“Hello. My name is Valiant, and I’m a vampire. A freaking pony vampire.”
“I don’t know why you’re making me do this,” said Rarity.
“Well, now that there’s two of us, I figured we should form our own local chapter of Vampires Anonymous.”
“I don’t know why you’re making me do this,” said Twilight.
I shrugged. “The library is just a handy place to meet.”
Deciding that it would be too much trouble to hide, I’d told Twilight what had happened to me almost immediately. Also, I’d wanted to see how she would react. It had been pretty funny.
While I didn’t break my nondisclosure promise to Rarity, I’d pressured her to tell Twilight. So far, we hadn’t told anyone else.
“I really wish you’d come to me sooner,” said Twilight to Rarity. “I don’t know of any cure, but I could have helped you adjust.”
“As the local expert on eating meat, I think I did just fine,” I pointed out.
Twilight rolled her eyes. “I was talking about emotional adjustments.”
“Fair point.” I turned to Rarity. “Did I at least taste good?”
“Oh, your blood was simply divine! Going back to squirrels and rabbits will be hard to do.”
Twilight squirmed uncomfortably. “Am I going to have to put a paralyzing spell on you?”
“Hang on,” I said, “to get rid of this, we have to take out the vampire that caused it. We can’t exactly do that if you’ve got us hobbled.”
“But we can’t take the risk that this will happen again!”
“But if it does, then we’ll have three vampires out to get Blueblood.”
“So you’re…creating an army of evil to stop evil?”
“Well, I’m not such a dick that I’d force this on anyone else, but if I was, I would prefer the term ‘militia of the damned’.”
“That’s a terrible idea, Valiant.”
“Have you got a better one?”
“How about you contact Princess Celestia and have her negotiate with Blueblood to see if he knows about a cure?”
“That’s a terrible idea, Twilight. If we’re going to go through all that trouble, why don’t we just stake the vampire that turned Blueblood?”
“That’s actually not a bad idea,” said Twilight.
“Actually, it was,” I said. “Blueblood deserves a stake whether he’s a vampire or not. Come on, Rarity.” I slipped my sunglasses on and we went out.
The sun seemed a little harsher than I remembered, but a few minutes outside wouldn’t hurt.
“So the plan is still to get him at the wedding,” I said.
“That’s still a few weeks away,” Rarity sighed.
“Yeah, that’ll give us lots of time to plan. In the meantime, I’m going to go into the forest and find something tasty to eat.”
I trotted off towards Everfree with visions of small animals on my mind. I hadn’t often eaten meat outside the “big three” of chicken, pork, and beef, so this would be a novelty. While I didn’t usually prefer my protein raw, I could make an exception for this.
I ran my tongue over the two sharp points of my fangs. While the mirror in the library was still broken, and I had no idea whether vampires in this world even had reflections, I probably looked pretty badass. Luckily I didn’t smile much, or my cover would have been blown.
As I passed by Sweet Apple Acres, I was knocked to the ground by an apple to the head. I got unsteadily to my feet, juice dripping into my face.
“Sorry ‘bout that,” said Applejack, trotting over. “Braeburn was tryin’ out a new technique and it didn’t work out too well.” The stallion in question gave me a meek wave from where he stood.
I wiped the juice out of my eyes. It stung slightly, but only a little. Compared to getting beaned with the apple, it was only a minor complaint.
“Since you’re here,” said Applejack, “I was hopin’ I could ask you for a favor.”
“What do you mean?”
“The Foal Free Press started printin’ a whole bunch of dirty news about everypony in town. I just thought you might want to check into it.”
“What, a gossip column? How much damage could a school newspaper do?”
“Why don’t you have a look yourself, sugercube. It’s bad.”
Well, if she thought so. I headed back for town, blinking to get the sting of the juice out of my eyes. My stomach growled a little.
Yeah, the gossip column turned out to be pretty uncool, although that was nothing compared to what I had to do in order to find out about it. I had to visit the spa.
I told the group of ponies that I was investigating the newspaper and Gabby Gums, the writer of the gossip column.
“Celestia, just like us?” read Twilight from the newspaper. “Gabby Gums doesn't value anypony's privacy.”
“Oh, lighten up, Twilight,” said Rarity. “That’s nothing but harmless gossip!”
“Yeah, Twilight,” agreed Pinkie. “Listen to this one. Mayor, not naturally gray! The Mayor in a mane dyeing scandal? Who wouldn't want to read that?”
I picked up a copy of the paper. “Valiant: harmless nut or dangerous psychopath?”
“Well, we know the answer to that one,” said Rainbow.
“Look at this,” said Applejack. “Rarity writes vampire novel. It’s not very good.”
“Let me see that,” I said. The column noted that the book had been hoofwritten in a journal marked “diary.” A vampire novel written in first-person format? Ha.
“It’s, um, true,” said Rarity. “Just a little project I’ve been working on in my spare time.”
“Who could have had access to that?” I asked.
“I have no idea. Sweetie Belle works for the Foal Free Press. Maybe you can ask her.”
“I sure will,” I said, getting ready to leave. “Gabby Gums is clearly a threat to privacy. Between her and Wikileaks, I’m sure nothing in the whole universe is sacred.”
I walked out of the spa. A skinny colt snapped my picture.
“Do I know you?” I asked.
“I’m Featherweight, the photographer for the Foal Free Press.”
“In that case—” I yanked the camera from around his neck. “Tell me who Gabby Gums is or I’ll smash this.”
“Jeeze, with ears like that I would have thought you’d heard me the first time. What are you anyway, part bat? Tell me Gabby Gums’ real name!”
“Gabby Gums is actually Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle, and Apple Bloom.”
I popped the back of the camera open, exposing the film and ruining the pictures. It would look suspicious if he snapped a photo of me and I didn’t show up because of the whole vampire thing.
I tossed the camera back to him. “Thanks, kid.”
Walking back into the spa, I said, “I found out who Gabby Gums is.”
“Already?” said Twilight in amazement.
“That’s right.” I turned to Rainbow. “And you thought you were fast.”
I told them what I had learned.
“I’ll destroy her!” screamed Rarity when I mentioned Sweetie Belle.
“Now calm down,” I said. “I’m sure we can use this for blackmail or something.”
“No,” said Twilight. “We need to stop this. I’m going to go down to the school and talk to Cheerilee.”
“I’ll come with,” I said.
“You’ll just make things worse.”
“You sound like my ex,” I grumbled.
“The hostage negotiator.”
Twilight rolled her eyes. “Sometimes I wish somepony would take you hostage.”
Ouch. They should call me Mario, because I just got 1-up’d.
I left the handling of the Foal Free Press to the other ponies and went back to the library. I was still a little hungry, but decided that I had something to take care of first.
I had been in the process of fashioning a switchblade. While I would basically have to resort to holding it in my mouth, such a weapon had never before been seen in Equestria, and I hoped it would give me an edge.
...a knife edge.
Post Haste stopped by with a letter for me. It was a message from the Mares in Black. They informed me that the robots were going to be needed ahead of schedule. Something big was going down, and faster than expected.
I sighed. I would probably have to work all night. Still, there was nothing to do but get started.
Sometime later, I collapsed in exhaustion. The job wasn’t done, but it was closer. Strangely, I had an actual dream while I slept. I knew that it was a dream because I was reliving the night back at the bar before this whole crazy business started.
I had thought of the scene before. I couldn’t figure out why I kept coming back to it, but apparently my subconscious was trying to tell me something.
Let’s see, the tequila was just like I remembered. The unfriendly girl who wouldn’t take off her sunglasses was there. The disinterested bartender looked about the same. A whole bunch of people were partying. More tequila. It all ended with me stumbling home and going to sleep. After that, ponies.
I woke up from the dream in bed at home. First thing, I checked my mouth. No fangs.
I sighed. After everything that was happening in Equestria, coming home to my apartment felt like a vacation. A sudden thought gripped me. If I didn’t get back and keep working on the robots, I wasn’t going to get paid!
I felt like I was playing Farmville or something. The money didn’t feel “real.” Still, it was something to work for, and I was kind of curious to find out what the big evil deal was all about.
I had to get to sleep fast, and I knew just the way to do that. I started lacing up my shoes in preparation to go to the local bottle shop, but glanced at the clock. It was a few minutes past midnight on Sunday morning. I couldn’t buy alcohol.
“Hey,” I shouted. “Do we have any liquor around here?”
“Check the kitchen cabinets,” answered my roommate. “Also, shut up and go to bed.”
I got up and went to find the stashed hooch. It turned out to be a plastic 1.75 liter bottle of the cheapest vodka available. It was almost full because my roommate didn’t drink it, either.
Now, tequila and I had our ups and downs, but it was a working relationship. Vodka and I hated each other, and the cheaper the brew, the worse it got.
Still, it looked like I was out of other options. I sighed and carried the bottle back to bed with me.
Music always seemed to make the liquor quicker, so I grabbed my mp3 player and set the headphones down on my ears.
Here we stand
Worlds apart, hearts broken in two, two, two
I'm reaching for you, you, you
Yeah, I was totally a world apart, sleepless, losing ground, and trying to reach Equestria. Strange how appropriate the song turned out to be.
Someday love will find you
Break those chains that bind you
One night will remind you
How we touched
And went our separate ways
Okay, maybe those lyrics weren’t quite so accurate. I screwed the cap off the bottle and pinched my nose to keep from smelling the stuff. I had heard that it tasted like gasoline. Since I’d never drank this vodka before, I couldn’t say for sure.
Caught between confusions and pain, pain, pain
Promises we made were in vain, vain, vain
Well, I was caught between confusion and pain, and I promised myself that I was going to get hammered, and not in vain. Huh, a nice little rhyme there.
I put the open top of the bottle in my mouth and upended it. It tasted even worse than I thought it would.
“Ugh,” I said, my voice sounding funny because of my pinched nose. I knew that one swig wasn’t going to do it, so I prepared for another.
I still love you girl
I really love you girl
And if he ever hurts you
True love won't desert you
“God, I hate Journey,” I muttered.
I’m not afraid to admit that I actually put apple juice in my eyes in order to portray Valiant’s reaction as accurately as possible. I didn’t go so far as to drink to Separate Ways, though.