• Published 6th Jun 2013
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The Witching Hour - Chaotic Ink



A new pony comes to Ponyville, but she's not all that she seems. Will the town accept Midnight Storm, or will Ponyville run her out like all the rest?

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Ch. 12 - Our Guest is a Little Bat-y

After tending to Squeaks’ bathroom needs Midnight brought her back to the couch and wrapped her up in a blanket. When she was done, Squeaks looked like a cross between a pony and a grub. “I’m going into the kitchen for something real quick. Are you still hungry or thirsty?” Squeaks shook her head as best she could. “Alright, just stay put until I get back.” With that Midnight turned and shot some fire into the hearth, getting a new fire started. As she walked out of the room, she noticed Squeaks inch closer to the edge of the couch in an attempt to get closer to the heat. ‘Hehe, she looks cute squirming like that. Maybe for Nightmare Night…’ Midnight shook her head and silently sighed. ‘By Nightmare Night she’ll be with her family again, not here.’ She felt a painful pang in her chest but shook it off and entered the kitchen. Sapphire was just pouring herself some coffee and Midnight picked up the perculator when she was done.

“Is Squeaky alright?” Sapphire asked before taking a sip.

“She’s fine. Got her wrapped up in a blanket and some fire going in the hearth; she’ll be warm until I get back.” They both drank a bit in silence, then Sapphire spoke up again.

“I wonder why she wasn’t allowed to play with other foals.” Midnight shrugged.

“I chose not to go out for the most part, so I really can’t say.”

“You don’t think-?”

“No, I don’t think she was abused. Even if she did find a fruit tree out in the forest, she’d be nothing but skin and bones if that was the case. She’d also have some suspicious injuries. She probably got in trouble before her father took her to Canterlot and thinks he doesn’t like her anymore. I’m sure you had moments like that when you were a foal.” Sapphire nodded and a small smile worked its way out.

“Yeah, I messed up once or twice and mom got mad enough that I would think that. But, why haven’t we heard anything about a search?”

“You said the bat ponies you’ve met were rather reclusive. Maybe they’re doing the search themselves and keeping it secret for some reason. Anyway, I’m going to get some wood to throw on the fire.” As she turned to leave Sapphire noticed something off about the kirin.

“Hey Midnight, what’s that on your cutie mark?” Midnight looked down at her flank where Sapphire was pointing. Three dulled streaks ran from the upper front to the lower back of the mark.

“Timber wolf scratched me before I got away with Squeaks. No big deal.”

“Don’t you think it might have been a good idea to let Redheart take a look at it?” Sapphire looked back at the mark with concern. In the all the mayhem that surrounded Squeaks’ arrival the previous night it had been easy to overlook Midnight’s wound, especially after she had gotten the blankets on.

“As long as it doesn’t get infected I’m not going to complain; I heal fast anyway.” Sapphire’s concerned look didn’t leave her face.

“And how long will that be?” Midnight inspected the wound more closely with her tail, rubbing it up against her flank.

“End of the week, I think. Like I said, I heal fast.”

“Princess Celestia said nothing about fast healing.”

“How about swallowing my own fire to make myself a heat source?” Sapphire shook her head. “Just because she’s an alicorn doesn’t mean she knows everything.”

-----------------------------

The rest of the day passed quickly for both Midnight and Squeaks due to both of them taking several naps each. For Squeaks this was because she was still recovering from her ordeal, but also because, Midnight suspected, as a bat pony she was nocturnal and thus her sleep pattern was currently a bit wonky. For Midnight, she had a theory that since dragons took naps on the order of years there was a good chance her dragon side was causing her to sleep more rather than just lay around and be bored. Now that Squeaks was recovering and no longer in immediate danger, Midnight felt that her initial feelings of protectiveness would ebb and she could feel a bit more normal around the filly, like how she felt about Dinky and Pinchy.

Dinner was, for Midnight and Squeaks anyway, bananas and orange juice. Sapphire had a cucumber sandwich with onions and ranch sauce. The reason for the fruit-filled meals was that Midnight felt Squeaks still needed to eat soft things and that with the warning Redheart gave about a potential cold she wanted the filly to get as many vitamins in her as she could. “You know, I think Redheart had a good point.” Midnight said when their food was done. “I think starting tomorrow we should get you on a proper diet. Do bat ponies eat anything specific, or do they eat the same things we do?” She looked down at Squeaks expectantly, but the filly just laid down like she had in the morning and looked between Sapphire and Midnight. After a few moments Sapphire got up.

“I’ll take the dishes.” Without another word the pegasus got up and swept the two plates next to the couch away with her own. Before leaving, she gave Midnight a meaningful look.

Once she was in the kitchen Midnight looked down at Squeaks. “You know Squeaks, you can say things with Sapphire around too. Trust me when I tell you, she’s not one to judge others.”

Squeaks squirmed slightly. “Daddy said I’m not supposed to tell anypony outside the colony what we eat. He said they would hate us for it.”

Midnight laid her wing over the filly and rested her head down on the cushion so they were at eye level. “You know, I don’t tell anypony else what I eat either, and pretty much for the same reason. Ponies and animals don’t exactly have fangs because they look cool.” Midnight booped her, and the filly let out a soft giggle.

“But, you don’t have fangs.”

“I guess you really don’t remember much from that fight with the wolves, do you?” Squeaks shook her head, and Midnight lifted her own and yawned. Squeaks watched in amazement as, at the height of the yawn, Midnight’s canines slid out into large fangs that made hers seem like tooth picks. When she was done, the fangs slid back into the gums. “I personally prefer rabbit, but I wouldn’t mind seeing what a chicken taste like.”

Squeaks giggled nervously. “I always liked fruit more, and we also ate meat, too, but…”

“But?” Midnight asked with raised eyebrows.

Squeaks braced herself. “But we always had it REALLY fresh.”

“As in, not cooked?” Squeaks nodded. “Is it because you needed to drink…?”

Squeaks backed further under Midnight’s wing. “I don’t like it, but daddy always scolded me when I wouldn’t have any. He’d get mad when I said I wanted fruit instead, but I really don’t like it!” Midnight’s wing closed more around her as she pleaded with the kirin to understand.

“I believe you Squeaks. I’m sure there was at least one kirin who didn’t like meat or gemstones.”

“You eat gemstones?”

Midnight chuckled. “Sapphires are my personal favorite.”

Squeaks thought about that for a second. “Kirins are weird.”

Midnight snorted then busted out laughing. “Oh, and ‘VANTING to SUCK my BLOOD’ isn’t?” Midnight mimicked being a vampire and took a couple of playful bites at Squeaks, who laughed and slid deeper under her wing. “You and me are more alike than you think Squeaks. And Sapphire is a lot more understanding than you give her credit for.”

“So, she knows you eat meat?”

“Eat it right in front of her, although the meat I eat is cooked, so…” Midnight’s face lit up. “I’m going to get something out for breakfast tomorrow. I’ll be right back.” Midnight got off the couch and made sure Squeaks was under her blanket before going back into the kitchen. She was surprised to see Sapphire still there, reading a newspaper. “You weren’t trying to eavesdrop on us were you?” Sapphire gave her a hurt look.

“Why Midnight, the very IDEA that I would do something like that!” She draped a foreleg across her head dramatically. “I can’t believe you think of me that way!”

“Well, what DID you hear?” Midnight opened the freezer with a sly smile, even as a bag of broccoli attempted to take out her hoof.

“Enough to know what you’re looking for.” Midnight pulled out a bag and placed it in the sink then turned to her.

“Thank you Sapphire, for understanding both our food preferences.” Sapphire waved a hoof as she went back to reading.

“There are plenty of ‘normal’ creatures that drink blood, like leeches and mosquitoes. And, from what it sounds like, they don’t get it the same way fiction says they do.” Midnight gave a contented sigh. Sapphire truly was different from any other pony she’d met before, and in a good way.

“Well, I’ll see you in the morning, and again; thanks.” Sapphire nodded.

“Say good night to Squeaky for me.”

-----------------------------

The next morning Squeaks woke up and felt something… missing. It confused her, then she noticed how empty the couch was and the lack of a protective wing over her. The filly bolted up and looked around in a panic. She was still on the couch with the blanket around her in Midnight’s living room, but the kirin wasn’t anywhere in the room. Then a sound from the kitchen caught her attention and Squeaks saw the object of her search calmly standing over the stove. The filly sank back into the blanket as she calmed down. She may have barely known Midnight for two days, but the thought of suddenly being without her, not having her nearby to comfort her… Squeaks didn’t like it.

Before she could lay back down and let her mind drift towards that possibility Squeaks caught a whiff of whatever Midnight was cooking. Her stomach instantly growled at the delicious scent. Unfortunately, it also drew her attention to another part of her body a bit further down. “Midnight?” The filly’s soft, plaintive call caught the attention of the kirin and, after setting the frying pan she was using off to the side, she came into the living room.

“Morning Squeaks. Did you sleep well?” The filly nodded.

“I need to go to the bathroom again.”

“Well, how about you try walking there yourself? Nurse Redheart did say you should try walking again starting today.” Squeaks looked over the side of the couch. If she were okay the hop up and down wouldn’t have given her a second thought, but with her legs feeling like rubber when she tried to stand up the distance seemed like jumping from the top of the house. Seeing her unease, Midnight took one of the pillows they’d been using and placed it on the floor below Squeaks. “Remember to take it one step at a time, and use your wings to help take some pressure off your legs.” The bat pony opened her wings up and stared at them like she just remembered she had them. With some more encouragement from Midnight, Squeaks got up from a sitting position to a standing one. Now the distance to the floor seemed REALLY far down.

“Maybe I could go down backwards?”

“Whatever makes you comfortable.” Squeaks nodded then turned around, nearly tripping over her own feet, but her wings helped her control the turn and stay up right. Once she was in position, she slid gently backwards holding onto the cushion tightly and flapping her wings until one of her back legs touched the pillow, then she eased the other one down. Before long, she was sitting on the pillow on the floor. Midnight spun it gently until it was facing the door to her room. “And now the walk to my room.” Squeaks pulled herself up with more confidence this time and, with Midnight next to her the whole way, she eventually made inside Midnight’s room and then into the bathroom. Midnight helped her get situated then left her to her business; it was something Midnight was thankful the filly could do on her own. The walk back through the living room and into the kitchen proceeded even faster, although Squeaks still wobbled from time to time.

“Good morning.” Sapphire said with a smile as they walked in.

“Good morning.” Squeaks squeaked back. “What smells so good?” Midnight’s chest puffed out slightly.

“Well, this morning I made us both something really tasty: eggs and squirrel.” Midnight picked Squeaks up and placed her in the fold-out chair they set up earlier. Already in front of her was a glass of orange juice with a straw and, after a few seconds, Midnight placed her plate down. Squeaks recognized the eggs easily enough, but the other stuff…

“This is meat?” Midnight smiled.

“Not used to seeing it any color but red?” Squeaks nodded. “Well, go ahead and give it a taste. Can’t knock it till you try it!” Squeaks picked up her fork and poked the meat a bit before finally picking it up. It smelled good, and she took a tiny bite. She chewed slowly, and for a second both adults thought she might spit it out. Squeaks swallowed, then stuffed the rest of the food on her fork in her mouth with an eager grin. Midnight smiled and dug into her own food.

-----------------------------

After breakfast, Sapphire went in the front to open the shop and Midnight led Squeaks back into the living room to exercise her legs and wings. She wasn’t going to push her like she was entering a marathon, but she did have her walk around the living room a few times. It only took Squeaks a half hour to get used to her legs again, but her wings were a different matter. When she told Midnight she hadn’t even tried flying before meeting her, the kirin got a dark look in her eyes. Snorting, Midnight told her that was going to change right there. “Should’ve had your first lesson by now” she grumbled as she set up pillows on the floor as a crash-pad.

“Daddy said-”

“Well, your dad was wrong this time. I don’t see anything wrong with your wings and you’ve proven you can keep them flapping. Flying is just… it’s just the best thing in the world. I’d give up almost anything to keep my wings.” Midnight fell silent for a second as she regarded the subjects in question then took a quick look out the window. It was another great looking day for such an activity. “Anyway,” she said as she pulled herself back inside, “I taught myself how to do it and I’ll teach you.” Midnight motioned for her to get onto the pillows.

“First lesson: your wings have to be strong enough to hold you up and keep you up for however long you are in the air. It’s just like learning to walk: your legs need to be strong enough to keep you up and moving. Second lesson: know your limits. The worst thing you can do is jump off the highest thing you can find and just hope it happens. This is why you’re on the pillows. All I want you to do is see how high and how long you can get up in the air and hover.” Midnight laid herself down in front of the pillows. “Whenever you’re ready.” Squeaks gulped.

“But what if I don’t-”

“It doesn’t matter if you take off or not; I’m not expecting you to suddenly get it because you won’t. Nopony walks perfectly their first time, or even really does it, but you have to try before you can.” Midnight motioned for her to start and Squeaks closed her eyes and began flapping as hard as she could. When she felt her back hooves leave the pillows her eyes flew open and she looked down. Her concentration broken, that’s the direction she fell. After she flopped onto the pillows she pulled herself up to apologize for failing so quickly, only to stop short when she saw Midnight actually smiling. “That was better than I thought you’d do. If you hadn’t been so quick to look at your hooves you might have actually stayed up longer. That brings us to the next lesson: never be scared. You should, of course, be concerned about falling, but you must never let that control you. Like with swimming, you need to trust both yourself and what you’re moving through to keep you up, and not let fear bring you down. Try again.”

-----------------------------

They continued her training until lunch time and while she never got more than two inches off the pillows for more than a couple of seconds, it was two seconds and two inches more than she had done when they started. Afterwards, Midnight began picking up the various blankets and pillows that had been scattered around the living room and putting them back where they’d been taken from. Before Squeaks had woken up, she and Sapphire had agreed that it would be better if the filly slept in a real bed (Midnight’s) for the rest of the time she was with them.

Squeaks closely followed Midnight around the whole time; a little too closely. As Midnight made her way towards the kitchen and the stairs to put pillows and blankets back in the guest room when her right hind hoof connected with something mid-step. In an effort to not step on it, Midnight immediately shot the hoof out to right and away from it, almost losing her balance in the process and dropping the blankets and pillows from her back. “Dang it Squeaks!” Midnight snapped when she saw the filly moving out from under her. Squeaks quickly moved to the side and Midnight collected the fallen items. Once they were again stacked on her back she turned to Squeaks, and her annoyance diminished. Squeaks was on the ground and looking like she’d done something really bad.

“Aw Tartarus” she mumbled. “Squeaks come over here.” At first the filly barely moved, but with a few more gentle waves over the filly finally crawled up to her. Midnight lifted Squeaks’ face with a hoof until they were looking at each other. “I’m not mad at you Squeaks, it’s just… you can’t be walking under somepony like that. I nearly tripped and I could have gotten hurt or fallen on you. If you want to follow me that’s fine, but just give me some room okay?” Midnight smiled down at the filly and soon enough Squeaks smiled back and nodded. “Good.”

After bringing everything upstairs Sapphire poked her head in the kitchen and asked Midnight to get more wood for the front. As it turned out it was the only time Squeaks didn’t follow the kirin. Squeaks stayed wrapped up in the only blanket Midnight had left out until she came back inside and then only moved to follow her when the side door closed.

In the front, Sapphire watched as Squeaks moved to stand directly under Midnight as the kirin stacked the wood bundles only to move back when she remembered what Midnight had told her. When Midnight finished she sat down with Squeaks sitting between her front legs and the two adults talked about groceries and dinner until three familiar faces walked in.

“Hey; haven’t seen you all since before the holiday.” Midnight greeted as Berry, Pinchy, and Dinky came into the shop.

“Hello Midnight, Sapphire.”

“Hi Midnight! Hi Sapphire!”

“Hi.”

“Baby sitting today?” Berry nodded.

“Derpy’s working late thanks to the snow, so I figured I’d bring the girls over and we could catch up.”

“Sure, anything new?” Midnight was happy Berry was there, mostly because as one of her closest friends she enjoyed her company and with everything that had been going on it had felt like forever since they last hung out. However, she was also hoping that she might have heard about a missing filly and if there was a search going on.

“Well, my dad visited us for the holiday.”

“How is he?”

“Good. He just delivered a large order of vodka to Van Hoover and…”

-----------------------------

Pinchy was bored. So far all the grown-ups had done was talk, and not even about anything interesting. She had thought that when her mom said they were going to visit Midnight and Sapphire they would at least be inside where she and Dinky could play, or they could all play a game while they talked. Instead they were still in the store front where all they could do is sit and listen. Dinky wasn’t much of a help either; she was just sitting off to the side and reading a boring old text book. School didn’t even start up until next week and her best friend was already studying. Her feeling of boredom was interrupted by a sudden need to answer the call of nature.

Doing like her mother had told her, Pinchy raised her hoof like she was in school and waited for one of the adults to notice. When none of them did she began waving it around, a motion that became more frantic the longer she waited for somepony to notice her.

“Yes, Pinchy?” Berry said as her daughter hopped in front of her and waved both forelimbs frantically in her face.

“I gotta go!” Berry looked down to see her foal’s back legs pinched together in the universal sign of “I have to go NOW.”

“You don’t even need to ask Pinchy.” Midnight said with a laugh, and the filly was past the counter and through the kitchen door.

When she came back a few minutes later (sweet relief) she turned to thank Midnight and stopped when she saw a pair of golden cat-eyes staring back at her. “Umm… who’s that?” Sapphire turned to look at Pinchy then looked in the direction she was pointing. When she saw that Pinchy was asking about Squeaks, who was currently trying to hide behind Midnight’s legs, she tapped the kirin with her wing. When she too saw the situation she let out a sigh.

“Could you come in the back? We’ve got something to tell you and a few questions to ask.”

-----------------------------

Squeaks watched the two other fillies from under her blanket. When Midnight had invited them all inside she suggested that the foals play in the living room while the adults talked in the kitchen. As soon as she could, Squeaks had grabbed the blanket off the couch and wrapped herself in it. She didn’t know these two and felt very uneasy since all they did was stare at her, but Midnight had insisted that she spend time with them while she talked with Sapphire and the pink one’s mom. Without Midnight around she felt very vulnerable.

“So,” the pink filly asked, “do you suck blood or something?”

“Pinchy!” Dinky cried out.

“Well she’s got fangs!” Squeaks pulled the blanket around her face.

“That doesn’t mean you need to be so blunt!” The grey filly moved closer to Squeaks as if to protect her.

“I’m not stupid!”

“I didn’t say you were! It means you’ve got no tact!”

“Why would I carry tacks around?” Dinky face-hoofed.

“I mean think before you speak! Maybe she’s sensitive to questions like that!”

“So… I shouldn’t ask her if she turns to ash in sunlight?” Dinky face-hoofed again.

-----------------------------

“That poor dear.” Berry had listened to how Squeaks came to be with Midnight and Sapphire, and the mare felt for the filly. “It’s definitely a good thing you found her when you did, but she’s been missing since before Hearth’s Warming and you haven’t heard anything about a search?”

“Have you?” Midnight asked with a hopeful look. It faded when Berry shook her head.

“Something like that would definitely get around in a town like this. I could tell Derpy and we could ask, but I doubt anything will come of it.”

“I would appreciate it if you did.”

“Then consider it done.” Midnight nodded gratefully. As they got up Sapphire leaned over.

“I think it might be a good idea to send a letter to the princess about this. She said they were heading to Canterlot after all.” Midnight nodded.

“That does have a better chance of succeeding.”

“I’ll write it right now.” With that Sapphire disappeared up the stairs and Midnight followed Berry into the living room. Inside Dinky and Pinchy were playing a game of tic-tac-toe on a sheet of paper while Squeaks watched. She was still in her blanket, although her head was sticking out of it with ears and eyes focused on the game.

“And I’ll put an “O” here.”

“Dang it!” Pinchy threw her hooves up and flopped back as she was defeated again. Both Dinky and Squeaks laughed at her antics. Seeing the little bat pony laugh like that made Midnight feel warm inside.

“Hey, Midnight?” Berry whispered as she leaned over. “You’re doing the right thing by looking for her father, but from what you told me about what she’s said…”

“You think it might also be a bad idea?” Berry nodded and Midnight sighed. “I don’t know what to think Berry. All I’ve got is the word of a child, but what kind of parent, even one in hiding, doesn’t make even some attempt at trying to find their foal, or let them go outside to play, or even teach them how to fly?” Midnight shook her head. “And what if he is looking and finds out I haven’t? That’s foalnapping. I’ve got nothing to stand on nor is it really my right to. I just… I just want what’s best for her.” Berry smiled.

“That’s all any parent or guardian wants for a foal.” They stood in silence as the girls played another round with Squeaks taking Pinchy’s place this time. She almost beat Dinky, too.

“Sorry Squeaky, but I win.”

“Girls, it’s time for us to go.”

“Alright mom” Pinchy called from the floor where she was still brooding about her defeats. Dinky packed away the paper in the saddle-bags she had brought with her.

“Maybe we can play again next time we’re over.” Dinky suggested.

“Sure!” Squeaks said with a smile. With that Pinchy and Dinky followed Berry through the kitchen and out the front. Midnight looked down at the bat pony as she resumed standing next to her.

“I take it you had fun?” Squeaks nodded enthusiastically.

“Can they come back again soon? Pinchy said she’s got more games we could play!” Midnight smiled down at her, even though she felt like doing anything but.

“We’ll… see.” She was saved further explanation by Sapphire, who had just entered the room.

“I just sent the letter to the princess. Hopefully she’ll get back to us soon.” Midnight nodded while Squeaks tilted her head.

“How did you send a letter to the princess?” Sapphire explained about the dragon fire she had.

“I actually work for the princess and Midnight.” Squeaks looked up at the kirin with wonder.

“You know Princess Luna!?”

“Actually I know Princess Celestia, but Sapphire did work for both princesses. We sent them a letter because we think they can help us find your dad.” Squeaks‘ ears drooped slightly when she heard that. “How about I teach you a game or two while we wait and see if she replies?” Squeaks cheered up a bit at that and Midnight led her into the kitchen to play Go Fish. However, before Midnight could even get the cards out, a scroll popped into existence on the table. Not wasting a second, Midnight grabbed it, opened it, and read it aloud:

Midnight and Sapphire,

Thank you for bringing this to my attention. This is indeed a serious matter you’ve found yourselves in, but unfortunately the entire thestral population in Canterlot makes up the Lunar Guard, and thus I have little to do with them out of courtesy for my sister, Princess Luna. I will, however, send your letter along to her so that she may make inquires. With any luck she’ll have an answer for you by morning.

Best Wishes,

Princess Celestia

“Well, all we can do now is wait.” Midnight said to the room at large.

Author's Note:

The now second of three chapters in the Squeaky Wings story arc.

I had a feeling that eventually I would write a chapter and my proof reader would say that it needs re-writing, and so it has come to pass. Apparently she felt Midnight was out of character the first time I wrote it, as well as saying it needed to be broken up into two chapters instead of one. Kinda agree as this was going past 13,000 words.

Anyway the next chapter has also already been re-written and should HOPEFULLY be up in a few days.