At the edge of the clearing, near the outskirts of town, a lovely grey mare with green eyes and sandy mane and tail walked out into the sunlight.

She blinked, her ears quirking back in surprise. Not at an unexpected sound… but an unexpected absence of sound.

She glanced back.

“Daitana,” called Kichona, “I am aware that you adore my hindquarters. But please admire them up close, not hiding in the woods! We have arrived at another village, further north!”

From the treeline, a Kirin lurked fretfully. “Perhaps we can go around?”

Kichona didn’t stamp her hoof, for she was nearly as solicitous as a Kirin of all forms of life. But she did poke out her lower lip in an outrageous pout. “And why would we do that, beloved?”

Daitana skulked forward, out into the open. “I have almost no magic. What if they require my services? I am ashamed, for I cannot help anypony.”

She kissed him, sweetly. “Nonsense. You are beautiful, and wise, and if you don’t wish to guzzle magic from overstuffed unicorns there is no reason you should. We’ll find another Kirin and they will share their magic with you in the way you prefer.”

“How can you say that?” protested Daitana. “The more time I spend with you, the less I wish to pleasure our country’s unicorns and consume their magic. It is no small matter to refuse this fate. How can you make it seem so simple? The other Kirin will be upset with me!”

Kichona gave him a lovingly exasperated look. “No, they won’t. They’ll love you, as I do.”

He pawed the ground anxiously with an elegant cloven hoof, until she raised her own hoof and gently touched his foreleg to remind him. He blushed. He mumbled, “They will know I am resisting my duty.”

“Don’t think about it,” soothed Kichona. Her ear quirked again. “Now, come with me into this nice village, and we will… what in Neighpon?”

A sound impended. At first quiet, like a desultory tearing of cloth, it expanded suddenly in loudness and was upon them. With it came a brick-red streak in the air, and a dopplering exultant scream. The streak formed two loop-de-loops, almost faster than the eye could follow, and then terminated with a wild gust of wind directly before Kichona and Daitana, and revealed itself as a Neighponnese pegasus warrior.

“I am the great Moeru!” he proclaimed, in a silky and boastful voice. “Have you seen my quarry?”

Daitana and Kichona blinked at each other.

The warrior grinned happily at them, not even tired from his rambunctious flying shenanigans. He was a brick red in color, slight of build but strong of wing muscles, and his mane was a riot of sky blue and spring green shades. He wore a rather skimpy costume, still angular, but tailored to expose quite a lot of his rump. His eyes were such a pale blue as to appear almost white, and he repeated, “I am the great Moeru! And you are, master?”

“Oh!” said Daitana. “Daitana. I am Daitana.”

“It is an honor to greet you, Daitana-san,” said Moeru, still grinning but bowing his head a little. “I ask again, have you seen my quarry?”

“I beg your pardon?” said Kichona, politely.

Moeru glanced at her for the first time. “My quarry! I am hunting the Sneaking Spy! Haven’t you heard of the Sneaking Spy?”

“No, I haven’t,” she said. “Are they dangerous?”

The slim pegasus warrior glanced again at Daitana, but answered her. “Not as dangerous as I! I, the great Moeru, will protect you! It is both my delight and my duty.”

“Oh, thank you,” said Kichona, and prodded Daitana. “Isn’t that nice, dear?”

“Oh, yes!” said Daitana. “I’m sure you will do a wonderful job, Great Moeru. We are fine here, there are no sneaking spies here. We are just enjoying a journey, ah, north. To find some traveling musicians.”

Moeru blinked. “You speak so informally, Kirin! Traveling musicians? Local ones? What sort?”

“Why,” said Kichona, “do you love music as we do? We could go together to hear them.”

The pegasus warrior shook his head. Beads, braided into his riotous mane, rattled. “No. I mean, it’s all right, but I must get back to my search. I just wondered if that’s who the other two Kirin were hunting for.”

Daitana backed up a pace, instinctively. Kichona shot him a steadying glance, and said, “Kirin are hunting for somepony?”

“The Sneaking Spy!” proclaimed Moeru. “I will find that spy for them!”

“Did they seem worried?” asked Daitana. “Which Kirin, exactly? Did they say any more, or describe this spy, say what sort of creature it is? Not that it would be anything like a rogue Kirin who won’t do his duty! I’m just asking.”

Moeru gawked at him. “You are a weird Kirin, Daitana-san!”

Daitana gulped, and frantically tried to summon up Kirin formality. “Ahh… the cherry blossoms, sprinkling down from the treetops, reveal no secrets. Duty is a joy, and we all understand it, especially me. Uhh… what sort of spying, troubles the Neighponnese hills, and what does it look… like?”

Moeru boggled at him, and then shrugged. “They didn’t say. It was the Kirin from near where I live, south of here. They are from the pirate town Kabochaebi.” He sighed wistfully. “Ah, Kabochaebi.”

“I am sure you’ll win,” said Daitana, formally. “You will find your Sneaking Spy. He will not be here.”

“I sure will!” squeed the dainty warrior, trotting in place and limbering up his wings. “I’m the great Moeru! It’s going to be soooo exciting, weeee!”

“Do you need my aid?” continued Daitana, hoping Moeru wouldn’t call him on it. “Injuries of yours to heal? Or help with the ma…”

Daitana froze. Next to him, Kichona went pale. The last thing he wanted to do was bring up traditional Neighponnese customs, with only Kichona present. ‘Help with the mares’ could only mean an offer to render him unfruitful, sterile for a time. This was a bargain struck with the pegasus warriors, and there were compensations. In many villages, mares were eager to offer themselves to warrior pegasi, especially since it wouldn’t produce inconvenient foals. They had their fun, and the pegasi got to be the flying, pony-screwing, glorious rulers of all they surveyed, provided they didn’t argue about the arrangement or who was really calling the shots. Ordinary ponies could roll with this sort of thing in a spirit of ponyish affection and cheerful hedonism.

Daitana couldn’t even look directly at Kichona. All at once, he realized he wasn’t the only renegade, the only one defying Neighpon’s odd, practical customs. She was horrified at the very notion of casual sex with a visiting pegasus, something that normally didn’t faze Neighponnese earth ponies—something that was even deemed welcome and sought after, a point of status. Not for Kichona, it wasn’t. And it wasn’t because he was a pegasus… it was because he was not Daitana, her intended husband. She’d been playing things easy and casual, but his slip had revealed that she was just as deeply in love as he was, and she blanched at the prospect that the pegasus warrior might want to screw her.

The Great Moeru, warrior pegasus, didn’t seem to notice.

“Nah,” he said. “I’m all about the stallions, and I don’t need your help with that.”

“Oh,” said Daitana, almost staggering with relief. Beside him, Kichona exhaled.

“No, really, I don’t!” insisted Moeru, pouting. “Do you think because I’m not all that big, I can’t take it? I’m the Great Moeru! I conquer all dick, I love it!”

“That’s nice,” said Kichona carefully. “It’s good to have a hobby.”

“A calling, more like!” boasted Moeru. “I have the best-feeling boypussy in all Neighpon! I take all the cocks!”

“What, all of them?” said Daitana, forgetting his formal meter.

Moeru sagged, and pouted. “Nah. They don’t let me return to that seaside town with all the pirates anymore—you know, Kabochaebi. I wore them all out and still wasn’t satisfied and the Kirin made me leave them alone. They still sing songs about me, you know. I shattered a glass with the force of my cum, while taking the largest-cocked pirate.”

“That’s… nice?” said Kichona, eyes wide.

Daitana gawked at the swishy little warrior pegasus. “You… ejaculated something harder than glass? I can’t imagine that a fluid could shatter a glass. Unless its temperature was very unusual. Were you perhaps feverish? I suppose if your story is true, you might well have been…”

Moeru pouted. “Oh all right, I knocked it off the bar. They were playing target practice with me and making bets. It should still count, it did shatter once it hit the floor! Can I go now? I have to find the Sneaking Spy!”

“Perhaps you’d better,” said Daitana, in perfect Kirin diction.

“Weeee!” squeed the little red warrior pegasus, and he was gone in a streak of blurred speed, dragging a gust of wind behind him.

Daitana and Kichona looked at each other.

“Sneaking Spy?” said Daitana.

Kichona frowned, sticking her lower lip out. “If they are looking for you, they can’t have you! You’re mine, so there!”

“So you admit maybe they’re looking for me because I’m being a bad Kirin?”

“Shush. Let’s go and find these musicians and warn them a pegasus is hunting them. Maybe one of the musicians is a stallion and there will be a happy ending.”

“Except for another bar glass,” suggested Daitana, “shattered by a stray cum-shot.”

Kichona tossed her mane. “I would believe it. And wasn’t it two musicians and a big stallion as road crew? Perhaps the Great Moeru’s luck is in.”

Applejack trotted into Ponyville, well ahead of Uni, glancing around eagerly. It seemed curiously empty, though she couldn’t say exactly why. Ponyville wasn’t the most bustling metropolis, and there seemed no reason to expect hot and cold running ponies the instant she showed up.

Hot FLYING ponies, on the other hand…

Applejack kept looking. She’d been fantasizing about this moment. Dashie knew she’d gone on a journey. Would it be so very surprising if, while trotting home from her Neighpon adventure, she heard a rustle of wings from behind… and was surprised by a swooping, erect, horny pegasus? Rainbow had often talked about how hot it would be to just swoop down upon Applejack and take her, plunge into her with a single mighty plunge, impaling her and carrying her off to a romantic bower with ferns and flowers and a lot of lusty screaming and orgasms.

It was a ridiculous fantasy, so they’d never done anything of the sort. Dash was large enough to really hurt Applejack if she’d tried to impale her to the hilt from a flying start, the attempt would also hurt Dash’s magic dick, and the closest they’d ever got to it was one lovemaking session where Dash had tried the swoop, realized she was wearing a ninja-pony catsuit, and had torn the crotch of her own catsuit out and gone for a good Applejacking instead.


Uni trotted up. In the streets of Ponyville, she didn’t look a thing like the dread pirate queen Kabochaebi, the Mantis Shrimp. It only showed in subtle ways, like how she wasn’t winded in the least from keeping up with eager Applejack.

“Applejack-san, what worries you?”

“Aw, ain’t nothin to worry about… well, phoo! Just as well, Ah guess…”

Applejack did look dismayed, but it wasn’t about how sensible her fantasy was. Or, not in the obvious sense. Even as she imagined it, Applejack realized the flaw in her plan.

Supposing Dash did fly up from behind, bit in teeth. Suppose she did get impaled upon cerulean cock, balled senseless the instant she showed her pretty tail in Ponyville again. Suppose Dash screwed her until they both came their butts off, without even exchanging a word, suppose she felt that gush of horsecome blasting her cervix, flooding her, squirting to the heart of her femaleness and triggering whatever the nice Kirin did for her…

Wasn’t it going to be awkward as hell explaining to Dash what she’d just done?

Wasn’t it going to ruin it for her beloved? Wouldn’t she want to make a bigger fuss over the process, knowing what it meant? Wouldn’t they want to linger and really wallow in the realities of it, since it was such a consarned unusual goin’-on to be going on?

Applejack’s ears wilted, and she glanced around again, but prepared herself for a merry rodeo. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d teased an erect Dash with frisking and whirling. It would be the first time she’d done it in order to have a serious conversation first.

Still, no Dash presented herself, erect or otherwise.



“What?” blinked the Neighponnese cutie.

“Ah mean, yes!” corrected Applejack. “And what’s more, welcome to Ponyville! Don’t mind me, I was jes’ thinkin’ about things.”

“What things?” asked Uni. “I will persuade them to not trouble you any more. If I may.”

“Oh, no! Won’t be necessary. Happens I was just imagining my Rainbow Dash swooping down an’ slurp!”

“Licking you?” said Uni, and blinked. “Oh! Slurp indeed. Applejack, please do not ask her to do this! You mustn’t encourage the show-offyness of male pegasi that way, trust me. It hurts, is bad for you, and is not good for the stallion either! I hope you have a lovely mating but you should appreciate it in leisure!”

“Wait a minute, YOU…” began Applejack, then shook her head. “Never mind! At least it can’t have been B…”

“Sh!” hissed Uni, a hint of Kabochaebi peeking out, and Applejack didn’t finish saying the name Blackmane.

“Applejack!” came a new voice. Down the road trotted Rarity, looking fabulous, her mane and tail bouncing flawlessly. “Welcome back, darling. Who is your exquisite little friend?”

“Uh, she’s Uni. Jes’ Uni,” explained Applejack. “She’s here to buy all of my Granny’s apple turnip cakes. Don’t ask.”

“Indeed I will not, if you’d prefer not,” said Rarity. “The rumors I’ve heard suggest those cakes were not a culinary triumph.”

“Not a triumph?” said Uni, puzzled. She brightened. “Of course. Instead they are a miracle!”

“Oooh!” cooed Rarity. “I recognize that tone. Neighponnese! What a stroke of luck. For obvious reasons, I was busying myself with some Neighponnese-influenced fashions. Would you do me the honor of coming to the Carousel Boutique and giving me your opinion on them, Uni? I notice that you are not a unicorn: does the name Uni bear some added meaning, darling?”

“Yes, it does,” replied Uni at once.

“Oh, do tell me of this meaning!” cried Rarity, entranced. Somehow, the diminutive Neighponnese’s self-possessedness conveyed an aura of great celebrity, and Rarity’s eyes sparkled to witness it.

“The Kirin nicknamed me that,” said Uni. “It is short for unique. But they hope that where I go, many will follow.”

“How often I’d had that wish,” sighed Rarity. “And naturally, I would lead them straight to my newest fashions. Allow me to do exactly that for you, dear Uni! I can’t wait to get your opinion on the kimono designs. I’ve brought in just a touch of spikey warrior flair.”

“Hang on,” said Applejack. “You’re designing Neighponnese dresses now? Is it ‘cos I went there?”

“Oh, no,” said Rarity. “Come along, I’ll explain when we get to the Boutique.”

“Um, nah. Beggin’ your pardon, but you an’ Uni go and play with dresses. I got what you might call an appointment. Except she don’t know it yet. Ah’m surprised she ain’t come zippin’ out of the sky, maybe she’s a-nappin’.”

“Rainbow?” blinked Rarity.

“Wull, yeah!”

“Applejack, come with us,” ordered Rarity, suddenly authoritative. “I fear you’re a bit out of the loop…”

“She WHAT?” wailed Applejack.

“But she did,” said Rarity. “What is so shocking about that? You were just there yourself! I repeat, Rainbow Dash went to Neighpon.”


“Oh, poor darling!” cried Rarity. “I am so sorry, I forgot how sentimental you can be! I promise she’ll be home before you know it, can I give you a hug? That I of all ponies should forget the depth and intensity of your love! You looked so capable and strong returning to Ponyville that I did not take into account your tender heart!”

Applejack’s eyes were wild. With one hoof, she shoved her hat around on her head, then tamped it down securely. She glared at Rarity. “Tender heart, my ass. There’s more to this than you know, missy. Ah ask again, WHY has Rainbow gone to Neighpon?”

Rarity blinked. “Because Sweetie Belle cannot fly, of course.”

Applejack’s jaw dropped.

Rarity pouted. “Well, she can’t! I’m not delighted about it myself. But I know Neighpon is lovely and safe, and I know she’s with Rainbow. They’ll be back with Braeburn in no time.”

Applejack sat back heavily, with a boutique-rattling thud. She gawked at Rarity, and gulped.

“Listen,” she said. “How about you tell me your story nice and slow, so’s I understand it. And then, I’ll tell you mine, and I promise you’ll understand why I’m a mite peakied at th’ moment. Okay?”

Rarity trotted over, and gave Applejack a hug. “Deal! Mine first?”

“If ya kin!”

“Of course I, aha, ‘kin’, darling,” said Rarity. “Hmmm. So, to start at the beginning. Braeburn.”

Applejack’s eyes widened. “Oh! Ya don’t mean he…”

“He did,” confirmed Rarity, with a knowing glance. “And of course Scootaloo…”

“AND Flight Lightning?” interrupted Applejack.

Rarity nodded. “And therefore…”

“Sweetie Belle,” said Applejack, shaking her head. “Oh, and…”

“Oh yes,” said Rarity, nodding. “She caught him once. She’s never tired of telling that story. Of course, she decided she could do so again, the little blue minx. And as I said…”

“Yeah,” said Applejack. “Them two do everything together. Aw, Rarity! Ya bearin’ up? Is it scary?”

“Like I said, Neighpon is a lovely place, and she’s with Rainbow. I honestly don’t think she could come to harm. But yes, it is a little scary. Sweetie is my daughter, for all that we spent years denying it, and I suppose one’s child is always a soft spot. But really, I am sure she is safe,” said Rarity bravely. “Anyhow, any harm meant for her would have to get through first Scootaloo, then Rainbow, and possibly Flight Lightning as well…”

“Definitely,” said Applejack. “That’s a good pony, that one. Even if she used to fight with Dashie.”

“Ahem,” came a little voice. They looked over, to see Uni sitting, her ears splayed with chagrin. She added, “It is indeed a nice story, and you did not speak too quickly in telling it. But for all that, I fear I have understood nothing.”

Applejack and Rarity glanced at each other, and giggled.

Before Uni’s face could sadden further, Applejack said, “Ah am so sorry, honey! Us ponies, we’ve been through a lot together, and when we get a-talkin’ maybe we kin leave a lot out. Braeburn’s my second cousin. Them ponies I took over to Neighpon? The big ‘un, Big Macintosh, he’s Braeburn’s special somepony. And I guess we all figure we’ll miss Big Macintosh a lot, so when he set out for Neighpon for a lil’ musical tour…”

Uni nodded. “Or forever,” she added.

“Beg pardon?” blinked Applejack.

Uni glanced back and forth between the two Ponyvilleans. “Oh… I thought you knew. Of the ponies on that tour, there is one who left Neighpon and seeks to conquer it, one who is forever the visitor and lives somewhere else, and one who yearns. He will not return. I saw it in his eyes.”

Applejack and Rarity stared, dumbfounded. Uni continued, “I think the grey one, the visitor, might be one of those stateless artist ponies? She could be anywhere, for the place she truly lives is inside her music. And of course you can always tell an expatriate returning to conquer the shores they’ve abandoned…”

“WHUT did you say about Big Macintosh?” demanded Applejack.

“Oh, no!” wailed Rarity. “I knew it, but I hoped against hope it was not so! Why did they ever set up the poor silly boob with that lovely Kirin? I knew it!”

Applejack whirled. “Hang on, is this why you was carryin’ on when we left? I thought it was more crazy unicorn horseapples. Are you sayin’ you KNEW Big Macintosh was leavin’ never to return, and you never said nothin’?”

Applejack and Rarity stared at each other, and were interrupted by a polite throat-clearing. It was Uni.

“What or who is a Scootaloo?” she said. “You haven’t finished your part of the story.”

Applejack stuck out her lower lip, her eyes flashing. “Rarity, hush. Y’all be quiet until we’re done.”

“Yes’m,” said Rarity immediately. She sat, her lip quivering and eyes glistening, but made no disruptive noises.

Applejack turned to Uni. “Ah will. And then, we ain’t finished until you tell us what you know an’ how you know it. Got that?”

“Yes. Please, explain more?”

“About to.” Applejack took a breath. “And if you expect us to do that for ya, kindly don’t bust out with alarmin’ notions! Okay. Braeburn ob’vsly was goin’ after Big Macintosh, ‘cos of course he would, shoulda seen that one comin’. Well, Scootaloo is Braeburn’s filly from outta Flight Lightning. Them two lived all by themselves in a lil’ house on account of Scootaloo, she ain’t much for flying like the regular pegasi. Flight, she was real cranky about it, ‘cos the pegasus fella she was with, he dumped her when he learned Scootaloo wasn’t his. Y’know, because of them tiny useless wings from matin’ with an earth pony…”

Uni’s frown was grim and disapproving. It seemed Neighpon wouldn’t have permitted such an abandonment. Applejack pressed on.

“So if Braeburn was goin’, then it ain’t surprisin’ that Scootaloo was chasin’ after her daddy, or Flight Lightnin’ after her sweetie. Them two did lots better as soon as Braeburn was livin’ in town and bein’ part of their family. They don’t mind if Braeburn’s mostly in love with Big Macintosh, ‘cos y’know, ponies, but it means a lot to have him around. And if they thought Braeburn was gone for good…”

“He kicked his house down and fled,” said Rarity. Applejack glanced at her, but it wasn’t a hysterical outburst: it was Rarity, knowing in her confident unicorn brain she had something relevant to add, and doing so without undue fuss.

“Did he now?” said Applejack.

Rarity nodded, her eyes still glistening. “Scootaloo and Sweetie told me. They were in a terrible hurry, and I took their word. Later, I went to see, and indeed he had. It was knocked down, as they said, from the inside.”

Applejack set her jaw. “You got a good eye, Rarity, an’ you’re helpful on a job site. How about you help me rebuild it? He’s gonna need it. When he comes home.”

Rarity nodded. “Of course. Go on. Scootaloo and Flight Lightning, you’d got to.”

“Yep,” said Applejack. “Well, the thing is, if Scootaloo’s gonna go off to Neighpon after her Daddy… and keep in mind, this ain’t the first time Braeburn’s done a runner, it used to be how he dealt with everything… well, Scootaloo’s sweetie is Sweetie. Belle, I mean. Rarity’s girl. They go everywhere together an’ of course she would go with Scootaloo. But the thing is, Scootaloo can’t fly over a damn ocean, and Sweetie can’t fly at all. And, dammit, I do remember when my Dashie flew out and caught Braeburn at his Braeburniest. That’s who brought him back to Ponyville. She tole me she talked him into livin’ here, and she said it’s because she herself got so much out of livin’ real close with us ponies that she thought it might suit him too…”

Uni nodded. “Our Kirin understand this. Neighponnese ponies live all together, without these… groups. Of purebloods, dominating the earth ponies.”

Applejack blinked. “Say what? We don’t hold with that in Ponyville!”

Rarity shushed her. “Neighponnese history, darling. Go on. So, since Sweetie can’t fly…”

“Oh, right,” said Applejack. “So, ob’vsly Rainbow got a bright idea, and I reckon it’s Scootaloo on Flight Lightning and Sweetie on Rainbow Dash, and they headed across the sea as fast as they ever could, to catch ol’ Braeburn and talk some sense into him. Heh. Weather Patrol Stars, and Auxiliaries. I bet they were pretty tired when they got there, but those are two mighty fast an’ strong weather ponies an’ I completely understand why they thought they could do it. If ya know what you’re capable of, you can do gosh dern amazin’ things.” She glanced at Rarity. “Fer instance, do you think y’kin gussy up Braeburn’s house so he feels happy to see it once he gets back?”

Rarity nodded vehemently. “Oh, yes. And I think he’ll be grateful, and it might help soothe his loss.”

“Whaddya mean, loss?” demanded Applejack.

Rarity gulped, her eyes still glistening. “I shall not ‘carry on’, Applejack, for we have a guest, and there are things that remain unresolved. Two of them, and for one we must turn to Uni for our answers, while the other answer must come from you.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Erm, ‘yeah’,” replied Rarity. “Obviously we must learn why Uni believes Big Macintosh is lost to Neighpon. That’s what I mean by Braeburn’s loss. But, Applejack, when we arrived, before you’d heard any of this, you ‘carried on’ yourself when you learned Rainbow had left. Before we go any further I would like to know why that upset you so much. I know you very well, darling, and that news rocked you like nothing I’ve seen.”

Applejack stopped, her eyes wide. “Uh. Well, y’know, I can tell you, but it ain’t got nothin’ to do with Big Macintosh. Whole different other thing.”

“Is it?” said Uni. “Neighpon gains a pony from Ponyville… and Neighpon gives a new pony, that would not have existed, to Ponyville.”

“Now see here…”

“Please, Applejack,” said Rarity, “tell me. I confess I haven’t the foggiest idea what Uni is talking about, but whatever is on your mind is plainly upsetting, even disastrous, and you are dismayed that Rainbow is not here to help you confront it! What disaster do you face?”

Applejack blinked at Rarity, astonished. She blinked again. And then… she began to smile, a soft wry amused smile that built like the sense of comfort a pony might get from warming herself before a cozy fire. And Rarity, in turn, stared in amazement, then began to smile in return, her expression puzzled but pleased.

“Naw,” said Applejack. “Not what you’d call a disaster, Rarity. Wouldn’t blame some folk for takin’ cover, though, after the first time!”

“Oh, do go on,” purred Rarity, eyes alight with curiosity.

“Them Kirin, they’re clever critters,” said Applejack. “One fixed me up. The next time Dashie gets with me… boom!”

“You shall explode in sexual climax? How is that unusual?” teased Rarity.

Applejack made a face. “It’ll be worth it. Sure will swole up fit to bust, I guess. I’m game, bring it on.”

Rarity’s eyes widened. “You mean…”

“Rainbow’s gonna take her magic bit and make me pregnant by her,” said Applejack. “Kirin fixed me up so’s that kin happen.”

Rarity seemed to levitate off the ground for a moment in glee. She gave a little whinny of delight, and hugged Applejack impetuously. “Darling! Oh, how marvellous! I know what you mean to each other, and how much you both love Northern Spy, and what’s more, shall I be just a teensy bit bold and suggest this is personal to you?”

Applejack’s smile mirrored her unicorn friend’s. “How ya mean?”

Rarity’s eyes narrowed wickedly, though her smile stayed rosy. “Oh, you know. My little ruffian, bad girl roughneck type, so butch? Former Boss Mare of Sweet Apple Acres, mare-stallion par excellence, rootin’-tootin’ cowpony so strong she can make Rainbow Dash a wife and mother, hmm?”

“That ain’t all by a long shot,” said Applejack, with a glance at Uni. “Whatcha drivin’ at, Rarity?” Her ears quirked in perplexity.

Rarity smiled.

“Would YOU, dear Applejack, like to be a loving wife and devoted mare-mother, also?”

The glow that came over Applejack was something to behold, and Rarity drank it in quite unselfishly. Her ear flicked just a bit as she filed the joyous picture under both ‘friendship’ and ‘might have been’… but Rarity had no regrets about the unfolding of her life, and only considered the image of ‘luminous, feminine Applejack awaiting the mating of a stallion Rarity’ as one fragment of a kaleidoscopic history, neither to be repudiated nor clung to. Anyhow, they’d tried that experiment and Rainbow Dash was far more suited to Applejack’s rambunctious, country-pony side, so Rarity happily contemplated the essence of femininity she saw, content to be part of that life rather than central to it.

Applejack pouted, sticking out her lower lip.

“Anyways,” she said, “that’s why I need Rainbow to come an’ fuck me NOW, dammit!” She stamped a hoof aggressively, and then flinched and looked abashed, for she’d made a small dent in the floor of the Carousel Boutique.

Rarity did not flinch, and her smile did not waver, nor even one ear lay back from its position.

“And you’re still as gentle as ever,” she teased.

Applejack’s huge smile returned, and she trotted over and hugged Rarity. “Yep! So that’s my story. Part of it,” she said, glancing at Uni. “Maybe I’ll tell you the rest sometime. If ya promise not to get kinky ideas.”

Rarity laughed. “No promises, darling! I am nothing if not full of ideas!” She smiled back at Applejack… and then, both turned, to regard Uni.

“All right,” said Applejack. “Why’d you say my brother ain’t leaving Neighpon? Ah don’t like the sound of that, and it seems like Rarity thought that would happen too, and never said a thing about it!”

Uni tapped a hoof delicately on the floor. “I don’t know. I have seen the signs. A foreign pony comes to our land, and the beauty captures them. There is no escape. We say, ‘just once surrounded – by swirls of cherry blossoms – the world disappears’. After all, Neighpon is the most beautiful of all places, with the best ponies and gardens, all watched over by Kirin who love us. How can they not fall in love with our world?”

Applejack and Rarity shared a glance.

“WE got apple turnip cakes,” said Applejack laconically.

“And Princesses,” added Rarity. “And Canterlot fashions.”

“Mind you, your country is right perty, too, in its own way,” added Applejack. “But before you get carried away with it, remember who’s givin’ ya the apple turnip cakes.”

“Oh, really, Applejack,” sniffed Rarity, “I hardly think that culinary hallucination compares to Canterlot, or even the Whitetail Woods on a lovely fall evening…”

“Know yer mare,” hinted Applejack. “Look at ‘er.”

Uni wiped her mouth hastily with the back of a dainty hoof. “I am fine! But I agree, I will honor the home of your apple turnip cakes. I did not mean to offend. Only to explain why your Big Macintosh will stay in Neighpon. There is a look in the eye when a pony has set hoof on our shores and is filled with determination to experience our beauty…”

“Well, he did that already,” said Applejack, “several times if I ain’t readin’ too much into the situation. Still cain’t hardly believe a lil’ thing like that could fit him.”

“Oh, yes,” said Rarity. “I saw them together. It’s not your country, dear Uni, that he craves. I knew deep in my heart that he is on a more personal quest. He’s going to go find his mate. It’s terribly romantic, but I couldn’t help but weep, because he is part of us, and we may never see him again.”

“Now see here!” said Applejack. “We damn well are gonna see him again, ain’t you ever heard of visits and vacations? An’ secondly, that ain’t the feeling I got off of him an’ Hina. I get that he was swept off his hooves by the fussy lil’ critter, but she went back home! Don’t you think she would’ve stayed with us if they were gonna be a couple?”

“Immaterial,” said Rarity. “Perhaps they will return. Not to be over-blunt about it, I have owned Big Macintosh’s heart and you have not… not in the sense you know I mean. I can tell. He is following Hina, and where she goes, he will go. They’re mates, it happened right under our noses and we didn’t spot it. As for her returning to Neighpon, she has business there, obviously, darling.”

“Yeah?” argued Applejack. “Well, one thing about it, it explains why he was so hot to go there! You figure he wants more Kirin tail? I’m sure she ain’t complainin’. Prob’ly arranged it all ahead of time.” She turned triumphantly to Uni. “But you can’t say he’ll never leave Neighpon! It ain’t what you think. Ah say, nope! Simpler explanation. Big fella’s shacked up with a Kirin wife, that’s all. They kin make their home there AND here, and be welcome to it. I’m sure she’ll love Ponyville as much as we do.”

Uni studied her, and then issued her pronouncement. “Nope!”

“Aw COME on…”

“If you are correct, you must prepare to welcome him home with a broken heart,” said Uni. “What you suggest is impossible. No Kirin would fall in love with a single earth pony stallion. Your unicorn friend is mistaken as well. The Kirin, Hina, would not be returning to Neighpon for business.”

Rarity blinked. “Forgive me, but I have read about your country, and aren’t your Kirin deeply involved in many aspects of…”

“She would return to Neighpon because it is her LIFE,” said Uni. Her eye glistened just a bit, for the first time either Applejack or Rarity had ever seen. “If she is a Kirin, she is our land and the land is her. The ponies don’t own Kirin any more than the grass or the trees do. She loves and protects it all, with a wisdom beyond anything else on this world. This is the truth of my home.”

Applejack bridled faintly, muttering “Princesses…” but Rarity shushed her and turned to Uni again.

“Oh, dear. You are saying that, even if Big Macintosh is on a grand romantic quest, it must prove unfruitful? When he learns that this Hina will not abandon her duties and sit about rubbing his hooves, he’ll turn tail and run back home in tears because she will reject him?”

Uni’s ears laid back. “Rubbing his hooves? It sounds like what the pegasi used to make pony villages do. That and sucking their dicks. Who would sit around rubbing their stallion’s hooves when there are useful things to be done?”

Applejack and Rarity shared another glance. “Fluttershy,” they said, and Rarity turned back to Uni. “But you’re certain that this Kirin will break his heart and send him straight home like the silly horse he is?”

“Aw, c’mon!” said Applejack, and considered. “Mind you, you got sort of a point there. Not jes’ on your head, I mean.”

Rarity swatted her with a hoof, gently. “Uni! Are you sure?”

The little Neighponnese mare looked dismayed. “You express it all wrong! How can you put it in such hurtful terms? Don’t you know what a Kirin is?”

“Maybe not as well as Big Macintosh does!” said Applejack. She thought, remembering. “I did like it, though, when I tried it. That feller, wow! If he was fixin’ to do me like that every night, I swear I’d have a hard time stayin’ on the farm. Hooo-eee!”

Rarity turned. “You had sex with one? Tell, tell!”

“Not now,” retorted Applejack. “I’ll tell ya later. It’s really somethin’. First things first. Uni, we’re talkin’ about whether Big Macintosh is gonna stay or come home! You’re tellin’ us he likes the pretty flowers. We are tellin’ you that it’s a filly-flower he’s chasin’, and what’s more a real damn specific one stuck between the legs of a young lady Kirin who’s returned to Neighpon. I think Rarity’s right, and he’s chasin’ that Hina. I know my brother and he’s a romantic fool in his own way, and I kin believe it. Uni, if she ain’t gonna break his heart and chase him right back home, what the hay is she gonna do with him?”

Uni contemplated this, and the ponies let her. Finally, she spoke.

“To love a Kirin is not wrong. We all love our Kirin. None of us would dare try and own the heart of one… the very idea seems impossible. Wishing to do so… I think the Kirin would be gentle. I don’t know what she should tell him. We know, you see. We know it is impossible, and if he does not, he will have to learn. They are not like us. They are something grander and better, and we depend on that wisdom, but they are not like us so I cannot know what the Kirin will do with your brother.”

They were quiet for a moment, and then Rarity addressed the Neighponnese mare.

“Kirin may be more like our Princesses than you think, Uni. And our Princesses are still ponies, you know.”

“They sure are!” said Applejack. “Why, there’s been times we all rushed off to rescue Twilight’s marefriend, and it turns out Princess Luna got a lil’ too attracted, and dang, the things they were gonna get up to. Of course that ain’t no different to what Twilight and Trixie do with each other normal-like. If you call that normal, which Ah don’t.”

“Uht!” cautioned Rarity. “Too much information! Of course we’re not suggesting Kirin go around seducing ponies into bondage dungeons.” She considered this for a moment. “Er… do they?”

“Wipe your chin, Rarity,” teased Applejack.

“I am NOT drooling!”

“You ought to be,” chuckled Applejack, “and I ain’t checked both ends, y’know. Uni! The point we are haphazardly makin’ is this one. Maybe your Kirin, and our Princesses, ain’t so different. All sorts of critters love. I saw that Hina, an’ I saw her with Big Macintosh. Not gittin’ with Big Macintosh, I mean—just bein’ cozy, friendly. She din’t seem that impossible to me.”

“Kirin seek justice,” said Uni. “Kirin have a duty. It’s more important than their own lives. They seek out and destroy darkness, and celebrate beauty.”

“Do you think this Kirin is likely to try and destroy Big Macintosh?” asked Rarity, raising an eyebrow. “For instance, if he professes his love and wants to cram his penis into her at some inconvenient time? And before you ask, I never saw him do it to her and it seems faintly implausible, unless she’s adept with rather specialized magic tricks.”

“Kirin are adept at all magic!” protested Uni.

“Won’t catch me arguing about that,” said Applejack. “Woooo-eee!”

“The point I’m trying to make here,” said Rarity, “is this: Big Macintosh is a good pony. I may not know everything about Kirin, but I can tell you that I myself was the subject of the Kirin’s attention. I shall never forget it. Most impressive… and if she didn’t choke on me, darling, there’s no chance she would balk at Big Macintosh. Why, I entertained her and Big Macintosh for breakfast one day, until Sweetie and Derpy Hooves got defensive and chased her off.”

“They did what?” gawked Applejack.

“Long story, darling… but do you see? Perhaps, as a Neighponnese pony, you are so good and obedient and peaceful that you can’t imagine your Kirin being close with, ah ha, earthier ponies with more spunk. But I assure you, this Hina studied me with great interest. She saw all of my darkness, and she was very strict with me about it, but she loved me all the same and wished me well. And I promise you, Big Macintosh is a cupcake by comparison.”

Applejack frowned. “You ain’t seen him in every light. Maybe you should ask Fluttershy about that one.”

“Oh,” said Rarity. “As it happens, I did. Erm… I’ve had words with Fluttershy about that evening. Let us say, if the Kirin was around to see her provoking those stallions, she would have blown up in a big shower of sparks.” Rarity licked her lips. “What a wicked, wicked night that was.”

Uni hesitated. “Are you afraid the Kirin will smite your Big Macintosh, because he’s got wickedness in his past?”

“You’re the one telling us she’s bound to send him away,” said Applejack. “I thought they looked perty snuggly, myself.”

Rarity gulped. “We’d better ask, I think. Is he in danger? You’re telling us his attentions will be unwelcome. She’ll read him like a book. What then?”

“Kirin see the good in ponies, through any darkness,” said Uni. “That is their gift and obligation.”

The words seemed to shock Rarity. Her eyes glistened. “Yes,” she said, “yes they do. She saw the good in me.”

“And me,” said Uni.

Rarity blinked. “What is so surprising about that? You are a sweet little Neighponnese pony.”

“I am Kabochaebi,” said Uni. “The Kirin still love me, because I believe in good.”

“What a charming name,” said Rarity. “Can I use it for some of my designs?”

“Best not,” said Applejack, hastily.

“I am Kabochaebi, the Mantis Shrimp,” said Uni. “The scourge of the seas… until I and my crew surrendered to the Kirin, and their justice. I was the most terrifying pirate queen in all Equestria.” She blinked. “Though I’m sure certain other ones were very intimidating in their own right, and I don’t mean to belittle anypony.”

“Movin’ right along!” squeaked Applejack, blushing, but Rarity didn’t notice.

“Eee!” she squealed. “You’re in one of Twilight’s history books! Sweetie asked me if you were real!”

“What did you answer?” said Uni, lifting an eyebrow.

“Er… I said probably not,” admitted Rarity. “The tales of your destructiveness seemed exaggerated.”

The little Neighponnese pony whinnied in satisfaction, trotting in place, and then controlled herself. “We are much better now. The Kirin explained to me that I must forever seek the good, because I am forever balancing between good and evil.”

“I reckon most ponies might say that,” said Applejack. “Who ever heard of a pony that was totally good without a wicked bone in their body?”

She and Rarity glanced at each other.

“Derpy Hooves,” admitted Applejack. She caught the twinkle in Rarity’s eye, and added, “I mean bones of their own, dang it!”

“It sounds like you, Uni, have demonstrated the tolerance of the Kirin even more than I have,” said Rarity.

Uni blinked.

“Oh, no. There is no tolerance. I surrendered to the justice of the Kirin,” she explained. “That has never changed. My crew and I grew tired of blood, tired of violence. We expected to die. At least five of my crew fled, and died to the Kirin.”

Ponyville pony jaws dropped in tandem.

Kabochaebi pouted. “I told you, Applejack. Not all of us made it to the town where we surrendered. What did you think would happen to such wicked pirates? They died.”

“But… Kirin see th’ good in anypony, includin’ my brother…” said Applejack.

Uni gave her a look.

“But they chose badness,” she said. “I never said the Kirin were fools, Booties.”

Braeburn crept through the night, keeping near the treeline and navigating by the moon and stars. Turned out it was the same stars over Neighpon, which came in handy, though he couldn’t see them nearly as well as he could from the Appleloosan prairie. It didn’t matter: he knew where he stood. He headed north, for the musical tour would have headed toward the capital. He figured he might see posters, or find clearings where a little stage had been set up.

A sound impended.

At first quiet, like a desultory tearing of cloth, it expanded suddenly in loudn


Braeburn reeled, knocked senseless. The last time he’d been hit that hard, it had been a flying tackle from Rainbow Dash, and so he looked upward in the moonlight to see if he was pinned down by a cerulean pegasus mare.

Instead, he saw a heart-wrenchingly familiar coat color, but the size was all wrong…

“I am the great Moeru!” proclaimed his captor. “And you are the Sneaking Spy, and you’re my prisoner!”

“Ah am?” managed Braeburn.

Moeru nodded happily. “I caught you. That was a great tackle! It was dark but I saw the glint of your eye and I swerved and wham! I got you! All your limbs were flailing in the air for a second until I pinned you against the ground. Did any of them come off? Once I tackled a pony so hard it ripped one of his legs off.”

Braeburn gulped. “Don’t think so, mister. Ain’t that kinda rough?”

Moeru shrugged. “We were hunting pirates. The Kirin warned me they would hurt me if I gave them a chance, so I went all out. That one didn’t suffer long, the Kirin were right there. You’re my Sneaking Spy, but you don’t talk like an evil pony so are you sure your appendages are all right? We can go and get you healed if you’d like.”

“Gosh, I wish ya could,” said Braeburn, looking at that alluring shade of brick-red in moonlight. “An’ that’s the truth.” It brought up memories of hiding on the prairie with his beloved Princess, the big red farm horse who was his heart and soul.

“Sure!” said Moeru brightly. “I don’t think any Kirin are nearby, so we’ll have to walk. Which appendage is broken?” He prodded Braeburn’s limbs experimentally.

“Jes’ my heart…”


“Nothin’,” said Braeburn, rallying. “Gosh, you sure knocked me halfway to Appleloosa. Oh my, I ain’t sure I can stand up, much less run away or nothin’. You’re a fierce lil’,” and he looked the shadowy figure over, “…stallion?”

“Yes I am!” boasted the great Moeru. His voice seemed as wispy as his figure, but he’d hit like a large flying rock. “Are you sure none of your limbs are broken?”

“Ya ain’t checked ‘em all,” suggested Braeburn, taking a gamble.

Moeru’s eyes widened in the moonlight. He was straddling his victim… but was increasingly aware he’d captured a stallion. Braeburn could just about get it up for a cactus if he really needed to, and the trick had already worked on one pegasus warrior. Something was stirring under Moeru’s belly.

He smiled. “You are a stallion too. Captivity suits you? How, mister Sneaking Spy, do you think I should check this new appendage? What is so exciting all of a sudden, apart from the obvious answer, my glorious body that pins you to the ground without hope of escape?”

Like hell there ain’t, thought Braeburn. He replied, “Uh… you remind me of somepony. Most beautiful pony in the whole world, if you wanna be particular. Kin ya blame me?”

“There is no pony more beautiful than the great Moeru,” purred the pegasus warrior. He began to rub his belly against Braeburn’s burgeoning erection.

“Ain’t there?”

“You like stallion booty?” teased Moeru, his eyes glimmering in the moonlight. “You will, once I’m done with ya.”

“You like stallion cock?” retorted Braeburn. He struggled to hang on to the suggestive tone, because the coat color was doing his head in. There’d been no other stallion for him since Big Macintosh, and now this pegasus boy was getting incredibly personal and even looked a little like his beloved, and his body reacted with a huge hard-on but his mind was screaming and refusing to cooperate…

“And your stallion cock will like me,” purred Moeru. “I’ll ruin you for mares. Don’t worry, I’ll come and visit you while you rehabilitate. We keep our prisoners happy, when they’re good prisoners. You can’t ever escape me, so let’s start to make you more friendly and nice.” He was wriggling, now. Braeburn’s cock throbbed like it was trying to explode.

“An’ what if I ruin ya with this here stallion cock?” said Braeburn, trying not to sound desperate. “What if I leave ya a beautiful pegasus puddle and ya can’t even twitch a wingtip, huh? Does that seem likely?”

Moeru smiled down at him.

“No,” he said, “but we can call it good behavior. I’m sure the Kirin will smile upon you for fucking me that well. I don’t think you understand. I’m the Great Moeru. I take all the cocks, and yours will be wonderful, I can already tell. I promise I’ll do everything I can to make it wonderful for you too, and I’m really good, and I bet I could do you six times and still be ready for more. Want to bet? How much will you bet?”

“Uh,” said Braeburn, at a loss. “Ain’t got much left but my life…”

Moeru wriggled, then lifted his hindquarters, allowing Braeburn’s cock to sproing forth.

“We’ll keep that. I like you, Sneaking Spy. I think I’ll keep you for myself. Now, come and let me show you what you’ll be doing for the rest of that life. I think you’ll like it, if you only try.”

He rose, and slunk like a cat around Braeburn, who could see that everything about the lusty pegasus boy was erect: wings, cock, even the arch of his tail. Braeburn gulped, eyeing the pert round buttocks teasingly proffered to him.

“And what,” said Braeburn, his mouth suddenly dry, “do ya think I’m gonna do with THAT?”

The Great Moeru’s smile was wistful, bold, yearning.

“I am yours. Love me,” he ordered, and pressed low, his rump sticking up, his cheek nuzzling the grass dreamily.

Braeburn wandered over. Moeru gave a little coo, shot Braeburn an exultant glance, quivered with anticipation.

Braeburn reared, but like he was a much older pony. “Oh, no,” he breathed. He was trembling as he came down onto Moeru’s hindquarters. His cock thumped the inside of Moeru’s leg.

Moeru gave a little squee of desire. “Oh, yes!” he cried. His little noise was eerily, worryingly like noises Big Macintosh had made, on a prairie, so long ago.

“Uhhh,” said Braeburn, shaking, his eyes tearing up. His heart felt like it was about to rip itself out of his chest in protest.

Moeru didn’t even look back at him. Moeru nuzzled the grass, closing his lovely eyes, trembling as Big Macintosh had, once.

Moeru crooned, “Love me!”

Braeburn lashed out with a forehoof, cracking the giddy pegasus across the head, thrashing away from him awkwardly.

Moeru collapsed.

As Braeburn galloped away into the night, weeping hysterically, he yelled back at the unhearing pegasus warrior.