Punk Poult
written by Sugarberry

"I just don't know what to do about that one," worried Nestor, the turkey hen who had once again come to Ponyland for the Thanksgiving holiday to escape the carnage over the rainbow. She was sitting on Sugarberry's front porch with her mate, Rex, and looking across the leaf strewn lawn to where the poults from this spring were playing a game of tag.

As turkeys grow up quickly, these five were nearly as large as their parents, but their actions labeled them as youngsters. Four of the five were running and gobbling excitedly, caught up in the fun of the chase while one, the one Nestor was concerned about, stood leaning against the tree trunk with a bored expression on his face.

"He's a loner," Rex clarified, reaching his neck behind himself to straighten one of his bronze tail feathers. "Has been since the day he hatched."

"He is... unusual," admitted Sugarberry as she sat in the porch swing on yet another mild autumn day, enjoying time with these annual visitors.

The poult under observation did stand out in a crowd. Not only was his demeanor different from his siblings as he relaxed under the tree, watching his brothers and sister with a sort of sneer on his face as if finding their actions beneath him; but he also looked different from a physical standpoint. For unlike the other turkeys with their naked heads and necks, this young fellow had a row of feathers starting above his eyes and running to the base of his neck rather like a Mohawk-style. It gave him a cool sort of look. In addition, the snood that hung over his beak was pierced and sported a golden ring.

The adults were so deeply lost in thought over the unusual appearance of the poult that no one noticed the approach of the lavender foal until she was nearly to the porch steps. "Hi, everybody! What's up?"

"Baby Noddins! We didn't see you coming. But look who's here... Rex and Nestor and..."

"Me knows who they are. Mommy let me come to see them."

Sugarberry continued, "... and their family." She pointed across the grass to where the young turkeys played. "Now, let's see if I can remember... there's Titian, Tingle, Tidbit, Tickler, and Tinker."

"Are they boys or girls?" the foal wanted to know.

"Well, they are all boys except for the smallest one, Tidbit," Nestor explained.

As Baby Noddins' gaze swept over the brood running helter-scelter about the yard, her eyes came to rest on the uniquely coifed Tinker who still stood distinctly apart. "Now there's a turkey," she breathed.

Nestor audibly sighed. "Sometimes I wonder. Maybe he's like the ugly duckling who wasn't really a duck at all."

"Now, now, Mother," Rex comforted his mate. "He may look different, but he's our son all right."

Sugarberry patted the swing next to her and invited Baby Noddins to sit down. The baby pony climbed up and plopped herself in the seat. "Mommy says I can stay until she comes to get me."

"Would you like to go over and play with the young turkeys?" Sugarberry queried.

"What are they playing?"

"Tag, I think."

"Okay." She climbed off the swing and trotted down the steps and over the grass to where the five were gathered. "Me Baby Noddins. Can me play with you?"

Tidbit looked up at the pony and cringed. "I've heard stories about what happened to one of my older brothers last year. You aren't one of those mean baby ponies, are you?"

"You be thinking about Baby Falling Leaves," replied Baby Noddins. "No, I'm not mean like her. Can I be 'it'?" With that, the four poults took off in all directions with Baby Noddins in swift pursuit; to her surprise, the turkeys were able to run quite well, especially with a little flapping of their wings to hurry them along. She fell giggling into the grass as she tagged Titian.

"Not bad for a girl," he remarked with a grin.

The fifth poult, Tinker, pushed himself away from the tree trunk. "You're all a bunch of wimps, playing baby games," he taunted. As he stood apart, his muscular build became more apparent. With a look of contempt, he walked to his parents and asked their permission to go walking on his own throughout the town.

"Only if you're home at roosting time," Rex admonished.

"Be careful, dear," his mother added.

Tinker set off down the front path and through the gate to the street, disappearing from sight. The other poults and Baby Noddins continued their game of tag. Rex, Nestor, and Sugarberry began discussing all the things that had occurred since they had last seen one another a year ago. It had all the makings for a pleasant evening.

* * *

Tinker found Dream Valley to be a very tiresome town. He had come to a rather steep hill on the outskirts of the city and was beginning to think that there was not a single thing of interest happening when he heard a rumbling sound and the excited shrieks of several voices. Around the corner came three ponies approaching him at high speeds on their wheeled sleds. The young turkey was hypnotized and stood riveted to his spot in the center of their path

Never before had he seen anything so stimulating. His entire being wanted to be a part of the action. He was so caught up in the excitement that he failed to realize his danger. With a screeching of hooves on asphalt, the three vehicles came to an abrupt stop inches away from the poult.

Still oblivious to the catastrophe that had nearly overwhelmed him, Tinker walked up to the stallion with ice blue hair and asked, "Can I try that?"

Mogul, the challenge-loving Xtreme Pony, looked down at the feathered creature before him and replied, "Get out of my way, punk."

But a beautiful dusty-rose mare came to his defense. "Are you looking for something?" she asked in a quiet voice.

"Well, no. Not really. I just saw you guys and your sleds and thought it was my kind of sport."

"They're called luges," the ice blue pony stated forcefully. Then, with a glance at his companions, he called sharply, "Blade! Bungee! Come on! Get on the move!" And with a final withering glance at Tinker, he added, "Beat it, kid!" With that he continued on his route.

The second mare, this one an orangish color with purple hair styled into dreadnaughts, sidled up to Blade and Tinker. "Hey! Nice hair... feathers."

"My name is Tinker," Tinker introduced himself.

"My name is Bungee," the mare giggled. "And this is Blade, and that was Mogul, and we're going to meet Cliff and Jet and Luge-- like these luges, but not these luges because Luge is a pony, not a luge-- at the salsa shop."

Tinker smiled at the two mares. "You guys are awesome on those... luges." He said the word tentatively. "Could I try that?"

"I... I guess you could," stuttered Blade, and she set her sled on the ground at Tinker's feet. "Just climb on and follow Bungee."

"Should I follow Bungee, too?" asked Bungee.

"Maybe you should follow Mogul," Blade suggested.

"Hey! That's a good idea!" She jumped on her luge and was gone.

"Just follow her, and I'll be right behind you on my skates."

Tinker positioned himself on the luge, and started off. The wind whipping around him was exhilarating and he knew that he finally had found what he had been searching for-- a life of thrills and adventure.

When they arrived at Tex's Salsa Shop, Bungee came to a perfect stop, jumping off her luge as she did so and allowing her momentum to carry her to a standing position, crying "Wheeeee!"

Mogul was standing outside the shop. "What took you guys so long?"

The answer to that question was fast approaching. Tinker had found that it wasn't too difficult to drive the luge, but he had neglected to think about stopping. With a crash, he collided with Mogul's shiny customized sled.

Mogul, wide-eyed and unbelieving, released an ear-shattering scream. "OHHH-NOOO!"

But when he spied who was driving the other luge, he quickly transferred his aggressions to the driver. "You trashed my luge, you... you... turkey!"

"I... I'm sorry."

"Sorry?! Sorry?" Mogul howled. Sorry isn't gonna fix my luge! It's wrecked!"

Blade skated up at that point and joined the group. "Hold up, Mogul. It's not wrecked; it just looks like he scratched the paint."

"But that was a custom paint job! It was perfect! It was my luge!"

"Well, maybe if I had hooves like you guys, I could stop!" Tinker retorted.

"Well, maybe if you can't handle the luge, you shouldn't ride the luge!"

Tinker's tail feathers went up in a menacing fashion, the flesh of his head flushed a bright red in rage, and he was just about to come back with another insult when Bungee jumped between them. "Hold up, guys. What's with all the negative vibes?"

"Yeah, Mogul. It's not that bad. I let him ride my luge; I'll fix yours. Calm down," Blade piped-up.

Mogul seemed like he wanted to fight some more, but after a few deep breaths he simply turned around and-- ignoring the turkey-- said, "He's too little to bother with. Come on, let's go."

"Yippee! Salsa!" Bungee cried as she bounded through the door. "See ya later, little guy!" Mogul stormed in after her, but Blade paused before going in. "Sorry about the trouble. Bye," she shrugged, and then disappeared.

Tinker stood alone on the sidewalk considering his options. He could either go back to Sugarberry's, or he could face more of Mogul's wrath. He remembered the exhilaration of the luge ride, and made up his mind. He wasn't about to back down from a challenge. He pushed open the door and stepped boldly inside. The door, however, closed quickly behind him and caught him full-force in the back, sending him rolling across the floor where he stopped right in front of the booth where the six Xtreme Ponies were now laughing and having a good time.

Cliff said, "What's this?"

"Well, lookie what we have here," Mogul said in a taunting tone. "Come back to get some more, punk, eh?"

"Mogul, chill out," Blade said quietly.

"Do you guys know this chap?" Luge asked the three latecomers.

Bungee quickly volunteered an answer. "He's a turkey, and Blade let him use her luge, and then he crashed it and wrecked Mogul's, and then everyone got mad."

"He didn't trash it. He just scratched it a little," Blade volunteered.

"Duuuuuuude," Jet said deeply. Tinker was still lying on his back on the floor, slightly stunned from the fall.

"Hmm," Cliff said, turning to the poult. "So, can we help you with something?" Everyone fell silent waiting for Tinker's response.

"I saw your friends on their street luges, and wondered if there was room for me in your gang," Tinker put forward.

"It's not a gang!" Mogul barked.

"Mogul..." Luge warned.

"Yeah. It's more of a... state of mind," Bungee added.

"Dude! It's not like we have a membership type of thing," Jet clarified.

"What they're trying to say is that we're not any kind of official organization. We just hang out together because we enjoy doing our extreme sports," Cliff spoke up.

"But it's what I've always dreamed of... being involved with electrifying and daring exploits!" Tinker wailed.

Luge said patiently, "Dreamed of and doing are two different things; it takes a lot of commitment to do these kinds of things."

"I can learn," Tinker whined.

"We don't have the time to teach some punk everything he needs to know," Mogul stated forcefully; but a withering glance from Luge made him trail off.

"I'd try really hard," Tinker pleaded. "I could be one of you guys!"

"Which one?" Bungee giggled.

"To get to our level and skill, it takes years of practice and total dedication," Cliff said intelligently.

"This isn't just a hobby for us; it's a life," Luge added.

And at that moment, Tinker saw a great light; but it went out quickly. "Boy howdy!" Tex cried. "There goes another bulb!"

Anyway, Tinker finally realized what he had to do. He would dedicate his life to learning everything about extreme sports, so that some day these ponies would accept him into their group. Forcefully, he declared to the world, "Well, in that case, I'm gonna devote my life to this, and I am gonna become the greatest extreme sports enthusiast in the world, and I'll show you all!"

"Check it out," Luge said, impressed.

"Dial it in," Blade murmured quietly

Jet jumped up and screamed, "Dude!! Amp it up, dude!"

Bungee, across the table, stood up and cried, "Yeah! Goin' turbo, dude!"

"Yeah, whatever, punk," Mogul muttered.

"Yeah. Call me Punk," the turkey said smugly. "That's who I'm gonna be from now on." And with that, he turned on his heel and walked off into the sunset. But for him, this wasn't the end; it was only the beginning.

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