• 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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92. The Bat

Radish heard a light rapping at his cabin door. He opened it to see Fluttershy, nervously glancing around.

“Radish! May I come in?”

“Uh, sure,” he said, stepping out of the way. She rushed to his window and drew his curtains shut.

“Please lock the door,” she said in a hushed tone. He complied.

“What’s wrong?”

She walked up close to him. “Radish, I really need to show you something.”

“Like, an animal?”

She shook her head. She leaned her face up close to his, opening her mouth slightly.

Radish leaned back. “Uh, Fluttershy?”

She used her wings to pull up on the corners of her lips, revealing two tiny fangs in her upper row of teeth.

“What in the… are those real!?”

She nodded.

“How in the world... let me guess: another one of Twilight’s magical mishaps?”

She nodded. “See, it all started at Sweet Apple Acres, when-”

A scroll poofed into existence in front of Radish. He caught it.

“Oh, that’s probably from Twilight now, telling you all about it,” she said.

Radish opened and read the scroll.

“A colony of vampire fruit bats were consuming the Apples’ harvest, but you and Applejack had a difference of opinion on how to handle them…”

“Uh huh.”

“You argued over it through song.”

“Yes.”

“They convinced you to use your stare on the bats while Twilight cast a spell to… remove their desire to be vampire fruit bats?”

“That’s how she put it.”

“But then you absorbed that desire… and turned into a vampire bat pony!?”

“That’s right.”

“What was it like?”

“It’s all a blur. I mostly just remember lots of upside-down apple trees. The girls say I had bat wings, bat ears, and red eyes. And I used these fangs to suck apples dry.”

“Twilight says she returned you to normal. So why do you still have the fangs?”

“I don’t know. I guess Twilight’s counterspell didn’t, well, get all the bat out of me.”

Radish flipped the letter over. “But she doesn’t mention that. You didn’t tell her?”

Fluttershy looked down and rubbed her shoulder. “Uh, you know how they say you should sometimes get a second doctor's opinion, even though it might hurt the first doctor’s feelings? I just felt I should maybe get a second opinion about my… bat condition… before having Twilight try again.”

“You want to talk to Luna. The creator of the original bat ponies.”

“Yes.”

“She should just be finishing breakfast right about now- I’ll take you to her.”

“Thank you, Radish. You’re always so helpful.”

“No problem. Oh, yeah,” he said, turning to the side, “what do you think of my new cutie marks?”

She leaned in close to look at them. She frowned.

“Well, radishes are awfully spicy. Wouldn’t you rather have something… juicy?”

“I guess I wasn’t considering the juiciness of my flanks.”

“Can we go now?”


“...and so, um, I told Radish about it, and he brought me to you, um, your highness,” Fluttershy said to Princess Luna with an uneasy bow. They had met with her in her tower bedroom.

Princess Luna cocked her head and furrowed her brows in disbelief. “Surely you jest?”

“Oh, no, I would never jest about something like this,” Fluttershy said resolutely.

Luna seized Fluttershy’s cheeks and pulled them up, exposing her fangs. She dragged Fluttershy’s face closer to her own and peered into her open mouth.

“By the stars, it is true,” Luna said in wonderment. “Our newest princess has created a new bat pony.”

“Ah huh”, Fluttershy said, mouth still wide open. Luna let her go.

“Where on earth did Twilight Sparkle learn such a spell?” asked Luna.

“She got it from a book in her library.”

Luna froze. “Uh… was it a red book? Magic of Chance and Change by the author Mare Cognitum?”

“I think that’s what it was. Yes.”

Luna winced and looked down. “Oh…”

“What’s wrong, princess?” Radish asked.

“This is all my fault. Or, more specifically, Nightmare Moon’s fault.”

“What?”

“Nightmare Moon plotted many devious means of subverting Equestrian society. One of her last schemes was to publish an advanced spellbook which included a few of her own most dangerous spells. She hoped to give studious young spellcasters a tempting taste of dark magic.”

“Wow, she really got a lot done in just a few years,” noted Radish.

“Quite so. But Nightmare Moon felt that literary marketing was beneath her, and thus the book did not sell very well. I am surprised a copy survived this long.”

“Then, the spell that Twilight used on me was the same one that created the original bat ponies?” Fluttershy asked.

Luna sighed mournfully. “Nay. Their creation was a much more… prolonged and invasive process. I do not recall everything Nightmare Moon did to them, but at least I know what Twilight Sparkle did to you. It is a spell used to dominate a creature’s will, altering their core motivations.”

“Huh,” said Radish, “didn’t Twilight try to do the same thing to the parasprites? She tried to change their appetites, and that went wrong, too.”

“And the same thing happened when she tried Starswirl’s last spell,” noted Fluttershy. “She made us all think we were meant to do something different with our lives.”

“Hrmph. It would seem that Twilight Sparkle built her spellcasting on a foundation partially poured by Nightmare Moon, making her a bit too comfortable with mind-control magic,” mused Luna. “I will have to have a talk with her about it.”

“What about Fluttershy?” asked Radish.

“Now that I know the spell we are dealing with, I can prepare its counterspell. It will take a bit of time, though. You two may rest in my tower in the meantime.”

“Thank you, Princess Luna,” said Fluttershy with a polite bow.

“Thanks are not needed. And Radish?”

“Yes?”

“Even though your new cutie marks are not moons, they are still very becoming. I approve.”

“Aw, thank you.”

Radish took Fluttershy to the break room in Luna’s tower. They put on a light jazz album and shared snacks at a small table.

“I hear you’re competing in the Equestria games,” Radish said. “That’s amazing.”

“We’ll see. We still have to qualify at the tryouts.”

“Yeah, so do I.”

“You’ll do great. How’s Light?”

“Good. Really busy lately. How’s the quest for the keys going?”

“We haven’t found any that fit yet. We all tried our own house keys, but they didn’t work. Pinkie Pie dropped a roller skate key into one of the holes, and Twilight was in a panic until they were able to fish it out.”

“Hmm.”

“I asked Discord about them during our last tea party, and he said that maybe the real keys will be the ones we find along the way.”

“But that’s… ugh. I don’t know how you can stand that guy.”

“Now, Radish. Don’t be mean. He’s come a long way.”

“Why didn’t you just ask him to fix your bat condition?”

She looked aside, frowning. “Oh, I uh, don’t want him to see me like this.”

“Because he’ll make fun of you? See, if he were really a friend… Fluttershy?”

Fluttershy didn’t seem to hear Radish, but kept intently staring at an apple in a fruit bowl. She picked it up and sniffed it.

“Uh, Fluttershy? Is something wrong?”

She shook her head, as if snapping out of a thought. She put the apple back. “Nope. All fine.”

The break room door flew open. Echo, Murk, and Nocturn burst in.

“Brother!” Murk shouted. The three of them piled on and hugged Radish.

“Hey guys! Good seeing you. Where’s Vesper?”

“She is with her new boyfriend,” Murk said, rolling his eyes.

“Get out. Vessie has a feller? Nice guy?”

“No,” Echo, Nocturn, and Murk said simultaneously.

Echo approached Fluttershy. “Is what Luna says true? You are now a bat pony, like us?”

Fluttershy hunched over. “Um, I don’t really know what I am. I just have fangs now.”

“May I… see them?”

She bared her fangs. Echo’s wings twitched. “Magnificent! How do you feel?”

“Um… I feel okay.”

“But there must be more to it than just fangs. Tell me, are your senses sharper now?”

“Maybe? The crickets around my house seemed louder today.”

“And the world feels better at night, doesn’t it? The darkness makes you feel stronger, faster… and safer?”

“Well, I suppose the dark has felt a little less terrifying lately...”

“And the taste of insects is so much sweeter?”

“Oh, no! Well, I mean, yes, for fruit. Apples just taste so… satiating… now.”

“Fascinating. You are truly one of us.”

“I truly am?”

“Yes. We are part gray bat, you are part vampire bat. Different lineages, but a common heritage.”

“Ooh. I didn’t think of it that way.”

Nocturn poked his head between them. “Enough of this. Luna asked us to bring them.”

They returned to Luna’s room. Vesper was there, speaking to Luna. She waved at Radish.

“Brother!”

They hugged. “Hi, Vesper. How are you?”

“I am quite well.”

“I hear you’ve got a boyfriend.”

She grit her teeth. “My brothers are quite the gossips. I have a close friendship with a nice gentlecolt based on shared interests.”

“Do I know him?”

She ignored Radish and turned to Fluttershy.

“Miss Fluttershy, I am told you are one of us now.”

“Oh. Well…”

“Not for much longer,” said Luna. “The cure is ready.”

“Cure?” asked Vesper. “You intend to remove her new bat nature?”

“I can do much more than that now!” Luna announced. “I had thought Nightmare Moon’s process of creating bat ponies was irreversible. But Twilight Sparkle’s transformation method uses a much more flexible mind-over-matter approach. It can achieve bodily change in a safe and simple manner.”

“What are you saying?” asked Murk.

“I am saying I can cure the four of you, as well!”

The four bat ponies looked at each other.

“Mistress, we are not sick,” said Echo. “We do not require a cure.”

“Yes, you do,” Luna said firmly. “As Nightmare Moon, I twisted your bodies into creatures of the night, and twisted your minds into loyal minions. But now, I can undo those dark deeds. I can restore you to normal pegasi once again.”

“We told you, we have forgiven Nightmare Moon!” said Nocturn. “We do not begrudge her, nor do we blame you. We are satisfied with the status quo.”

Luna lit up her horn with a dark red glow.

“There is no need to be afraid. The cure will be quick and painless, then you will at last be free from the long dark shadow Nightmare Moon has cast over your lives.”

“Princess Luna, maybe we should talk about this,” said Radish.

Luna advanced on the bat ponies. They huddled and backed away. Fluttershy flew in between them and Luna.

“Princess Luna, I’m declining treatment. I want to stay a bat pony.”

Luna’s horn stopped glowing. “But why?”

“Because there’s nothing wrong with the bat ponies, and there’s nothing wrong with me. Everypony goes through changes. Sometimes unexpected ones. But change isn’t always bad. And I think I’m going to like being a bat pony, as long as I have these four to teach me how to be one.”

Luna frowned. “But… I must undo what Nightmare Moon did to them.”

Radish walked up to Luna. “What Nightmare Moon did to them was deny them a choice. But now you can give them one.”

Luna looked at the brethren. “And what do you four choose?”

“To be a bat pony!” the four said together.

“We live beautiful, thrilling lives,” said Vesper.

“It is an existence other ponies could only dream of,” added Nocturn.

“And it gets better every day,” said Murk.

“And now we can share it with another,” said Echo.

Luna closed her eyes and nodded. “Very well, then. Bat ponies you will remain. I expect you to take Fluttershy under your wings, as she asked.”

“Leave that to me,” said Echo. He walked up to Fluttershy and held out a hoof. “Come. The castle’s finest fruits are grown in Courtyard A. I will show you how to snatch them on the wing without even slowing down.”

She smiled and put her hoof in his. “Well, I am rather hungry.”

They walked out onto the balcony, then flew off.

“Well,” said Vesper, “if you will excuse me, I am due elsewhere.”

Nocturn let out a derisive snort. She ignored him and flew off. Murk and Nocturn said their goodbyes and took their leave as well, taking flight from the tower. Luna watched them go with a sigh.

“It would seem that even when I try to do good, I do wrong. At this rate, I will never make up for Nightmare Moon.”

“Princess, don’t you think it’s time you put Nightmare Moon behind you?”

“How can I, when even her smallest schemes can come back to haunt Equestria a thousand years later?”

“Nopony blames you. Please, Princess Luna, don’t punish yourself for what she did.”

Luna turned and looked Radish in the eye. “Thank you, Radish. You continue to provide me with sage advice.”

“I’m happy to help.”

Radish gave a salute and took his leave. Luna went to her window and stared up at the moon with a far-off look in her eyes. “Punish myself? Interesting idea.”


Echo and Fluttershy sat on a cloud above the castle, eating strawberries they nabbed from Courtyard A.

“You were right. The nighttime can actually feel comforting,” Fluttershy said. “And this is the best fruit I’ve ever tasted.”

“Both are better when shared with somepony,” said Echo. He gazed into her eyes. “And even better still when that pony is one so lovely.”

Fluttershy gave a polite smile. “Listen, I should tell you…”

“There is another that you fancy.”

“Um, no. Yes. Maybe. I don’t know. It’s complicated.”

“I will not press you further on the matter. I wish you all the best.”

“Thank you. But there’s still a lot more about being a bat I want you to teach me. For example, what’s that flittering noise we’ve been hearing?”

“Ah! Those are crescendo moths. They are active this time of night.”

“Really? I’ve always wanted to see one, but never knew where to look. But I can hear them now?”

“Yes, and many more creatures undetectable to normal ponies. Come, I will introduce you to the chorus of the night.”

“Thank you.”


Radish stepped out of Selenic Spire and trotted across the palace commons. He considered whether he should stay the night in his personal quarters, get a ride back to PEERS, or visit Light Fantastic.

He took a look at the main tower. A window of an apartment- an apartment normally vacant and reserved for a guest of high status- was lit tonight. He could make out a vague silhouette of a stallion in the room.

Prince Blueblood’s still in Canterlot. Makes me feel bad for all the palace personnel. I wonder what he’s hanging around for.

Radish trotted off to the palace’s chariot pool. From his window, Prince Blueblood watched him go. He took a sip of wine.

“Is anything wrong?” he asked the mare entering his apartment and locking the door behind herself.

“No,” said Vesper, “just a family meeting.”

He passed her a glass of wine. “Ah, I understand. Family is important.”

“Yes, I think so, too,” said Vesper, taking a sip. “Now, where were we?”

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