• 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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93. The Team

Radish sat on a Ponyville park bench, completely naked and in full view of numerous families with small children. He was feeling at peace. Rainbow Dash hovered down from above.

“Hey, Rad.”

“Hey, Dash.”

“Scootaloo told me about how you helped her out. Thanks. She even won the frog jumping contest!”

“Not a problem.”

“But I’m also mad at you. You should’ve told me you had a wrestler among your guards!”

“Hmm? Oh, that’s right. Wing Trooper Grenatta said she was her region’s champion.”

“Yeah, and the Griffonstone wrestling team snapped her up first! Lucky for you, I still managed to find you a partner.”

“Partner?” asked Radish.

“Uh huh. Equestria Games wrestling is a tag team event.”

“I’m not used to fighting on a tag team.”

“It’ll be fine,” assured Rainbow Dash. “It’s just like fighting alone, but with somepony else.”

“So who’s my partner?”

“Now, keep in mind I couldn’t get my first pick. Or my second pick.”

“Which were?”

“Bulk Biceps and Big Macintosh. But I needed to use Bulk to fill out the aerial relay team, and when I asked Big Mac, he just said ‘nope’, and went back to applebucking.”

“You should have told him about the cheerleaders.”

“Never mind. I’ve found you a great partner. Come with me and I’ll introduce you.”

She led Radish inside Ponyville’s community gym. Numerous ponies were making use of the facility’s exercise equipment. A blue unicorn stallion was working up a sweat on a rowing machine. A gray earth mare and her white unicorn companion were tossing a medicine ball back and forth.

A wrestling ring was set up in one corner, inside of which a magenta earth mare was doing stretches. Rainbow Dash approached her and introduced Radish.

“Cheerilee, I’d like you to meet Radish Root,’’ said Rainbow Dash. “Radish Root, Cheerilee.”

“Hello! It’s a pleasure to meet you,” she said, shaking Radish’s hoof.

“Twilight’s mentioned a Cheerilee. You’re the town schoolteacher, right?”

“Don’t underestimate her!” warned Rainbow Dash. “Wrestling is in her blood.”

“How so?” Radish asked.

Cheerilee smiled abashedly. “Well, I really shouldn’t talk about it, but my sister's a wrestler. I’ve had to fill in for her a few times.”

“Fill in?”

“Yes, she fights in a mask, and I look just like her wearing it. Maybe you’ve heard of her? The Mystery Mare?”

Radish frowned. “Oh… that kind of wrestling. That doesn’t really count, though, does it?”

Cheerliee cocked her eyebrows. “Excuse me?”

“I mean, that stuff is all scripted, right? Just pageantry for the kiddies.”

Cheerliee narrowed her eyes and leaned toward Radish. “Would you like me to show you how real it is, mister?”

“Yeah, I would.”

“All right!” Rainbow Dash cheered, pumping her hooves. “Fight! Fight! Fight!”

Radish and Cheerilee squared up inside the ring and faced each other. Rainbow Dash kicked the bell on the wall to start the match.

Cheerilee rushed Radish. He bent low. As she neared, she flipped and landed on her back, sliding towards him with her rear legs aimed at head.

She sprang off the floor and clamped her thighs around his neck. She squeezed and twisted her lower body, pulling Radish down.

Radish pulled backwards, dragging Cheerilee across the mat toward the edge of the ring. Seeing this, she released him and retreated to the center.

She galloped a full circle around Radish and somersaulted at him. He dodged. She landed behind him and cartwheeled into his side, knocking him down to his knees. Radish recovered to his hooves, and she backed away.

She leapt into the air with all four hooves wide. Radish caught her by the midsection and brought her down onto the mat. She latched around his neck, putting him in a headlock.

Radish slipped out of her grasp, rolled her, and pinned her down. Rainbow Dash gave a three-count and kicked the bell again. Radish had won.

He helped Cheerilee up. “You put too much flair into your attacks. You’re going to exhaust yourself too early in the fight, and then you’ll be at the mercy of your opponent.”

Cheerilee grinned and looked at Rainbow Dash. “Rainbow Dash, how do you think the fight went?”

“Cheerilee scored three points,” said Rainbow Dash. “Radish scored two.”

“I still won nonetheless,” Radish pointed out. “Points only matter if the timer runs out. What matters is pinning your opponent.”

“Wins by pins are statistically rarer than wins by points at the Equestria games,” said Cheerilee. “Most matches go until the timer runs out.”

“You should focus on winning as efficiently as you can, not pulling off flashy moves trying to earn points.”

“Alright, you two, quit the arguing,” admonished Rainbow Dash. “Save that fighting spirit for the opposition- you're going to need every last bit of it if you want a chance of beating them."

“Why’s that?” asked Radish. “Who’s the opposition?”

Rainbow Dash pulled a newspaper from her bag. “You should really read the sports section, Radish. Then you’d know what you’re up against.”

Radish took the paper and read down the list of wrestling teams from other towns. He grimaced. “Oh, son of a bitch.”

“Hey, watch the pottymouth,” Cheerilee scolded.

“The Crystal Empire is fielding a wrestling team. And look who’s on it.”

He passed the paper to Cheerilee. She gasped. “Prince Shining Armor!? I may get to wrestle with Prince Shining Armor!?”

“You won’t enjoy it. He likes to bend your legs into knots.”

“Mmm, a mare can only hope.”

“Ugh.”

“So, who’s this partner of his? It says here he’s teamed with somepony named Crosspatch.”

“Crosspatch. Where do I know that name? Oh, son of a b-”

Cheerilee shot him a look.

“... she’s the leader of Candance’s elite guard squad,” sighed Radish. “We’ve fought before.”

“In the ring?”

“No, in the street. We got into an argument over a cake delivery.”

“I was just asking. You don’t have to get sarcastic.”

“My point is, I don’t know if I can beat them. Shining Armor trained the ponies who trained me. He knows every move in every combat manual ever written. He was far beyond me the last time we fought, and he’s probably only gotten better since then. And I have no idea what kind of training Crosspatch has, but it’s probably severe.”

“Do you want to know what I tell my students when they don’t think they can pass a test?”

“What?”

“Study in groups.”

Radish looked up at Cheerilee, then over to the ring, then back to Cheerilee. “Okay. I’ll show you the moves they’ve used on me, and we can work out counters against them.”

Rainbow Dash smirked. "Now that’s what I want to hear. You two run some drills- I’ll be back later."

Rainbow Dash walked off. She chatted with various other ponies in the gym who were training for the Equestria Games, then treated herself to grass juice at the refreshments counter. She returned to the wrestling ring to find Radish and Cheerilee discussing holds and reversals.

“...and when he’s distracted, boom! Bring your elbow down, right between his shoulder blades,” Cheerilee instructed Radish.

“Hmm. Okay. Let’s work on that next,” Radish said.

“Sorry, but I need to get going,” said Cheerliee. “I’ve got quizzes to grade. But would you like to pick this up the same time tomorrow, Major Root?”

“All right, same time tomorrow. And call me ‘Radish’.”

“Okay, Radish. But get ready for a rematch.”

“I’ll be ready.”

Cheerilee winked and trotted away. Rainbow Dash nudged Radish with an elbow. “Admit it- you wouldn’t mind being that teacher’s pet.”

“No locker room talk about my teammate, Dash.”

“So she’s your teammate, now?”

“Yeah.”

“Are you two going to bring home the gold?”

“I don’t know. It’s going to be really tough.”

I said, are you two going to bring home the gold?

“Yes, Dash, we’re going to bring home the gold.”

“That’s what I thought you said.”

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