Colors warmed toward dusk, and it was a delightful fall day.
So, that’s just what Northern Spy did.
Inside the cozy farmhouse, a pony shouted in dismay, too late. Just an instant later, the window exploded in a rain of glass, burst through by a small pale-green projectile. Northern Spy, spawn of Rainbow Dash, scorned words like ‘grounded’ and ‘punishment’—and even words like ‘gravity’ and ‘second floor window’. She flew out the window and fell, in a fine and glorious arc, toward the grass below.
Her small earth pony frame, unlike that of her Blue Mom’s, bore no wings. She scorned that too, scorned that the best of all.
From an adjacent window, Rainbow Dash burst like a bolt of vengeance. Her mission might have been rescue, might have been the heroic saving of her plummeting filly while Applejack wailed from the shattered window. She might have sought to clasp her foal in protective hooves and spare her the dreadful impact with the ground. She might have wept with relief, weak with gratitude she’d saved the adorable little horror from a gruesome fate.
It wasn’t, she didn’t, she wouldn’t. Dash knew her foal far too well for that.
Below her, she saw the powder-blue tail flip as Spy hit. It described a rapid twirl as the tiny green filly executed a tumble and roll, taking the impact on her shoulder and bouncing off the soft grass like she was some sort of hoofball.
Dash swooped down at top speed. It had been months since she could count on the drop even slowing Spy down, and the back yard was dangerously full of foliage, greenery and cover.
“Gotcha!” cried Dash, tackling Northern Spy just as she began to seriously accelerate in the general direction of away.
Applejack cheered from the window. “Yeeha! You hold on, I’mma get down there and have a word with Miss…”
She trailed off, for she wasn’t being heard. Two little shrieks in succession had drowned her right out. The first was Northern Spy, squealing in outrage, unable to kick her way free of Blue Mom’s fiercely determined grip. Rainbow Dash knew all too well that she didn’t have the luxury of being gentle with her little hellion.
The second was Rainbow Dash, as her filly nemesis writhed and bit down on her ear like some tiny timberwolf.
“AHHH! Crap! Spy! Shit!” squealed Dash, and made the fatal mistake of trying to swipe Spy off her head with one foreleg. In an instant, Spy had kicked herself free of Blue Mom, and become a diminishing pale green spot before Rainbow’s eyes. Heavier hooves thundered over as Dash tried to leap to her feet.
“Aw hell, Rainbow, what’s she done to your ear?”
“Not right now!” squealed Dash, turning to glare at Orange Mom, her marefriend…
They glanced back, and the yard was peaceful and quiet. Spy was out of sight.
“She done it again!” cursed Applejack. “Ah will tan her little tail for her! Kin ya do an air check, sugarcube, real quick?”
Dash shook her head, rubbing her ear with a hoof. “That hasn’t worked the last three times, Applejack!”
“She went into one of them tunnels,” snarled Applejack. “Ya can’t let her do that! You know it ruins the drainage of th’ soil! We’ll get Big Macintosh…”
“Yeah and where do you think she learned it from?” countered Dash, in frustration. “If you’d just let her hide in that hole that one time, maybe she wouldn’t have seen Big Macintosh dig, and my life would be simpler!”
“Well, don’t jes’ stand there, Rainbow Dash, fly up an’…”
“She got away,” stated Dash flatly, making a face.
Applejack bridled, pawing the ground with a hoof. “We gotta…”
Dash spat. In the tussle, she’d got some dirt in her mouth. “No. She got away. Let her cool off. Ow, my ear!”
Applejack’s lip quivered, and her eyes glistened. Her flanks trembled as if barely resisting the urge to gallop in all directions. “But…”
“No, Applejack,” insisted Rainbow Dash. “Go back inside. Uh… take a deep breath and then go back inside? She got away. She’s too good.”
Applejack trembled, and burst out, “Ain’t good when she kin sass her Granny and act like some dern outlaw pony! What does she think this is, Appleloosa? Bustin’ outta windows! She can’t fly, dammit!”
“I used to believe that,” grumbled Rainbow Dash.
“We jes’ got to smack some sense into that filly! How am I supposed to tell Granny her great-grandfoal’s impossible?”
Rainbow Dash set her jaw, glowering into the fading light of dusk. Gradually, a wry grin crept over her face, suppressed by the sight of her mate’s obvious distress, but impossible to completely conceal.
“I think,” said Rainbow Dash, “she noticed.”
The hollowed-out tree had been there for decades. It had seen many things, endured many seasons, sheltered many creatures since its hold on life had slipped and its last green leaf had fluttered peacefully to rest.
This, however, was a new one.
“Didja think of a name?” demanded Spy, crawling determinedly through the big crack in the side of the hollow tree.
Rock Candy, colt of Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie with a timely assist by Big Macintosh, nodded solemnly. “I think so. Hey, what happened, are you okay?”
Northern Spy shook herself, wiping away huge gouts of blood—well, dirt, anyhow. “Th’ Green Streak is always okay!”
“Did the monsters attack you?” asked Rock, wide-eyed.
“Worse! Mom,” said Northern Spy with scorn. “So what’s your power-pony name?”
Rock opened his mouth, looked nervous, hesitated.
“Way too quiet,” decreed the Green Streak.
“No!” squeaked Rock hastily. “I didn’t say it yet!”
Rock gulped. “Rock Lobster.”
Spy stared levelly at him for a long, long moment. Just when he was about to burst into a foalish flurry of squeaky explanation, she cut him off. “Is that some kinda Pinkie Sense thing?”
“I think so,” admitted Rock.
“Your Pinkie Sense things are dumb, Rock. What’s a lobster? Why would you say that?”
Rock gulped again. “Because it’s…”
“Funny,” grumbled the Green Streak. She sighed. “Fine! You can be Rock Lobster, okay?”
She had to smile at his predictable response. Rock’s beaming smile shone out, brighter and brighter, and he began to bounce off all four hooves at once, and then just as predictably she had to tackle him and sit on him until he settled down, for the integrity of the hollow tree was at stake. It was never meant to handle a Rock Candy bounce-fest and he just couldn’t handle himself sometimes. Well, most of the time.
“Thanks, Green Streak,” panted the still-twitching colt.
“No problem… Rock Lobster,” replied Northern Spy, with a devastatingly cool and awesome halfsmirk.
She bumped up and down for a moment as Rock took a moment to renew his bouncy hyperness through sheer delight at the new name and her approval of it. This, too, was predictable, and wouldn’t take long—when he quieted, Spy hopped off him and began peppering him with questions. “Didja check in all the closets for monsters? Didja go look in the Everfree Forest like I told you? Didja hear any new scary noises? Didja see any extra monsters other than your Mom and the Enemy?”
Rock Candy boggled, trying to keep up. Feebly, he protested, “My Mom isn’t a monster!”
“Yeah she is, sometimes she’s a vampire with all fangs and stuff and sometimes she isn’t! I even saw it once!”
Rock pressed on, unable to counter that objection. Everyone in Ponyville knew of Fluttershy’s vampirism, but Zecora’s enchanted mane and tail extensions continued to mask her condition. He had another concern that his innocent foalish heart needed to voice. “My little brother isn’t an enemy!”
“Half-brother,” retorted Northern Spy.
“He’s my little brother! He’s even littler than me. Fluttershy’s his Mom same as me, and that zebra Dursaa is his dad, and so is he named Dursaa, and he’s very special and real cute…”
Northern Spy glowered. “He’s too special.”
“Mom… that is, Pinkie Mom… says I need to let Fluttershy Mom be with him more ‘cos he’s so little, and ‘cos his Dad can’t help him with his w…”
He froze, at a glare from Northern Spy.
“Earth ponies can’t have wings! He’s a monster too. And our enemy!”
Rock Candy gulped. “But his Mom’s a peg…”
He trailed off, unable to meet Northern Spy’s glare. Just as Rock’s Mom and the new little brother’s Mom was Fluttershy, Spy’s Mom was Rainbow Dash. Both Fluttershy and Dash were pegasi, but pegasi with earth ponies didn’t breed more pegasi, and both Rock and Spy were solidly earthbound—and Northern Spy had not responded well to the arrival of a still littler foal, also out of a pegasus mating with an earth pony, but this one with zebra-striped wings. Other ponies saw that as adorable and a stroke of unaccountable good fortune. To Northern Spy, it was personal. She’d wanted to be like Blue Mom from the moment she saw Rainbow Dash streak across the sky.
“Maybe it’s from Mom having the vampire thing?” guessed Rock.
Spy glowered. “I just said that! He’s a monster, Rock.”
“But I should love him just the same, Pinkie Mom said so,” protested Rock. “And I should be patient that Fluttershy Mom and little Dursaa stay in their house even if it makes us sad…”
“Vampire Mom, more like,” grumbled Northern Spy. “And no you shouldn’t! Patient is bad. It means waiting!”
Rock’s face fell. “I don’t wanna go where I’m not wanted…”
“This is dumb stupid talking again,” Northern Spy informed him.
Rock didn’t respond. Spy heaved a big sigh.
“Listen,” she said. “It’s okay that your mom Fluttershy is some kind of monster but she still has to love you ‘cos that’s what Moms are made to do. So if you and Pinkie Pie can’t see her, it’s because there’s worser monsters making her not see you enough, ‘cos it’s super obvious that Fluttershy loves you, just look at her! She’s super lovey, maybe even when she looks like a monster.”
Rock nodded weakly. It was true, Fluttershy had soothed his fears of her underlying vampony form and when he did see her, she was always motherly and sweet. That hadn’t changed. It was just that he could sense a reserve, some place in her where he wasn’t welcome, and it’d only gotten worse with the arrival of little Dursaa. And big Dursaa claimed to love him too, but that only made Pinkie Mom sad and strange. And that, in turn, made big Dursaa more reserved…
Spy continued. “So we gotta find the worser monsters, Spy! Are you still hearing the scary noises at night? Feeling the creepy feelings?”
“Pinkie Mom says those noises are called rumpypumpy and they’re none of my business,” objected Rock.
“Not those noises!” retorted Northern Spy. “Rainbow Dash makes those noises too, and Applejack! I mean the BAD noises. Out in the forest! The ones that sound like hurting and sad. And you keep telling me you got a Pinkie Sense from your Mom and it’s starting to tell you stuff! You said something was all creepy and awful and I told you yeah it’s your little brother and you said no it’s something else going on!”
Rock nodded, eyes wide. “But maybe I’m just making it up and there’s no such thing as a Sense?”
Northern Spy fixed him with a sharp filly eye. “And you got all dreamy and you told me it was the most convoluted plotline yet and with great power came great irresponsibility and I had to go ask Granny Smith what those words were and she din’t know either and said I was feverish and I had to take yucky medicine! And you don’t even know what you said!”
Rock Candy, Pinkie Pie’s colt, bowed his head. “Uh-huh. That’s what Mom does sometimes. She talks crazy and doesn’t remember what she said, and it’s about chapters and things, and it’s her Sense. Everybody knows about Pinkie Sense.”
“So,” concluded Northern Spy, “we gotta make up superhero names like Power Ponies and go hunt down the bad monsters that are making our Moms sad, starting with your little brother!”
“Leave out the last part,” said Rock seriously. “I’m sure little Dursaa is nice. It’s so cute when he smiles. He hugged me!”
“Okay,” conceded Spy, “we hunt the other monsters first. Did you look in the Everfree Forest like I told you? There’s always monsters there! Everybody tells me not to go there so I just know that’s where we’ll find the monsters!”
Rock was still grappling with Spy’s Rainbow Dash-ian logic. “Not yet, it’s scary. Northern Spy? I can see how we need to go and fight the monsters, but… why did we need to make up superhero names?”
Spy gave him an exasperated look.
“Cause we’re superheroes! Duh!”
Rock Candy gulped. “Um… okay?”
“Totally okay,” Green Streak informed him.
Nervously, Rock Lobster nodded. Something was telling him the Everfree Forest wouldn’t be as easy as she thought.