside our weight class makes us better-equipped to protect you.”

“Ah, you see, Princess Celestia?” said Halcyon. “He is prepared to fight me… for your sake. And I am, as well.”

Celestia shrugged. “If that’s what you want. Come. It’s lunchtime, and the chef has made something special for us.”


Radish finished his shift and walked through the back halls. Celestia rounded a corner in front of him.

“Come with me,” she said, and walked on. He followed her into a parlor Radish had never been in. Its walls were a rich green trimmed with dark brown wood. The furniture was similarly colored. Radish recalled from the Guard manual that this room was intended to invoke the tranquility of a forest. Radish did not feel tranquil.

“Radish, you and I haven’t yet spoken to each other about Halcyon. I want to have that conversation now.”

“Ma’am, I’m here to protect your guests, not opine on them.”

“I am not oblivious to the tension between you two. It is common knowledge, even to him, that you were my suitor- a suitor I rejected.”

Radish took a deep breath. “Ma’am, I was just a silly little kid. I’d like to move on from those days.”

“And though he hasn’t said as much, it’s obvious that Halcyon is romantically interested in me.”

“I… suppose. But you must get hopeful suitors in here all the time.”

“I don’t.”

“Really? But you’re so…”

Radish quickly shut his mouth and looked away.

“No, finish the thought, please,” Celestia said.

“You’re so amazing. I assumed you get a never-ending stream of princes and nobleponies and legendary heroes coming here asking for your hoof in marriage.”

“Have you ever seen one?”

“I, uh, guess not. I’m sorry.”

“Would you give me your honest opinion about Halcyon?”

“He’s a bit loud.”

Celestia laughed. “He comes from a very windy place. I can’t wait to see it.”

“You’re going to the Edgelands? Soon?”

“Very soon. He and I will journey to the Edgelands together, so that I may meet his people and assess their situation in person.”

“A journey like that could take a long time. Months.”

“Yes, and that excites me. It’s been eons since I’ve been on a true expedition into unknown lands. I never dreamt I would get to see the cradle of ungulate civilization, with one of its own people as my guide.”

“I’m… happy for you.”

“We will be spending many long hours together as we rebuild his civilization. And after that, I think I may like to spend even more time with him. Perhaps… many long years with him.”

Radish looked down at his boots. Celestia took a step closer to him.

“What do you think about all that?” she asked, gently.

“So you…” Radish took a deep breath and cut himself off.

“What? Ask. Please. I won’t punish you.”

“So you love him, then?”

Celestia stood tall, closing her eyes to consider her answer.

“I’ve been asking myself that very question. I don’t know. I can tell you that I feel a fondness for him that I haven’t felt for a stallion in a long, long, time. It could be the beginning of something.”

“You told me…” Radish looked aside and bit his lip.

“What did I tell you?”

“When I was a kid, you told me you’d never marry, because your responsibilities to Equestria were too great.”

“Ah, I remember. But that burden is eased now. Luna co-rules with me, while Twilight’s group sees to many important matters in my stead.”

“Oh.”

“Does that upset you?”

“What do you want me to say!?” Radish hissed through gritted teeth. “Why are you even asking me about it? We both know I never had a chance with you. Just live your life however you want.”

Celestia knelt down to his eye level.

“Radish, you and I have been getting along so well lately. I thought you were over your precocial infatuation with me. I thought we had built a friendly, professional relationship.”

“I am. We have.”

“You can’t get into arguments with every stallion who takes an interest in me.”

“That’s not what happened!”

“Radish… I really need you to move on from me. For your sake as well as mine.”

I have.

“Have you, now? You don’t desire me? Even just a little bit?”

“No.”

“What if I gave you one last, desperate chance? Would you leap at it?”

“What?”

“The last time you proposed to me was when you were a colt. Have you considered proposing to me as a stallion?”

“That would be inappropriate,” he responded. “A fireable offense.”

“Let’s waive propriety for now. Try asking again.”

“No.”

“Please. I’m as curious as you are what my answer will be.”

“I know what your answer will be.”

“I don’t. Perhaps I will choose you over him.”

“Celestia… will you marry me?”

“No.”

She stood up and frowned.

“Hmm. Interesting. I’m sorry, Radish. That was unprofessional.”

Unprofessional!?

“You’d be well within your rights to report me for misconduct.”

Radish narrowed his eyes and growled, “I’d be well within my rights to-!”

“Yes?”

He took a deep breath. “Will there be anything else, madam?”

“No. Dismissed.”


Spats entered his bunk’s shower room with a towel draped over his neck and a basket of toiletries in his aura. He saw Radish sitting on the sink counter holding a double-edged safety razor in his mouth.

“Radical? I mean, Radish? What are you doing?”

“Something I should have done a long time ago,” Radish said, around the razor’s long handle in his teeth.

Spats put down his basket and approached cautiously. He inhaled sharply at what he saw. Radish had applied a thick foam of shaving soap to his right cutie mark.

“Radish! No!”

“I’m done with her, Spats. I’m done with these.”

“How could you!?”

“This is long overdue. I’ll keep my flanks bare until they go bald.”

“You’re using my shave soap, Radish!? I get that from an uptown import shop for seventy bits a bar!”

“You’re right, Spats. It’s too good for her. Store brand is all she deserves.”

Radish scooted his flank under the sink faucet and washed the soap off.

“No, don’t waste it!” howled Spats as he ran forward, watching the expensive lather drain away. “Oh… Rad. What did she do to you?”

Radish applied his own canned shaving cream to his cutie mark and rubbed it in.

“I tried to move on, Spats. I really did. But she wouldn’t have it. She won’t let me drop her from my heart. So I’m dropping her from my fur.”

Radish pressed the razor against the top of the little Celestia’s head, and, with a quick downward motion, shaved it off. Spats winced.

“Radish! Stop!”

“Why?”

“Shave with the grain, not against it!”

“Fur has grain?”

“Yes, Radish,” sighed Spats. “Fur has grain. Hold still.”

Spats took the razor in his aura and washed out the fur. He held the razor to the little Celestia’s body.

“You really want to do this?” Spats asked.

“Yes.”

“Shaving off your marks is against dress code, you know.”

“So is polishing your armor with sea serpent wax.”

“I guess we’re both scofflaws, huh?”

Spats shaved off the little Celestia’s body, exposing pale pink skin underneath. He scraped away her multicolored mane and tail. Radish watched her go, and felt his body relax in places that had been clenched since he was a child.

“You okay?” Spats asked.

“Yes.”

“And the little you? Want him gone?”

“Yes. He wants to go with her.”

“Oh? Okay.”

Spats shaved the little Radish away, from his hooves to his mane, until there was nothing of the cutie mark left.

Radish closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against the mirror, letting out a sigh of relief that fogged a large patch of it.

“I have to clean up these edges,” said Spats. “If I had better tools, I could do a nice bit of stallionscaping, but-”

“A big square bald patch is fine,” chuckled Radish.

Spats worked on the edges for a few minutes. Radish approved.

“Okay, one down,” said Radish. “But I’d like to do the other. I need to learn. I’m going to be doing this for the rest of my life, after all.”

Radish went to work on his other cutie mark under Spat’s guidance. Soon he had finished. Radish felt his bare skin and smiled appreciatively.

“How does it feel?” Spats asked.

“Like I just dropped a huge burden off my back. I can’t thank you enough, Spats.”

“Yes you can. You can buy me more soap.”

“Worth it.”

Another guard, Bunker Buster, entered the bathroom, also with an aura full of toiletries.

“Whoa, you got rid of them?” he asked.

“Yep,” said Radish, unable to take his eyes off his flanks.

“Shining will have your head, you know. Cutie shaving is against regs.”

“So is dyeing your tail, Bunker Buster,” retorted Spats.

“It went prematurely gray!”

“You dye it gray.”

“Yeah, fog gray, like it used to be. And it still is, as far as the captain knows. Got it?”

“Got it,” said Spats.

Radish continued to sit and admire his bare flanks. His eyes started to tear up.

“So, you’ve never done that before now?” asked Bunker Buster.

“It always seemed taboo, you know? Like they weren’t mine to lose. Like I’d be breaking cosmic law.”

He hopped off the counter and gazed at his reflection from other angles.

“But they’re my flanks. My fur. My cutie marks. They are mine to lose. And they’re out of here. If cosmic law wants them, it can chase them down the drain.”

He pulled Spats and Bunker Buster into a tight hug. “I feel so free! Is this how you guys feel all the time?”

Spats and Bunker Buster looked at each other. They shrugged.

“Yeah, Rad,” said Spats.

“We’re happy for you,” said Bunker Buster.

“So, what do normal, regular ponies who don’t have pornography on their asses do for fun around here?”

“Uh, the bowling alley’s open,” offered Spats. “It’s free for guards.”

“Sounds fun. Come on, the beers are on me.”

“Now you’re talking,” said Spats.

“I think I’m going to like the new Radish,” said Bunker Buster.

“Me, too,” said Radish. “I can’t wait to meet him.”

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