At the Ponyville Hospital in an examination room on Friday afternoon, Rainbow Dash stood to converse with a unicorn doctor she had treat her in the past for an injured wing. Scootaloo sat on a cushioned platform for children that stood rather high, so that doctors could examine them more closely.
“Her wing size is below average for a pegasus her age, yes,” the doctor confirmed. “She’s also at an age where the wings and rest of her body will likely remain the proportions they are.”
“Does wing size affect actual flight ability for pegasi?” Rainbow asked.
“To be honest, I’m not the kind of doctor that can answer that. All of the adult pegasi here in Ponyville have been able to fly unless they get injured like you have in the past or that most unfortunate incident where all of us ponies lost our magic. As you know, you were able to recover just fine from the injury and of course, you and your friends restored our magic.
“Your young friend here, Miss Scootaloo, is the first case I’ve seen with this disability. But you know, Ponyville might be too small of a town to really tell us that fact, if it is the wing size. I recommend seeing a doctor in Cloudsdale. I can even give you a reference if you’d like.”
“I would, Doctor, thanks,” Rainbow said.
“Good luck to you both,” he told them and magically passed over a small business card with information that Rainbow took with her wing.
“Yes, wing size can affect flight ability,” a pegasus mare doctor with a royal purple coat and pink mane told them at another examination room, this time in Cloudsdale. It was still Friday afternoon. They’d managed to find time and the doctor available. “Most pegasi have specific proportions or at least within a certain range. There are exceptions of course, but in the main example I know of, that pegasus pony had cutie mark magic to offset the smaller wing size.”
Rainbow was almost positive she knew who the doctor meant. “Bulk Biceps?”
The doctor smiled graciously but otherwise gave no verbal confirmation.
“Is there a way for us to know if it’s the wing size for Scootaloo? Her cutie mark magic is quite strong since it’s bonded to two others, and it does have a wing in the symbol,” Rainbow pointed out.
The doctor took a look at it. “Hmm, but it is a bit small in that mark too, isn’t it? Plus, from what you’ve told me, her wings can flutter. The problem is the actual lift and thrust being too weak that’s preventing an expected level of flight for other pegasi her age. There isn’t a way for me to know with absolute 100% certainty, but in my expert opinion, it is indeed the wing size that’s the issue. We’re talking like 99%.”
“Okay, let’s go ahead and go with that. Assuming it’s true, is there any other kind of magic that could be used in place of cutie mark magic to offset the smaller wings?” Rainbow inquired.
Scootaloo raised one of her orange forelimbs into the air for a turn to speak.
Both the adult ponies looked at her. “What you got, Scoot?” Rainbow asked.
“I’ve been able to fly in my dreams if that counts,” the filly pegasus told her.
“It might,” Rainbow nodded. “How about you, Doc? Any ideas?”
“Hmm. Well, if you could grow her wings, that’s something, but we certainly don’t have that kind of magic here. You’d need to talk to unicorns or maybe a potions expert.”
“Zecora?” Scootaloo asked.
“Pinkie Pie and Applejack are actually asking her,” Rainbow informed her young friend.
“Oh, cool.” Scootaloo was glad to hear that just as Rainbow said, Team Awesome was indeed on the case.
“I suppose,” the doctor added, “you could check with the griffons. Their magic is similar to ours though I can’t say I’ve ever seen one with small wings. Still…you sound keen to know all there is to know about flight magic.”
“I am,” Rainbow confirmed with a nod.
“And then of course, you could look into regular bird care-taking, such as with a veterinarian and how they’ve helped flightless birds. I mean, maybe you could find a technological solution, some kind of support to add onto or into the wings. I’m sorry to say, even in Cloudsdale, we don’t have anything quite that advanced,” the doctor confessed. “This disability isn’t unheard of, but it is extremely rare. We haven’t had enough need, so sorry little one, to accommodate for it.”
“I’m used to it,” Scootaloo muttered with a downcast look.
“It would be good if we could learn to accommodate for it,” Rainbow stated. “All the help to get us there is appreciated. You’ve definitely given us more options. Thanks very much.”
“A pleasure Miss Dash. I’m a huge fan of your career, from even before you joined the Wonderbolts. I saw you place second at the Equestria Games aerial relay race and before that, I saw you win the Best Young Fliers’ Competition. I still haven’t seen any other pegasus do a Sonic Rainboom since. It’s been a true honor meeting and speaking with you and now seeing you look after this little filly.”
Rainbow blushed. “Oh you know me, Master of Awesomeness. It’s a pleasure to meet a fan like you as well.” She offered a wing.
“A master indeed,” the doctor said and shook the wing in turn. “Wow, it even feels good to say.”
“Good to hear too, much appreciated,” Rainbow replied. With that, Rainbow and Scootaloo left.
While sitting on Rainbow’s back during the flight returning to Ponyville, Scootaloo asked, “Rainbow, did you try to get her to call you ‘master’ on purpose?”
“Sort of an instinct, but yeah,” Rainbow admitted. “I can’t rightly tell or ask to be called it, but it is supposed to feel good for the one who says it. Think of it as my discrete master mev way of saying thanks without having to reveal that’s what I am. We were there on business even if the doctor herself didn’t know that.”
“Oh. So, what do you think of what both the doctors said, about my wings?” the younger pegasus wanted to know as Rainbow descended onto a secluded grassy knoll.
“Well, it matches what you’ve told me of your own personal theory,” Rainbow began as Scootaloo hopped off with a flutter. “And with what the Cloudsdale doctor said about cutie mark magic offsetting it in other cases, that explains Bulk Biceps to me.”
“Why didn’t she just say that was who she meant?” Scootaloo asked.
Rainbow shrugged. “Maybe he’s a patient. You know, confidentiality, stuff like that. Anyway, I think you’re both onto something, and all of those ideas give me ways to test it.”
“Do those ways include using your vampire powers?” Scootaloo asked.
“Hmm, the thing is my powers involve a reserve. You know what a reserve is, right? Like for water,” Rainbow said. She knew they’d touched on it the day before, but still, a little extra explanation could help.
“This one’s for magic, the magic I consume or gain through my exchanges. There is nothing in my reserve that could truly cure your disability alone. Even if we do tap into what I have, it will have to go with what we find out there,” Rainbow Dash gestured with a forelimb to all around them.
Just then, they each heard and soon felt something on their flanks.
“Wow…Rainbow Dash, look! I’m glowing!” Scootaloo said with a big smile, pointing to her cutie mark emitting out other smaller versions of her cutie mark with a repeated chime. “I’m being called by the map!”
Rainbow grinned and stared at her own. Her eyes widened in shock at the sight.
Scootaloo’s jaw dropped upon seeing Rainbow Dash’s cutie mark was glowing as well, but it wasn’t just glowing. A red circle line, like a thick brush of paint spun in place around the mark. The red color moved in a manner reminiscent of the ethereal wave a pony might see on one of the Royal Sisters’ manes. “Whoa!” the younger pegasus finally gasped.
“Whoa indeed,” Rainbow echoed her sister in similar fashion. She needed to see the map. Well, both of them really. She picked up Scootaloo, placing the filly on her backside once more and swooshed her way to Twilight’s castle with her rainbow streak trailing behind them.
At the castle door, before the pegasi could enter, “Scootaloo!” Apple Bloom called out and galloped up to them, Sweetie not far behind.
Rainbow Dash leaned over, “Meet me inside,” she whispered and dashed in as quickly as she could, hoping the other two hadn’t seen her own summon yet. It felt proper to give the crusaders a moment together and to use that moment to see the map itself given how different this summon was to past ones, undoubtedly related to the fact that she was now a master mev.
Scootaloo gave a quick nod. “All three of us are glowing!” she exclaimed. The three hugged and giggled together. They clasped each other’s hooves in a circle and spun with glee.
“Do you realize what this means?” Sweetie Belle asked the other two.
“If it means what I think it means, we are being summoned by the map just like our sisters have been,” Apple Bloom spoke with authority.
“And that’s not all,” Scootaloo told them. “Come on, I have to see the other thing!”
“Wait, what other thing?” Sweetie asked.
The other two scurried after Scootaloo.
“Princess Twilight!” they said in unison. Twilight herself sat at her throne, her jaw hanging open as she looked at the map summon.
“She’s speechless,” Apple Bloom said with pride.
“So am I,” Sweetie Belle said, her mouth soon agape as well, eyes locked onto what Twilight was seeing.
“Huh?” Apple Bloom took a closer look at the table.
Near the edge of the table was a mountain and above the mountain’s peak, the crusader cutie marks swirled about in a circle, looking as lovely and magical as ever. It took a moment for Apple Bloom to realize that the shock from Twilight and Sweetie and eagerness from Scootaloo were from a much larger symbol above even the three cutie mark images swirling together. She’d seen Rainbow’s cutie mark before, of course. Rainbow was proud of it, and it was pretty cool, even had a great story of how she got it. No, aside from being larger than their marks, a large red circle swam around it while the combined symbol itself didn’t swirl around the chosen location like it usually did or the current crusaders’ marks did. Instead, it stood firmly in place. It took another minute for Apple Bloom to realize Rainbow Dash was hovering a bit high and slowly descending to examine it with a fascinated smile.
“Master, what does it mean?” Twilight finally composed herself enough to ask.
“Well…” Rainbow lowered herself to finally examine it real close. “It looks to me like I’m being summoned as a master mev,” Rainbow said.
“For a magic problem like how you gals solve friendship problems?” Apple Bloom asked.
Twilight looked worriedly at Rainbow Dash.
Rainbow scrutinized the way it stood so large in solitude above everything else. “I doubt it,” she surmised. “Nope. This is for an introduction.”
“What do you mean?” Sweetie Belle asked.
“Are you saying,” Twilight started to get it, “that you’re being summoned to introduce yourself as the Master Mev to the hippogriffs?”
The Crusaders looked at each other with excited smiles for their rainbow-maned friend.
“Yup,” Rainbow confirmed. “I’m guessing that since these three are being called and the map is linked to the Tree of Harmony, which is linked to the land of Equestria that gave me my power, all those links figured out that I may as well go too, even if the missions are different. It’s a good time. We’ve established our pack and started on our work.”
“Did you hear that?” Sweetie whispered to her two young friends at her side. “Twilight’s in the pack too.” She had guessed as much, but it felt like the first real confirmation she’d observed from Team Awesome.
“I’d feel better if I went with the four of you,” Twilight told Rainbow. “I could look after these three and act as back up in case there is a problem.”
“Aw come on, Twilight,” Apple Bloom said.
“We can take care of this mission just fine on or our own,” Sweetie Belle said.
“I know that,” Twilight said, “but I’m not so sure the ponies who care about you want you going off so far on your own. Besides, there’s some school business I need to take care of on Mount Aris. I need Silverstream’s parents to sign a permission slip for school field trips. And really, I want to be there to support Master Rainbow Dash.”
“Support would be good,” Rainbow agreed, “especially since you have princess status.”
“Oh, that’s right!” Twilight realized. “Maybe I should have Princess Celestia write a letter of introduction for you.”
Rainbow nodded. “Makes sense, I like that idea.”
“We’ll leave tomorrow morning on the train together, all four of us,” Twilight announced.
“It could be fun,” Scootaloo told the other two. “We’ll have Rainbow Dash with us for at least the ride there.”
“Yeah, and maybe they’ll be so busy with school or mev business, we’ll be doing our part well enough,” Apple Bloom considered.
“Yeah,” Sweetie agreed and nodded while secretly hoping that she could actually see more of that mev business herself.
Before leaving the castle, Rainbow Dash stopped by the library to see Starlight sorting through stacks of books. “Primeva,” she greeted.
Starlight galloped over with an ever eager smile, and the two bumped hooves. “Master!”
“Is this what I hope it is?” Rainbow asked.
“Yes. Hard to say if this is good or bad, but there aren’t actually that many books. That’s good because it will make going through them easier but kinda bad because then there might just not be enough information,” Starlight admitted.
“Funny you mention that,” Rainbow said. “Twilight and I need to take a trip with the Crusaders tomorrow to Mount Aris, so you’re in charge of the book stuff while we’re gone. I want you to expand your search a bit, take it to another level. See if we have anything on griffons and injured flightless birds that got help.”
“That last part is awfully specific,” Starlight noted.
“Hey, if it’s out there, I want to know it. I’m not expecting the answer to be there; it’s just good to check,” Rainbow told her honestly. “Fluttershy has helped her share of birds, and I’ve helped her with some of them. Closest I know of on that are clipped wings that grew back on their own. I think we’ve got a better shot with the griffon stuff. All the ones I’ve met have larger wing spans than pegasi.”
“You can count on me, Rainbow,” Starlight assured the master mev. “Since you’re going to Mount Aris, maybe you could learn some stuff from the hippogriffs too.”
“Good point,” Rainbow realized. “I already knew I could count on you. Keep up the awesome work.”
The two gave each other friendly salutes for their farewell.