• 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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45. The Bust

Thirty Warmbloods quietly converged upon and slipped inside a downtown Canterlot warehouse under the cover of night. They gathered around their leader, a rugged olive-green pegasus mare named Broken Arrow. She spread a number of maps, photographs and timetables across a folding table in the middle of the crowd.

“Okay, listen up. I’m only going over this once. In two days, the palace is sending a resupply of arms and armor to their southern watchtowers. This is the premium stuff: hoof-made by the royal quartermaster. We get these, we’ll be able to go toe-to-toe against anypony who stands in our way.”

“Our way of the Canterlot Central Bank, right?” asked a unicorn mare. “That’s what all this is leading up to, right?”

“The bank is just the beginning! Once we're armed like the guards, we can run this town. We can clean out banks, jewelry stores, museums, anything! We can bust our own people out of prison. The City Watch will be helpless.”

“What about the Royal Guard?” grumbled an earth stallion. “They’ve been giving us trouble lately.”

“Don’t worry about them- we’re about to take out a new insurance policy. Our source in the Watch says a VIP is coming into town- a very VIP. Celestia’s niece.”

“Celestia has a niece? Get out,” scoffed an earth mare.

“Word is she keeps a low profile,” Broken Arrow said. “Been living in Mountreal, but she’s coming into town this weekend. And we’re going to take her hostage.”

“Is she powerful?” asked a donkey.

“Nah. Get this- she’s supposed to be the Princess of Love.”

Love?” scoffed a pegasus stallion.

“Yeah. The worst she can do is blow us a kiss. We’ll ambush her here,” Broken Arrow said, pointing to a map of Uptown Canterlot, “and with her in our care, the big horns won’t dare make a move against us. We’ll have the run of the city. Heck, of the country.”

The Warmbloods chattered amongst themselves, salivating at the prospect of what they could do with the full run of Equestria.

“Wow, that’s an ambitious plan!” shouted a voice from above. The Warmbloods all looked to the ceiling to see Gazeta standing on a crossbeam under the rafters. She snapped a photo of the gathering, and they all winced at the brightness of the flash.

“Get her!” howled Broken Arrow.

She leapt off the beam just a number of magic auras converged onto the spot where she had been standing. A blur of yellow and blue swooped through the building and snatched her mid-air. Flash Sentry carried Gazeta through an open skylight and deposited her on the rooftop.

“Are you all right, miss?” Flash asked.

“I’m fine. Wow, you’re fast.”

“Quick as a Flash,” he said with a wink. He dove back inside the building, landed in the center of the gang, and flicked out his spear.

“You folks are under arrest. Keep your hooves, wings, and horns where I can see them.”

Each Warmblood pulled out a long serrated dagger. Broken Arrow pulled out two and held them wide with her wings.

“You got some stones, coming here alone.”

“Oh, you’re never alone when you’re in the Guard. Right, commander?”

The rest of the skylights flung open. Barrel Roller, Radish Root, Spats, and ten other guards dropped into the building, weapons in hoof.

“You got that right,” said Barrel Roller. “Drop ‘em.”

“You think we’re afraid of you guards?” snickered Broken Arrow. “The Royal Guard is a joke. You lot couldn’t protect a cookie from a toddler. And in case you can’t count, you’re still outnumbered.”

Barrel Roller walked up to Broken Arrow and stared her in the eyes. She re-sheathed her spear. “Then take your best shot, missy.”

Broken Arrow plunged her daggers towards Barrel Roller’s neck. Barrel Roller swatted the daggers away with her wings and headbutted Broken Arrow, who crumpled to the floor. Barrel Roller looked around at the rest of the Warmbloods.

“Anyone else?”

The Warmbloods all dropped their knives.

Gazeta snapped photos of the Royal Guard ushering the shackled Warmbloods into the backs of several patrol wagons. Radish walked up to her.

“Quite a bust for the Guard, eh?” she said.

“And quite a scoop for you,” noted Radish. “Beats peeping on the palace with a zoom lens, huh?”

“I don’t think I’ll need to anymore. Word around town is that Celestia is going to stop casting the censorship spell on the palace. Apparently it was more trouble than it was worth.”

“Hmm. That means tourists will start hounding me for pictures of my cutie marks again.”

“Nah. Once this story hits the stands, no one’s gonna wanna mess with a guard ever again.”

“We couldn’t have done it without you,” said Radish. “Thank you.”

Gazeta looked down and kicked a hoof at the ground. “Hey, uh… I don’t normally do this…”


“...and I never thought I’d be the kind of girl who goes for a guy in uniform. But I was wondering… do you… uh…”


“...do you know if Flash Sentry is single?”

“I think he is.”

“Really? Great! Thank you!”

“No problem.”

Gazeta sat down in a booth in Horns and Hardcart with a cup of coffee and a late-night meal. She went over her notes of the bust. A hefty seafoam green unicorn stallion with a gray mane sat down opposite her.

“Miss Gazeta.”

“Oh, hi. I’ve got to thank you. You were right about the train. And the hideouts. And this bust has given me new leads to follow- don’t be surprised if you see an exposé on the Watch in the coming weeks.”

“Sounds like your career is on an upswing.”

“Oh, yeah! This is going to send the Tribune straight to the top! True crime stories make much better reading than all that ‘who’s Celestia in love with’ pap.”

“Has the Royal Guard offered you a reward for the intel you provided?”

“That commander wants to meet me tomorrow morning. I think that’s what she wants to talk about.”

“I believe she’s going to offer you a job in the royal press corps. I think you should take it.”

“What? Why? Then I’d just be a mouthpiece for the crowns.”

“Do you know what palace correspondents make?”

“Not really.”

The unicorn put a slip of paper on the table between them. She looked at it. She took a sip of coffee.

“Yeah, I think I’ll be taking the job.”


“So, what are you expecting to get out of all this?”

The unicorn reached out a hoof. “A new friend, I hope?”

Gazeta smiled and shook it. “Want some pie? My treat.”

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