Planting Flags

As they rode through the hills and valleys of Neighpon, Octavia looked sidelong at Vinyl Scratch, her longtime companion.

“So, is now a good time?”

“Huh?” said Scratch, distractedly.

“To tell me.” said Octavia gravely.

Vinyl Scratch rolled her eyes. “No biggie, we’re on our way, end of story all set don’t worry about it k?”

Octavia’s ears went back. “Vinyl.”

“Nah, really, it’s okay…”

“Vinyl!” demanded Octavia.

“I said end of story!”

Octavia fell silent, studying the little pout on Scratch’s muzzle, trying to solve the mystery. Her eyes flicked up to check the Neighponnese unicorn’s eyes, which were angrily fixed on what little horizon could be seen. Octavia frowned, knitting her brow. She glanced at Scratch’s expression again. Yes, she was cross, but was that a hint of the tearfulness returning? It decided her.

“Scratchie?” said Tavi, very gently. “Maybe it is a little tiny story all the same. Please?”

Scratch’s expression darkened into a grimace, as the cart rolled along. “Maybe I should get off and run the rest of the way, so Big Macintosh doesn’t get tired!”

Without turning his head, Big Macintosh called back, “Eenope! This cart ain’t nothin’. Enjoy your ride!”

“But you’re not, dear sweet Scratchie,” said Octavia. “What’s bothering you?”

“Sweet! That’s a good one.”

“Well, you are,” argued Octavia. “I know you better than my own mate. Or any of our side-ponies, and you and I don’t even make love.”

Vinyl pouted.

“Or, rather,” continued Octavia earnestly, “not with our bodies. We make all the love there could be, with our friendship.”

Vinyl angrily wiped a tear.

“There, you see! Something’s hurting you. You’re acting so strange. Back at the harbor, you were acting so strange! What was it you said? ‘Piquant’? Scratchie dear, since when do you call things ‘piquant’? Are you secretly Rarity without telling me? I suppose your fashion sense might be grateful for that…”

Scratch giggled, in spite of herself. “Nah.” Her expression darkened again… but not so much into anger, rather she looked guilty and sad. “He said that.”

“Who? What?”

“He said ‘piquant’,” explained Scratch. “Not Big Macintosh. S… somepony else.”

“Somepony hurt you?” asked Octavia, in great seriousness. “You’ve said nothing of this! Have you come to Neighpon in spite of a dreadful past, for my sake, so me and my cello can enlighten the country? Oh, Scratchie! You are so noble.”

Scratch snorted. “Not even!”

Octavia sat back, her ears splayed in frustration. “Well, I’m trying to understand! At home you are so happy-go-lucky. Or, sometimes, happy-go-fucky, if that is even a thing. Now that you’re here, a dark cloud hangs over you! I think Neighpon is beautiful. Do you hate it, and want to go home? We’ll have taken a long journey for nothing, in that event.”

Scratch didn’t answer at first. Then she turned, and the yearning in her tearful ruby eyes was unmistakable. “No, Tavi. I’ve missed this place horribly. This is home, and I’m back where I belong. It’s just… complicated.”

Octavia’s first reaction wasn’t additional talk. She scooched over, and hugged her old friend, and Vinyl Scratch didn’t wail or cry, but she melted into Octavia’s embrace and hugged back fiercely. She took deep breaths, controlling her feelings, ending up with a big sigh, and then she said “Thanks, Tavi. I love you, ya know that?”

“Of course I do,” said Octavia staunchly.

Scratch sighed again, and looked out to the horizon bravely. “Now I can, like, totally go on.”

Octavia’s eyes narrowed, and the hint of a wry little smile played across her muzzle. “Yes… you can go on and explain to me what bothered you so much.”


“Vinyl Scratch, I insist! I shall know what has upset my darling Scratchie, or, or… I’ll jump out, sit in the middle of the road and not budge!”

“I’ll drag ya.”

“Stout Heart was feeding me cakes before I left. It might prove beyond your capacities.”

“Big Macintosh will drag ya,” teased Scratch.

Octavia considered that with an appalled look, and glared at Vinyl. “Well then, since clearly I can’t be a pony anchor amidst the road, I shall be a detective pony! Now let’s see. When did the Strange Behavior of Scratchie begin? Why, it was back at the harbor! Big Macintosh was leaping about, you flew into a rage, and two Kirin flew down to calm things. Yet you’re not angry with Big Macintosh now, and I know your moods pass like pegasi-driven clouds and expected that fact. What I didn’t expect was this lingering darkness. Aha! That Kirin stallion, he grabbed you and you were furious. HE was your ex-lover! Isn’t that so?”

Scratch glared at Octavia. “It is not. I never saw that guy before, and that never happens! Which is part of why I’m pissy, I had no business taking it out on him. I was nervous.”

“Nervous why?” demanded Octavia.

“It’s been a long time, okay?”

“And you were afraid,” guessed Octavia, “afraid you would be punished! I see it now, that explains everything. The rest of us are not native born, and we might act like fools, but you’re held to a higher standard, aren’t you, Vinyl? You were afraid the Kirin would exact a terrible punishment on you, for our misdeeds!”

“NO!” yelled Vinyl, as Big Macintosh’s ear flicked back fretfully to hear the argument. “You take that back!”

“Perhaps I overstate,” admitted Octavia. “But it explains everything, doesn’t it? Admit it, Vinyl Scratch, you’re worried we will misbehave, and you panicked when the Kirin appeared! What other possible reason could there be for your reaction, and for you to urge us away from there with all due haste?”

Scratch reached maxiumum overpout, glowering at her dear friend. “Listen, you’ve got to believe me. No. Absolutely not, don’t even think it. Kirin would not hold me extra responsible for if you’re bad. Kirin won’t think you’re bad in the first place! They’re gonna keep us all safe and love us and protect us and do their very best by us, without favoring anypony in any way. This is a beautiful place to live. Don’t you… didn’t you get some, like, vague idea of the truth when Hina-rin came to visit Ponyville? I got so excited she had to send me to bed for a nap!”

“And now that you’re here, something about them frightens you? Still they are a bit too much?”

That got through. Vinyl Scratch winced, visibly. “Look, I need you to stop with that. I love them, we all do. Kirin are so good! They ARE good.”

“Good at making you upset, dear Scratchie!” retorted Octavia. “You’re still upset. What is going on?”

Scratch had the pissy look back again, with overtones of guilty… her ears were nearly pinned back to her head. “I guess I better tell you, then.”

“Thank you,” said Octavia. “Yes, you should. Please, Vinyl. It’s hurting you, I’ve rarely seen you so distressed. I thought this was supposed to be a wondrous journey!”

“It was,” sighed Scratch. “It is. I gotta deal with it somehow. I didn’t think it’d matter… and you guys aren’t unicorns.”

Octavia blinked. “I beg your pardon? Pony prejudice, from YOU of all ponies? You are the single most egalitarian unicorn I know of, in the whole world!”

“No, I mean that’s why it shouldn’t matter! We can all travel around, protected, and they’ll ask n… nothin’ of us. You shouldn’t worry.”

“And you should?” pressed Octavia. “Because you’re a unicorn?”

Scratch looked miserable. “Not much of one, Tavi. That’s the whole problem.”

“We don’t care,” said Octavia. “You never cared before. The Kirin don’t care, you said. Or do they? Why would the Kirin care?”

Vinyl Scratch sniffled.

“Cos we’re… kinda like their FOOD.”

Her eyes widened in alarm, as did Octavia’s.

So did Big Macintosh’s, because he was staring back at them in horror… and not watching where he was going, and heading at a brisk trot into a cherry tree.



Yosuru looked up at the colorfully painted sign. “We can use this place!”

Applejack boggled at it. “Kyo-kyu? What’s that mean?”

Yosuru laughed happily. “This is a food purveyor! You don’t have to read the words. Ponies of Neighpon like to use Kirin language to label their signs. They feel it is good fortune if they do so.”

A unicorn emerged, resplendent in beautifully tailored fabrics. His eyes lit up. “Kirin! Anata o umeru?”

Yosuru glanced at Applejack, and subtly shook her head at the unicorn, causing him to back up a step.

“Not today,” she said. “We bring a visiting mare. Kawa is going to perform a service for this mare.”

The unicorn glanced at Applejack’s forehead, and looked puzzled. Then, he brightened. “I am Mugen! Or Mugennokaijitsu. Mugen for short! Please come in.”

“Well, thankee!” said Applejack. “Sure is a nice, ah, sure is a… now, what the HAY is that?”

It was as red as any apple, but it was no apple. It sat motionless in a display case, resembling some insane overgrown insect. Applejack peered sidelong at it, fearfully studying the huge pinchers and creepy antennae.

“Robusuta!” proclaimed Mugen. “Very rare. The pinnacle of my collection! A mark of great honor!”

Kawa gave him a sharp look. “And you will sell it?”

Mugen backed up a step, again. “I am sorry?”

Kawa regarded him sternly. “Rare they may be, sir. I understand the appeal. But if you fish these creatures… you must sell them to feed other unicorns.”

Mugen’s eyes were wide. “Of course! Of course! No robusuta shall be wasted! I ate one myself just the other day which is why I offered…”

“Yes, I see,” said Yosuru. “Do not over-harvest, please! Today we require only a room and a bed.”

Applejack blinked, not quite up to speed. “This is a hotel, then?”

“Why would it be a hotel?” asked Yosuru, puzzled.

“You’ll use my own bedroom,” said Mugen, hastily. “I will go get Uni, that’s my marefriend Uni, she is sleeping…”

“Whoa whoa WHOA!” objected Applejack. “Hang on. We’re kickin’ you out of your own place? You’re gonna chase your marefriend out of her own bed jes’ so’s I can fuck a Kirin?”

Mugen looked in a panicky way, between the two Kirin. He seemed frozen, unable to reply.

“She does not mean to insult,” soothed Yosuru.

“He is honored to do so,” added Kawa, “there is no chasing…”

Applejack scraped at the floor with a forehoof. “Seems kinda funny to me! I don’t mean to insult, eh? Well, where I come from, if ya do me a solid then by Celestia it behooves me ta come up with somethin’ sweet for you in return. Mister Mugen? Tell me straight, are you lookin’ to do me a favor?”

The Kirin were quiet, not interfering, and although Mugen seemed unsettled at the demands of a foreign mare, he rallied. “Of course I desire to do you a favor. Please accept our hospitality. Uni will understand immediately. We long to serve, and it will mean so much to her, to be able to directly be of aid! Most times, obviously, there is little she can do.”

Applejack studied him. He seemed sincere, and no longer worried: it was her own outburst and rejection of his offer, before the Kirin, that had distressed him.

“Hmm,” she said. “That’s nice an’ a bit confusin’ of you. What if I want to do you a favor in return? What kin I give ya?” She blinked, and added, “Possibly not a good Apple-fuckin’, no matter how nice you are, ‘cos we’re settin’ me up to go home and get bred by my own sweetheart!”

Mugen’s eyes widened. “I see! Except that you are not a unicorn, or pegasus. But of course, now I am even more hospitable. And puzzled.”

“Well, my sweetie’s a pegasus,” said Applejack.

“Oh!” said Mugen. “Of course. Now it all makes…” He gawked at Applejack. “You don’t look like a stallion.”

“Depends when ya look,” suggested Applejack. “An’ where!”

Yosuru tsked, smirking delicately. “It is a long story, sir. Do you trust our ways?”

“Always!” vowed Mugen. “Of course you can help this apparent mare to be bred by her pegasus stallion, who would be able to do that anyhow, or possibly it is the pegasus who’s a mare…”

“Again, depends when ya look,” said Applejack, “and you’re changin’ the subject!”

Mugen eeped. “What is the subject?”

“What can I do for you, Mister Mugen? Ah insists,” said Applejack. “There’s gotta be something you’d like, an’ it’s only fair. Especially if we’re wakin’ up your unicorn ladyfriend and taking over your very own bedroom! Let me come up with somethin’ special to do for the both of ya.”

Mugen boggled. “But the honor is ours. Really.”

“Nope,” said Applejack decidedly. “Gotta give ya somethin’.”

Mugen frowned, thinking hard. “Of course.” He glanced at Yosuru. “I must? She truly needs to give, not simply be gifted?”

Yosuru nodded solemnly. “We do not argue with her. This mare has a sweet, sweet heart. It will make her happier. We sense this.”

Mugen turned to Applejack, unhesitatingly. “I wish for nothing better. You shall give us a fine gift! Uhh… what do you even have? And who are you?”

“Heh! You might have heard of me as the Drea…” began Applejack, and gulped, glancing at the Kirin. “Uh, the derned greatest Applejack that ever appled a jack! Heh. And I have sure as sh… ugar an’ sweet apples, sailed the seas from the mighty port of Canterlot to get here.”

“I am a purveyor of rare and exquisite foods,” said Mugen, gesturing at the display cases that held countless unrecognizable things, including the big red sea bug. “What cargoes did you bring from that mighty port?”

Applejack boggled. “Ya mean, food?”

“Of course,” said Mugen. “You came here, to the crown of Neighpon’s culinary life, where the sea provides special food for unicorns to give life to our Kirin. What wondrous food did you bring from Canterlot for us?”

Applejack blinked. “Uhhh, a big ol’ farm horse and a cellist and a unicorn and a lot of poundin’ loud music?”

Mugen wrinkled his muzzle cutely. “Well, we can’t eat that! Anything else?”

Applejack stood, transfixed, as an idea struck. “Dear… Celestia…”

“If I’m not mistaken, that is your sort of Kirin, except there’s only one of her!” said Mugen. “We can’t eat her either, though we would be honored to have her as our guest…”

“Be right back!” squeaked Applejack, and she was gone out the door, galloping like a madpony for her rented yacht.

Mugen boggled politely at the Kirin for a moment, and then before he could say anything, Applejack was back, grinning and panting with exertion, a bag in her teeth which she laid on the floor so she could speak. “Now, I ain’t got the foggiest idea how this is gonna go, but did you say rare foods?”

She deposited, on the counter, that very bag, and nudged it open with her nose… and revealed to Mugen’s fascinated gaze, her prize.

Granny’s dreaded Apple Turnip Cakes.

As Mugen studied the nearly-food, Applejack grinned brightly, and whispered to the Kirin, “If this don’t work, git ready to run!”

“Run? What for?” said Kawa, but his remark was cut off.

Mugen banged on the floor with a hoof. “UNI!” he cried.

There was a stirring upstairs, and hooves hitting the floor. Applejack grinned wider. “Welp, that tore it!” she said, and began to sidle away, but Yosuru leaned over and tenderly snagged her ear in gentle Kirin teeth.

“Hey!” protested Applejack.

“Please do not presume!” ordered Yosuru, releasing her. “Whatever this stuff is, I think it may please Mugen!”

“He is filled with much wonder,” added Kawa.

“So were we,” admitted Applejack. “Never could get used to the derned things.”

Uni appeared, a lovely earth pony mare who trotted up to her mate inquisitively. With a look, he redirected her inquisitiveness to the bizarre foodstuffs.

Together, they nibbled on one of the apple turnip cakes, and both sets of eyes flew wide in shock.

“Run,” suggested Applejack. “Sometimes it hits ya that way…”

“Do not run,” urged Kawa. “Wait.”

“Mugennokaijitsu!” exclaimed Uni.

“Gesundheit?” offered Applejack.

The two food purveyors turned to her as one, their faces wreathed in smiles. “It is wonderful! And strange! And what is it?”

“Apple turnip cakes,” said Applejack, her ears still back in fretful nervousness.

“How is it so sweet?” asked Uni. “And sour?”

“Dang it,” protested Applejack, “I tole her not to use the sour apples but she said they needed eatin’ up…”

“Umami,” observed Mugen thoughtfully.

“No, my granny,” replied Applejack, “an’ she does her best, honest she do…”

“No, you misunderstand,” said Mugen. “This food balances all types of flavor miraculously. It is sour, and sweet, and umami is the base of richness and earthy fullness…”

“That there would be the turnips if I ain’t mistaken,” offered Applejack, brightening. “Ain’t much more earthy than a turnip.”

“And the hint of bitterness. And salty!” exclaimed Mugen.

Applejack winced. “Well, even Granny knows ya gotta bribe us to eat ‘em somehow…”

“They are wonderful!” cried Mugen and Uni.

“They are?” gawked Applejack. “Ah mean… they are! Yep! How many ya want in exchange for use of your room?”

“ALL OF THEM,” proclaimed Mugen, trotting in glee. “How many do you have? Can you get more?”

“Dang!” said Applejack. She hesitated. “What, for one room? Do you know where I can get some provisions for headin’ home, then?”

Mugen waved a hoof to shush her. He frowned, thinking hard. He glanced at the Kirin, but not worriedly: more like he was determined to strike a handsome deal that was joyful for all concerned. He did math in his head. “Canterlot… you take bits?”

“More than you could possibly imagine,” said Applejack. “I mean, yeah, that’s our coinage.”

“How many Apple Turnip Cakes did you bring us?”

“I reckon there’s sixty or seventy left. ‘Cos frankly, it seems like it’s a matter of taste,” admitted Applejack.

Mugen looked earnestly in her eyes. “Your sixty or seventy Apple Turnip Cakes, all that remain… for the use of our bedroom, and also… ten thousand Canterlot bits.”

Applejack’s jaw dropped nearly to the floor.

Uni gasped. “You insult her! We will find more! We can get more, please, just let us have this…”

As the Kirin giggled, Applejack broke into a huge grin. “Better’n Zap Apple Jam. Who knew? I can’t hardly believe it. You got a DEAL, ponies!”

Mugen and Uni cheered, and they all hugged.

Uni blinked. “Ten thousand Canterlot bits. For… exclusive?”

“Ah beg your pardon?” said Applejack.

Uni set her pretty little jaw, in determination. “For all the Apple Turnip Cakes, from Canterlot: that we have, exclusive? No other shops?”

Applejack gave her a look. “You remind me of somepony. How about we let you hash it out with our lil’ business-pony? I ain’t the Boss Mare of Sweet Apple Acres. And the Boss Mare wouldn’t be any tougher’n me about these things prob’ly… but our deal-making’s done by a nice lil’ filly, name of Diamond Tiara. Will you negotiate with her, for your exclusive rights? ‘Cos I do know what that means, missy.”

“Yes! I will get the exclusive, from Diamond Tiara, as you wish,” said Uni happily.

“Kin I sell tickets?” asked Applejack.

Mugen knew his mare, and could tell the direction things were turning. Beaming in delight, he shooed excited Uni out of the way, and she first ran back upstairs, then remembered and scooted out the door.

“We have made a deal,” he smiled, “and please enjoy our bedroom. We will rejoin you in the morning.”

“Where ya going?” blinked Applejack. “Do you have somewhere to go, Mister Mugen?”

His eyes crinkled at the edges, in amusement. “I will join Uni. And she is already unloading your Apple Turnip Cakes. We should not intrude, so I will ask her to reload them on your ship… and we will guard it, and our new fortune of cakes, tonight.”

“They are just joking,” soothed Yosuru. “Nopony will steal your things.”

“Not if they have to get past Uni,” smiled Mugen. “That is clear. Thank you, Applejack. We will all prosper from your Granny’s Apple Turnip Cakes. Go and use our bedroom, and enjoy the services of our Kirin.”

“Good, are they?” asked Applejack.

Mugen’s smile grew faintly… wicked.

“Can I sell tickets?” he playfully teased, and he turned to go.

Scratch, Octavia and Big Macintosh sat under the cherry tree.

“Ah’m sorry!” repeated Big Macintosh. “I promise to keep m’ eyes on the road from now on!”

“Oh, calm down, Big Macintosh, we forgive you,” said Octavia. “Anyway it’s not really a road, more of a path. It’s lovely, but no wonder you couldn’t keep following it while watching us.”

“My decks are packed a lot lower now,” added Vinyl Scratch, glumly. “They were fine. I’m not even mad. But sheesh, way to make a big deal out of it.”

Octavia turned to confront her. “Scratchie! You said your Kirin ATE ponies! How can that be not a big deal?”

Scratch, cheered, gave a half-smile and opened her mouth.

“As FOOD,” added Octavia, “and not in the more delightful way, before you say anything!”

Vinyl Scratch’s smile dropped. She looked out over the lovely Neighponnese countryside. “Would you believe both?”

“I’m going to need a little more explanation than that,” said Octavia. She gave Scratch a little kiss. “Come on. What you say couldn’t be true, considering how much you love these Kirin. And I saw them, three of them by now, and I don’t believe a word of it. They cannot be pony-eaters, so what did you actually mean?”

“Yeah, well, it’s real simple,” replied Vinyl. “They’re magical creatures, right? They feed the youngest Kirin with magic. Pass it between their horns.”

“And?” said Octavia warily.

Vinyl blushed very pink… and wordlessly tapped her horn with a hoof.

Octavia’s and Big Macintosh’s eyes widened, as they got it.

“Oh, my!” said Octavia. “You don’t mean they…”

“YES!” blurted Scratch. She couldn’t meet their eyes. “Yes. Unicorns. Kirin. You got it. They… suck us off.”

“Forgive me,” said Octavia, “but I’ve known other unicorns and I know a little about it. Do you mean they actually…”

“Totally,” said Scratch. “I mean it. They’re not made like unicorns, they’re magical creatures. What would give another pony horrible burns and be really bad news? Kirin can handle it. They fucking go down on us, okay? They suck our horns so no magic gets loose, and they drink it right up, yum yum. ‘Piquant’. Kirin feed on fuckin’ magic okay? That’s just how they work.”

“Is that bad?” asked Octavia warily.

Vinyl shuddered. She didn’t answer for a moment. Octavia opened her mouth again, but then Vinyl spoke.

“It’s wonderful…”

She began to cry. “I didn’t think I’d ever tell anypony this. I thought I’d live in Ponyville and not have to think about it. It still hurts. I guess I can deal with it now…”

“Miss Vinyl,” said Big Macintosh gently, “did a Kirin fella hurt you?”

She looked up tearfully.

“No,” said Vinyl Scratch. “I failed him.”

They grew quiet, and let her talk.

“You have to understand, it’s like a symbiosis… I think that’s the word? They care for us in a way that isn’t even ponylike: it’s greater. They’ll die for us. They serve us and keep us good… and then, just sometimes, one of the older Kirin will seek out a unicorn, and it’s payback time.”

“And that doesn’t even do it justice,” said Scratch. “That makes it sound like a burden. Kirin can make you feel just incredible, nothing begins to compare. They can do crazy unbelievable things. The Kirin mares, I don’t know what it’s like but I heard stories, something about them is just irresistible.”

Big Macintosh nodded solemnly, knowingly.

“And I gotta tell you, the males… it’s not a burden, okay? It’s a joyful privilege. They’ll spend a lot of energy. Did I say they feed on fuckin’ magic? Don’t let it seem like Kirin can come along, grab you and sluuuurp! No, unicorns release magic in a certain sort of way. Ponyville, and most unicorns not in Neighpon, know it as horngasm. Unicorns arc, and get pregnant. Well, in Neighpon the Kirin let unicorns get pregnant with any earth ponies they like, they don’t have to do that with their horns together. It’s, like… a little bit uncool. Greedy? Selfish?”

Octavia looked worried. “But, Scratchie, we know about pony breeding. Pegasi and unicorns do spontaneously emerge from earth ponies. But…”

“Yeah,” said Scratch, “yeah. Breeding with earth ponies, you mostly get earth ponies. And LOVE, dammit! And love, and families, and… you know, I get how a lot of unicorns and pegasi stick with others like them, so they can breed true. I get that. And is it more important than fucking love and families and… I don’t know, Tavi. I wonder.”

They sat quietly for a moment, thinking.

“But yeah,” continued Scratch, “we get a lot of earth ponies in Neighpon. It’s good for earth ponies in Neighpon. There’s not as many unicorns, pegasi. We’re kind of special when we happen. We come from earth pony stock almost all of the time. It’s not a rule, not really a rule, but… did you know unicorns tried to rule Neighpon once? Our pegasi can be fuckin’ terrifying. Kirin made some choices about all that. Kirin tied us to all ponykind and now it’s mostly earth ponies here, and when we unicorns, when pegasi turn up, it’s exceptional and we’re celebrated but we got responsibilities.”

“We’re listening,” said Octavia, and Big Macintosh nodded. She continued, “Tell us all you can, Scratchie. We should know this, we’re guests.”

“Yeah, well, you’re earth pony guests,” retorted Scratch. “You’re the best of ponykind and you’re what we take care of, and the Kirin are there for you. Pegasi are kinda like Kirin wingponies, heh, what they have is flight and fierceness so they happily join and train with the Kirin. There’s like no chance of any bad monsters hurting our earth ponies, or anything invading us, because our pegasi are freakin’ insane, they are the most utter badasses. Out of love, I mean. They take the Kirin thing super seriously, meditate and shit, they’re warriors but they’re warriors of love, their sense of duty is amazing…”

“You’re not a pegasus, Scratchie dear,” said Octavia. “You’re a unicorn. What does that mean to you?”

Scratch started to cry again, and Octavia didn’t rush her.

“We power it all,” said Vinyl Scratch forlornly. “We get special diets, like the fishes, and we build up magic and we go around, meditating, trying to be beautiful, hoping to be picked. When we fuck earth ponies we try not to get so worked up we squirt. That’s for the Kirin, and it’s important. It’s our duty… just like with the pegasi. We’re little magic batteries and on our horns all of Neighpon rests. And then, every so often, we’re chosen. And a Kirin will come to us, and we’ll go with them. We’ll go, knowing it’s gonna be like the high point of our lives…”

“You’re crying,” said Octavia.

“I’m not done, okay? This is so hard. Just give me a minute. I’m glad it’s you, Tavi. And you I guess, Big Macintosh. I mean, you’re cool and all, this is fine…”

“We’re here for you, Scratchie dear.”


Vinyl sniffled, and resumed her tale.

“What you have to understand is the Kirin are not selfish. They’ll spend a lot of energy on us. They use their magic and they seriously make love to their little unicorns, they get right into it. They love us, in their way, okay? But what has to happen is this: their unicorn’s like losing her mind with fuck, in a frenzy… or his, y’know… and they just take us all the way and the unicorn goes BLOOEY and lets loose with a horngasm the likes of which you never seen, and the Kirin’s suckin’ them like crazy, and gulp gulp gulp! The unicorn is fuckin’ wiped OUT, and the Kirin’s all charged up. He put a lot of effort into it, but he’s more than rewarded. It’s good for him to be an astonishing lay, because that’s how he gets magic to take care of all of Neighpon, and he belongs to all of Neighpon. He’s got responsibilities too.”

Big Macintosh looked troubled, but said nothing.

Octavia bit her lip. “Scratchie? That’s not what hurts. It’s strange, but I understand it. What hurts?”

Scratchie’s lip quivered terribly.

“I… ran out!”

Sobbing, she went into Octavia’s forelegs, to be cuddled. Vinyl was blushing in her shame, physically shaking with long-repressed guilt.

“There, there…”

And then, Scratch was pushing away, dripping tears, miserable and furious. “And he did that!”

“What?” wailed Octavia. “What? Tell us, then, if you won’t let me hold you! Tell the rest, dear Scratchie!”

“I will let you,” vowed Scratch, “but I GOTTA tell everything! Gimme space, let me do this, I can do this… don’t care if I cry, I GOT to get this out now. Tavi, he picked me! I never got picked by a Kirin before, and I was so excited! He was beautiful. And so kind… but oh my GAWWWD sexy as fuck, you know? Wow…”

“Go on,” said Octavia. “We are here for you, and you’ll feel better, go on.”

“I am. Okay… well, obviously we fucked, right? This guy, this Kirin stallion, he was pretty well hung. He did that thing with the magic and oh my gosh, and he’s just making love so tender and slow but I’m feelin’ the passion and holy flying fuck on a stick, nothing will ever compare, okay? I’m gettin’ REAL used to it. I know I’m not supposed to attach but he’s makin’ it real hard, probably doesn’t even know it but it’s my first Kirin and I’m losing my pony mind…”

Big Macintosh couldn’t meet her eyes, or Octavia’s.

Vinyl continued. “He didn’t even go for my horn for the longest time. He kissed it. I couldn’t believe it. So romantic… and then he’s fuckin’ me so slow and deep, his power increasing when I’m ready for it, and I feel like my brain’s leaking out my ears and I’m shivering all over and THAT is when I feel his muzzle slowly going down on my horn, just in time. And he’s got my horn like all in his mouth, all of it, and I can feel this sort of teasing, sexy sucking like in my BRAIN, and he’s so fuckin’ ready for me and he just keeps building and building and building as I wriggle and squeak…”

“Easy, Scratchie,” said Octavia warningly. “You might be… making some of us uncomfortable?”

Big Macintosh grunted, and rolled over, for his stallionhood had begun to show. “Don’t mind me. I’m sorry.”

“Doesn’t matter, don’t care,” said Vinyl Scratch. “Anyway we don’t fuck roadies, it’s bad for touring. We can get to our first gig and you can pick up a mare, Big Macintosh, they’ll love you. Sorry if this gives you a woody. I gotta tell it, okay?”

“Eyup. I… don’t wanna clop. Not like this.”

“I’ll be quick,” said Vinyl. “You see, that was the good part. The problem was, next came the sad part.”

“We’re here for you,” said Octavia.

Scratch gulped. “Not much to tell. I came, okay? And I let loose with my horn. And… Tavi, you know I don’t do much with magic? That I carry both decks with my horn? Um… turntables are not very heavy. I came, Tavi, and I gave him all I had. And… it was, like, nothin’.”

“Oh, Scratchie…”

“The worst part was, he tried so hard. It was like he was starving or something, though I don’t think he could really have been starving. He had plenty of energy to spend on me. It felt like he was trying to suck my brains out through my horn. That feels amazing, by the way, since you can’t know. He was doing that magic thing, and he’s pumpin’ me, and it’s like he’s so unfulfilled by how little I gave that he just tried to DRAG it out of me and oh my GAWWWD. He’s draining my horn dry, my body is like convulsing for minutes on end, he’s just shredding the fuck out of me, trying to get fed. And I can’t fuckin’ do it. I don’t have the magic for him.”

“Finally, he gives up. He’s panting, sweating, he looks like hell. I’m lying across him and I can’t move. I’m physically and magically drained beyond anything I could imagine, and I’m looking into his eyes and I just surrender, I want to be his forever, let him just drain me the fuck out forever. There’s nothing else in life but this. And I can see he spent so much more than he gave, and he’s trying to figure out what to do. He had no idea he’d picked a fuckin’ dud unicorn, okay?”

“And that’s when he starts talking. I’m too burnt out even to cry, but it’s the worst thing ever. He’s thanking me, okay? I used up his energies and gave nothing in return, but he’s thanking me. He says it was wonderful. That my unicorn pussy is so clenchy and strong and healthy. And he’s racking his brain trying to make it seem okay, and that’s when he explains that, that my magic was especially sweet even though there was so little of it…”

“Oh, Scratchie,” murmured Octavia.

“I look at him in disbelief. We’re not supposed to be a, a… fuckin’ after-dinner mint! We are supposed to be able to feed our Kirin! We’re the only ones who can do it, the pegasi can’t do it, the earth ponies can’t do it. They need us! And there I am… and he’s trying to make me feel better by telling me my inadequate magic tasted good! Piquant, he says. And there’s this apologetic look in his eyes, like he knows, and he knows I know, and he knows I know he knows…”

Octavia sighed. “Your hug is waiting, my love. You ought to have one, after this.”

“Yeah,” said Scratch in a little voice. She shook herself. “That was it. He left, Tavi. That’s what they do. I was supposed to be able to see him gallop off on a rainbow, all charged up and looking indestructible, and be proud of myself for being part of something much bigger than me. Not! I was more ashamed than I’ve ever been, and there wasn’t a thing he could do about it. He couldn’t even make mists, he headed off on hoof, Tavi. I’d used him right up and given nothing back, he had to go find another Kirin and get a boost…”

“The same way?” asked Big Macintosh.

Scratch shook her head. “They send beams of magic. The young ones, that’s all they know. I think maybe Hina was a young Kirin. They can feed each other, but it’s like foals sucking on tits, it’s not what grown-ups do.”

As Big Macintosh frowned to himself, Octavia demurely remarked, “Tell that to my Stout Heart. On second thought, don’t, please. We enjoy it far too much.”

Scratch giggled in spite of herself. “Tavi! Naughty.”

“Loving,” corrected Octavia. “Scratchie! Listen. So are you.”

“Aw, Tavi…”

“No, I mean it,” said Octavia. “Listen to yourself. I can’t do magic at all, but you still love me. Well, you were with a Kirin, long ago when you lived here, and you had sex with him and did the whole Kirin-feeding thing…”


“Sh! And, Scratchie, you are a loving mare. The best. And you gave him everything you possibly could, your heart, your love, your magic until there was no more and I can picture you straining and trying to give even a little bit more, for him. You have nothing to be ashamed of, dear sweet Scratchie.”

“But…” protested Vinyl, her lip quivering.

“And he loved you, too, so much that he tried to make it better for you. And he was right to love you, because you are a sweet loving mare and deserve love.”

Vinyl Scratch was quiet, just gazing at her dear friend. Then… “Hug now,” she said. “K?”

And then Octavia was hugging her tightly, as Scratchie laughed and cried and hugged back like a madmare.

“Thank you, oh thank you Tavi I love you so much…”

“See?” quipped Octavia. “I told you.”

Scratch broke away, wiping her eyes. “And you know what? That’s how I got into the exercises. Like, he told me my pussy was amazing and so tight and sexy and grabby, and I was like oh yeah? I’ll make it ten times as good. So I got that Kegel thingy and really got into practicing, and now I’ve got a lot to give! Um, that way.”

“You do have a lot to give,” urged Octavia. “I’ve always known this.”

“What about me?” asked Big Macintosh.

Scratch glanced wryly at him. “You have a lot to give some groupie mare at our next town! You do all right, just don’t run into any more trees!”

“Eyup,” said Big Macintosh, determinedly.

The room was exquisite. The bed was curiously firm, and on the floor for some reason. The mood was electric.

The Kirin was erect. Applejack looked him over, her tail flicking eagerly.

“Kawa,” she said, “that there’s a fine specimen of stallionhood. Mind you, me an’ Dashie, we both kin do bigger but I’ll tell ya, I’m lookin’ forward to this. Two words. Comfort Zone.”

Yosuru smiled. “Do you seek girthy males, then? Do not resign yourself to disappointment just yet.”

“Naw, I mean it!” protested Applejack. “You think I’m lyin’? I meant it as a compliment! And it’s more girthy mares I seek. Well, one of ‘em.” She shifted from hoof to hoof. “You can really do it? I’ll be Dashie’s mare?”

“Yes,” confirmed Kawa, his chin high.

“Hoo-ee!” said Applejack. She gulped. “Well, here goes nothin’! Or maybe, here goes everythin’!”

“What?” said Kawa politely.

Applejack gave him a look. “You like th’ direct approach, huh? Fine. Gimme that hot Kirin dickin’.”

Kawa lifted an eyebrow. His cock stiffened, as he looked Applejack over. “Hot?”

“Aw, crap!” squeaked Applejack. “Okay nevermind! I won’t be too saucy. I’ll be good. Uh… c’mere and fuck me and make me a fertile mare!”

“I would be delighted to,” said Kawa.

Yosuru lay down, smiling, to serenely watch.

Kawa walked unhurriedly over, and petted Applejack’s rump.

He was rewarded with a wink, and a ‘Woohoo!’, and finding these signs sufficient, Kawa reared decorously and mounted.

Applejack shook her mane ebulliently. It seemed like a strange way to do magic things, but she suspected she might get to like it in a hurry.

Hastily, she corrected that to, ‘she liked it, in a hurry’, as Kawa’s courtly Kirin cock nuzzled her winking labia.

She drew in a breath to let out another ‘woohoo!’, but found herself speechless. Not by a fierce intrusion or unexpected bulk, no… Kawa remained the same manageable dimensions she’d seen.

It was texture. He seemed to fizz. There was an electrifying sensation she knew well, as one felt the bare flesh of one’s lover sliding skin on skin, sinking deep in passion. With the Kirin, this was unaccountably magnified. It boded amazing things, made unthinkable promises. Kawa slid inside her, stretching her cozily and giving her something to squeeze upon, but in doing it, her vagina was filled with fizz and life and energy.

“Oh my…” breathed Applejack.

“Do you wish orgasms, or to proceed more quickly?”

The voice behind her ear was perfectly in control. There was something mysteriously sexy about that dispassionate tone.

She drew a breath. “I tole you. Ain’t right to do this an’ not enjoy it. Let’s fuck, honey!”

“That would be my great pleasure,” replied Kawa, cool as a cucumber.

His dick wasn’t cool like a cucumber. It was about as demanding as a cucumber, penetration-wise, though it sank deeper into her… but it was warm and cozy, always with that mysterious tingling feeling. Applejack sighed with pleasure as Kawa began to languidly move, sliding in and out of her in an unhurried way.

“Oooooh…” she moaned. “That’s nice, that’s so nice.”

“So are you,” crooned Kawa, unperturbably.

“Thankee,” purred Applejack, setting her legs a little farther apart. “Mmmm.”

“This feels good?” he asked.

“OHyeah,” moaned Applejack. “That’s nice.”

“You wish many hours of it?” asked Kawa.

“Huh? Aw, honey!” said Applejack. She tensed her pussy, to give him an affectionate squeeze. “I don’t need nothin’ like that! You kin start your Kirin work any time you like, I ain’t picky. You know I appreciate you doin’ me nice like this, but you don’t gotta go all night for me.”

“As you wish,” said Kawa.

“Well, I,” began Applejack, and then her eyes flew wide. “Oh MY!”

Kawa’s cock had slid deeply up into her, without strain, but it hadn’t been that comfortable move that goaded her to cry out. It was the way his fizzing sensation suddenly doubled, tripled. It felt like something dramatic was going to happen inside her, though she couldn’t guess what.

Applejack didn’t have to guess for long.

A trickle of catalyzed, carefully managed magic began to emerge from Kawa’s stiffened cock. It dribbled across her secret flesh, and everywhere it touched, her nerves stood straight up and went ‘WOOHOO!’.

“Oh… MY…” panted Applejack, feeling her vagina catch glowing, scintillating, heatless fire from the inside.

The trickle became a surge. Then, a flood. It felt like taking a big stallion-load, the same gushing swelling sensation, but like a stallion-load composed of light and kitten moonbeams.

“Oh my! Oh MY!”

It filled Applejack up from womb to her lover’s flare, right to where it threatened to inflate her like a balloon, and left off right at that breath-taking point. She glanced back, frantically trying to see if her ass was luminous, what with being inflated by stardust or something.

“Oh MY! Kawa!” moaned Applejack, trembling all over.

Kawa gave a little frown of concentration, his horn lit up brightly… and he began to deliver tender little shoves with his hips, as if the mixture needed agitation in order to develop its results.

Applejack stood that for about three seconds.

“Sweet… apple… BUTTERRRR!” she squealed, and then there was no more coherent talking: Applejack shook all over, clenching frantically on Kawa’s deeply buried cock, barely maintaining her footing on the curious bed as she came her pretty tail off. From beside the bed, Yosuru’s horn lit as she tactfully steadied the shuddering earth pony: Kawa continued to concentrate, frowning slightly with effort, his hips tenderly churning the field of complicated force he wielded. As he concentrated, his hips were seen to steadily press harder and harder, never aggressively, but with obvious purpose.

And, inside Applejack’s pony vagina, that flood of dexterous magic formed into Kirin intention and sought out pony ovums, and in its frictionless, viscosity-less way, slipped deeper and deeper into Applejack’s private parts. Into womb, filling it and coating every surface. Pressuring, nudging, pushing… all the way, until the palpable gush of magic that Kawa so insistently nudged, had penetrated all her tubes and secretest places.


As Applejack’s orgasms peaked, as her clenches and heaves hit their wildest rodeo capers, the convulsions of her pleasure-racked body compressed Kawa’s flood of living magic… and the slippery little tingle squirted through her fallopian tubes to reach pony ovums, and Kawa made his move.

His horn flared blindingly as Applejack squealed, and patterns and calculations rushed through his mind. His magic seethed, nearly knocking her out with the sudden sensation of energy coursing through the weightless substance that filled her every crevice.


Yosuru’s magic shot forth, bearing a tissue. It wiped Applejack’s nose. Another wiped her brow. The blinding, coruscating radiance filled the room, as Yosuru watched carefully.

Kawa’s horn at last subsided, and his head dropped.

Inside Applejack, the pressure of living magic abruptly lessened. The mad tingle subsided, became manageable. Then, the magic itself began to withdraw, first from the sensitive private places that hadn’t experienced such treatment before (as horse-come was far more viscous), and then from her quivering womb and exhausted vagina.

Kawa dismounted… and gasped.

“Oh, NO!”

Applejack shuddered, her nose bleeding, stunned like she’d been bucked in the head, clearly ready to faint.

“Yosuru! Did I hurt her? I was focussing so hard!”

Yosuru, supporting Applejack with her magic, frowned at Kawa. “Calm yourself! Do you know nothing of mares? Talk to her.”

He trotted around to face Applejack, his mane and fetlocks shimmering with fretful magic. “Are you well? Speak to me!”

Applejack’s dazed eyes slowly focussed on the vision of a fretful boy Kirin, prancing with dismay.

“I hurt you!” he cried.

In response, the obliterated mare in question shook her head, tossed her mane, gathered herself for a huge effort…

…and grabbed his face in her forehooves, delivering a huge, earnest smooch right on his shocked muzzle.

“That’s how WE do it down on th’ farm!” announced Applejack triumphantly, and promptly fainted.

Kawa stood there, astonished.

“Kawa?” said Yosuru.

Applejack started loudly snoring, a huge grin on her face.

“Yes, Yosuru?” managed Kawa.

“Come to bed.”

Marvelling at the tenacity and spirit of the Ponyville heroic earth pony, Kawa carefully snuggled himself around Applejack’s snoring body, his mission accomplished.

Truly, the natural world was filled with boundless wonders.