• 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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75. The Infatuation

Radish approached a row of bushes along one of the palace’s many walkways, wary of a rustling noise from within. A juvenile hognose snake slithered out.

“Hey, there. You lost?”

It flicked its tongue, then nodded.

Zero flew over them. “Root, Shining Armor wants to see you.”

“Oh? Should I take a train to the Crystal Empire, since that’s where he lives and works now?”

“Yeah, I know. It’s hard to miss a guy who won’t leave. He’s at Barrel Roller’s.”

“Could you see this snake to the visitor center?”

Zero looked at it. He grumbled.

Radish entered his captain’s office. His former captain was at his captain’s desk. His captain was nowhere to be seen.

“Ah, Root. Good seeing you again.”

“How can I help you, Prince Shining Armor of the Crystal Empire?”

“I wanted to ask you something personal. About Twilight. Are you still pen pals with her?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I’m worried that she may play a bit too loose with protocol now that she’s a princess. She may be openly discussing things with her friends that are supposed to be classified.”

“I thought all of AG1 is at Clearance Level Five.”

“Yeah, but you’re not. Has she mentioned anything strange lately?”

“Strange for her is relative, sir.”

“Even stranger than usual. Anything about, say, her crown? A mirror? A… school?”

“Not that I can recall.”

“Good.”

Twilight had. She had written him a long letter describing a mission undertaken by her and Spike that was so bizarre, Radish first thought she was pranking him. It was not a prank, however, and the implications were staggering and terrifying. However, Twilight’s major takeaway from the experience seemed to be a rather personal one.

“By the way, do you remember a pegasus guard named Flash Sentry?” Shining Armor asked. “He was one of the transfers to the Crystal Empire.”

“Oh, sure. I remember him.”

“What did you think of him?”

Nice guy. A good starter boyfriend for Twilight, until the distance and lack of common interests force them into an amicable breakup. She'll probably end up with some sensitive Ponyville boy and be fine. Without your meddling.

“He was a skilled and intelligent guard, and I feel honored to have worked with him.”

Don’t say I never did anything for you, Flash Sentry.

Shining Armor seemed skeptical. Radish couldn’t resist saying what he said next.

“Actually, sir, he had many of the same fine qualities that you have, both as a guard and as a stallion. I think the two of you are very much alike.”

Shining’s eye twitched. Radish bit the insides of his cheeks to keep his expression neutral. He had to keep pushing.

“Sir, is there something I should ask Twilight about Flash Sentry? Or vice versa?”

“No. Dismissed.”

Radish left the room and made his way down the hall. As he walked past a burgundy marble column, he heard a whisper from behind it.

“Psst!”

“Hi, Twilight.”

Twilight poked her head out from behind the column. “Did he ask about Flash?”

“Yeah.”

“What did you say?”

“Why am I a part of this?”

“Is that what you said, or are you saying that now?”

“Twilight, if you like Flash Sentry, you should just go and talk to him.”

“I can’t! I don’t know if I do or not. I’m totally in the weeds with this kind of thing! How did you know the first time you liked someone?”

“She appeared on my flanks.”

“Oh, right. What about the second time?”

“She sent me here to pursue the first.”

“Right. I’m almost afraid to ask about a third.”

“Oh, her? She confronted me in this hallway and said I should be defenestrated.”

“Who on earth was-”

Twilight looked around the hall. Her eyes bugged out and she stumbled back.

“I… I…”

“I’m kidding.”

“Well, don’t! I can’t handle that kind of kidding right now!”

“Sorry.”

“Please, Radish. I don't know what I'm doing. I didn’t care about making friends for most of my life. I never even gave any thought to dating! I’m way behind in this kind of thing."

"But isn't this Princess Cadance's exact area of expertise?"

"She, uh, already asked me about him, and I told her there was nothing to tell."

"But is there? I thought the Flash you got to know is a whole different guy from the Flash I knew."

"That's the problem. The Flash I knew was a great guy. He was so kind, and sweet, and charming..."

"Aww."

"But I'll probably never see him again."

"Oh."

"But, when the pegasus Flash touched my hoof and looked into my eyes... well... I kind of felt a... similar connection."

"Ooh."

"I'd like to know why. Could you tell me about him? What was he like?”

"Well, he was a sky patroller, so I didn't spend a lot of time with him. But I was there when he caught Luna after Chrysalis threw her off her balcony.”

“So he's a hero! What else?”

“He was in the wrestling league.”

“Ah, so he was a valorous athletic contender, who reveled in honing his skills and matching his wits in vigorous simulated battle?”

“I pinned him in like five seconds.”

“That’s… what? Why bring that up?”

“Uh… oh! He was in a band. He played guitar.”

“That makes sense! The human one was an accomplished guitarist, so of course the pegasus one would be!”

“Is that how it works?”

“It seems to be. Did you ever talk about me?”

“Uh… no. Sorry.”

“Did he have a girlfriend?”

“He was popular with the ladies, but he was excited to transfer, so I don’t think he had any ties here.”

“But he likes mares, right?”

“I don’t know. The other one liked mares, didn’t he?”

“Well, at least one- Sunset Shimmer.”

“Right. The criminal you let go.”

“Let’s not get into that now, please.”

"Are you sure you want to date a guard? Our hours are long, it's dangerous work, and we only get five weeks of vacation each year."

"And what if somepony had said that to Light Fantastic?"

"Lots of ponies said that to Light Fantastic."

"And it's a good thing she didn't listen to them! She'd be missing out on being with a great guy!"

Radish looked at his hooves. "Oh... that's really nice. Thanks, Twilight."

"You don't want me to miss out on being with a great guy, do you?"

"No... no, I don't. Twilight, I think you and Flash Sentry would make a nice couple."

"Thank you, Radish. Now I just have to figure out how to approach him."

"Okay. How about this- you could go up to the Crystal Empire…”

“I just came from there. Shining Armor will get word that I suddenly went back. He'll be suspicious."

"What's Shining going to do? Fire him?"

"I just don't want him involved, okay?"

"Okay, so tell him you need to use the Empire's library..."

“That’s perfect! He’s never interested in what I find in libraries. His eyes will glaze over the minute I mention it.”

“…and then you slip out and find the Empire’s music scene. Check out the venues, and Flash will either be there playing or watching. Then just go up to him and say, ‘Oh, hi, I was just in the neighborhood. I didn’t know you liked this band, too. Tee hee. They’re great. Say, you wanna get some ice cream? Oh, is this your place? Oh, Flash Sentry, you’re so strong…’”

Twilight gave Radish a shove. He splat against the wall.

“Ow.”

“Ooh, sorry. I’m still getting used to how powerful my body is.”

“Make sure you tell him that, too,” Radish said, climbing to his hooves.

“Radish!”

“Look, all I know is that you don’t want to be asking yourself what could have been. Give it a try, and if it doesn’t work out, you can move on.”

“Do you think he’d like me?”

“You’re a flippin’ princess. A heroine of the realm.”

“But none of that has anything to do with two ponies connecting romantically. Do you think he’d like me? Me me? Am I… good dating material?”

Radish put his hoof on her shoulder. “Twilight Sparkle, you are cute as a button, tough as nails, and sharp as a tack. If he’s not crazy for you, he’s crazy.”

“Ohh, you...”

She gave him another shove. Radish dug into the carpet, and her hoof dented his chestplate.

“Twilight, my armor!”

“Sorry!”

She uncrumpled it with magic.

“So… you good?” Radish asked.

“Eh, no. I need my guy friend for backup. Could you come with me?”

“Fine. Maybe Fanny’ll want to come, too.”

“That’s perfect. If you’re with her, Flash won’t mistake the two of us as dating.”

“You’re giving this more worry than most villains you fight.”

“Villains are easy. Boys are terrifying.”

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