On Monday evening, Applejack paced back and forth in the family room where Granny Smith sat with a watchful, intrigued expression. Big Mac stood nearby, looking perplexed.
“I’m here! I’m here!” Apple Bloom announced, scurrying in to join the rest.
“Alright, Applejack, the littlest one is here. What’s this all about?” Granny Smith asked.
Big Mac nodded to echo his curiosity. “Yup.”
Applejack sighed upward into her bangs, recalling the first time she revealed herself as a mev to Apple Bloom. Her stomach turned.
As if sensing her older sister’s trepidation, Apple Bloom drew near and put a hoof to Applejack’s forelimb. “It’s different this time,” she said gently. “They ain’t me.”
Big Mac and Granny Smith exchanged a quiet look at each other.
“Right,” Applejack said with a nod. She looked at them both. “First, I gotta tell you something about Rainbow Dash,” she announced.
“Oh, is she sick? Is that why she been comin’ around every Friday? You got something to help her out?” Granny Smith pondered.
“Well, it goes a little something like that,” Applejack replied. “It’s more like what I do stops her from getting a certain way that could be dangerous.”
With a quirked eyebrow, Granny Smith prodded, “Dangerous how?”
“You ever heard of mevs, Granny?” Applejack asked back with a question of her own.
At that, Granny Smith put a hoof to her chin and thought long and hard, searching deep into her memories. “Can’t say that I have,” she admitted. “Big Mac?”
“Nope,” Big Mac replied with a shake of his head.
“What are they?” Granny Smith asked.
“Magic-eating vampires,” Applejack answered.
At that, Granny Smith’s eyes widened. “And Rainbow Dash? She one of these mevs now?”
Applejack closed her eyes and nodded seriously.
Big Mac sat on his haunches and opened his mouth to say something, deciding the better of it and to not say anything at all yet. He looked at Apple Bloom.
The younger sister simply held out a hoof to indicate he should do as he was doing, to keep quiet and keep listening.
“Why she come to you then?” Granny Smith asked. “Magic-eating creatures like Tirek prefer unicorn to earth pony. I expect mevs would be much the same.”
Applejack blushed. “Because I’m one of her best friends. There are two types of mevs, and Rainbow’s the master type.”
“You’re the other?” Big Mac couldn’t help himself to ask.
Applejack was caught a little off guard, both by his words and at how quickly he and Granny were putting things together. After a thoughtful pause at that, she nodded. “The other is a fledgling. That’s me. We can exchange magic to feed both of us.”
Granny Smith stroked her forelimb under her chin. “Well, that sure is convenient. Whew, you had me worried there for a sec. A dangerous Rainbow Dash is something nobody ’round here needs.” She shook her head.
“There’s more!” Apple Bloom interjected. Granny and Big Mac looked at her. “It’s good!” Apple Bloom told them both with a little hop in place.
They turned their heads to look at Applejack.
“I got a gift,” Applejack admitted with blushing cheeks and slight smile. She breathed out a tiny flame and demonstrated her ability to guide it at will.
Granny Smith and Big Mac stared in bewilderment before breaking out in smiles and laughing.
Applejack stared at them in surprise.
“Ain’t that the cat’s meow!” Granny declared. “Right, Big Mac?”
“Yup,” the elder brother declared.
“I’m plum tickled and proud to see you get such a magical gift. We ain’t laughing at ya. Promise, dearie,” Granny told the present mev.
“Yup,” Big Mac echoed.
“So, you’re not scared or mad or anything like that?” Applejack asked.
The other two each shook their head.
“Though it looks like this one knew long before either of us,” Granny Smith pointed at Apple Bloom.
“Well…that’s a bit…” Applejack hesitated.
“Rainbow was gonna tell Scootaloo, so they felt I had a right to know since we’re such good friends,” Apple Bloom explained with another hop in place.
“I suppose that makes sense,” Granny considered. “I take it you was scared or annoyed when Applejack told ya?”
“Maybe a little,” Apple Bloom admitted bashfully and blushed.
“Well, anywhoozle, don’t worry about it none, hun. Your secret’s safe with us, same as Rainbow Dash. We do live in Ponyville. I been seeing strangeness since this town was founded you know,” Granny reminded her granddaughter with a wink.
“Yup,” Big Mac said.
Applejack smiled warmly at her family. “Thanks, Granny. You too, Big Mac,” she said.
Big Mac nodded with closed eyes and an approving smile.
“Come on. Let’s see that fire help cook us some dinner,” Granny Smith encouraged as she stood up from her seat.
“Sure thing,” Applejack replied.
That same night, Rainbow Dash and Sweetie Belle tended to their mev business in Rainbow’s cloud house, as they made preparations for the upcoming pack meeting. “So, we need to tell the team about Amara and how she was made. Twilight will update us on how her meeting with Celestia and Luna went today. I should probably give each Awesomev a turn to just state what’s happening with them, like if Applejack wants to tell us how it went with Big Mac and Granny Smith or if Pinkie wants to tell us how Penny is doing, even summon her up for a hello. Fluttershy might want to say something on her vampire bat progress,” Rainbow Dash rambled, pacing in a hover of her living room.
Sweetie Belle paused in her note-taking. “Vampire bat progress? What’s that about?”
“Oh, well, you know how Fluttershy was a vampire bat one night, right?” Rainbow asked.
The younger pony shook her head and said nothing.
“No one ever told you? Really?” the master mev asked with surprise in her voice.
“No. What happened?” Sweetie Belle was quite intrigued.
Rainbow Dash descended from her hover to sit next to Sweetie Belle on the couch and face her to tell the story. “Sometime back, after Twilight became a princess and before she got her castle, Applejack ran into a problem on her farm with vampire bats,” Rainbow began to explain.
“Oh, those bats have a sanctuary on the farm now. That much I do know. Apple Bloom told me,” Sweetie said.
“Yeah, she wasn’t around for the vampire business. I guess it was just Team Friendship minus Starlight then,” Rainbow noted. “Oh, and Spike.”
Sweetie Belle blinked at her.
“‘Team Friendship’ is what I’ve decided to I call our group under Twilight’s banner, you might say,” Rainbow explained with a smile and wink.
Sweetie Belle nodded with a smile back.
“So, anyway,” the mev continued, “the original plan was for Twilight to use a spell to make the vampire bats not want to eat the apples. She was messing with what makes them what they are with magic. Fluttershy was really not wanting to do that.”
Sweetie remarked, “Sounds like Fluttershy.”
“Yeah,” Rainbow agreed. She went on to explain, “But even though she didn’t want to do it, she still helped us out with this plan and used The Stare.”
“Oh, I’ve seen her do that,” Sweetie said with interest, recalling the time she saw Fluttershy stare down a cockatrice.
Rainbow nodded. “Something happened between Twilight casting the spell on the vampire bats and Fluttershy using her stare. Twilight’s theory is that it sort of bounced from the bats into Fluttershy, which turned Fluttershy into a vampire bat. Or vampire bat pony. Whatever. It honestly resembled my vampire form.”
“Really?” Sweetie asked, now extremely interested. “What was different? What was the same? What did it look like? I’m guessing she had bat wings of course.”
Rainbow Dash smiled in amusement. “Let’s see. Yes, she had bat wings a lot like mine, maybe a little bigger.” She shifted her wings into their bat form as she spoke to show them off. “It’s actually part of why I went to her before I went to anyone else the night I first transformed.”
“You did?” Sweetie Belle blinked curiously at that.
“Oh yeah, Fluttershy and I go way back you know,” Rainbow reminded her. “Anyway, so besides the wings, she had fangs. Hers were larger. They kinda stuck out of her muzzle where you could see them even when her mouth was closed. I like mine small enough so that you can see them when I’m talking but not with my mouth closed.”
Sweetie nodded. She remembered from the book that Rainbow could grow them even more if she wanted.
The mev went on, “Her eyes were more like a light pinkish red, not as um…’saturated’ is what Twilight describes for the difference. The red wasn’t as ‘saturated’ as mine. Do you know what I mean when I say that?” She let her eyes turn to the color in question.
“Rarity tells me the color’s more vibrant, like stronger,” Sweetie replied.
“Right. Coat was a little more scruffy. Fluttershy’s ears changed up a little too, to be more batty. Mine don’t do that. Same old pony ears,” Rainbow remarked, flicking and pointing at her own ears as she did.
“Is it something you could change if you wanted? And the coat?” the unicorn filly wondered.
“Not with mev magic..,well, with one exception,” Rainbow noted, thinking of her brief alicorn mev time from the previous night. “I’d probably have to use chaos magic for that one since I only have some unknown feedback changeling attempts that I really don’t plan on using for something like that,” she finished.
“What’s the exception?” Sweetie wanted to know.
“Sorry, my Rhezenda, that’s a pack secret. Insiders only,” the master mev confessed with a friendly wink.
Sweetie smiled in spite of herself. That meant there was still some mystery left to her, even as welcome into the circle as she was. No doubt it had to do with the special bond between the master and her fledglings. She went on to ask, “Well, what happened after she turned into a vampire bat pony? She’s not one anymore. You said it was for just one night.”
“Since she was like a vampire bat, she wanted apples, so we lured her in with Applejack’s big prized apple. Then we used mirrors to get her to use The Stare on herself to get her to stay still while Twilight reversed the spell that started the whole mess,” Rainbow explained. “Magic changing the fiber of what a living creature is backfires horribly. We should have learned that the first time with the parasprites, no mev powers required, but most of us saw it as a way to help Applejack.”
“Now that you are mevs, could you do it without all the trouble, for the bats?” Sweetie wondered.
Rainbow Dash shook her head. “To change a creature on that scale, you need a very good reason. Otherwise, it’s not that different than outright killing them. Fluttershy considered it wrong. But for the rest of us, we didn’t see it that way. Sure, we had a problem and back then, I considered no apple cider a big deal, that it was a plenty good reason to me. But it still wasn’t enough. Not when we could just suck it up with the short-term problem for the long-term gains of giving them their own section of the orchard, like we did in the end.”
“Oh okay. So…what’s the vampire bat progress mean now?” Sweetie asked.
“You know how I actually really like being a vampire?” Rainbow asked back, gesturing with a forelimb to show off her full vampire form still on her.
“Yeah, Fluttershy liked the transforming part with the wings and the fangs too. You know, the fun stuff. The problem with being a vampire bat pony was that she couldn’t think straight. We tried talking to her, and she’d just hiss and fly at us while trying to get more apples to eat. She was Flutterbat, not Fluttershy. But,” Rainbow emphasized, “with us now all being mevs, there’s a chance her own power could develop to have a bat form willingly and be able to think straight after all. It’s a past power of hers, and our bond is trying to mold it into that desire. It’s taking time.”
“Oh, that’s so neat,” Sweetie thought. “I hope she gets it.”
“I know she will,” Rainbow Dash stated with confidence.
“Hey, that reminds me. Master, are we doing anything special for Nightmare Night?” Sweetie asked. “It’s only a little over two weeks away.”
Rainbow blinked, and Sweetie noticed something strange. The mev’s eyes were still red, but if they weren’t, Sweetie knew, she just knew as Rhezenda, they would have shifted right then, and not in the intentional the way Rainbow usually shifted her eyes. The master mev smiled softly at first. Her shoulders shook as she started to laugh.
Then she kept laughing, and it started to sound deeper and sinister. Her bat wings flapped to lift her up higher as she laughed more with evil zeal. Sweetie quietly glanced around and felt a breeze pass through. She heard thunder outside, and her eyes widened. She knew about nocturnivlair, but this was different than the laughs and cackles she’d grown familiar with, like a nocturnivlair crescendo itself. She saw the whole room flash from lightning outside. Rainbow Dash was cackling now. “Master?” Sweetie started to ask.
Th mev simply cackled and laughed some more.
Sweetie glanced around at the floor to see if Blitz would arise. The unicorn filly was getting a little scared after all. Well, more than her usual amount at night and inside a master mev’s domain. A circle did form but not around Sweetie Belle. It was nearby on the floor. Blitz rose out and happily snaked her way around Rainbow’s body to savor the moment with her master. Rainbow saw her but didn’t talk, just kept laughing while meeting the eyes of the dread until she’d gaze outward at her home again. The wind picked up even more, the thunder boomed even louder, and the room flashed with lightning once more. Sweetie gulped, reminding herself that the vampire present still hadn’t attacked her, hadn’t even looked at her, and that whatever was happening needed to run its course. Blitz sensed that course ending first, slithered off, and descended back into a circle on the floor. The winds slowed, returning to what was expected of a pegasus cloud house with open windows. The thunder and lightning stopped. Rainbow Dash fluttered down to the floor for a soft landing in front of her young servant.
Rainbow giggled a little, putting her hoof up to her muzzle as she continued to settle down.
“Master, is everything okay?” Sweetie asked.
“More than okay,” Rainbow said in a chuckle. “Just give me a minute. I’m almost done. You did well, Rhezenda.”
At that, Sweetie Belle finally relaxed and waited, relieved she knew what to do after all.
“Whew,” Rainbow finally said with a smile as she went to sit back down on the couch by the younger pony again.
“What happened?” Sweetie asked. “Was it some kind of special nocturnivlair?”
“Yup. A Master Frenzy. I’ve only done it once before, when I first completed my pack. I guess it happens when I get really excited,” Rainbow figured.
“And this one was about Nightmare Night?” Sweetie inquired.
Rainbow started to giggle again, but it didn’t pick up into a frenzy. “Yes,” she managed.
“How come?” the curious unicorn asked.
“Because it’s not in the book, but I just know that Nightmare Night is one of my exceptions,” Rainbow told her between giggles. “I get to use all the magic I want,” she snarled, “and I have access to chaos-mev magic. It’s going to be awesome!” Her expression looked almost menacing as she grit her sharp teeth with another wide eyed thrill, but Sweetie Belle knew better.
“Really?” the filly asked, now full of even more hope.
“Oh yes,” the master mev spoke with confidence and authority. “Nightmare Night is special. We all know that. My power is ruled by day and night, and that night, that one special night, permits me to have fun on such an occasion, not just business, not just learning. A bond with my fledglings, my home territory, all of us. Nothing will be lost from the reserve. It will be a feast of happy fear. I already know one thing I want to do. If there is only one thing I get to do this Nightmare Night, this is the thing to be done. Exceptions for an exception. Ponyville may or may not grasp that they have a mev pack in their midst after that night. I intend to entertain myself and hopefully the outsiders as well.”
“Wow,” Sweetie said, happy to know that she’d soon learn just what her master longed to do for a free magic chance to have fun.
“Put it on the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting,” Rainbow commanded. “Yes, Rhezenda. Yes. We most certainly are doing something special for Nightmare Night.”
Rhezenda Sweetie Belle was content to obey.