Ending their embrace, Scootaloo hurried back to her CMC friends to talk to them. Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash approached Applejack and Rarity.
“Applejack, you got a minute?” Rainbow asked, nodding her head in a direction where they should create more distance.
Rarity stood to look over the fillies, deciding she should remain where she was.
The orange earth pony followed her sky blue pegasus friend a few feet further from the scene. “What’s on your mind, Rainbow?”
“I want to go the Crystal Empire on Sunday. Assuming you don’t have anything too urgent here, I’d like for you to come with me,” Rainbow told her. “I am bringing Sweetie Belle. I expect that Twilight and Spike will be joining us. I’ll talk to her soon, but I’m hoping I can tell her whether or not you’ll be there when I do.”
“My first mev mission with you?” Applejack asked with a smile, her eyes wide in a quiet wonder. Her voice was small and quiet too, lips curled only slightly, but sincere nonetheless.
“Yeah,” Rainbow replied with an equally sincere smile.
Applejack gave it some thought. “Yeah, Sunday’s good. The rest of the family can take care of things here. I imagine Apple Bloom will want to come too, but we can’t bring all of the crusaders every time, can we, huh?”
Rainbow shook her head. “They don’t have a mission there this time. This is part of why Sweetie offered her services to me, so she could go on such trips. I’m sure the other two will be disappointed, but this is a job for us, not a vacation.”
“Right, that makes sense,” Applejack agreed. Then with playful grace, the earth pony mev put a hoof to her chest and spoke authoritatively, “Alright, Master Rainbow Dash, your Fyra would be most pleased to join you for this Crystal Empire mission.” She bowed and smirked.
Rainbow smiled and bowed sincerely in turn. Then they hugged. Rarity smiled, catching that part of the scene from her distance.
That same afternoon, Starlight Glimmer sat toying with magic between reading books at the library in Twilight’s castle.
“Starlight, there you are,” said a familiar, airy voice of her close friend, Trixie. Though the two had seen each other since Starlight’s entry into Rainbow’s pack, it had been perhaps close to two and half weeks.
“Oh hi Trixie,” Starlight said with a smile. “How have you been?”
“Looking for you,” Trixie said with an annoyed air. “Every night I’ve come around hoping to find you since I got back in town Sunday, and every night, you haven’t been here. Twilight and Spike won’t tell me where you went, just that you’ve been busy. Did you move out or something?”
“Nope,” Starlight said. “I was helping out a friend with something.”
“Doing what?” Trixie asked.
“Hmm,” Starlight stroked a hoof at her chin in thought. “You know, maybe I should go ahead and tell you.”
“That would be nice,” Trixie said dryly.
Starlight giggled. “It’s kind of a long story, but I’ll do my best. Have a seat,” the lilac-coated unicorn gestured to comfortable looking chair across from where she at on a comfortable seat of her own. Trixie sat down and Starlight began, “So, Rainbow Dash turned into a vampire a few weeks ago.”
“What?” Trixie asked, pausing as she had been removing her hat and cloak.
“I mean it. She really did. It’s special type of vampire. She doesn’t drink blood but actually eats magic instead,” Starlight continued to explain.
Having finished discarding her attire, Trixie shuddered where she sat. “Even if that were true, for a unicorn with a lot of magic, you don’t seem all too worried about it.”
“I’m getting to that,” Starlight told her. “The vampires that eat magic are actually called mevs, and there are two different types. Rainbow’s the master type.”
“And the other?” asked Trixie with growing suspicion, sensing where the conversation was going even if the thought hadn’t fully formed in her head.
Starlight’s eyes themselves seemed to light up with a touch of enjoyment as she said, “The other type is the fledgling. Masters and fledglings can exchange magic because that process is considered special enough to feed them both, and then nopony else gets hurt.”
“Let me guess. You’re one of her fledglings,” Trixie said, sounding disbelieving and sarcastic, in part because she certainly hoped it wasn’t true.
“Not just any fledgling,” Starlight announced with a proud smile. “I am her first fledgling. I am her Primeva. And as Primeva, I have spent the last three nights covering for Princess Luna after Rainbow Dash ate her magic. Don’t worry. She asked properly ahead of time like a good master mev should.”
Trixie shifted her backside closer to the back of her chair with a look of mild repulsion. “Please tell me you’re joking.”
“Trixie, really. I’m not joking. But also really, it’s not a bad thing. I actually really like my role in her pack. Master’s awesome. Being Primeva is awesome. We’re doing awesome work for the entire land. We are Team Awesome!” Starlight spoke with confidence and passion, two traits her blue unicorn friend found endearing in her.
However, as endearing as Trixie found them, she couldn’t help noticing, “Did you just call her ‘Master’?”
Starlight nodded with that same smile of enjoying this confession. “It’s an instinct.”
“Starlight…a vampire? Who serves a master vampire? Really? Don’t you find that even a little creepy?” Trixie prodded.
“To be honest, no,” Starlight admitted. “I actually thought being a part of making sure Rainbow doesn’t go berserk a pretty good idea.”
“What?!” asked a much more alarmed Trixie. “Don’t you know what that word means?”
“Of course I do, which is why I’m doing my part to make sure it doesn’t happen. If it helps, she’s the only one who can go berserk. I’m the support. I can’t go berserk, and I actually can’t eat magic from you since I’m just a fledgling,” Starlight explained. Then, recalling how Rainbow Dash bonded with Sweetie Belle and wishing to remain honest with her friend, she noted, “Well, not without some twisted setup where you would actually want that done anyway.”
“I just can’t believe how unbothered you are about it. I’m still hoping it’s some kind of weird prank. Rainbow Dash likes to pull pranks, right?” Trixie wondered.
“She does, but this vampire thing is different, mostly. I mean, I guess you could consider her nocturnivlair a weird vampire prank,” Starlight considered aloud.
“What’s nocturnivlair?” Trixie asked.
“Let’s just say that if you see Rainbow Dash cackling at night and hissing where her fangs are easy to see, it’s really not something to worry over. She’s either excited or showing off or trying to scare you but is not as threatening as she seems,” Starlight explained.
“That’s…interesting,” Trixie thought.
“Well, anyway, that’s where I’ve been. Master Rainbow Dash can summon me whenever, and she does because as Primeva, I have certain abilities she needs my help with. So if I go poof while we’re just chatting, don’t fret. It might just be a summon, and I’m helping her out. I’ll teleport back as soon as I can,” Starlight told her friend.
“Fine,” Trixie relented. “But I don’t see you having fangs, and you are out here during the day.”
“I only grow fangs when we exchange magic or if maybe a certain job would call for them. Mevs can be out during the day. It’s more like we’ve got different rules day and night,” Starlight said. “Speaking of which, I may as well tell you that my Tuesday nights are pretty much filled up with my mev obligations to the pack. I won’t be available those nights.”
“Ugh, that sucks,” Trixie remarked.
Starlight snickered at the pun.
“Hey, your cutie mark is glowing,” Trixie noticed.
Sure enough, Starlight looked at her cutie mark to see copies of it float outward and glow as an alert for a friendship mission.
“A map summons,” said an excited Starlight. She made her way to the throne room, Trixie trailing behind her, and then Starlight’s excitement deflated. “Sires Hollow? Really?”
“Oh, I’m sorry Starlight,” Trixie noted sympathetically. “Maybe you could skip it although isn’t that Sunburst’s cutie mark with yours?”
“Yup,” Starlight confirmed. “Ugh.”
“I have to agree. I finally found you, and you’re being taken away from me again,” Trixie remarked.
“Let’s try and make time for when I get back,” Starlight said. “The stuff happening with the pack actually doesn’t involve me much at the moment. Assuming Master doesn’t need me to go on a trip with her soon, I’m free. I’ll check with her first chance I get. I know she’s busy with a project of ours this afternoon, and I need to leave her be.”
“Just what kind of projects would mevs even do?” Trixie asked.
“Reserve and manage magic. It’s actually really cool. We’re learning some super advanced stuff,” Starlight told her.
“Well, at least that part’s nice then. Do you have time to hang out before Sunburst gets here?” Trixie asked.
“Yes!” Starlight perked up. “Let’s do that, and you can say hi to him before we go.”
“Are you going to tell him about the vampire stuff?” Trixie asked.
“If I find a good opening, sure. You coming here made it easier since I actually had a reason to explain myself. Fledglings blend in more easily than masters, so it’s kind of easy to avoid the topic,” Starlight admitted. “But don’t create an opening,” she said sternly with a pointed hoof.
“As you wish, Pri-” Trixie started to say the mev title but Starlight put a hoof up to her mouth to stop her.
“Sorry,” Starlight said with a weak smile as she set her hoof down. “It’s a weird pack thing I know, but only Master is supposed to address me by my title. She gave it to me. You can refer to me in conversation that way to others but just stick to calling me by my pony name.”
“Or what?” Trixie asked. “She’s not going to go berserk over that, is she?”
“I certainly hope not,” Starlight said. Upon a moment of further reflection, she quickly added, “I mean no, she’s not. But seriously, don’t. I mean, yeah, it’s not the end of the world. It’s just a matter of how it feels for us, part of this special bond we have. I don’t want you to call me that either. Just Rainbow Dash and maybe the other fledglings though we really haven’t tried.”
Trixie sighed. “Can I at least call you ‘number one’ or ‘first fledgling’? I’m just trying to use it in a friendly ‘our bond’ kind of way.”
“Either one of those is fine,” Starlight said with an agreeable nod.
“Alright. As you wish, Number One,” Trixie said with a more appeased smile and playful bow before the two unicorns found time to chat about other matters, this time hanging out in Starlight’s own room.
Twilight and Spike were around as well, tending to their usual duties. Eventually, Sunburst came bursting with enthusiasm that was equally deflated to Starlight’s when he learned that he and Starlight were being summoned to Sires Hollow. It was their home where they each had unresolved tensions with a parent, Starlight with her father and Sunburst with his mother. He and Trixie exchanged pleasantries before the Sires Hollow bound unicorns left to work on the friendship summon. Trixie herself left the castle to take care of her own affairs.
As Starlight predicted, the topic of mevs was extremely easy to avoid the entire trip. The mission turned out to be addressing those parental tensions, which they managed and then rode the train back to Ponyville. Given the late time, Twilight offered Sunburst a place to stay for the night. With it being Wednesday, that meant Rainbow would be doing her flexchange with Fluttershy, so she wouldn’t be stopping by to call attention to a visit either.
Starlight didn’t feel right confessing her mev status without a prompt, as had happened with Trixie, so Sunburst left Ponyville on Thursday morning as ignorant to mevs living in that town as he was when he arrived on Wednesday afternoon.
Thursday mid-afternoon, Rainbow Dash approached Twilight in her office at the school and shut the door.
“Master?” Twilight asked, sensing that her friend was here on mev matters.
“Do you have time to talk about the Crystal Empire right now?” Rainbow asked.
Twilight set aside her scroll and quill at her desk. “I suppose I should make time.”
“We can talk about it tomorrow if you need more time,” Rainbow offered, “but I do want to go this Sunday with Applejack and Sweetie Belle. You and Spike are welcome to come along. In fact, I’m sure it would be expected given the reason I’m going. Still, I want to know what you plan to tell Cadance and Shining Armor. Fledglings can easily hide who and what they are in comparison to masters.”
“This Sunday?” Twilight asked, checking a book of her schedule. Spike was off on a lunch break at the moment. “We’re free. I’m guessing that’s why you picked such a day.”
Rainbow nodded. “A lot of ponies have more time off on the weekends. I have to work around Wonderbolts shows that do tend to happen on the weekends, but I’m usually free one of the days or the afternoon if we do a morning show.”
Twilight took a deep breath. “What do you think I should do?”
“Honestly, I think you’re already thinking you should tell them, so I think you should do it,” Rainbow advised.
Twilight sighed. “It’s just…hard. Like are they going to think I made the wrong decision? That I was too hasty. I know it’s more like vampire lite compared to what you are, but still. I grow fangs once a week to exchange magic with a master vampire. If I tell my brother, does that mean I have to tell my parents? Have you told your parents?”
“No,” Rainbow admitted. “Maybe one day I will, but I just don’t see them often, and it is kind of weird, even if in my case, I didn’t have much choice in the matter.”
“Am I going to have to prove it to them?” Twilight questioned aloud. “I don’t grow fangs whenever I want like you do, but if we go on a Sunday…”
“Now that would be awkward,” Rainbow said.
“Is my niece going to be scared of me?” Twilight wondered.
Rainbow shook her head. “Very unlikely. I feel completely different around infants. They are too innocent to be preyed on, even when it comes to eating fear, and the ones I’ve encountered at Wonderbolts shows have treated me the same as before I transformed. If you’re vampire lite compared to me, then that’s really not going to be an issue.”
Twilight straightened up in her seat at this news. “That is actually a relief. Okay. Spike and I are going with you. I’ll have to tell Cadance and Shining Armor. I guess we should go with telling them about you first, then me? So, we should all be there together.”
Rainbow nodded in agreement. “It sounds a bit crowded, but that’s what needs to be done here. Applejack and Sweetie Belle won’t have to be in the room.”
“I agree. Same with Spike. Hopefully, Flurry Heart can be looked after out of the room too, in case you have to show the vampire form,” Twilight decided.
On Friday afternoon, the CMC met at their clubhouse and as things tended to sometimes go, Sweetie Belle told her friends some of what she could about her service to Rainbow Dash.
“So, you get to go to the Crystal Empire and maybe possibly change form into an adult unicorn,” Apple Bloom noted aloud as part statement and part question.
“Or a pegasus filly like me, all while also being charged with looking after Rainbow Dash’s wing crown from the Best Young Fliers’ Competition,” Scootaloo added.
Sweetie nodded proudly.
“Whatever would you need any of those things for?” Apple Bloom asked. “They know who you are over there, I think. I mean, I know we’re not Spike, but still.”
“We did carry the flag at the Equestria Games. Somepony might remember that,” Scootaloo added.
“Well, I certainly don’t know about the forms,” Sweetie admitted, “maybe they’re for the places I haven’t seen yet. We’re going all over the world!” she jumped as she spoke excitedly. “In later weeks,” she added more calmly. “Plus, they’re super strict. I have to be with her, and she has to activate them. As for the wing crown, Master doesn’t really know but trusts Starlight’s suggestion that we have something like it ready to channel magic. We’ll see what happens from there.”
After a thoughtful pause at that, “I guess your plan really did work out how you wanted,” Apple Bloom considered aloud. “I’d give anything to do this, except that I really wouldn’t. You’ll just have to do it in my stead. I’ll be looking out for you and Applejack outside this ‘circle’ that Rainbow Dash has.”
“It’s too bad you can’t go in and out of the circle,” Scootaloo paced back and forth. “I’m super tempted, but I don’t know if I could give myself the way you did, as much as I love Rainbow as a mentor and sister.”
“It is a big commitment,” Sweetie acknowledged. “I definitely have to work to do this stuff. But since we’re all friends, I still get to see the two of you and tell you some things, and that’s what I’ll do when we get back. The small stuff.”
The other two nodded. “Take in the sights for us too,” Scootaloo urged, “if Master Rainbow Dash allows the time that is.”