Rainbow Dash and Sweetie Belle rode along a train from Canterlot to Ponyville. The unicorn filly was staring out the window when she saw through her peripheral view that Rainbow put a hoof to her chin in thought. Sensing the master mev was about to ask her a question, Sweetie turned to look up into two curious magenta eyes. “So, you like vampire novels, huh?”
Sweetie stared down at the floor of the train car with a modest smile and nodded. “Mm-hmm.”
“Can I borrow some to read?” Rainbow asked.
Sweetie’s eyes lit up at the request, meeting the magenta ones once more. “Sure. You want to stop by Rarity’s real quick before we go to your house again? I can pick some up for you for tonight. I can stay tonight, right?”
“I was hoping you’d say that,” Rainbow said. “And sure. Let’s do it.”
The two ponies made good on their plans and by then, the sun started to set. It being Sunday, they needed to head to Twilight’s castle. “Are you always this busy going back and forth everywhere?” Sweetie Belle asked as she rode along Rainbow’s back while the sky blue pegasus flew, holding Sweetie’s own saddlebags containing the desired books.
“Yeah,” Rainbow Dash answered. “Even before things changed, I had three jobs, and I still have all three of those jobs. My early nights are busier because I meet somepony, or somepony meets me. Most nights though, I actually get a nice broad time to myself after a flexchange is over.”
“So you never sleep?” Sweetie asked.
“No, I do, but I don’t need nearly as much as most ponies,” Rainbow replied. “I can sleep anywhere from five minutes to two hours on a given night or I can even skip it altogether. It changes every night, but chances are, I’ll be awake when you go to sleep tonight and awake when you wake up in the morning.”
At the castle, Sweetie Belle waited in Spike’s company in the library. She noticed a stack of books put aside about pegasi, one on griffins, and another on bird wing care. “Are these for helping Scootaloo?” she asked Spike.
“Yup,” Spike answered without looking up from a scroll he was studying and writing on.
“Have they found anything?” Sweetie hoped to learn more.
Spike set aside his scroll and walked to Sweetie and the stack of books. He pointed and gestured as he spoke. “Pegasi have physical anatomy and flight magic that are required to fly. The flight magic anatomy is harder to define and understand, but it requires confidence, like Rainbow Dash described to us last week when she started up the project. Pinkie Pie and Applejack are stopping by tomorrow to meet with Starlight and Twilight to put together what each group found from their assignments.”
“Does that mean they already talked to Zecora? Scootaloo told me they would,” Sweetie said.
“It does,” Spike replied.
“What about Fluttershy? Was she given something to do too?” Sweetie wondered.
“Yeah, Fluttershy’s put together a report from her own experiences and talked to Bulk Biceps,” Spike informed the young unicorn.
“Oh, I know him,” Sweetie Belle said. “The Crusaders helped him out with understanding his cutie mark. Why did Fluttershy talk to him?”
“Small wings, big pony, can still fly,” Spike counted off on his claws each factor to draw up the points.
“Ohhh,” Sweetie realized. “So Rainbow Dash is trying to find out why that is in case it helps Scootaloo.”
“Right,” Spike confirmed for her.
The library door opened, and Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle entered with the sky blue pegasus hovering near her alicorn friend. “Flexchange done,” she told Spike and Sweetie, stretching her muscles in place for a moment before continuing to flap her wings.
“Are you two leaving already?” Spike asked. “I was just telling Sweetie everypony’s part in Project Mercury.”
“Oh, thanks, Spike,” Rainbow said with a sincere smile. “We didn’t get to that yet today. Yeah, we’re heading out. I want Sweetie to have some time to settle in at the house.”
Spike blinked. “Huh?” It had not quite registered with the purple dragon to ask or wonder why Sweetie was with Rainbow to begin with when they arrived at the castle together.
Twilight smiled. “Sweetie Belle is Rainbow Dash’s new assistant,” she explained. With a friendly roll of her eyes, she added, “However, our vampire friend likes her vampire flair, so it’s actually called ‘Rhezenda’.”
“Really?” Spike looked at Sweetie Belle.
The unicorn filly nodded with a friendly and mildly proud smile.
“Maybe I should come up with a cooler way to say assistant too,” Spike muttered to himself thoughtfully. Then he looked up at Twilight. “Now can I get jealous?”
Twilight chuckled. “I won’t stop you, but it is what it is. If it helps, you were the inspiration for the idea.”
“Really?” Spike asked with a small, hopeful smile, leaning forward on his toes as he did.
Twilight nodded. “Really. All the same, we’ll be seeing more of Sweetie Belle when it comes to mev matters. I’m sure she’ll be taking notes too. Maybe you can even give her a few pointers.” She quickly added, “Another time,” recalling that the two visitors were about to leave.
Rainbow and Sweetie bid their good-byes for the night and returned to Rainbow’s cloud house. As soon as Rainbow entered, a red circle formed on the foyer, and Blitz rose out of it. “Blitz!” said an excited Sweetie Belle, who scurried over to the serpent essence.
Blitz circled around the uniform filly as her friendly greeting.
“Hey girl,” Rainbow Dash greeted her night-time pet, setting the saddlebags they brought on the floor. “Sweetie’s joined me. She’s my Rhezenda, meaning my right hoof to help out around here, especially with outsiders.”
Blitz nodded in understanding.
“Sweetie, Blitz sometimes gets to be solid around here, but you can’t touch. Master privilege. I made an exception in Mount Aris because I don’t expect to get something that special and awesome for a long time, if ever again,” Rainbow informed her young friend.
“Okay,” Sweetie accepted with a faint hint of disappointment in her voice.
“Stick around, develop your magic, we’ll see if that changes. If our work somehow calls for it or some kind of urgent situation, of course, you can do it then. I’ll allow it from time to time but for the most part, no touching. It’s a special thing for me and her. She is ghostly mev magic essence after all,” Rainbow reminded her.
“Right,” Sweetie nodded. Those guidelines made sense, and she felt better already about the rule.
“She also sometimes talks. Oh, let’s test it actually.” Rainbow flew over to Blitz, turned on her chaos form, and touched at the proper point.
“Greetings, Rhezenda Sweetie Belle,” Blitz said.
Sweetie’s mouth fell open into a huge delighted grin and she hopped in place. “Greetings, Blitz! You sound so beautiful.”
Blitz nodded as her way of thanks. Rainbow Dash removed her touch. “Luna told me the nocturnality is like a switch, so let’s turn it on for a couple of hours. We’ll try it out tonight.”
Sweetie smiled. “Sure!”
The mev’s eyes flashed red. “There you go.”
Sweetie blinked. “Was that it?”
“Right, no aura. You’ll know mostly from the fact that you’re not sleepy when you would expect to be,” Rainbow told her.
“Oh, okay. That makes sense,” Sweetie figured.
“I’m gonna read,” Rainbow decided aloud, whisking her way back to the discarded saddlebags and starting to open them. “Any favorites?”
Sweetie Belle trotted over and picked one out. “This one here. It’s an extended interview between a vampire and an earth pony journalist.”
“Cool,” Rainbow took it in her hooves. She went to plop down on her couch and read. Blitz slithered near and curled herself up on the floor.
Sweetie followed her own instincts and went to find the red book from earlier. She returned and sat on the same couch. Rainbow Dash glanced her way and gave a few mocking chomps at the air, baring her fangs before she smiled and returned to her reading. Sweetie giggled at the sight and soon turned her attention to the book she chose as well.
On Monday afternoon, Sweetie Belle stared up at the CMC club house. She was done with school and telling her parents that she was now Rainbow Dash’s assistant. They accepted the news with ease, in part thanks to Rarity’s presence and from already knowing Rainbow Dash tangentially for enough years since she moved to Ponyville. The fact that Sweetie Belle spent time with the busy pegasus through Rarity or Scootaloo or even both helped too. Rainbow Dash was also done with school but taking care of a few easy weather jobs around town. She was going to meet Sweetie here soon. The unicorn filly took a deep breath and walked up to meet her friends. They both greeted her with friendly hellos.
“So, what’s up?” Scootaloo asked. “We noticed you stayed behind when we left yesterday.”
“I told Scootaloo I bet you were aiming to learn more mev stuff somehow,” Apple Bloom added.
“And I said I wouldn’t take that bet since I thought so too,” Scootaloo remarked, sticking her tongue out at Apple Bloom.
The two giggled.
“You could say that,” Sweetie noted carefully.
“Ha!” Apple Bloom said to declare victory.
Scootaloo chuckled and looked at her unicorn friend. “So, did it work? Did you learn any cool new mev stuff?”
Sweetie smiled a little more easily. “Heh, you have no idea.”
“Oh neat. You gonna tell us?” Apple Bloom hoped.
“Actually, I can’t tell you most of it,” Sweetie said with a slight falter in her smile.
“She could tell you, but she couldn’t tell us? Since when?” the earth pony filly asked.
Sweetie gulped. “Since I became her servant,” she said.
“Wait, what?” Scootaloo asked.
“I must concur,” Apple Bloom said. “What?”
“You became her servant in one afternoon, just like that?” Scootaloo continued.
“I wouldn’t really call it ‘just like that’. There was a…process. But it did happen all in the afternoon, yes,” Sweetie acknowledged.
“Process?” questioned a suspicious Apple Bloom. “What kind of process? She’s a vampire. I thought she couldn’t bite kids.”
“Oh, she can’t,” Sweetie reassured them. “It was different than that, but um, we did exchange magic. I now have some of her mev magic in me as a bond for being this servant, and she has some of my unicorn magic. She got it a different way.”
The other two fillies stared at her with their jaws hung open for a moment. They looked at each other, then at her again.
Finally, Apple Bloom at least re-composed herself. “Sweetie, I know you found this vampire stuff interesting, and yeah, some of it kind of is, but don’t you think that’s a bit much? Rainbow’s not exactly hurting on servant numbers either. Master Mev. Six fledglings. All that stuff. Are you some kind of part-time fledgling now?”
“Did you ask to become her servant or did she ask you?” Scootaloo wondered. Sweetie Belle sensed a tinge of jealousy in her friend’s voice.
The young unicorn listened and tried to remember to answer all of it. “I offered to be her assistant, and she explained that for a vampire like her, I’d be a servant. She was really serious and gave me plenty of warning to think about what I was doing. You two have got to understand, I actually really do want this. Even just one day has been amazing. I can’t ever be a fledgling. There’s no part-time anything with that. She’s got six, and she’s supposed to have that at the most. It’s some ideal number for mev packs, and she doesn’t want anymore. I didn’t want to wait until I’m older to ask to help her either.”
Scootaloo and Apple Bloom were quiet for a moment to take in everything their friend said. Again, they met each other’s eyes, trying to think of how to respond, then each stared at the floor boards in contemplation.
Finally, it was Apple Bloom who looked up said, “Well, I guess if my sister and your sister and Rainbow’s other friends are already her servants, what’s one more? She is treating you right, right?”
“Definitely. I’ve got my own room at her house. She got me a bed and some other stuff to help out with the mev business. I got to see Blitz last night, and we just read on a couch last night, each to our own book. Oh, and I learned so many amazing things.” Sweetie was about to bring up Canterlot but perhaps her mev bond stopped her just in time. She decided it best to leave that part out.
“Wow, I can’t believe this,” Scootaloo said with borderline indignance. “I’m the one who’s supposed to be like a sister to her.”
“You are, Scootaloo,” Sweetie assured her. “This is different. I’ll even get to help her help you. I already did that with your report, remember?”
“But you get to live with her? I’ve stayed at Rainbow Dash’s house like three times total, ever,” the pegasus filly pointed out.
“I only sort of live with her,” Sweetie said. “I’ll still be seeing Rarity and my parents. It’s kind of like what Terramar does, only I’ve got three possible places to go,” Sweetie Belle explained.
“What’s it like?” Apple Bloom suddenly grew curious. “She and the house itself are more creepy at night, right? Like when you went last week.”
Sweetie Belle nodded. “They are. And Blitz rose out of the floor when we got there last night, so I guess if you don’t really know either of them, that could definitely seem creepy,” she said with excited eyes and a delighted smile. She calmed and became contemplative. “It still <i>felt</i> different in the house, but it doesn’t actually look different. We all already know this, but Rainbow wears her fangs at night. And the thing where she seems more evil at night than she is actually has a name for it. It’s called ‘nocturnivlair’.”
“Heh, master mevs and their words for things,” Scootaloo remarked with a friendly shake of her head. “Did she give you a title?” she asked.
“It was her idea that I should have one, but I actually got to come up with it myself. Then she approved,” Sweetie said.
“Really? What is it?” Scootaloo was curious to know.
“I wanna know too,” Apple Bloom added.
“Rhezenda,” Sweetie said, saying the word with succinct enunciation.
“Oh, you made it sound like a fledgling name,” Apple Bloom noticed, “but it don’t sound number-based.”
“Seven? Rhezenda?” Scootaloo pondered aloud, trying to see if they sounded similar enough.
“It’s not number-based,” Sweetie informed them. “R-H for ‘right hoof,’ then mix up the way Rainbow likes to give titles to her fledglings and the music term, ‘crescendo’.”
“Oh, neat,” Apple Bloom approved.
“It is kinda pretty,” Scootaloo agreed, her tension from earlier seeming to have evaporated. “I think it fits you.”
“It kinda makes you wonder what our titles would be if we ever tried to be her servants too,” Apple Bloom said with a joking smile, elbowing at Scootaloo.
“Heh, yeah,” said Scootaloo, who returned to staring at the floor boards and sounded a little nervous. “Is she just going to let anyone who wants to be her servant be a servant?” she pretended to continue the joke.
“I didn’t even think of anypony else ever asking,” Sweetie answered seriously, wondering if that was possible, yet not picking up on Scootaloo’s nervousness. In her contemplation, Sweetie announced to the other two, “But you know, I don’t think she’d take just anyone. They would have to at least be friends with her first. The book she has on mevs actually says that the fledglings should be friends. It’s what’s best for forming her pack.”
“I guess that makes sense,” Apple Bloom remarked thoughtfully. “It helps Rainbow Dash keep herself in check since she already cares about her friends so much.”
Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo nodded in agreement at that deduction. The discussion for the revelation was over, and the trio moved onto their CMC business before Sweetie Belle would soon leave with Rainbow Dash.